The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and WildWest Institute filed a lawsuit yesterday in Federal District Court in Missoula against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in response to the FWS’s July 2011 decision that the whitebark pine is “warranted for listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act” but precluded by higher priority actions.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already concluded that whitebark pine faces numerous threats, including climate change, that are so pressing that whitebark pine is in danger of extinction,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “This is the first time the federal government has declared a widespread tree species in danger of imminent extinction from climate change. Since the Forest Service still has proposals to clearcut whitebark pine, all we’re doing is asking the court to move the listing process along a little faster so we can protect what’s left under the Endangered Species Act.”
The plaintiffs are requesting that the Court declare the agency’s decision is contrary to law, set aside or remand the decision, and compel the agency to promptly set a reasonable date to issue a proposed Endangered Species listing rule for whitebark pine.
Whitebark pine is a slow-growing, longed-life tree with life spans up to 500 years and sometimes more than 1000 years. Whitebark pine is a keystone — or foundation — species in western North America where it increases biodiversity and contributes to critical ecosystem functions. Those include providing highly-nutritious seeds for more than 20 different species including Clark’s Nutcracker, grizzly bears, black bears, Steller’s Jay, and Pine Grosbeak.
“People who spend time in the high-country realize that whitebark pine are dying at alarming rates due to impacts associated with climate change,” explained Matthew Koehler, with the WildWest Institute. “We cannot sit back, do nothing, and watch a critically important component of our high-country ecosystem just disappear and go extinct before our eyes. This isn’t just about the whitebark pine, but about the future viability of these high country ecosystems, including the species that rely upon that habitat such as grizzly bears and Clark’s Nutcrackers.”
The role the pine seeds play in the ecosystem is fascinating. Clark’s nutcrackers crack open the pine cones and collect the seeds in specialized throat pouches. The birds then cache the seeds in small piles in numerous shallow holes on the forest floor. If the Clark’s nutcrackers, or other wildlife species, don’t come back to eat all the seeds, new trees sprout. Additionally, red squirrels collect and bury larges caches of whole pine cones in middens. Grizzly bears unearth the caches, carefully pry off the scales of the pine cones with their claws, and then pull out the seeds with their tongues. Studies in the Yellowstone National Park area show that grizzly bears obtain one-quarter to two-thirds of their energy from the seeds. The 30-50% fat content from whitebark pine seeds promotes survival and reproduction of female grizzly bears that rely on this fat not only to hibernate, but also to support lactation. When pine seeds are plentiful, grizzly bears have more surviving cubs. And in years when pine seeds are scarce, the result is more conflicts with humans and more dead grizzly bears.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that climate change will result in the whitebark pine population shrinking to less than 3% of its current U.S. distribution by the end of the century.
Forestry operations and bioenergy have been part of the economic and social fabric in Northern California for decades. A five-year study produced in 2009 by the USDA Forest Service modeled forest management under different scenarios across 2.7 million acres encompassing the Feather River watershed. The model’s time horizon spanned four decades, examining wildfire behavior, forest thinning operations and a range of environmental and economic impacts. It concluded that in virtually every aspect analyzed, managing forest resources and utilizing biomass for energy production provides significant advantages over the status quo.
With acres per wildfire going WAY up, thinning projects seem to be the way to go to reduce both wildfire sizes and wildfire intensities. Again, we have strict diameter limits in the Sierra Nevada, and clearcutting has been banned since 1993.
The link is here
The pro-tree-farm argument goes like this: When you plant a tree, it goes from seedling to full-grown plant by rapidly extracting carbon from the atmosphere, including carbon that humans have emitted by burning fossil fuels and raising cattle. (When a climatologist looks at a tree, he sees a leafy pillar of solidified greenhouse gases.) Once the tree reaches maturity, though, it slows its consumption of carbon. By way of comparison, think of the appetites of a growing teenager and a senior citizen. When you’re done growing, you stop consuming as many calories. The best move, according to some tree-farm advocates, is to replace the mature tree with a new sapling and start the growth process over again.
I tend to think that farm-grown trees have less impacts on the forests. The best trees are always selected to be cut, reducing the quality of the gene pool. Also, having so many people driving on muddy roads tends to cause drainage problems. People will always find ways to allow, or disallow things happening on public lands. One commenter summed it all up as a non-issue, climate-wise.
Terry Seyden also sent this link, to an article about a new report on climate change.
Here’s a link to what I think is the report (note to media folks, if you write an article about a report, it would be helpful if you would provide a link).
