18 Mar 2008, 8:05am
Climate and Weather Saving Forests
by admin

Answering Some Questions About Smoke

Janet writes:

I noticed in news stories about Mr. Bonnicksen study that it was not peer reviewed and the study was funded by a foundation that gets money from logging companies. Also, some other experts who were interviewed for a story said Bonnicksen’s estimates were on the high end. Seems like you folks had a problem with a certain study out of OSU that wasn’t peer reviewed so I’m wondering why you are fine with this latest Bonnicksen study not being peer reviewed?

Janet, Holy cow! Did you ever get all that backasswards and twisted around! Let me try to straighten you out so you won’t be so desperately confused and disoriented.

1. Dr. (not Mr.) Bonnicksen, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Forest Science at Texas A&M University, Visiting Scholar at The Forest Foundation, and the author of the greatest book ever written about our forests, America’s Ancient Forests – From the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery.

Dr. Bonnicksen holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry, and master’s and doctorate degrees in wildland resource science (he studied under Drs. Harold Biswell and Ed Stone at UC Berkeley). He has researched the history and ecology of ancient forests for more than 30 years, and has authored more than 80 papers and articles on forest ecology and resource management.

2. Dr. Bonnicksen is the originator of restoration forestry. His work has emphasized the fact that Native Americans were an integral part of America’s forests. The forests and the people who lived here formed an inseparable whole that developed together over millennia. He has endeavored to return our forests to sustainable, historical conditions and to protect, maintain, and perpetuate America’s forests.

3. Yes, Dr. Bonnicksen’s recent work was supported by the Forest Foundation, and that organization includes a timber company among its benefactors. But did you ever stop to think that every academic pursuit in California is supported by timber companies, through taxes, grants, and by the lumber that holds up the buildings on campus as well as your house?

4. Dr. Bonnicksen’s Forest Carbon and Emissions Model was not published in a peer-reviewed journal, but it was reviewed by exerts such as Dr. Bruce Krumland, consultant in statistical design and analysis, forest inventory, and modeling, Klaus Scott, Air Pollution Specialist, California Air Resources Board (CARB), Dr. Mark Nechodom, USDA Forest Service Sierra Nevada Research Center, Dr. Chris Dicus, Wildland Fire & Fuels Management, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, Neva Lowery, Emissions Inventory staff (CARB) and Richard Bode, Chief Emissions Inventory Branch (CARB).

Both the Forest Foundation and the Western Institute for Study of the Environment have posted Dr. Bonnicksen’s Forest Carbon and Emissions Model. I have reviewed it, and you may review it yourself. It is [here]. You need not rely on unnamed secret “peers.” You can use your own brain to make your own judgments.

5. The Donato-Law report, the OSU study to which you refer, was allegedly peer-reviewed by a secret peer, but despite that the report was a pile of trash that violated basic science in a dozen different ways. The purpose of the Donato-Law report was to further the destruction of our forests by megafire, and those authors juggled the data to justify the largest forest holocaust in recorded Oregon history. Then they were caught in their deception by the U.S. Congress.

6. Dr. Bonnicksen’s Forest Carbon and Emissions Model seeks to quantify the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by forest fires. It must be damned obvious to everybody on the planet that forest fires emit smoke. You’d have to be as blind as a bat and not breathe air to miss that fact. It is undeniable that forest fires emit pyrolysis byproduct compounds in huge clouds and plumes that rise high into the atmosphere. In my opinion the Forest Carbon and Emissions Model underestimates emissions from Oregon forest fires, but then Dr. Bonnicksen used California examples and Oregon forests generally have more biomass to burn.

7. Yes, Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee wrote a nasty article about the Forest Carbon and Emissions Model [here]. Mr. Tom Knudson does not possess a Ph.D., and in fact has no college degree in science of any kind. Tom Knudson is a journalist, and a piss-poor one at that. Tom Knudson’s record is replete with poorly-conceived, ill-written, rudely childish articles. Tom Knudson’s writings display strong political bias towards the extreme leftwing and are vicious hit pieces in general. He is a commie/fascist dorkwad, in my opinion.

