Old-Growth Forests and Global Warming

Old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest was shut down 15 years ago with the imposition of the Northwest Forest Plan. Nary a stick has been cut in a decade and a half.

The idea was to “save” the spotted owls, a creature alleged to be “dependent” on old-growth.

Unfortunately, shutting down almost all logging of any kind on Fed lands (roughly 60 percent of the forested landscape) did not aid the owl. Spotted owl populations plummeted anyway, and owls now number less than 40 percent of what they did 15 years ago.

It seems that spotted owls are not old-growth dependent, due to the fact that they live and fledge young in second-growth forests. And it seems that predator-prey relations dictate owl population change, much as they do for virtually every species of wildlife.

But no matter. This post is not about spotted owls. It’s about that tired old canard that logging is killing all the old-growth.

Actually, that’s not the case. Competition from the dense thickets of young trees and the catastrophic forests fires that incinerate multi-cohort (old and young growth mixed) stands are to blame for the destruction of old-growth trees over the last 15 years.

But the old lie lives on, now with a new twist. Old-growth is claimed to have the magical property of staving off climate change. How do they do it, you ask? Why, by sequestering carbon dioxide, of course.

The trouble is, the sequestration is temporary. When the old-growth catches fire and burns with unnatural severity, a goodly portion of the biomass goes up in smoke. The remainder consists of newly dead wood, cooked at fatal temperatures, and the dead biomass rapidly rots, releasing (you guessed it) more CO2.

Let’s go over this difficult concept once more.

The old-growth trees arose during a period of frequent anthropogenic fire. The frequent, seasonal burns were light ground fires. The old-growth trees survived those low-intensity fires.

Then Indian burning was eliminated. The frequent, seasonal fires stopped. Thickets of new seedlings and saplings invaded. The old-growth root systems were unable to soak up enough moisture due to the competition from all the young, little trees. The old, big trees were stressed. They started to die.

Then the USFS instigated a Let It Burn program. Megafires erupted in every western state, record fires that burned more acres than any in recorded history. The fires burn very hot in the heavy fuels. All the trees die, young and old alike.

Fire is a chemical reaction. Combustion combines oxygen with cellulose and produces carbon dioxide, as well as numerous other pyrolysis byproducts.

Instead of storing carbon, our flaming forests are emitting carbon by the hundreds of tons per acre. Millions of acres burn every year. The last 15 years have seen a run up in acres burned from an average of less than 4 million acres per year to 10 million acres or more.

That’s a lot of CO2 emission (about a billion tons per year and growing, due to the accumulating rotting wood).

But the same old goofy claims are made that logging somehow emits CO2, not megafires. For instance, the Medford Mail Tribune ran this story today:

Local residents testify on global warming

By Paul Fattig, Medford Mail Tribune, March 04, 2009 [here]

Two Jackson County residents were among three Oregon scientists testifying Tuesday before a congressional subcommittee on the role of federal lands in battling climate change.

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist for the Ashland-based National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, and Medford resident Jack Williams, chief scientist for Trout Unlimited, joined Mark Harmon, a professor in Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, in calling for changes in federal forest management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The longer we delay action on climate change and the more we pump dangerous greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from our insatiable addiction to fossil fuels and unsustainable land-use practices, the worse the situation will become for future Americans,” forest ecologist DellaSala told the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands hearing in Washington, D.C.

“Climate change is not just an environmental problem,” he said. “It is a growing moral dilemma of national and economic security requiring a sea change in management and conservation of water, forests and the very air we breathe.”

Old-growth logging on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management needs to be halted to reduce the agencies’ carbon footprint, said DellaSala, president-elect of the Society for Conservation Biology’s North America section.

Evidently Dominick hasn’t gotten the memo. There is next to no logging going on Federal land, and what little there is does not include harvest of old-growth.

There have been, however, record-sized megafires that have incinerated millions of acres of old-growth. I’m sure Dominick has heard of the Biscuit Fire (2002). That 500,000 acre monster killed a lot of old-growth and roasted the carbon right out of the soil, too [here].

More from the Mail Tribune article:

Like DellaSala, Williams said greater concentrations of greenhouse gasses increase the potential for catastrophic wildfires, floods, droughts and threats from invasive species.

“Obviously, from the Trout Unlimited perspective, we’re concerned about impact on our fisheries and river flows,” he said “but it isn’t just the fish, wildlife and biodiversity but that will be affected. All the people who use our public lands will be impacted — recreationists, ranchers, loggers, nearby communities who depend on drinking water, everybody.” …

Harmon, a world expert on carbon-balancing in forests, said public forestlands can be used as carbon sinks to store greenhouse gases.