Here is a quote from the news article.
The study points to strides and real progress on the ground that demonstrates that government can be responsive and smart in the threat of climate change, and the public-private partnerships out there to curtail its range of potential consequences.
An example is a tree-thinning program instituted in Arizona, which experienced its largest wildfire on record in 2011. Still, the fire did not burn ridges where the thinning had happened. Such strategy invoked in advance of catastrophic wildfires can help reduce other threats, such as flash flooding that can imperil drinking water supplies, the report notes.
“The nexus of climate and forest fires is a flashpoint for several other degraded ecosystems such as water supply and water quality,” the report said.
Here’s a quote on what the report itself says about fires (in Box 4.2).
Box 4.2. Climate Impacting Fire Risk, Water Supply, Recreation,
and Flood Risk in Western U.S. Forests
Authors: Evan Girvetz, Dave Goodrich, Darius Semmens, Carolyn Enquist
The 2009 National Climate Change Assessment (CCSP, 2009) documented the broad-scale forest dieback as a threshold response to climate change in the Southwestern United States (Fagre and others, 2009) and noted this can be a precursor to high severity wildfires. Since that assessment, in the summer of 2011 the largest recorded wildfires in Arizona (Wallow – greater than 538,000 acres with 15,400 acres in New Mexico; greater than$100 million in suppression costs) and New Mexico (Las Conchas – ~156,600 acres) occurred. Both fires had significant impacts on a range of ecosystem processes, individual species, and a number of ecosystem services provided by these systems.
The Las Conchas fire in northern New Mexico burned over 63 residences, 1100 archeological sites, more than sixty percent of Bandelier National Monument (BNM), and over 80 percent of the forested lands of the Santa Clara Native American Pueblo (16,600 acres), and was severe enough to cause forest stand replacement scale damage over broad areas. Following the fire, heavy rain storms led to major flooding and erosion throughout the fire area. Scientific modeling found that this type of storm (25-year event) would lead to river runoff approximately 2.5 times greater and sediment yield three times greater due to this fire in the main canyon of Bandelier National Monument (Semmens and others, 2008; Table 4.1).
Climate change a likely contributing factor: There is good evidence for warmer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier onset of springtime leading to already observed increased wildfires in the western U.S (Westerling, 2006). The National Research Council (2011) projected 2 to 6 times increase in areas in the West burned by wildfires given a 1°C increase. Recent research employing paleodata and an ensemble of climate models projects that the frequency of droughts, which cause broad-scale forest die-back may occur approximately 50 times per century by 2100, far beyond the range of variability of the driest centuries in the past millennium (Williams and others, 2012).
Other Stressors Exacerbating Fire: Forest management practices and invasive insect pests contributed to catastrophic wildfire occurring in these systems. Even-aged second growth forests much denser than natural occur in the West, remove more water out of the soil and increase the likelihood of catastrophic crown fires. In addition, naturally occurring bark beetles breed more frequently and successfully under conditions that are projected to become more frequent with climate change (Jonsson and others, 2009; Schoennagel and others, 2011). Outbreaks of bark beetles and associated tree mortality have increased in severity in recent years, suggesting a possible connection between large fires and the changing fuel conditions caused by beetle outbreaks. In turn, the dead trees left behind by bark beetles can make crown fires more likely (Hoffman and others, 2010; Schoennagel and others, 2011).
Impacts to species and biodiversity: The catastrophic crown fire conditions during the Las Conchas fire undoubtedly had a devastating impact on above-ground wildlife (McCarthy, 2012). Relatively few animals living above ground likely survived. In addition, the mid-elevation areas of all the major canyon systems of Bandelier National Monument experienced extensive to near complete mortality of all tree and shrub cover while leaving dead trees standing. Mexican Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis lucida) nesting and roosting habitat has been altered, potentially affecting its suitability for this species (Jenness and others, 2004). The Jamez salamander is an endangered species whose population was put in further danger due to this fire (McCarthy, 2012).
Impacts to recreation: Post-fire localized thunderstorms on a single day resulted in at least ten debris flows originating from the north slopes of a single canyon in Bandelier National Monument. Popular recreation areas in the Monument were evacuated for four weeks and flash floods damaged the newly-renovated multi-million dollar National Park Service visitor center. In addition, other recreation areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Land Management closed down recreation areas due to the fire, and associated flooding and erosion.
