26 Dec 2010, 3:07pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

Slow Children At Play In Colorado

It’s tough enough to do forest restoration given the hurdles of a corrupt and clueless Congress, a nearly dismantled US Forest Service, and an army of hysterical dis-enviros.

But somehow, once in awhile, the USFS does something right. Today we salute the Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests for stellar achievement in forest restoration.

The Boulder Ranger District covers 250,000 acres of the Front Range mountains in Boulder County and Gilpin Counties of Colorado. The Boulder RD forests are particularly at risk from catastrophic wildfire due to a-historical fuel accumulations and continuity of those fuels. Planning for the St Vrain Fuel Reduction Project [here] began in 2004, with goals of reducing fuels, opening up ponderosa pine stands to reduce crown-to-crown continuity, retaining and enhancing the old-growth pines, and restoring the meadows and open, park-like stands that are fire-resilient and historically appropriate.

Extensive public outreach was conducted, beginning in 2005. An Environmental Assessment was written and approved calling for treatment of 2,657 acres of mechanical and manual thinning. Treatment areas selected are close to the community of Allenspark [here].

After years of hand-holding with the local residents, the Boulder RD finally initiated the treatments last month.

It is unsurprising (tragically) that the usual cadre of wackos blew a fuse. After five years of planning that they refused to participate in, a wacko group calling themselves “Colorado Wild” uncorked an idiotic letter to the Boulder RD and the ARNF [here] demanding the thinning be halted immediately. They based their demand on the assertion that old-growth trees and “developing old growth” trees were being cut.

Nowhere does Colorado Wild define “developing old-growth” but we must assume they mean young-growth. What else could develop into old-growth?

Self-described “plant ecologists” Dianne Andrews and Tom Andrews took photographs of some of the cut trees [here]. The egregious example they show is a tree 18 inches in diameter that is less than 60 years old (count the rings!). It lies next to a log riddled with insect bore holes. Some other blue-stained pine logs are pictured (the blue stain fungus is spread by mountain pine beetles — the felled trees were D.O.A.)

Heaven forfend!

The Boulder Daily Camera reports:

Allenspark residents frustrated over loss of old-growth trees

Forest Service restoration project cut both old and young trees

By Laura Snider, Camera Staff Writer, 12/25/2010 [here]

Stan Huntting and many of his Allenspark neighbors aren’t opposed to cutting a few trees — hundreds of trees, even — in the forests that surround their homes.

That’s because they understand that the forests in western Boulder County today don’t look the way they once did before white settlers came to the area in the mid 1800s. More than a century of fire suppression has allowed ponderosa pine forests to become unnaturally dense.

So when the U.S. Forest Service proposed a restoration project that would include thinning the forested slopes on parts of Taylor Mountain near Allenspark in 2005, many locals were not opposed to the idea. But when the project finally got underway in the last couple of months, Huntting and his neighbors were upset by what they saw.

“We were all in favor of cutting lots and lots of trees, but they took the old trees,” Huntting said. “Restoration in ponderosa pine forests means rolling back the clock to before we started suppressing fire and doing what fire would have done: take out all the trees that are less than 100 years old. But they took the wrong trees. Nature would have never touched those big old buggers.” …

Sorry Stan, but nature has already “touched those old buggers”, in a mortal way via bugs ironically, and the trees are not that old, n’est–ce pas? More from the Daily Camera:

Both the Forest Service and neighbors agree that large portions of biomass needed to be removed form the area. Today, ponderosa pine forests on the Front Range can have as many as 100 to 400 trees per acre, Pecotte said. But researchers believe that those forests historically had as few as 25 to 100 trees per acre.

The aim of the Taylor Mountain project was to remove 40 percent to 60 percent of the “basal area” of the forest, Pecotte said. The basal area is computed by adding up the cross-sections of all the trees at a height of 41/2 feet from the ground. The Forest Service used a monitoring plot in the area to estimate that 43 percent of the basal area has so far been removed.

But the concern among neighbors is how they got the reduction. Tom Andrews — who says he’s counted 30 logging trucks passing by his home on Taylor Mountain…

OMG!!! 30 truck loads!!! Figuring 3,000 board feet per truckload, that’s 90,000 board feet, or about the standing volume on one acre in the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. Of course the trees are smaller in Colorado, so it took 2,657 acres to produce the same volume. More from the article:

The Forest Service does not deny cutting down some large trees. Of the 85 trees removed form the monitoring plot on Taylor Mountain, 12 were larger than 10 inches in diameter, Pecotte said. …

OMG!!! Twelve trees larger than 10 inches in diameter!!! In Oregon the brush is bigger than that. Trees achieve 10 inches DBH in less than 20 years. By age 25 many Oregon trees are larger than 25 inches in diameter. My neighbor Chauncy cut some 4-foot trees last year that were 54-years old (I counted the rings myself). But that’s Oregon. In Colorado the trees are of midget pygmy variety, evidently. A 10-inch tree is a monster to a Coloradoan. They swoon at the sight of an 18-inch tree, and break into tears when one is cut, even it’s blue-stained and full of beetle galleries. To a Coloradoan, a 60-year-old tree is old-growth. Coloradoans are funny (and not in the ha-ha sense of that word).

