Wilderness Designation Is a Death Sentence For Old-Growth

The PC “wisdom” states that wilderness designation is the “most protective” land management style available. Example: the Sportsmen For Copper-Salmon Wilderness (a front group for enviro-radicals) claims that anything less than wilderness leaves the land “unprotected.”

From the SFCSW website [here]:

The Case for Wilderness

For over a decade, grassroots conservationists have worked hard to secure Wilderness designation for the Copper-Salmon region within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southwest Oregon.

In recent years, a broad and bipartisan coalition of local conservationists, elected officials, business owners, river guides and local and statewide sportsmen’s organizations have added their voices to the Copper-Salmon Wilderness campaign.

Wilderness designation for the Copper-Salmon area will protect the headwaters of the Elk River and ensure that one the finest salmon and steelhead fisheries on the Pacific Coast is safeguarded for our children and beyond.

Quick Facts on Copper-Salmon Proposed Wilderness Area

- Located in southwest Oregon, near the coastal town of Port Orford
- Encompasses 13,700 acres of currently unprotected roadless wild lands
- Includes one of the most productive spawning streams in the lower 48 states
- Has good habitat for black bear, mountain lion and blacktailed deer. Roosevelt elk use some areas for thermal cover.

Sounds like a plan, eh? Just slap that wilderness designation on and presto, unprotected forest becomes protected.

Except that just exactly the opposite is the truth. Wilderness designation is the kiss of death to forests.

Why? Because wilderness designation means that wildfires will not be fought, and those wildfires will decimate the forest, streams, and habitat within the wilderness boundaries.

Take the case of the Sky Lakes Wilderness on the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF. The Sky Lakes Wilderness was incinerated last month in the Middlefork Fire of the Lonesome Complex. The Middlefork Fire was ignited by lightning on Aug. 16th. Because it was wilderness, the RR-SNF decided to Let It Burn. Three weeks later the fire had grown to 1,280 acres and a bare handful of firefighters were watching it burn. Some slight effort was made to backburn from outside the wilderness area, but those efforts only expanded the fire. A week later the fire was 5,160 acres and had burned outside the wilderness. Firefighter numbers expanded to over 500 personnel, but no direct attack was implemented.

Then all hell broke loose.

The Middlefork Fire started growing by the thousands of acres per day, driven by canopy firestorms. The fire created its own winds and massive fire plumes developed. The heat vortexes killed all trees and sucked the soil 20,000 feet into the air. Total forest mortality (trees, animals, insects, lichen, spotted owls, etc.) ensued.

By Oct 1st 21,000 acres of old-growth forests were dead. The fire had invaded the Fremont-Winema NF and Crater Lake National Park. Over $18 million had been spent on backburning and “monitoring.” The entire Middle Fork of the Rogue River had been incinerated, not by a mild ground fire but by firestorm, the most severe type of forest fire.

Good-bye to the Sky Lakes old-growth. It has been replaced by scorched earth wasteland.

Or take the case of the Boulder Creek Wilderness. The Boulder Creek Wilderness was 19,100 acres of heritage ancient forest on the Umpqua NF. The operative word is “was” because last month the Rattle Fire consumed 90% of the Boulder Creek watershed.

The Rattle Fire was ignited by lighting on Aug 13th. Firecrews from the NW Oregon Incident Management Team had the fire under control at 945 acres on Sept 1, but they were ordered off the fire because Let It Burn is the policy for wilderness areas. Within two days the fire blew up into a raging canopy fire, forming plumes and decimating every living thing in its path. By Oct 2 the Rattle Fire had consumed 20,200 acres and cost over $30 million to backburn and monitor.

Boulder Creek is tributary to the North Umpqua, a world-class steelhead stream. This coming winter the rains and snows will slough whole hillsides off into the stream, destroying spawning beds.

Do the “conservationist sportsmen” of the SFCSW give a hoot? Not on your life, nor on the life of their allegedly beloved steelhead either. Neither the Middlefork Fire nor theRattle Fire are mentioned on their website. They have conveniently ignored the fiery destruction.

Total incineration of old-growth forests by firestorm is not “protection.”

The Kalmiopsis Wilderness on the RR-SNF has been ravaged by firestorms twice in the last 20 years, first by the Silver Fire (1987) and then by the Biscuit Fire (2002). The entire 100,000 acre wilderness has been roasted by high intensity fires that have killed every single old-growth tree.

Is that “protection”?

No. Killing something is different from protecting it. Killing old-growth and replacing it with tickbrush is the diametric opposite of protecting it.

It is difficult these days to find a single wilderness area that has not been incinerated in the last 15 years by severe firestorm fires. Even the westside “rainforest” Bull of the Woods Wilderness was subjected to a Let It Burn fire this summer.

