Washington DC has dominated headlines over the last year. Some of it including Federal Land, but not much to do with the Forest Service. Forest fires being the possible exception. It doesn’t mean things haven’t been going on behind the scenes. With new leadership at the top, there seems to be some renewed optimism of accelerated management of our federal forests. A policy review is a logical first step.
Have you stopped to think about the landscape of the Forest Industry as it relates to the Forest Service? Very few people realize the reality is that much of the industry has written off timber from public lands. For many of these companies, it seems to be counterproductive for our public timberlands to become a significant supply again. Why is that and what is the New Reality of the US Forest Industry?
History shapes this New Reality
On November 1st, 2017 the House of Representatives voted 232 to 188 to pass House Resolution 2936. This is the second house bill that has passed in the last couple of years having to do with National Forests. It’s important that the issue is on the national radar. It is unfortunate that the bill wasn’t passed with more bipartisan support. The vote was with yes votes coming from 222 Republicans and 10 Democrats. That leaves no votes from 179 Democrats and 9 Republicans.
Over the last 20 years, we have heard of many attempts to create legislation that will improve the management of our National Forests and public lands. There was the Healthy Forest Restoration Act under the Bush administration. It says a lot of good things, but it still fails to address the scale of the problem. There have been other attempts at legislation, but none have made it to law. In my opinion, the reason for this is simple. The language has failed to capture the essence of what the public wants. It either goes too far, and few Democrats support it, or doesn’t go far enough and loses momentum. Continue reading “Westerman Bill”
In Northeast Washington on August 1st, 2017 we woke up to smoke from wildfires. It wasn’t as thick here as it was in other areas, but it was bad at varying levels throughout the month. Now that September has started it feels like August was clear. The smoke is so thick that visibility is impaired within 100 yards and nearly nonexistent within a mile. Your eyes burn and you find yourself continually coughing. There’s no escape. Some people have been living with it throughout the west like this every day for well over a month. This is smoke pollution and it’s likely to be a problem for years. Continue reading “Smoke Pollution”
This post has been getting lots of views and discussion. I usually post once a week, but this will be a re-post with additional comments at the end. The Forest Service has been a major topic of discussion especially with a new administration and a new incoming chief. This will provide plenty of opportunity for discussion.
Original Post (link to original post)
Since the Clinton years, the Forest Service has undergone a great deal of change. The agency was producing over 12 billion board feet of timber in the late 80’s, and by the mid 90’s that volume dropped to 2 billion. Continue reading “Is it Time to Rethink the Forest Service – Repost”
Hot Weather Equals Summer Smoke
August 2017 has covered much of the West with a blanket of smoke. Although the media has been portraying this as coming from the BC fires, there are fires throughout the region and there’s bound to be more. This is unfortunate for everyone and our forests.
Growing up in the Inland Northwest in the 80’s and 90’s summers were great. We knew fire was always possible, but it wasn’t a clear and present danger like it is now. The last few years the summers as we knew them only last for about a month. As soon as July rolls around it seems like a matter of time before the smoke rolls in. The fires are so big now, that the smoke doesn’t even have to be from fires in the immediate area.
Summer in the New West
Many people talk about how this is a result of climate change and past logging practices. Although there may be shards of truth in those positions, I don’t believe it’s the real story. Continue reading “The New West”
The topic of wildfire raises the level of awareness of our forests. Some of this is good. People become aware and then they are compelled to act. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they are going to act in the right manner.
Wildfire in the West
In the fire-prone forests of the Intermountain West, fire is part of life. These forests have adapted to survive regular fire intervals for centuries. Ponderosa Pines and Western Larch are prime examples of species that are specifically capable of withstanding significant fire. Unfortunately, some of our actions have put even the most capable trees at risk. These actions and subsequent inactions have put entire forests and massive ecosystems at risk.