“Forests can play a role in offsetting greenhouse-gas emissions,” Harmon said in an interview following his testimony. “Forests can play a bridging strategy. They won’t absorb carbon forever but they can help us get to a more permanent solution.”

Younger forests don’t store as much carbon as a more mature forest, he stressed.

“We need to stop deforestation,” he said. “When we remove forests, we release a lot of carbon.”

You would think that if these “scientists” were actually concerned about greenhouse gas emission, their number one message would be to do something about the megafire crisis. (If so, you would think wrong.)

Logging is not deforestation. Logging harvests sequestered carbon in the form of logs and produces wood products like boards. The boards get nailed up into houses and thus the carbon remains sequestered. And after the logging, new trees are planted. It’s the law.

On the other hand, catastrophic fires do cause deforestation. Old-growth forests are combusted directly into CO2 and the charred remains are left to rot. No new trees are planted. Often the former old-growth forest is permanently converted to brush, because the site burns again (at intervals of 10 to 25 years).

The same organizations that begged Congress to halt old-growth logging participate in lawsuits to prevent fuels management, restoration forestry, and post-fire rehabilitation.

Let’s go over this difficult concept once more.

The enviro orgs file lawsuits that have forced the USFS to abandon active management. As a consequence our forests are burning up in massive holocausts. The same orgs also sue to halt rehab of the incinerated forests. Thanks to all that, CO2 is emitted by the billions of tons every year.

But here they are claiming that old-growth logging, something that hasn’t happened for 15 years, is the big problem leading to global warming.

There is a word for that line of bull: hypocrisy. The perps are blaming the victims. Those most responsible for catastrophic forest destruction are telling Congress that the innocent, hardworking people who are trying to save forests and store cellulose in clever and productive ways are to blame.

The hypocrisy is Orwellian. It’s a Big Lie.

Will Congress fall for it? Chances are good, since they have been falling for that particular Big Lie for 15 years. Congress is married to the Big Lie. There is nothing Congress loves more than a lie, and the bigger the better. The truth, even tiny truths the size of a sand grain, are not allowed on Capitol Hill.

Cockroaches yes, the truth no.

4 Mar 2009, 10:24pm
by Bob Z.

Harmon makes some reasonable points:

1) “They won’t absorb carbon forever but they can help us get to a more permanent solution.”

A more reasonable solution to what? C0-2 reduction, or carbon sequestration? Or what? The answer is: “they won’t absorb carbon forever” AND just as soon as they are burned, blown over, killed by beetles, or whatever (including logging), they stop storing carbon altogether and begin emitting C0-2 into the air. Sometimes in massive amounts.

A “more permanent solution” would be to immediately begin suppressing forest fires as quickly as possible, salvage all of the dead wood possible as quickly as possible, and to begin using wood as a substitute energy source for coal and oil. Harmon has had access to that information for at least 20 years. Why doesn’t he share it with Congress when he gets the chance? (Yep: rhetorical question).

2) “Younger forests don’t store as much carbon as a more mature forest, he stressed.”

“Younger forests” of what? “More mature” than what? Did you know that warmer water is hotter than cooler water? Somewhere, the ghost of Lewis Carrol is smiling. This sentence doesn’t make sense, of course, but if it did it could be shown to be false in a heartbeat. But it doesn’t.

3) “We need to stop deforestation,” he said. “When we remove forests, we release a lot of carbon.”

Yep! Especially deforestation caused by wildfire, bugs, wind, landslide, and disease! Is Congress aware of these facts, or were they glossed over in the testimony? Or purposefully avoided? Or just simply go unreported?

Although it was great to learn that Dr. Harmon is a “world expert on carbon balancing in forests,” it would be even better to learn what that means. There is not much indication in the quotes attributed to him, and there are no known forests on earth in which carbon has been shown to be “balanced.” Whatever that means. (Maybe George Orwell can help on this one).

5 Mar 2009, 8:40am
by Tim B.

Even if you could make carbon sequestration in forests permanent, a couple of guys wrote an article ahile back (Herzog, Eliasson, and Kaarstad; Caprtuing Greehouses Gasses, Sceintific American, Feb., 2000) that has as a sidebar the fact that to capture the carbon released worldwide per year by burning fossil fuels, you would have to plant trees, every year, on an area about the size of the Indian subcontinent. An area that has no tress right now, of course. And of course you would have to keep it from burning up, forever. Just ain’t gonna work; we don’t have enough barren areas that are capable of growing trees but that aren’t at the moment. These scientists talking about sequestering carbon within the active surface carbon cycle just kill me.