Impacts to Urban water supply: The increased sediment and ash eroded by the floods in the wake of the fire were transported to downstream streams and rivers, including the Rio Grande, a major source of drinking water for New Mexico and 50 percent of the drinking water supply for Albuquerque. The sediment and ash led to Albuquerque’s water agency to turn off all water supplies from the Rio Grande for a week, and reducing water withdrawals in the subsequent months due to increased cost of treatment (Albuquerque Journal, September 2, 2011 http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2011/09/02/news/2-agencies-curtail-rio-grande-draws.html)
An adaptation effort is needed: Safeguarding against fire related impacts and adaptation to change will require innovative solutions, large-scale action and engagement among a variety of different stakeholders. The Southwest Climate Change Initiative (SWCCI), led by The Nature Conservancy, is an example of this type of adaptation planning effort. SWCCI is a public-private partnership developed in 2009 with the University of Arizona Climate Assessment for the Southwest, Wildlife Conservation Society, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Western Water Assessment along with government agency partners with the goal of providing information and tools to build resilience in ecosystems and communities of the southwestern U.S. The SWCCI is currently leading efforts across the Southwest, including adjacent to the Las Conchas fire area, to identify and implement adaptation solutions that help prevent these types of catastrophic events. Some of the solutions being considered include forest restoration activities such as non-commercial mechanical thinning of small-diameter trees, controlled burns to reintroduce the low-severity ground fires that historically maintained forest health, and comprehensive ecological monitoring to determine effects of these treatments on forest and stream habitats, plants, animals, habitats and soils.
Also I agreed with this..
Projecting climate change impacts on biodiversity involves many uncertainties (Pereira and others, 2010; Bellard and others, 2012) stemming from variability in climate projections (particularly precipitation patterns), uncertainties in future emissions, and assumptions and uncertainties in the models used to project species responses and extinctions (He and Hubbell, 2011). Some of these uncertainties are inevitable given that we are trying to predict the future; nonetheless, techniques and modeling approaches are becoming more sophisticated and able to evaluate myriad influences such as biotic interactions and dispersal abilities that were previously deficient. Projections are also complicated by uncertainty about where and how human responses to climate change are likely to impact biodiversity. Sustainable energy development and infrastructure, changes in agricultural practices, human migrations, and changes in water extraction and storage practices in response to climate change are all very likely to have impacts on biodiversity. Predicting where these mitigation and adaptation responses will occur, and how they will impact biodiversity will be a critical step in developing credible future climate change impact scenarios. Although many tools for forecasting climate change impacts on ecosystem services exist (Kareiva and others, 2011), fewer methods for anticipating how people will respond to those impacts have been developed or incorporated into projected impacts on biodiversity.
Except that I think “predicting what people will do” is a less valuable use of resources that “figuring out what is the best thing to do.” Which was actually very difficult to get funding for, comparatively. Just sayin’
Given our discussions of people who build in fire prone areas, I thought it was interesting to compare to a blog post about building in flood prone areas. The post is by Stéphane Hallegatte, Senior Economist, Sustainable Development Network, Office of the Chief Economist, The World Bank, and is on Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog here.
Here’s a quote:
There are limits to what coastal defenses and land regulations can achieve. Some like the idea that we build in risky areas because of “wrong incentives”, namely flood insurance subsidies through the National Flood Insurance Program. According to them, removing these incentives would solve the problem.
“Wrong incentives” exist and play a role – this is obvious – but unfortunately they cannot explain the current trend in risk exposure alone. Flood losses are on the rise in almost all countries, including those that have no flood insurance system (5). And if insurance claims help pay for rebuilding, they cannot compensate for all the losses. Getting flooded is a tragedy, with or without insurance.
People move toward risky areas because this is where better jobs and higher incomes are. And they are there because growing sectors are in coastal areas – driven by harbors and global trade – and in cities – that are usually located next to rivers and coasts and thus in flood prone areas. Would financial sector professionals quit their high-wage jobs in Manhattan in the absence of flood insurance? Would their employers move their headquarters to the Great Plains? Would the beach club owner in New Jersey move her business two miles inside the country?
Better land regulations may be able to decrease flood exposure, but they cannot do so in a significant manner – in the absence of a large-scale buys-out and house destruction program that appears extremely unlikely (6).
Flood exposure will not disappear anytime soon, even if land regulations are improved and bad incentives are removed.
Clearly, people don’t move to the rural interior West for better jobs and higher incomes. Still, people tend to move or agglomerate places that are beautiful and/or near coasts. And whether low or high density, the more people, there is likely to be more potential insurance payout required. Not to speak of the tornado prone, or the earthquake prone.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Eight researchers in a new report have suggested that climate change is causing additional stress to many western rangelands, and as a result land managers should consider a significant reduction, or in some places elimination of livestock and other large animals from public lands.
