4 Dec 2007, 2:09pm
Management Policy
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Helms Testimony October 3, 2007

Testimony of Dr. John A Helms: Responses to Questions for the Record
Following Sept 24, 2007, Hearings by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

Wildfires require a combination of fuel, temperature, and oxygen. Of these, the only factor that can be managed is the presence and distribution of fuels. Given that the most intense and catastrophic fires occur in dense forests, and since experience has shown that when wildfires encounter less dense and more open stands fire intensity commonly drops (USDA PSW 2007), it seems clear that increased efforts must be made to thin overly-dense stands. In doing so, irregular mosaics of stand density should be created that remove ladder fuels to reduce opportunities for fire to burn into tree crowns.

Since it is clearly impossible to rapidly treat all 180 million acres the Forest Service estimates are in hazardous condition, current efforts to create “Defensible Fuel Profile Zones” (DFPZs — Quincy Library Group/USDA FS, California), “shaded fuelbreaks” (Agee et al. 2000) and “Strategically Placed Landscape Area Treatments” (SPLATS or SPOTS in California’s Sierra Nevada — USDA FS) are all worthwhile exploring. These are areas 1/4 - 1/2 mile wide, usually along roads or strategically placed in which fuel loadings are reduced to reduce potential for crown fires, interrupt fire spread, and to provide defensible space to fight the fires.

Although not free from criticism, these efforts are initial steps in the right direction. More adaptive management and pilot studies (such as the Fuels Management National Pilot Project 2007 funded by the Forest Service) are needed to demonstrate efficacy and cost effectiveness and to communicate lessons learned from these and other projects and forest treatments (Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center 2007)…

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1 Dec 2007, 9:20pm
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James D. Petersen Speech, Nov. 18, 2003

What is the Forest Service doing right and what is it doing wrong? by James D. Petersen Executive Director, The Evergreen Foundation and Publisher, Evergreen Magazine.

USDA Forest Service Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs Conference, Embassy Suites Hotel, Phoenix, Arizona, November 18, 2003.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

When Joe Walsh called to ask me if I would come to Phoenix to – in his words – “tell us what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong” – I wasn’t entirely sure I should accept his invitation. The question tugs at the roots of problems that have been festering both within and beyond the Forest Service for at least 30 years. That I did accept his invitation – and am here this morning - attests to my own concerns about the future of our nation’s federal forests and the future of the Forest Service itself. I confess there are times when I think that the federal government should get the hell out of the land business. I raised this point in a roundabout way in a one-page essay in the August issue of Evergreen Magazine. Here is what I wrote: “Does anyone know what our federal government’s forest management objective is? I don’t – and I’ve been trying to figure it out since 1985. My friend Jack Ward Thomas, who was Chief of the Forest Service during the Clinton years, once told me he thought the objective was to conserve plant and animal species associated with old growth forests. That would be fine if we were doing it, but we’ve lost so much old growth to wildfires in recent years, without attacking the underlying causes of this calamity, that I am no longer sure what our objective is.” …

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