5 Mar 2009, 9:17am
by Doug

Wow, where do you get your facts? Santa Claus University?

In the first decade of the NWFP 141,300 acres of owl habitat “losses” caused by stand replacing fire on both federal and non-federal lands from 1994 to 2004. Raphael, M.G. (2006). Conservation of listed species: the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Chapter 7 in R.W. Haynes, B.T. Bormann, D.C. Lee, and J.R. Martin (technical editors), Northwest Forest Plan—the first 10 Years (1994–2003): synthesis of monitoring and research results. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon. http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/publications/gtr651/ p 121.

In the first decade of the NWFP 155,999 acres of suitable owl habitat were “removed” by “management” (i.e. logging) on federal lands from 1994 to 2003 (includes partial harvest). U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 2004. Estimated Trends in Suitable Habitat for The Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) on Federal Lands from 1994 to 2003. For Use By: Sustainable Ecosystems Institute for the Northern Spotted Owl 5-year Review. USDI Fish and Wildlife Serv.

In the same time period 583,500 acres of owl habitat “losses” were caused by “regeneration harvest” on non-federal forest lands from 1994 to 2004. Raphael, M.G. (2006). Conservation of listed species: the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Chapter 7 in R.W. Haynes, B.T. Bormann, D.C. Lee, and J.R. Martin (technical editors), Northwest Forest Plan—the first 10 Years (1994–2003): synthesis of monitoring and research results. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon. http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/publications/gtr651/ p 121.

Here is a slide show clarifying many misconceptions about forests, logging, and carbon:
(For full effect click “full” in the lower right.)

Here is a more detailed foot-noted report on forests, carbon and climate change:

Reply: Doug, if you want to play in this sandbox, be nice. We are happy to have input from Oregon Wild. However, the numbers you cite are biased and wrong.

The Biscuit Fire alone was 500,000 acres, much of that owl habitat. The B&B and other fires on the Deschutes have burned more than 200,000 acres, severely, all owl habitat. Just last year owl habitat was destroyed in the Rattle, Middlefork, Lake Lenore, Siskiyou Complex, Ukonom, Blue 2, Panther, Iron, Bear Wallow, and numerous other fires. Millions of acres of public forest owl habitat destroyed by holocaust is correct.

Private land has not been commandeered for owl set aside, as yet, due to the Constitution.

It might be nice if organizations like Oregon Wild made some slight attempt to be part of the solution instead of the problem. Try not to sue, sue, sue for a change, and put your efforts into saving forests through restoration instead of burning them down.

5 Mar 2009, 9:22am
by John M.

Reading Mr. Fattig’s article reminded me of the media releases of the 1970’s. Take a little fact, mix well with hyperbola and mythology and serve as real. The old growth thing, as Mike pointed out, has not been an issue for 15 years, if you are willing to use biological conditions as a criteria for old trees. If not, then I guess any tree that a human can’t see over would qualify.

It would be so nice to have our “conservationists” start dealing with the reality of forest conditions today, and the need to start taking care of these forests, if we want to pass on to future generations some fragment of healthy forests instead of brushfields.

5 Mar 2009, 2:02pm
by Trey

“next to no logging on federal lands”

Are you serious? Really?

5 Mar 2009, 2:18pm
by Mike


Prior to the Northwest Plan (1994) the average annual cut off Fed lands was ~4 billion board feet. After the NWFP was inflicted, the annual cut went down to less than 200 million board feet, something like 5% of former harvest levels.

100,000 jobs were lost and Washington, Oregon, and N. California plunged into a recession we have never recovered from. Owl populations continued to decline, and megafires have erupted repeatedly in the region.

All three states are bankrupt today, with state budget shortfalls in the $billions. Our public forests are jammed with fuels, because annual growth has exceeded 8 billion board feet. Massive conflagrations strike every year now in the region, costing hundreds of $millions in suppression outlays and doing tens of $billions in damages, each and every year.

Those are the facts. Clearcutting has not been practiced on Fed lands for a decade and a half. The tiny amount of harvest on Fed lands comes from thinnings. Most proposed thinnings are appealed and litigated. Few ever come to pass.