A growing degradation of grazing lands could be mitigated if large areas of Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service lands became free of use by livestock and “feral ungulates” such as wild horses and burros, and high populations of deer and elk were reduced, the group of scientists said.
This would help arrest the decline and speed the recovery of affected ecosystems, they said, and provide a basis for comparative study of grazing impacts under a changing climate. The direct economic and social impacts might also be offset by a higher return on other ecosystem services and land uses, they said, although the report focused on ecology, not economics.
Their findings were reported today in Environmental Management, a professional journal published by Springer.
“People have discussed the impacts of climate change for some time with such topics as forest health or increased fire,” said Robert Beschta, a professor emeritus in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, and lead author on this study. “However, the climate effects on rangelands and other grazing lands have received much less interest,” he said. “Combined with the impacts of grazing livestock and other animals, this raises serious concerns about soil erosion, loss of vegetation, changes in hydrology and disrupted plant and animal communities. Entire rangeland ecosystems in the American West are getting lost in the shuffle.”
Livestock use affects a far greater proportion of BLM and Forest Service lands than do roads, timber harvest and wildfires combined, the researchers said in their study. But effort to mitigate the pervasive effects of livestock has been comparatively minor, they said, even as climatic impacts intensify.
Although the primary emphasis of this analysis is on ecological considerations, the scientists acknowledged that the changes being discussed would cause some negative social, economic and community disruption.
“If livestock grazing on public lands were discontinued or curtailed significantly, some operations would see reduced incomes and ranch values, some rural communities would experience negative economic impacts, and the social fabric of those communities could be altered,” the researchers wrote in their report, citing a 2002 study.
Among the observations of this report:
• In the western U.S., climate change is expected to intensify even if greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced.
• Among the threats facing ecosystems as a result of climate change are invasive species, elevated wildfire occurrence, and declining snowpack.
• Federal land managers have begun to adapt to climate-related impacts, but not the combined effects of climate and hooved mammals, or ungulates.
• Climate impacts are compounded from heavy use by livestock and other grazing ungulates, which cause soil erosion, compaction, and dust generation; stream degradation; higher water temperatures and pollution; loss of habitat for fish, birds and amphibians; and desertification.
• Encroachment of woody shrubs at the expense of native grasses and other plants can occur in grazed areas, affecting pollinators, birds, small mammals and other native wildlife.
• Livestock grazing and trampling degrades soil fertility, stability and hydrology, and makes it vulnerable to wind erosion. This in turn adds sediments, nutrients and pathogens to western streams.
• Water developments and diversion for livestock can reduce streamflows and increase water temperatures, degrading habitat for fish and aquatic invertebrates.
• Grazing and trampling reduces the capacity of soils to sequester carbon, and through various processes contributes to greenhouse warming.
• Domestic livestock now use more than 70 percent of the lands managed by the BLM and Forest Service, and their grazing may be the major factor negatively affecting wildlife in 11 western states. In the West, about 175 taxa of freshwater fish are considered imperiled due to habitat-related causes.
• Removing or significantly reducing grazing is likely to be far more effective, in cost and success, than piecemeal approaches to address some of these concerns in isolation.
The advent of climate change has significantly added to historic and contemporary problems that result from cattle and sheep ranching, the report said, which first prompted federal regulations in the 1890s.
Wild horses and burros are also a significant problem, this report suggested, and high numbers of deer and elk occur in portions of the West, partially due to the loss or decline of large predators such as cougars and wolves. Restoring those predators might also be part of a comprehensive recovery plan, the researchers said.
The problems are sufficiently severe, this group of researchers concluded, that they believe the burden of proof should be shifted. Those using public lands for livestock production should have to justify the continuation of ungulate grazing, they said.
Collaborators on this study included researchers from the University of Wyoming, Geos Institute, Prescott College, and other agencies.
UPDATE: THIS HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED, I WILL LET YOU KNOW WHAT DATE WHEN I KNOW
The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is having a seminar that will be webcast, which is neat (IMHO) both in terms of saving parking and carbon, and it can reach folks across the country and world. Very cool. Previous sessions are also stored here. There is one called “What are blogs good for anyway” I’ve wanted to watch.
The speaker is Tom Yulsman.
