Bob Zybach is bringing this draft review article to our attention.
The article is by Mark Swanson, a professor at Washington State University.
Here is the abstract
Early seral forest is attracting increasing attention from scientists and managers. This literature review, produced under contract to the United States Forest Service, addresses basic questions about this important seral stage in the forests of the Pacific Northwest (west and east of the Cascades Range). Generative processes, historic landscape abundance, ecological value, associated species (and their ecological adaptations and conservation status), landscape-scale considerations (including patch size), and issues relatied to forest management are central topics. In general, naturally structured early seral forest in the Pacific Northwest is important for many ecosystem services and species (including obligates and near-obligates), but has declined from historic landscape proportions.
And the Conclusions:
While the public is not necessarily predisposed against early seral forest (and in some cases may favor certain types), there is still greater public concern over late-successional types (Enck and Odato 2008), likely due to widespread policy and media emphasis on old-growth forests and their relationship to management. However, specific values associated with early seral habitats, from big game production to huckleberry harvesting, are attracting increasing attention from the public. Managers concerned about maintaining rare species are increasingly acknowledging the value of early seral habitats for a substantial portion of the biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest. Potential management responses may include:
Deferring salvage and dense replanting across all or parts of major disturbed areas (Lindenmayer and Noss 2006, Lindemayer et al. 2008))
When salvaging, practice variable retention to retain significant structural elements such as large-diameter live trees, snags, and down woody debris (Franklin et al. 1997, Eklund et al. 2009).
Avoiding reseeding with exotic plant species such as perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) following fire or volcanic eruption (see Dale et al. 2005b).
Attempt to incorporate elements of natural disturbance regimes into landcape-scale management (Lindenmayer and Franklin 2002)
Deliberate creation of large, early seral areas via silviculture (Swanson 2010).
Researchers have an important role to play in facilitating changing attitudes. Much of the excellent research done on seral dynamics in Northwestern forests (e.g., Ruggiero et al. 1991) was focused on biota associated with young, dense forests, mature forests, and late-seral forests. The pre-canopy closure stage component of succession was either not measured (as in Ruggiero et al.), or clumped together with stem exclusion (sensu Oliver and Larson) stands in analysis. While there is an increasing amount of research on true early seral forest, and management responses to these advances (King et al. 2011), much remains to be done in most temperate forest regions both in terms of research and management (Swanson et al. 2011b). It is hoped that the diversity and value of early seral conditions, from clearcuts to structurally and compositionally complex early seral habitat, will come to be recognized and widely incorporated into contemporary land management.
Aviation accidents account for more wildland firefighter deaths than any single other cause. From 1999 to 2009, 61 firefighters died as a result of air crashes. On Sunday, two more aviators’ names were added to that list when their airtanker crashed while dumping retardant on the White Rock fire. On that same day, tragedy was averted narrowly when another retardant airtanker was forced to make a belly landing because one of its gear failed to deploy.
In 2002, a government-appointed Blue Ribbon Panel concluded that “The safety record of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters used in wildland fire management is unacceptable.” The report noted that “if ground firefighters had the same fatality rate [as firefighting aviators], they would have suffered more than 200 on-the-job deaths per year.” Since the Blue Ribbon report’s publication, aviation-related fatalities have gone up 50% compared to the three-year period preceding the panel’s report – not including this past weekend’s tragic loss of life.
When a firefighter risks his life rescuing a child from a burning home, we applaud his heroism. If he dies in the effort, whether successful or not, we honor his sacrifice, knowing he gave everything to save that child’s life. While we mourn his loss, our society agrees that saving a child’s life is worth the risk and the ultimate price paid.
But, what are we to think when firefighters die trying to save sagebrush and juniper from burning? The White Rock fire threatens not a single home. It poses no danger to any person, save the firefighters themselves. The fire is burning in one of the least populated corners of our nation — the Utah/Nevada border — on federally-owned land inhabited by jack rabbits and coyotes.
Yet our government has thrown everything in its arsenal at this natural, lightning-caused fire. Over three hundred firefighters, including four helicopters, six engines, four bulldozers and three water tenders, continue to battle this fire before it . . . well, before it what? Before it burns itself out, just like an adjacent fire did a couple of years ago. The total financial tab will cost taxpayers upwards of a million dollars, while the cost in human life is immeasurable.
Our society’s aerial war against wildfire will continue to sacrifice lives and money in a fruitless campaign against Nature. Each year, we dump tens of millions of gallons of toxic retardant on fires, with no evidence that these bombings improve firefighting effectiveness. There is no correlation between the amount of aerial retardant used and success in keeping fires small. We know that the best way to protect homes from wildland fire is to keep vegetation clear from around the house and build with fire-resistant roofing. Retardant doesn’t save homes; proper construction and landscaping save homes.
Some in Congress, including Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden, think the solution is to give pilots new airplanes. Half-a-billion dollars of shiny new airplanes will not make aerial firefighting any more effective. Nor will new planes make the job substantially safer. Flying low through smoke on hot, windy days in the nation’s most rugged landscapes is a recipe for disaster no matter what aircraft is being piloted.