If the general public is unaware of these facts, it is because they have not been paying attention. Where I live, in a forest-based community, we are very aware of the economic and environmental hardships that “unmanagement” has perpetrated to our watersheds, livelihoods, and quality of life.

5 Mar 2009, 8:10pm
by bear bait

The milling equipment and logging equipment to log old growth is in Asia and Africa, logging tropical rainforests. It was sold here for scrap prices years ago. The rainforest trees being logged today fund warlords and their mayhem. All the big slackline towers and yarders that were built to span great distances in order to build far fewer roads now sit on the Plains and in the Midwest, drag-lining gravel for aggregate plants. You see them along the freeways all the way to Indiana and beyond. What log loaders that are being made today are constructed from trackhoe bodies made in Asia, and a log loader boom as an attachment.

The sawmills still in existence run on second and third growth logs from high site private land, clearcut at anywhere from 30 to 50 years of age. The “perfect” log is 40′-10″ long, 8″-12″ in diameter inside the bark on the small end, and not more than 22″ in diameter on the big end. Without an economy, even those have hardly any market. Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs one log today. The mills that cut old growth logs into myriad sizes and grades, for millwork to construction timbers, are long gone and scrapped, the machinery either in some other country working or you are driving it in the form of a Honda or Kia. Actually, probably one or two generations removed from the original Honda or Kia, as those, too, have been scrapped and smelted into something new, something blue.

So if any “old growth” is being logged as claimed, I have to wonder where. The private side liquidated theirs after the ESA was signed by Nixon. The private side old growth was gone by 1980 for all intents and purposes. And the trees planted on the last old growth clear cuts will be clearcut once again in the next ten to twenty years. Oil does not grow back but trees do. Iron ore and precious metals don’t grow back but trees do. Concept!!!

The Feds manage (how about that for an oxymoron?) their lands to burn. They even state so. If a spotted owl is burned out, that is not a BAD deal if you listen to their spin doctors. However, it is especially disingenuous to count spotted owls and whine about populations when wholesale fire is now your goal. You cannot have both owls and landscape fire. And you cannot reduce fuels without removing them, and if fire is the alternative, then burn the damned stuff, but QUIT WHINING ABOUT YOUR FRIGGING SURROGATES WHEN THEY ARE BURNED OUT OF HOUSE AND HOME OR COOKED THEMSELVES!!!

It is not logging or sawmills or habitat loss by corporate tree mongers, dolts, it is unrestricted fire across tens of millions of acres that has changed the owl landscape across its range for all subspecies from Vancouver Island to Northern Mexico.

And owl counters. How many owls were/have been/are being killed by owl counters. Go out and call them night after night, and get them accustomed to getting a mouse for coming like good little doggies, and then BAM! they get nailed by a great horned owl… or run out by a barred owl. Biologists have killed more owls than loggers in the last 25 years!!!! Yep… you get your instructions at the pre sale meeting, and the owl nest area is outlined on the map and you know they know, because they have called and located the nest. So you drive up in the morning, headlights on, and an owl is flying ahead of the pickup. And when you get to the unit, it is waiting in a tree as you pack up to hike to the bottom to the strip. So the owl is still there. So the next day one of the geniuses you work with shows up with some mice from the pet store-boa food-and you put one on the hood of the pickup in the pre-dawn, and BAM!, the owl picks it off and is gone. So the cutters worked there all summer and the owl was fed all summer… I have to wonder how many times this has happened. The owl hooters have trained the world to attract the owls. No wonder they are losing ground. But Foresman got a PhD and the owls will get extinction… go figure.

6 Mar 2009, 6:22pm
by Larry H.

In today’s overcrowded old growth stands, the intake of CO2 by the trees is massively curtailed by a lack of water. Shallow rooted old growth just can’t compete with the weedy trees coming up underneath. The old growth never had to develop the ultra-deep root system needed to survive these unnatural conditions.

As soon as plantation trees reach such a size where their crown volume matches a decadent old growth tree, they surpass the older trees in sequestering CO2.

“Younger forests don’t store as much carbon as a more mature forest, he stressed.” If he’s saying what I think he’s saying, well, DUH! However, a well-managed mature forest sequesters a LOT more carbon than an unmanaged stand. Also, an unmanaged stand eventually reaches a point when it becomes a carbon source.

And remember, eco’s WANT them to become a carbon source, through “beneficial fires”! And politicians want to tax all carbon except that coming from forests.

Some say that most CO2 remains in our atmosphere for 1000 years. So what happens to all those toxic gasses and CO2 that gets blasted into the upper atmosphere, where plants can’t get at it?