8. The Sacramento Bee has a carbon footprint in excess of most newspapers on the planet. They are in the tree-killing industry in a big way. They kill trees, grind them into pulp, cook the pulp in chemical baths, press the mixture into paper in giant factories with huge smokestacks, and then truck the paper all over whilst burning fossil fuels by the ocean freighter load.

Every single day the Sacramento Bee sells millions of pounds of dead trees. That is their business. They make obscene capitalist profits by killing trees. I find it laughable (or perhaps unbearably tragic) that they would print commie/fascist dorkwad pieces on their capitalist dead tree pulp for the purpose of extracting obscene profits from desperately confused and disoriented willing dupes.

9. Every year millions of acres of America’s priceless, heritage forests are incinerated. The annual acreage has been steadily rising over the last fifteen years. In just this century the largest fires in recorded history have burned in every western state. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. Hundreds of people have been killed. Regardless of global warming, catastrophic wildfires are destroying our shared heritage and natural ecosystems, as well as polluting our air and water to a enormous degree.

10. I wonder about Forest Fire Deniers, those who pretend megafire catastrophes are not occurring. What is your trip, exactly? Why do you deny the abundantly obvious? Why do you deny the holocausts that are happening in every state in the West? Do you think that by denying them somehow nobody will notice when their home, watershed, and landscape burn to ashes and smoke? How is your denial of modern-day forest holocausts any different than the “good Germans” who denied Hitler’s Holocaust while their neighbors were being forced into slave labor camps and gas chambers?

11. Must we repeat that horrific past? Must we incinerate our forests in raging megafires to satisfy commie/fascist dorkwads? Is there no sanity left in this country? Have propagandistic delusions clouded your senses to the degree that you would sacrifice all that is good to political obeisance, to crawling on your hands and knees in front of bloated eco-terrorists and petty tyrants? I mean, honestly now Janet, I answered your questions, now you answer mine. Why do you wish to incinerate America? What’s in it for you?

18 Mar 2008, 8:52am
by bear bait

Perhaps if Caleeeforneeeea would tax fires, require EPA approved smoke arrestors on fires, did not allow them on east wind events, and provided that smoke is benign and a boon to trees around the world for the airborne nutrients and gases they might deposit, all would be well.

Too bad forest fires can’t play basketball, or be runway models, or star in epic movies, or shout plebeian rhetoric from the dias, then they would have an even better following. A mainstream following. And Caleeeforneeeea would look like ground zero for some Wahhabi martyr’s pre-paid trip to paradise.

We all have to understand that in the new order of things in this world carnage, destruction, and loss of human life is acceptable, but killing one single domestic cat is not. Arson, window breaking, and assaults on human decency are accepted forms of behavior, but kids can’t yell on the playground at school. So it would follow that teaching children in the non-hostile schoolroom that incinerating our forests is much better than logging, that out of the ashes will rise something other than a tree plantation, then that will be a good thing. Permanent pucker brush is the new ideal we should strive for.

The lackeys of the Ruling Class should be put down for crimes against nature. Forests are natural, and, I might note, it costs money to fight fire, money that we need for other governmental needs.

18 Mar 2008, 9:43am
by Mike

Excuse me, but I find it OUTRAGEOUS that Californians would promulgate oppressive regulations to “prevent global warming” and yet celebrate holocausts that incinerate their own homes. And when an honored scientist with decades of excellent research puts forth the idea that forest fires make smoke, the leading newspapers in the state run libelous hit pieces decrying the good doctor for pointing out what is abundantly OBVIOUS.

Janet is a willing dupe, someone who reflexively spews hatred against people who have devoted lifetimes to saving our shared natural heritage from incineration. At the drop of a hat. At the obsequious publication in a major polluting hate rag. One slight nod towards common sense and the rabid running dogs of totalitarianism rise up on their hind legs and howl.

What is God’s name is wrong with Californians? Is there LSD in the water supply? What makes millions of people encourage wholesale destruction to be wreaked upon their own lives? How can you live in a wooden home and seek megafire upon your own community?

That kind of insanity is sick, very sick. Apocalypse Now and hurry up. Burn, baby, burn, and do me next.