Sensible wildland fire policy is less sexy and heroic than the war-like television footage of bombers raining red retardant on burning brush. Avoid building in fire-prone land. If you do build, use fire-resistant roofing, covered gutters, and keep landscaping around your house low and green. We know these Firewise tactics work; and is the only strategy that works regardless of fire intensity or firefighting effectiveness.
Ten years ago, the government’s Blue Ribbon panel said the aerial firefighters’ death rate was “unacceptable.” Today, the government’s fruitless and ineffective aerial war against wildland fire can only be called immoral. Congress should stop pandering to our innate fear of fire and promote sensible fire management policies that save lives and homes.
I got this from the Forest Business Network here.
Here’s the link to the story in the Arizona Sun.
Below is an excerpt:
COVINGTON LIKES CHOICE
The only real question is who should do it.
Wally Covington, head of the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University, said he likes the choice and that it’s time to get to work.
“I think we’ve got it together pretty darned well here,” he said. “… We’ve got to get the excess trees off the landscape before the outcomes that are worse than the very worst clear-cut can propagate across the landscape.”
So does Paul Summerfelt, a longtime city of Flagstaff firefighter and president of the Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership, which has successfully pressed for less dense and healthier forests around Flagstaff.
“It’s a win in that we finally have a contract, which has been a long time coming. It promises to bring a lot of wood-related jobs into northern Arizona irrespective of who the contract winner was, and it restores the forest,” he said.
And so does Steve Gatewood, who has worked elbow by elbow with Summerfelt for years to try to thin forests here.
Environmental groups do have a case history to stand on when thinking the agency won’t do the minimum it promises, he said.
But this is a big departure from past thinking for the Forest Service, in his view.
“They’re actually talking about interspaces and openings and savannas and that kind of stuff,” Gatewood said.
Opponents are guilty of sour grapes, says the main person planning the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, as this big thinning idea is called.
“Obviously, several folks aren’t happy with the selection. And to be honest, there’s a lot of misinformation being spread by those folks,” said Henry Provencio, head of the implementing the project for the Forest Service.
The Center for Biological Diversity was first in denouncing the decision earlier this month, saying the U.S. Forest Service went with the bidder offering to send a lesser amount of money to the U.S. Forest Service for reasons that aren’t clear.
“On the one hand, they’re saying they can’t afford to monitor endangered species, such as the spotted owl … and on the other hand, they’re saying they’re going to reject $5 million for monitoring. It makes no sense,” said the Center’s Taylor McKinnon.
The Forest Service hasn’t released any of the bids to the public, but it has released its criteria for winning.
A business’ willingness to remove limbs and fine matter, its past performance, references from others, its business plan, its impact on local communities and the amount of money per acre it offered to the Forest Service were all considerations, according to documents sent to bidders.
Among Pioneer’s partners is Marlin Johnson, a former administrator in the U.S. Forest Service who retired from that agency a little more than four years ago, Johnson said.
That was before bids for this project were submitted.
The Center for Biological Diversity faced him in court sometimes, and it asserts that he intends to log big trees from other areas and use them to feed a big mill.
Johnson says otherwise: His mill won’t be able to accept trees bigger than 16 inches in diameter, he said.
He or any other winning business would have to cut whatever trees the Forest Service wants removed, he said, and sell the bigger ones to other businesses.
“We won’t legally be able to tell the Forest Service: ‘Oops, you want that 20-inch tree cut? We won’t do it,’” Johnson said.
The project triggered extra scrutiny within the Forest Service.
“As soon as we knew that Marlin was a participant, I asked for a review by our ethics branch …” and then also one in Washington. “I knew that would come up,” said Corbin Newman, regional forester for all national forests in the Southwest.
He says the debate over who got the contract is obscuring the bigger picture.
“I want folks to realize: Let’s have a little concern about who got it and who didn’t, but let’s also have a little concern about restoring Arizona’s forests,” Newman said.
The other three bidders have until the end of Friday to appeal the bid decision.
Arizona Forest Restoration Products did not respond to phone calls on Tuesday or Wednesday.
According to an E&E article by Phil Taylor (sorry, no link) published today:
A Republican bill to significantly increase timber harvests on national forests and extend a popular county payment program would increase direct spending by roughly $2.6 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Rep. Doc Hastings’ (R-Wash.) H.R. 4019 would also require about $200 million in additional appropriations annually for the Forest Service to administer timber sales, replace harvested trees and mitigate environmental impacts, the CBO report found.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia are concluding that trees are interacting with one another in a symbiotic relationship that helps the trees to survive. Connected by fungi, the underground root systems of plants and trees are transferring carbon and nitrogen back and forth between each other in a network of subtle communication. Similar to the network of neurons and axons in the human brain, the network of fungi, roots, soil and micro-organisms beneath the larger ‘mother trees’ gives the forest its own consciousness.
“Some of the forest practices that we have done pay no attention to the role of these ‘mother trees’ or that trees actually will move some of their legacy to the new generation. We didn’t pay attention to it. Instead what we did is we went and cut down those trees after they died so that we could make 2 x 4′s out of them. And we didn’t give them a chance to give back to the community, I don’t think. So what those dying trees will do is that they will also move resources into living trees, to the young ones coming up, before they go, before they completely collapse. So it’s a transfer, like a passing of the wand from one generation to the next, if we allow it to happen.”
- Forester Suzanne Simard, a professor at the University of British Columbia