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.
I’ve been thinking about forest management as a social science for many years. As a teen, I remember wondering why people were fighting about the activities in our forests. Of course, I understood the concern over heavy-handed clear cutting, but I wondered why there was anger over the other types of logging that worked in concert with the needs of the forest. Where I grew up, many of the private forestland owners managed their land so that they could be proud of what it looked like after it was logged. This meant leaving many trees behind so the forest looked natural.
Uneven Age Management
I read and hear people talking about how the environmentalists are to blame for all our forest health woes. I also hear about the same on the other side of the coin saying that over-harvesting and past logging is the reason our forests are in the shape they are in. Here’s my take:
WHO CARES WHOSE FAULT IT IS!
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”
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”
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.
A to Z Hearing Video
Since publishing the A to Z blog post, readers have been asking how the court appearance actually went. Many of you may know how to find these videos, but in case you didn’t here it is. This is the 34-minute video of the appeal hearing. It was quite interesting to be there in person.
There’s a great deal of talk in today’s forest management circles about the use of prescribed fire as a tool to manage forests. Fire can certainly be a great tool to reduce forest fuels and maintain tree spacing. It’s been used by mother nature for eons. So much so that many tree species like Ponderosa Pine and Western Larch have become resistant to fire in order to survive the regular intervals of lightning caused fires.
Active Management and Prescribed Fire
Prescribed fire should be used in conjunction with active forest management. There are certainly areas where fire might be used on it’s own. It’s ideally performed in the front country with established road systems. In these areas we can commercially thin or log these areas to achieve historical spacing. The next season it could be very beneficial to conduct prescribed fire.