I shudder every time I think about visiting there. It’s like touring a huge insane asylum without walls. The vacant stares, the animalistic behaviors, the stunning, drop-dead ignorance, the suicidal social movements; California is a tragically twisted and messed up place.

18 Mar 2008, 10:38am
by Bob Z.


In defense of Tom Knudson and the Sacramento Bee, they were among the only members of the press to even report on Bonnicksen’s paper.

And in their further defense, please read the comments of their subscribers regarding the article on their online blog.

Knudson may not have fairly presented Bonnicksen or his findings, but he did make that information available to SacBee readers, and in an informative and provocative manner to which they could publicly respond.

How did the LA papers do in that regard, by comparison? Or the national press, seeing as how this is important news of both national and international interest?

18 Mar 2008, 11:04am
by Mike

Bob: Maybe so, maybe not. I liked my review a lot better. I at least READ the actual report before I reviewed it. I did not rely on one-liner quotes cherry-picked from people (some of whom had NOT read it). And I provided the entire report, both parts, for the full consideration of W.I.S.E. readers.

As long as the citizenry rely upon cheesy journalism (or dead silence, as you point out) from the Dead Tree Press, this country is going to remain as ignorant as bumps on a log.

The time is long past for the “scientific” GW Alarmists to do definitive studies on the carbon footprints of newspapers like the Sack of BS. Stripping Canadian forests for pulp logs to create twisted news carried by megatons of processed tree cellulose cannot be good for any environment, natural or cultural.

18 Mar 2008, 11:15am
by Tallac

The environmentalists have been hoisted by their own petard. Dr. Bonnicksen presents a paper re: GHG and the ecos still can’t understand the fact that incinerating forests creates more pollution than millions and millions of vehicles.

Maybe one of them can explain to me how California can become a “Zero Emission State” when covered in more smoke and ash year after year.

Unreal, isn’t it? Their heads will hopefully explode before they realize what fools they are.

18 Mar 2008, 1:02pm
by Mike

Let’s strip the Sack BS of it’s prideful self-image and see what it really is.

The Sack BS strongly condemned the homeowners whose homes burned down in the Angora Fire and blamed them for the tragedy.

The Sack BS has strongly supported the termination of forest stewardship in California in favor of “natural fires” promoted by litigious radical eco-arsonist groups.

That Sack BS has strongly supported Draconian “global warming” laws that blame the Calif. economy for world “climate change.” They have been particularly vicious on that point.

The Sack BS now denies that Calif. forest fires emitted last summer and fall 4 to 5 times more GHG’s than all the passenger cars in the state emitted during the entire year.

The Sack BS is, in actual fact, in the business of selling wood products. That is their core business, the marketing of newsprint.

The Sack BS has exhibited extreme hypocrisy and socially reprehensible behavior. There is no other way to describe it. The Sack BS should be condemned by all citizens and run into bankruptcy by a boycott on the newspaper and on the advertisers in the Sack BS. Let the market correct their malfeasances. Don’t buy it. Don’t shop the advertisers. Let them fail miserably and utterly. They are no account losers. Let their business accounts reflect their moral and ethical positions.

18 Mar 2008, 1:27pm
by Backcut

The trouble with fighting these morons is that it is akin to getting the “faithful” to change religions. The eco-community is all about faith-based BELIEFS, and when facts are waved in front of them, they find ways to ignore them.

Top 5 myths of the Eco-Community

5: We have to save the Roadless Areas from the loggers.

4: The Forest Service needs to stop selling logs to Japan.

3: Killing trees adds to global warming, dude!

2: Prescribed fire can solve ALL of our fuels problems

1: Forest fires are “natural and beneficial”.

PS Regarding the Bee, there used to be bumper stickers around that said “Save a Tree, Cancel the Bee”. The Bee and the LA Times both are anti-forest in their info-tainment ventures.

18 Mar 2008, 5:52pm
by Bob Z.


I’m not certain that those are the top 5 Eco-Beliefs, but it is an excellent start; particularly Belief #1.

I’m going to quibble with #2, however, because I think you and I differ on the definition of “prescribed fire” in much the same way I differ with stop-logging “preservationists” having the audacity to refer to themselves as “conservationists.” That always makes me gag, often literally.

