The Forest Service’s Institute of Forest Genetics, in Placerville, California, has announced an important development to provide future nest trees, for imperiled birds on the Endangered Species List. Dr. Marie Shelley says that a twelve year effort has produced sapling trees, which exhibit the branching characteristics needed by birds, for nest trees which protect their young from predators like the Great Grey Owl. After eight years of finding seed trees, and cone collecting, the Forest Service’s Placerville Nursery is now producing saplings that will grow into the limby, short trees that nesting birds prefer. The efforts have been met with opposition from anti-GMO groups, claiming that such “experiments” could lead to “Frankenstein Forests”, breeding with the native species and putting forests at unacceptable risk. Dr. Shelley says that those genetics already naturally exist, and there is simply no danger to current gene pools.
The Forest Service has provided this picture of their first “Mother Tree”, found on the Black Hills National Forest, showing the increased branch growth that foresters have always called “Wolfy Trees”. Often, in the past, these trees were cut down and left in the forests, without any commercial value. The revolution in forest science during the 90′s has led to using such trees as “Wildlife Trees”, considered a much better use of these kinds of trees. Researchers say that these “Wolfy Trees” have accelerated growth rates, if they have open sun. The Black Hills National Forest has implemented the pilot program and is now interplanting their site-specific special trees in areas impacted by bark beetles and wildfires.
We’ve certainly discussed and debated the proposed Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act from Montana’s Senator Max Baucus on this site before. However, a new article in today’s Great Falls Tribune covers one aspect of this issue that we definitely haven’t discussed before.
You’ll have to read the entire article to more fully understand the issue, but the general gist is that in Teton County, Montana – which includes much of the Rocky Mountain Front landscape – old public County Road No. 380 was unilaterally declared private in 1988, which closed off public access to not only state lands, but also portions of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in the Deep Creek area. Today, old County Road No. 380 terminates near a large horse barn on land owned by Late Show host David Letterman. As the Great Falls Tribune reports:
What makes the fight over old County Road No. 380 unique is that it accesses public land that abuts the proposed 17,000-acre “Deep Creek Addition” to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex contained in Sen. Max Baucus’ “Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.” If Baucus’ bill passes and becomes law, the new federally designated wilderness area would be inaccessible from the east.
Anderson pointed out that the Heritage Act’s supporters have promoted the measure with assurances that it would maintain access for hunters and recreationists. Anderson said if old County Road No. 380 isn’t reopened to the public, only one landowner will have access to that new wilderness — Late Night talk show host David Letterman — who owns the only piece of private land adjacent to wilderness proposed by the Heritage Act.
From Dick Boyd:
What is the understanding of forest managers regarding relicensing of hydroelectric generators?
My observation is that the geographic area of the project does not extend far enough from the water to establish responsibility.
There is a need for fuels management, including reduction, to prevent the type fire that results in siltation of the reservoir. Most licenses seem to be predicated on tens of feet of elevation or tens of yards from the high water mark.
Seldom is the hydroplant tasked to pay for services rendered in fuels management.
This question was prompted by my observation at a public meeting that the map suggested the licensing would address the entire geographic area of the watershed. Someone else asked a question about the map. The response was that the project geographic area was limited to a small perimeter around the reservoir. Then the discusion went on about boat ramps and recreation. Neither fire fighting or fuels reduction was mentioned.
Dick, my only involvement in this topic was whether the FS should do separate NEPA on its terms and conditions, or their should be one NEPA document associated with the decision and terms and conditions.
Also in the case of non-FERC dams in Colorado, the water provider pays for part of fuels treatment to protect from sedimentation voluntarily.
Do others know more about this?
Pages on this blog are on tabs above on top. I’ve started a new one called “New Topics or Questions from Readers” for ideas that we can post about. A couple of these had turned up in the comments policy section, so this fits better and hopefully encourages more people to submit ideas for posts or questions.