8 Mar 2009, 2:57pm
by Bob Z.


Exactly right. And a well-managed younger forest can sequester a lot more carbon than an unmanaged “mature” forest which is understocked, buggy, or heavily littered with dead wood and shrubs. Maybe that’s why we need international experts in balancing the carbon in our forests. (Or maybe just a little more common sense).

I just read an excellent piece in the Journal of Conservation Biology, so maybe there’s hope for that discipline yet. Maybe DellaSala is more political aberration than bellwether. One can hope.

25 Apr 2009, 3:02pm
by Valerie M.

Are you serious?!


So because Native Americans stopped managing the land and European settlers discontinued prescribed burns leading to thick, unmanaged understory and high-severity fire risk, we should just get rid of old-growth to reduce our own risk of fire???

You have got to be kidding! There are other ways to manage forests than to always chop it all down.

Whether you want to believe it, old-growth is the primary habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl. Sure they visit other forest types, they have wings, that’s what they do. They’re in the old growth, just have a listen and you’ll hear them. And its not only the damn barred owl that’s out there. And to the one who calls himself “bear bait”, there are no Great Horned Owls in old-growth forests. They can’t maneuver through the density, that’s why spotted owls take refuge in there.

Get your facts straight man. Wood boards don’t continue to sequester carbon. Its DEAD. It has ceased to function. Don’t try to convince people that there is a benefit to clearcutting and converting it to wood or toilet paper. Old-growth may not sequester as much carbon as younger forests but you neglect the fact that it provides habitat for a variety of species, increases biodiversity, and was here much longer than you or I were so there must be a pretty good reason for its existence dontcha think? How much carbon do you think the timber industry is contributing to global warming? Maybe thats what you should be thinking about.

You crazy lumberjacks are all the same…just out to get the wise old trees who never laid a branch on you.

YOU are the cause of global warming.



Graduate with a degree in Environmental Science & Resource Management

25 Apr 2009, 10:21pm
by Bob Z.

Hi Valerie:

You should read what you are commenting on more carefully before becoming so unhinged.

You are getting very excited and vehement about words and thoughts you are putting in someone else’s mouth, which isn’t very fair.

I am not a crazy lumberjack, I am not the cause of Global Warming, Global Warming does not actually seem to be occurring (and wouldn’t be a bad thing even if it was), and most of your other assertions are equally laughable, misdirected, and/or incorrect.

I’m curious what you’ll be doing with your degree. “Science” or “resource management?” (Also, you may want to check out a dictionary for a definition of “wise.”)

26 Apr 2009, 6:58am
by Larry H.

I think this ties in with what Gore was trying to imply while he was getting grilled by the esteemed Mr. Walden. Uncle Al was trying to say that since loggers used to clearcut and high grade that they can no longer be trusted under NEPA to do the right things, despite the large amount of contract provisions, laws, BMP’s, policies, documents and rules on forest management.

Even Joe Sixpack will think you have gone off the deep end reading your rant, Valerie. I’m amazed you didn’t bring out the r*pe analogy that compares sound forest management to violence against women, too.

Also, I think you may have gotten a bum deal on that expensive education, Val. I hope you got a good warranty, as I think it was surely past its “freshness date”. God knows some of those college professors haven’t seen the woods since the Carter Administration.

26 Apr 2009, 5:58pm
by Valerie M.

You guys can think what you want, but I don’t see any facts here proving me wrong. Please feel free to prove me wrong with your own scientific investigations. I got my education from some of the best professors the UW has to offer. Some of whom have worked directly for Congress and the White House to create the Northwest Forest Plan. The education I received was not limited to a classroom on campus, but extended to many forest ecosystems with a great emphasis on old-growth forests on the Olympic Peninsula to study forest management practices as well as sound and sustainable timber harvesting. You seem to have so little faith in professors, but they do indeed spend a great deal of time out in the field. Mine have anyway…

I think you all are ridiculous. This whole things is. Why do I waste my time with this? I may not have lived as long as you, but I will live past the day you die, forced to live with unhealthy management practices if we continue to go in that direction. Global warming (which we all know occurs naturally anyway, I’m not about to get into that argument) IS occurring and at a much faster and significant rate than normal. Its just ignorant to ignore a problem and leave it to our children to deal with.
I don’t even know why I bother with this…

26 Apr 2009, 10:13pm
by Mike

Valerie, you bother because you care about us and care about forests. We return the emotions.