My crews used to perform “prescribed fires” on thousands of acres of forestland every year, until the Clean Air Act determined it was better to choke out entire communities with wildfire smoke for weeks on end, rather than have nitwit hypochondriacs occasionally suffer “asthma attacks” when they saw smoke plumes on the horizon.

A “prescribed fire” involves appropriate weather (so smoke can plume and disperse above the populace), properly arranged fuels (so the fire can be contained and the smoke managed at reasonable expense), and a basic understanding of topography so that ignition methods and locations can be determined prior to lighting the fire.

A regimen of regular prescribed fires, as described and formerly defined, probably COULD resolve most of our (forest) fuel problems, so it is not just an Eco-Belief in that regard. The key is “fuel arrangement,” which invariably involves large amounts of logging.

I think you are referring to “let it burn” fires (set by lightning or volcanic activity) as “prescribed,” when they are nothing of the sort. Accidental (non-human) ignition equals “wildfire,” no matter what the USFS, their forest “scientists,” and opportunistic politicians might want you to believe.

A prescriptive fire, by (former) definition, depends entirely upon the timing, method, and location(s) of ignition, as determined “by prescription” and as performed by people. Otherwise, it is a wildfire.

Or are you referring to other types of “fuels problems?”

The forests have become very Orwellian in my lifetime, and I could be wrong on these assumptions (but not on formerly accepted definitions of “conservation” and “prescribed fire”).

18 Mar 2008, 8:47pm
by Mike

Maybe this is too Freudian, but what troubles me is the failure of women to feel compassion towards forests.

I expect little from men. Men are by nature bold and indifferent, reckless and cruel. The men in the eco-religion are opportunists, raiders, violent and uncaring.

But I expect some sort of maternalism from women. I expect women to be compassionate, protective, nurturing, sensitive, careful, and loving.

The women in the eco-religion are instead the most cruel and indifferent. The bright-eyed girls who have become arsonists and now rot in federal prisons trouble me the most. What caused them to lose their inner natures and become war-mongering, violent, and destructive?

Perhaps I expect too much, or expect the wrong things, or am naive about the biological imperatives of instinctive gender roles. Maybe I am sexist and gender-prejudiced. But it troubles me.

Why do women not lead the charge to protect, maintain, and perpetuate our heritage forests? Why instead do women seem so prevalent in the trend to abandon forests to holocaust? It is not men who seek abortion rights. And women play a major role in the aborting of forests, and who are primary enablers in the proliferation of killer predators: wolves in school yards, bears in neighborhoods, cougars in family parks.

I think that is true. I can cite innumerable examples. And it troubles me. If women seek the dissolution of humanity and humaneness, then we are lost.

18 Mar 2008, 10:17pm
by Backcut

No, Bob. I AM referring to the classic definition of prescribed fire, meaning that conditions are closely controlled. The eco’s think that one size fits all for every forest. That a Ranger District can burn 5,000 acres every year. That there’s more than 20 days per fall burning season.

My list was meant to be tongue in cheek and a starting point for answering the standard forest management denier’s “sideshows”. I can think of a few more, now that I think of it.

19 Mar 2008, 8:38am
by Mike

I agree with BC. “Prescribed” fire typically means human-set in uncontrolled, unprepared conditions. The NPS, for instance, frequently lights off fires in vegetation without preparing that vegetation to receive the fire. The outcome is very often catastrophic.

One such catastrophe was the Cerro Grande Fire (2000) that was set in Bandolier Nat’l. Monument and burned all the way to Los Alamos, causing $600 million in damages.

Even when prescribed fires do not escape, they usually kill the very trees they were supposed to protect. That happens at least 90 percent of the time. Sometimes prescribed fires kill firefighters, too. Typically, the “prescriptions” are poorly written, half-page forms with no consideration for the resources impacted.

If a forest is prepared, such as with thinning and piling, then controlled burning can be beneficial. I call that “prepared” fire to differentiate it from prescribed fire.

