My fun day at work included talking about which forests want to revise, the wisdom of working with BLM on broadscale assessments and other topics. Midafternoon I received a text message from the sheriff’s department telling me to evacuate, but it didn’t seem to know what subdivision I was in. After a full day of planning work, I stepped out of the office at 6:15 to a large smoke plume to the southwest and the smell of smoke.
I just received a note from a relative that they are getting out buckets and they are evacuating two miles away from their house. They ended up being evacuated and spending the night (a cat) at our house. The point of this post is that living in fire country is an experience that first, affects more than the people evacuated; it affects the broader community, and second, am perhaps cannot be adequately communicated to people in the wet West and to the east coast.
Eyes watering red
Evacuated cat here
Must leave for work soon
The Sequoia suffers from many blockades to sensible forest management and protection. With the only mill within more than 100 miles away, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and being hamstrung by unreasonable diameters limits for harvestable timber, as well as having the Giant Sequoia National Monument to manage, they face a very long uphill battle to update their 24 year old Forest Plan.
Also opposing them is the Sierra Club, who continue to portray the Forest Service as loggers of ancient Giant Sequoias. They wish that all 300,000+ acres of the Giant Sequoia National Monument be free of all logging projects, despite there being only about 10,000 acres of already protected Giant Sequoia groves within the Monument. The McNally Fire nearly killed the world’s second largest tree, when it was allowed to burn for weeks. The Sierra Club is quite happy to let their followers think that the Forest Service will cut the sequoias down, and that clearcuts and the cutting of big trees will happen. The Sierra Club wants the Monument to be “un-managed”, just like the adjacent Sequoia National Park. They also don’t realize that the Park Service doesn’t follow the same rules on prescribed fires that the Forest Service does. You cannot solely use prescribed fires to manage the fuels build-ups of 80 years, on hundreds of thousands of acres. Besides, the California Board of Air Resources don’t have enough burn days, when prescribed fires would be “in prescription”. The Park Service is well known for losing their management fires, which can be set during high temperatures and dry conditions.
This may be one of the most contentious new Forest Plans under the new Planning Rule. I wonder how much it will change when the only lumber mill in southern California goes bankrupt.
Here’s the link.
Broad Support for Final Planning Rule
Final rule to restore the nation’s forests through science and collaboration
WASHINGTON, Mar. 26, 2012 – On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final Planning Rule for America’s 193 million-acre National Forest System that includes stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities.
USDA and the Forest Service carefully considered more than a quarter million comments received on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement issued in February to develop today’s final rule, which emphasizes collaboration, sound science and protections for land, water and wildlife.
The final rule strengthens the role of public involvement and dialogue throughout the planning process. It also requires the use of the best available scientific information to inform decisions.
Praise for the rule and its collaborative development has been broad-based:
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-NM), Chairman, Energy & Natural Resources Committee
“The new forest planning rule is good news for our National Forest watersheds, local economies and outdoor recreational opportunities. I’m pleased that the rule provides for more public engagement and lower costs for developing strong, collaborative and science-based land management plans. After many years and many attempts to reform the National Forest planning process, I believe this is a balanced and realistic approach for moving forward.”
Dale Bosworth, former Chief of the U.S. Forest Service
“This is the most collaborative Forest Service rulemaking I’ve ever seen. The Forest Service worked for over two years with the American public to develop a planning rule that will protect our natural resources, promote sustainable recreation and safeguard our precious drinking water, all while allowing for timber harvest and encouraging restoration. This new planning rule promotes collaboration and will continue to engage the American people throughout all stages of planning. The Forest Service can now move forward to implement a new planning rule for the benefit of future generations.”
Laura McCarthy, Senior Policy Advisor, The Nature Conservancy
“The Forest Service should be complimented for producing a much needed Final Forest Planning Rule. Healthy forests support the well-being of our nation, yet more than half of the national forests are operating with out-of-date plans. We are glad the Forest Service has come out with a Final Rule that will allow new plans to be developed more efficiently. It is time to roll up our sleeves and work with the agency to update these plans.”
Michael Goergen, Executive Vice President and CEO, Society of American Foresters
“The Forest Service is revising national forest plans using regulations developed in 1982 — before the development of the McIntosh or Windows. Each attempt to modernize those regulations has been litigated, usually by both environmental and development groups. The quality of the environment cannot possibly be enhanced by using outdated rules. The new rules should be given a chance to work.”
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
“We are pleased that the Forest Service can now begin to implement this modernized final planning rule. Through working closely and cooperatively with the respective state fish and wildlife agency, implementation of the rule will ensure sustainability of fish and wildlife resources consistent with the plan area habitat. It will also ensure that the plan area will contribute to landscape level conservation of fish, wildlife and their habitats. We support the Forest Service moving quickly to effectively implement the rule to meet these conservation objectives.”