For your express benefit, and the benefit of others, W.I.S.E. provides a free, on-line set of post-graduate courses in environmental studies, currently fifty Topics in eight Colloquia, each containing book and article reviews, original papers, and essays. Reviews and original articles are archived in our Library [here].

The History of Western Landscapes Colloquium [here] is a great starting point, in my opinion. Forest and Fire Sciences [here] and Restoration Forestry [here] are also excellent. Paleobotany and Paleoclimatology [here] is a good place for climate questions.

The most cutting-edge forest thinkers are listed: Kat Anderson, Stephen J. Pyne, Omar Stewart, William Denevan, E.C. Pielou, Charles Kay, and over a hundred others, with more in the offing.

I regret that I have not had time to make alphabetical lists or key word clouds. But each sub-site has a search applet in the upper right. Type in a key word, such as an author’s name, and press ENTER.

Somewhere in the W.I.S.E. Library [here] are the answers to all your questions as well as links to the scientific findings and empirical evidence.

In the case of Western forests, trees invaded from Ice Age refugia about 11,500 years ago. Humanity preceded the forests by at least 2,000 years and possibly as much as 20,000 years. Western forests have never experienced a time when people, and human-set fire, were not present.

Forests have persisted and even flourished in the West during the Holocene, even though people have been here the whole time. That includes the Climatic Optimum of 8,000 years ago and the Little Ice Age, the warm and cold extremes of the Holocene.

However the climate might change in the future (the best experts say we are in a 30-year cooling phase, see the Paleobotany and Paleoclimatology Colloquium [here] ) our forests have withstood more extreme conditions.

The only climate change that could (and will) affect forests is neo-glaciation and a return to Ice Age conditions. That phenomenon has occurred like clockwork 18 times over the last 1.8 million years. The mechanism is thought to be eccentricities in the Earth’s orbit and tilt, not greenhouse gases. Global cooling is the danger generations to come will have to face, not global warming.

27 Apr 2009, 9:57am
by Larry H.

Sorry, Valerie. I hope we can have a civil debate where everyone can learn. I’d like to think that I have an excellent feel for ecosystem interaction and “cinergy”.

I was able to resist the logging emphasis at Humboldt and went into the Forest Service with thoughts of “saving the forests”. My experiences there were very well-rounded with 20+ years of varied fieldwork. No desk job for this guy. I’ve worked on 27 different National Forests and seen the good and the bad and the ugly of the Forest Service.

They were like a giant rudderless ship trying to sail against a great wind to the promised land of everything for everyone in our great public forests. The ship’s crew has been strong in carrying out the wishes of distant Admirals, which usually takes them off course, right or left, from the original mission’s course. They persevere, thinking they are doing the right thing at the right time, having to trust the admirals but, secretly grumbling about the course changes. With great skill and patience, the crew has had to tack against the wind with that floppy rudder. What is amazing is that they have gotten so far towards that promised land. However, the winds continue to blow, and show no signs of letting up.

The public doesn’t see or understand the challenges the Forest Service has had over the years. The public doesn’t know the danger the National Forests are in, either. The public has also been blind to how much they have changed since checkerboarded clearcuts covered the landscape. Again, the Forest Service has been diverted away from the “promised land”. Allowing massive catastrophic fires to rage across the landscape is surely worse than a few stumps here and there, with a still intact canopy. Suddenly changing a massive forest landscape to solid brush is surely a worse change and more abrupt than “global warming”, eh? Today’s wildfires are destructive, not beneficial.

Here in California National Forests, clearcuts have been banned, voluntarily so, since 1993. For a bird which isn’t even on the Endangered Species List. They have also banned the cutting of trees over 30″ dbh, some of which aren’t even old growth. They also have lower diameter limits in younger stands. A 30″ dbh tree can easily be less than 80 years old. We need to be managing our forests, to restore them to meet everyone’s (and everything’s) needs. Cut tree diameter averages are often between 14 and 15 inches in diameter.

Please comment on this, Valerie, and maybe we can learn from each other (and others who post here!) We here who love the forests, first need to gain some respect from the forces who oppose us before we can gain some trust. I hope the opposite is the same, as well. Hopefully, we will be here to lead when people learn the truth about our forests. The scientific truth.

PS I no longer work in the profession…disabled

29 Apr 2009, 12:48am
by YPmule

It doesn’t take a PhD to see that a healthy tree with room to grow will sequester more carbon than a tree that is on fire.

Don’t we thin our veggies when we tend our gardens so the remaining plants will grow to their full potential?



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