Ranger Districts need to learn how to prepare forests to receive fire, and then to apply prepared fire to hundreds of thousands of acres on each District each year. Regardless of the Clean Air Act, which needs to be amended to allow it. Without prepared fire you get unprepared fire, and that is far worse for air quality, as well as every other resource there is.

The word usage here is very important. Slash burning is a form of prepared fire, not prescribed fire. Prescribed fire is almost always unprepared, at least in the West and under current usage of that word.

Wildland Use Fires, or whoofoos, are lightning-ignited unprescribed prescribed fires. Whoofoos are just like prescribed fires in that they burn in unprepared vegetation. Whoofoos kill the very trees they are alleged to protect, just like prescribed fires do.

The USFS has to get off its lazy ass and do the stewardship work. It can’t just burn its way to resource health. Blasting away at forests with unprepared fire is not silviculture and does not yield resource benefits, any more than setting fire to your house yields benefits. Stewardship requires human work, human involvement, human choices, human tending. Incineration of forests is not the way to protect, maintain, and perpetuate them.

19 Mar 2008, 10:46am
by Backcut

I’ve seen places where it has worked wonders, too!

Along California State Highway 89, just south of Sierraville, on the Tahoe National Forest, we did a successful two-stage fuels project which straddled the highway above town. I was an inspector on the Service Contract that removed submerchantable trees and some brush. A few years later I came through that same area and saw that they did a great job on burning the stand. Instead of having to burn all that fuel in place, out in the forest, all they had to do is burn the flashy fuels in a textbook prescribed fire.

I really LIKE the term “Prepared Fire”, Mike. It means so much more and makes an important point about the bulk of work to be done in our forests, to “save” them.

WE are the real “true environmentalists”!!

19 Mar 2008, 10:47am
by Bob Z.


You are using “prescribed” in the “modern” way I thought Backcut was using it. But he was using it the way I first learned to use it (and practice it) — just being a lot more tongue-in-cheek than I thought.

Are we ready for a Top 10 list yet?

19 Mar 2008, 11:26am
by Mike

Not sure what you are talking about, Bob. Did you set thousands of acres of unprepared forest on fire with your crews? Or were you doing broadcast burning of logging slash? There is a big difference between controlled burning for site prep and setting green, standing forests on fire.

Prescribed fire as that term is used today and in the past refers to the latter: setting green standing forests on fire with little or no preparation. It is much different than burning piles of slash that remain following a silvicultural treatment.

Please clarify.

PS You might consider drafting your Top Ten list as a guest post rather than a comment.

19 Mar 2008, 1:34pm
by Bob Z.


My crews did nearly 20,000 acres of prescribed burns over a 12 year period, as defined by me in an earlier post and as described by Backcut. They were NOT fires in green standing timber at all. Not one of them. And we rarely experienced even the slightest slopover in any of them. Zero trees killed.

Letting green trees burn and calling it “prescribed” is the “modern” definition being misused today, much as “conservation” is being misused. Prescriptive fires formerly involved broadcast burns, pilings, and purposeful spot fires and occurred in areas you describe as “prepared.”

Re: Top 10 list. I enjoy your humor and Backcut’s much more than my own and was deferring to his excellent start and claim of even more thoughts on the topic. Hence the comment rather than a guest post.

19 Mar 2008, 3:35pm
by Mike

As a term of art, “prescribed fire” means burning in green stands (ala the proposed Happy Camp RD Project), and “slash burns” is something different. If you killed zero trees, it was because there were zero green trees within the units.

My NEW term of art is Prepared Fire, meaning underburning green stands that have been prepped through thinning, piling, and raking. I highly encourage its use, so we can get the meme implanted. See


And speaking of terms of art, what the blazes is “forest renewal”? And where did the “life cycle of the forest” come from? I never heard of either before. I think the wackos just made them up. Not scientific, just eco-babble mythology designed to justify holocausts and catastrophic conversion of forest to tick brush!

I have propounded upon “historical forest development pathways” because that is the scientific term/concept/reality. But the eco-myth babble wackies keep barfing up new non-scientific crap terms. Here’s another new one: “free roaming fire.”

Ow, ow, ow ow, ow, ow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Killing science with barf. Killing forests, too. It’s time we got the terminology straight and flushed the barf off the floor.



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