It is worth noting that the hysterical locals are the ones whose homes and community are most at risk from catastrophic fire. Their homes are built of boards which were trees once upon a time. And when the holocaust fire front blows into town, their homes will go up like so much tissue paper (also made of trees).

Unless, of course, the USFS undertakes restoration forestry and saves the resident’s bacon (and the other possessions in their wood-framed homes).

Which is exactly what the Boulder RD has done, and kudos to them for it!!!

27 Dec 2010, 12:17pm
by derek

I’m surprised they found a place to take the 30 loads, considering the nearest sawmill is 300 miles away! Of course, I’m sure the USFS paid the logger $1000/acre to remove the trees, what he does with them is his problem.Probably end up as firewood.

The real scandal, especially in the west and southwest, is that the only place’s you can increase logging are places where the majority consider themselves enviro’s. Colorado Wild hasn’t appealed any of the tens of thousands of acres of MPB salvage clearcutting around the ski resorts of Vail and Breckenridge.At $1000/acre. Breck gave Obama 66% of the vote.

I spent Christmas vacation looking at New Mexico’s Sen. Bingaman’s scheme called the “SW Jemez collaborative forest landscape restoration”. It will increase logging on the Santa Fe NF by eight times to 10,000 acres/year! The board footage produced will almost equal that logged in the “go-go get out the cut” 80’s! All in the name of fire mitigation.

The radical enviro’s at “WildEarth Guardians” (or whatever they call themselves this month) have endorsed it. By endorsing it they are also endorsing the idea that thinning prevents fires — I’m sure they have claimed just the opposite in many lawsuits. I’m also sure that they’ll soon claim they just invented forestry too. Of course, the new age crystal paradise of Santa Fe gave Obama 76%.

And as in CO, the nearest sawmill is 300 miles away. But that’s no matter. It will only cost $700/acre to treat it. Bingaman’s lined up $80 million dollars. Infrastructure is an after thought. At least in Montana, which has a functioning sawmilling infrastructure, the loggers are “paying” the USFS $250 dollars/acre in stumpage. We’re not talkin “pre-commercial” pile and burn stuff here. 65% of the Jemez output is trees 12-16″ DBH. 25% is 8-12″. That’s pretty merchantable stuff where I come from.

It bothers me that our tax dollars are going to “bale out” these “suddenly pragmatic” enviro’s, after they’ve greatly increased the cost to do so by destroying the timber infrastructure. You broke it, you bought it.

“Infrastructure”, or rather “how to attract it, is going to be the buzz phrase for the next ten years (or perhaps the fly in the ointment). If you were a banker, would you loan $30 million dollars, for 20 years, to a mill that is dependent on the goodwill of the WildEarth Guardians? It will be embarrassing to have the media find out they’re trucking it to a vacant lot out on somebody’s back 40. The moderate enviro’s have been trying to build an OSB plant around Flagstaff AZ for the last 10 years. The hangup is “how do you guarantee a 20 year supply”.

We all know how you guarantee the supply. It doesn’t matter to a banker that there is no NEPA litigation now, all that matters is there could be. A part of me would like to appeal every timber sale just to remind them. Why should a bunch of old hippies get what they want, while sawmills in Montana struggle for supply because the radical enviros continue to litigate there (I think the Bozeman office of Wild EG is litigating right now).

27 Dec 2010, 5:10pm
by bear bait

IN 1962, at a service station in Rifle, CO, I saw a picture of the biggest load of logs that ever came out of that country. Six logs on an old Army 6×6 short logger. You know, the kind with the top side brass screw rear ends. I don’t remember if it had the cloth top to the cab or not.

Maybe thirty years ago, maybe less, the Front Range behind Boulder burned. And the standing dead and the trees that were compromised began to house and send off boring insects to infect the healthy trees. All the summer home and cabin owners knew the jig was up, and there emerged a cooperative logging of the private lands to thin trees, remove dead and kindling, and generally make the landscape more resistant to wildfire. So it was sort of shocking when I read about the fire this fall. I thought that behind Boulder the countryside was inhabited by fire fearing realists who were into fuels management. I guess if you go without fire for a couple of generations of home owners, complacency sets in and the howling enviros drown out common sense, and you get the deal they have there now. Most of the volunteer fire fighters lost their homes and now live elsewhere. There is no real community impetus to drive long term solutions. Situation Normal, All Fouled Up… snafu time in Colorado…

When you are a power broker in the US Senate, you can get provident and special help for your state. We all remember when the Senator from South Dakota, the guy who had Harry Reid’s job, got a Black Hills Forest Restoration bill passed that let the USFS avoid all the pitfalls the rest of the hoi poloi has to endure. But just for the Black Hills. Tom Daschle did that for his State. I guess he did a lot for himself, as well, and his constituents did not re-elect him when he lost the Senate to the Republicans. Or he just quit. He ain’t there now. I am just pointing out what is possible.

27 Dec 2010, 6:40pm
by derek

Daschle’s “defense bill rider” only applied to two timber sales. Sometimes it just pays to live someplace in the sticks which isn’t an attractive place for enviro’s from around the country to move to. Someday New Mexico may use the BH’s as an example of “what could be” or “what might have been”.

Awhile back, somebody posted the language in Daschle’s bill. It went something like “…all courts in the United States or it’s territories are forbidden from hearing any litigation dealing with said timber sales…” Now how “unambiguous” is that. Perhaps someday it may be precedent setting.



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