And others you saw in the previous post.
This is an example of a “protected” nesting site for a northern spotted owl. It was never logged and will not be habitat for many decades, especially if a reburn occurs. It sure doesn’t look “natural and beneficial”, to me, OR the owls and goshawks.
Here are the kind of snags (the large orange-marked one) that were selected to be “saved”, within Biscuit cutting units. Of course, only 4% of the 500,000 acres of the Biscuit were salvaged, so there certainly is no lack of snags in the huge burn.
Here is a cutting unit where mortality was close to 100%, in unlogged old growth. Instead of thinning a green stand, we ended up “thinning” snags.
Here is some erosion, in a small gully. I wonder what the “cumulative impacts” of hundreds of similar gullies have upon salmon populations, and other aquatic organisms. Surely, some of these gullies experienced accelerated erosion in the 5+ years since I took this picture.
The following press release and article come from the Geos Insitute. – mk
Ashland, Oregon – Scientists released new findings today on the importance of mature and old-growth forests in preparing the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon and northern California for global climate disruptions. Published in the January edition of The Natural Areas Journal (Volume 32: 65-74) by the Natural Areas Association, the study calls on regional land managers to protect mature and old-growth forests as an insurance policy for fish and wildlife facing mounting climate change pressures from rising temperatures, declining snow levels, and reductions in fog along the coast. Click here to read the article.
The project was led by the Ashland-based Geos Institute who brought together scientists with back grounds in climate change science, Klamath-Siskiyou regional ecology, and conservation planning to comb through data on temperature and precipitation changes and to develop recommendations to help adapt ecosystems while the ecological and economic costs are relatively low.
According to Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist & President of Geos Institute, who led the project team, “for millennia our region’s mature and old-growth forests have been a wellspring for nature and they now hold the keys to sustaining the very ecosystem benefits we will increasingly depend on for fresh water, clean air, and viable fish and wildlife populations as global climate disruptions increasingly impact our area.”
One of the authors of the study, Reed Noss, Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Central Florida, underscored the importance of the studies findings for land managers. “Climate change, combined with habitat loss and fragmentation, is the greatest threat we face to nature. This study shows that land managers can reduce impacts of climate change by protecting older forests in a region whose biological diversity has been recognized globally as among the top ten coniferous forests on earth.”
The study used computer mapping and extensive data sets on regional climate and wildlife distributions to determine what areas are most likely to hang on to their local climatic conditions for wildlife seeking refuge from rising temperatures and changes to precipitation caused by climate change disruption. Old growth and mature forests, with their closed canopies and moist environments, are predicted to remain cooler for longer periods of time, therefore providing refuge for species that depend on these conditions.
• Based on related studies undertaken by Geos Institute and partners, climate disruptions in the Rogue basin, for instance, will likely include: (1) an increase in average annual temperatures from 1 to 3° F by around 2040 and 4 to 8° F by around 2080; (2) substantial increases in summer temperatures of 7 to 15° F by 2080; and (3) snow turning more often to rain in lower elevations with a decrease in average January snowpack and corresponding decline in spring runoff and stream flows. Other studies document significant reductions in fog along the coast, which pose risks to coastal redwoods.
• While all of the regions’ older forests are important, those on north-facing slopes and in canyon bottoms, lower- and middle-elevations, and wetter coastal mountains will provide for cooler, moister conditions as the rest of the region heats up.
• Several areas deserve immediate conservation attention because they contain high concentrations of older forests with preferred climatic conditions, including along the southern bend of the Klamath River Northern in California; lower slopes of the Klamath River from around China Point eastwards to Hamburg in California; northern slope of the Scott Bar Mountains and along the lower Scott River in California; coastal areas in Oregon and in the foothills behind the redwood belt in northwestern California; the Middle Smith River in California; areas west of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, southwest Oregon; southeastern watersheds of the Siskiyou Mountains (e.g., Dillon and Rock Creek area, California); and the northern Siskiyou Mountains to western Siskiyou Crest region, California. These areas are likely to serve as wellsprings of nature as the climate increasingly shifts.
• BLM landholdings in western Oregon are noteworthy as they contain over 1.6 million acres of mature and old-growth forests, which are critical for threatened species like the spotted owl and marbled murrelet, and 1.8 million acres of habitat critical to coho salmon recovery. These are some of the last low-elevation forests in the region that can still function as a climate refuge but are at the biggest risk from logging proposals being championed by Congress.
• Reducing non-climate stressors from logging, roads, and other land uses is the single most important adaptation measure that land managers can take now to reduce climate related impacts.