Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017

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.

Forests need leadership
Lincoln represents solidarity and leadership

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Social Science

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

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Collaborate: A New Era

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!

Continue reading “Collaborate: A New Era”

Carbon Friendly Forestry

What is “Carbon Friendly Forestry?” It’s two things actually.  First, it was a conference put on by the Washington Environmental Council, a Seattle-based environmental organization.  Second, it’s an idea that forestry can Continue reading “Carbon Friendly Forestry”

Smoke Pollution

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”

Is it Time to Rethink the Forest Service – Repost

Bonus Post

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 New West

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

Chopper on the lookout
Helicopter spotter looking for new fires in the smokey skies of the New West summers.

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”

Prescribed Fire

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

Forest Restoration: Management then Fire
Active Management then 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.

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A to Z

What is the A to Z project?  This is a US Forest Service project that is very unique.  It’s located on the Colville National Forest in Northeast Washington State.

What makes A to Z Unique?

This project is a forest restoration project that is approximately 54,000 acres of forest land in NE Washington.  Most projects on federal land are sold after the Forest Service has conducted the necessary environmental analysis as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  This process can take many years to complete for a variety of reasons.  In this case the Forest Service sold the project prior to completing the NEPA process.  Hence the name, A to Z. Continue reading “A to Z”

Federal Land Management 2.017

If we are going to get better at managing lands we need a better land allocation method.  All lands need to be inventoried and grouped together based on desired outcomes.  We see three necessary land designations. Actively managed lands, conservation managed lands and protected as backcountry.  In doing this we can align management that is appropriate for each specific landscape.  We need to create a management strategy that is efficient, compassionate, and effective.

With so many acres facing the imminent risk catastrophic fire, we need to develop a nationwide strategy for effective forest treatment.  Many collaborative groups have laid the groundwork for what is appropriate in their local areas.  By identifying which lands are eligible for active management and conservation focus we can assign the appropriate treatment for each area.  Continue reading “Federal Land Management 2.017”