5 May 2008, 9:09am
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

California Forests Are Being Converted to Tick Brush

The Forest Foundation of Auburn CA and the National Association of Forest Service Retirees have issued a joint review of California forests. Their finding is that the lack of reforestation following forest fires is responsible for converting an average of 30,000 acres per year of forest to brush.

Nearly 150,000 acres of forest has been converted to brush over the last seven fire seasons in CA, not including conversion that has occurred in wilderness areas.

Recent homilies about “renewing the forest” with wildfire as uttered by obsequious government functionaries and power-grasping eco-terrorist BINGOs are supercilious, pusillanimous, and specious. Wildfires do not “renew” forests, they decimate and destroy forests and convert them to tick brush. Blood-sucking, disease-carrying tick populations thrive, but forest creatures lose their habitat when wildfires ravage forests. Those vegetation changes are permanent without intervention, because fire-type tick brush generates yet more fires that exclude trees.

But why should we wax eloquent on the subject, again and again and again? Let others carry some water. Kudos to the Forest Foundation and the National Association of Forest Service Retirees for their honesty and integrity. Here is the full text of the joint pronouncement:

California Losing More Than 30,700 Acres of Forestland per Year

Federal Government’s Replanting In Wake of Fires Lags

AUBURN, Calif., April 29, 2008 – California has lost forests on federally owned land at the rate of more than 30,700 acres per year over the last seven years because of a lack of replanting following catastrophic forest fires, according to a review by The Forest Foundation and the National Association of Forest Service Retirees.

The 30,700 acres lost annually is equivalent to losing a forest slightly larger than a city the size of San Francisco. If this failure to reforest federal land in California were to continue over the next 100 years, this would lead to the loss of 3 million acres of forestland and conversion into brush fields.

From 2001 to 2007, over 143,500 acres of forestland outside wilderness owned by the federal government has not been replanted and has been left to turn into brush.
“The federal government is consistently unable to replant and restore forests following devastating wildfires,” said Doug Piirto, department head for the Natural Resources Management Department at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and a member of the Forest Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Panel.

“The result is a loss of forestland and a loss of all the benefits these forests provide – from filtering our water to absorbing greenhouse gases,” Dr. Piirto said. “We need to commit ourselves to restoring our forests by doing all that is necessary: preparing the land, reforesting and following up with the required maintenance to ensure a healthy forest in the long term.”

On the heels of tree-planting celebrations last week to mark Arbor Day, the deforestation on federal forestland stands in stark contrast.

Over the course of the seven years, a total of 304,000 acres of federally owned forestland were deforested, with just 88,900 of those acres replanted. As a result, nearly 71 percent of the previously forested land has been replaced by brush.

The loss of forests limits the amount of carbon that could be absorbed by forests in California and help the state’s fight against global warming. According to the non-profit group American Forests, a restored acre has the ability of absorbing and storing 200 tons of carbon dioxide – or the equivalent of absorbing carbon emitted by 35 minivans.

“This deforestation deprives future generations of the forests we have enjoyed,” said George M. Leonard, Chair of the National Association of Forest Service Retirees and former Associate Chief of the US Forest Service. “Without replanting, the land turns to brush and becomes even more susceptible to another fire and more devastation to forestland.”

In 2007 alone, more than 100,000 acres of national forest land in California were burned into a deforested condition due to wildfires, compared to approximately 50,000 acres in 2006.

“Replanting has long been the policy and practice of the Forest Service,” Mr. Leonard said. “We must maintain that tradition and not allow tens of thousands of acres to be lost at a time when our forests are more needed than ever.”

The lack of reforestation stands in stark contrast to past efforts to reforest. In 1993, for example, following the 1992 Cleveland fire in California that consumed more than 20,000 acres, reforestation occurred – leaving us today with trees that are 15 to 20 feet tall. As part of an experiment, a small “ecoplot” was left untouched to see what would happen. Today, that land is filled with brush.

Unlike government-owned lands, private forest landowners quickly remove dead trees and other fuels for additional fires and then replant. For example, after the 2000 Storrie fire in Plumas and Lassen Counties, local private land manager W.M. Beaty and Associates removed dead trees and fuels on the 3,200 acres it managed that burned in the fire. Its reforestation efforts, including the planting of nearly one million trees, were completed by 2004. Some trees in this young, mixed conifer forest more than 7 feet tall.


About The Forest Foundation

The Forest Foundation is a non-profit organization that strives to conserve our forests and keep them healthy by sharing the knowledge of forestry experts with the public. Based in Auburn, Calif., its programs include scientific research, community outreach, education programs, and forestry exhibits. For more information, visit [here].

About the National Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR)

The National Association of Forest Service Retirees is a national, nonprofit organization of former Forest Service employees and associates who possess a unique body of knowledge, expertise and experience in the management of the National Forests and other forestland. NAFSR members strive to contribute to the understanding and resolving of natural resource issues through periodic review and critiques of agency policies and programs. For more information, visit [here].

5 May 2008, 9:57am
by Bob Z.

I wish these guys hadn’t retired. They are true professionals who kept our National Forests healthy and productive during their watch — at least until the Enviros and their lawyers got involved.

The National Forests have become a mess, and the process is accelerating. Is there anyone left with a little common sense and ability that can help to repair the damage?



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