Wilderness designation is directly to blame. The policy is Let It Burn in wilderness, and sadly in much of the rest of our National Forest System today as well.

If you want to kill a forest and wipe it off the face of the Earth, declare it wilderness. There is no better way to murder old-growth, pollute streams, decimate habitat, obliterate trails, and otherwise lay waste to the land than wilderness designation.

Special bonus comment: I lifted the following off the Oregon Live website [here]. I can only guess at the actual author, since a nom-de-plume was used.

Arson! USFS arson!!! They had this fire contained, and then changed out overhead, did nothing for the time it took the new overhead team to take control, lost the fire, and now abject incompetence runs the fire.

20,000 acres is greater than the whole of the “pocket wilderness” that the Boulder WAS!!! It is no longer. This is the second fire in the last 10 years, and now the soil has gone to sky in the plume, rocks are raining down on the highway below the drainage, and the fire is making a run toward Reynolds Ridge and the Willamette National Forest.

This is public policy gone nuts!! Stupidity at its apex. This is the complete incineration of valuable habitat that was “saved” from logging and roads, and part of the whole of public policy that has put Douglas county in the poor house. The “saved” resource is now nothing more than blackened rocks, incinerated trees, and mineral soil tempered by fire.

Next winter the North Umpqua River, the Zane Grey fishery so special that not even a weighted fly can be used nor a strike indicator on your line, is ruined; a river reserved for the elite and now the elite are going to have to fish the mud of burn runoff for years.

Total incompetence is driving this process, and if anyone says any different, you know they are in on the ploy to burn our forests to save them. The MacNamara Plan for Viet Nam, burn the village to save it from communism, is at work on our National Forests: burn them to keep them from being logged or used by man in any way. Diabolical and dangerous, and now fatal to a wilderness gone up in smoke, in its entirety. The wilderness value is no longer there. Now all there is are dead trees, blackened rocks, and a destroyed watershed.

This more than questionable policy of letting fires burn at the apex of fire season has to be questioned by our Congress, but the idiots we elect from Oregon have other fish to fry and can’t be bothered. Wu doesn’t know his butt from third base, DeFazio is so disjointed and out of focus as to be the joke of this century, and Blumenhauer hasn’t showed up on a fire riding a bicycle and in a Nomex shirt with a bow tie, but I expect it at any time. Walden is a Republican and not to be trusted in Western Oregon where high tech and government pay checks are endless and to be expected, so nobody really cares except about their not being to use the Diamond Lake Highway out of Roseburg.

If this fire is the portend of the future of land management in Oregon, then hold on to your fannies, because the intent is to burn you out and have some third world immigrant grow dope in the National Forests like they are being designed to accept. Get those damned old growth trees killed, and let the sun on the dope fields.

9 Oct 2008, 11:40am
by Greg B


I see that the government has finally totaled up the total economic benefit of wildlife watching in the U.S. (in 2006): $122.6 BILLION dollars in total industrial output that resulted in 1,063,482 jobs, a federal tax revenue of $9.3 billion, and a state and local tax revenue of $8.9 billion. (http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2006_economics.pdf) This is a huge impact on the economy.

So now we have further economic impacts when land is designated as “wilderness” and catastrophic fire is allowed to burn the forests down. This impact is of course besides the loss in timber value that must total into the multi-billions of dollars as well. How can the American people afford to allow this to happen? Well, they must be God-damned sheep, asleep-at-the-wheel, head-up-their-ass and wiggling their ears!!!!

I am totally frustrated that poll after poll has the democrat candidate for President, Barack Hussein Obama, leading over a true patriot, John Sidney McCain. When are the American people going to wake up and see the truth! We cannot continue to elect socialists and communists to high office and expect our nation to excel. Socialism has failed everywhere is has been tried, and now its failing here in the United States of America. Our economic crisis is being driven by socialist ideals misapplied to a capitalist system.

If we elect Obama as President the result will be despotic leaders with more control over our lives, more burning of old-growth forests, less lumber available to build homes, and government or party lackies standing on every street corner in the U.S. with machine guns, telling us to drop our drawers, bend over and take another one in the rear.

God help us all.

14 Oct 2008, 7:18pm
by YPmule

In 1988 while everyone was watching Yellowstone burn, the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho was also burning. I was there after the “season ending event”, trying to lead a pack string through an alien looking landscape — all black and white and the trail was gone. I remember thinking at the time, what the heck am I doing here on vacation, struggling over and around burnt trees to go camping? I didn’t go back there again; why would I waste my vacation time hanging out in a burn? Eventually as more of the wilderness has burned, the less of it I went to see.

I would think that other recreationists would feel the same. We want to play in a green forest, not a black one.



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