Abstract: Today, anyone with WordPress and Youtube accounts can have the equivalent of their own newspaper and television station. This has drawn readers and eyeballs away from traditional media. While news organizations have finally embraced the online environment, “in the digital realm the news industry is no longer in control of its own future,” according to the 2011 State of the News Media Report from the Pew Research Center. And in the past 10 years, one out of every three newsroom jobs has vanished, with specialists such as science and environmental reporters being among the first to go. At the same time, traditional news organizations — and newspapers in particular — provide the bulk of what is known as “accountability news.” This is the information that the bloggers, pundits, talk radio hosts, commentators and so-called “citizen journalists” depend on to produce their own content. In this talk, I’ll cover the details of these trends, and discuss the implications for covering complex issues such as climate change.
Now, some of you might remember my piece here on the Range Blog of High Country News about whether some topics are too complex for news stories. I wonder what Professor Yulsman’s perspective is from the media side.
Here’s the link to the webinar.
What is Wrong with Embellishing Science?
embellishing present participle of em·bel·lish (Verb)
Verb: Make (something) more attractive by the addition of decorative details or features: “blue silk embellished with golden embroidery”.
Make (a statement or story) more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, esp. ones that are not true.
Yesterday, before heading back to the National Hurricane Center to help deal with Sandy, Chris Landsea gave a great talk here at CU on hurricanes and climate change (we’ll have a video up soon). In Chris’ talk he explained that he has no doubts that humans affect the climate system through the emission of greenhouse gases, and this influence may affect tropical cyclones. He then proceeded to review theory and data from recent peer-reviewed publications on the magnitude of such an influence. Chris argued that any such influence is expected to be small today, almost certainly undetectable, and that this view is not particularly controversial among tropical cyclone climatologists. He concluded that hurricanes should not be the “poster” representing a human influence on climate.
After his talk someone in the audience asked him what is wrong with making a connection between hurricanes and climate change if it gives the general public reason for concern about climate change. Chris responded that asserting such a connection can be easily shown to be incorrect and thus risks some of the trust that the public has in scientists to play things straight.
The late Stephen Schneider gained some fame for observing that when engaging in public debates scientists face a difficult choice between between honesty and effectiveness (as quoted in TCF pp. 202-203):
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but—which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
Often overlooked is what Schneider recommended about how to handle this “double ethical bind”:
I hope that means being both [effective and honest)
From the University of Arizona:
Combine the tree-ring growth record with historical information, climate records and computer-model projections of future climate trends, and you get a grim picture for the future of trees in the southwestern United States.
That’s the word from a team of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arizona and other partner organizations.
If the Southwest is warmer and drier in the near future, widespread tree death is likely and would cause substantial changes in the distribution of forests and of species, the researchers report this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Read the entire article here.
Also, I’ll paste the Abstract of the study below, but the entire study may be view here.
As the climate changes, drought may reduce tree productivity and survival across many forest ecosystems; however, the relative influence of specific climate parameters on forest decline is poorly understood. We derive a forest drought-stress index (FDSI) for the southwestern United States using a comprehensive tree-ring data set representing AD 1000–2007. The FDSI is approximately equally influenced by the warm-season vapour-pressure deficit (largely controlled by temperature) and cold-season precipitation, together explaining 82% of the FDSI variability. Correspondence between the FDSI and measures of forest productivity, mortality, bark-beetle outbreak and wildfire validate the FDSI as a holistic forest-vigour indicator. If the vapour-pressure deficit continues increasing as projected by climate models, the mean forest drought-stress by the 2050s will exceed that of the most severe droughts in the past 1,000 years. Collectively, the results foreshadow twenty-first-century changes in forest structures and compositions, with transition of forests in the southwestern United States, and perhaps water-limited forests globally, towards distributions unfamiliar to modern civilization.
Earlier this summer Sharon had a post titled, “Tree vs. Tree: An Aspen Restoration Project,” which looked at some of the issues surrounding the Tahoe National Forest’s “Outback Aspen Restoration Project.”
Well, this morning, the Sacramento Bee’s Tom Knudson took another look at the project, this time with local residents, who are not too happy with the Forest Service and with the Tahoe National Forest supervisor, who is not too disappointed with the project. Although, in fairness, the Forest Service supervisor did decide to halt logging (or do we call it “thinning?”) of trees 40 inches in diameter or greater on the remaining 190 acres of the project. Here are some highlights from the article:
Standing amid a scattering of stumps last week, an official from the U.S. Forest Service acknowledged the agency made mistakes by logging too many pine trees, including majestic old-growth giants, in an effort to help another Tahoe species: the quaking aspen.
But he rejected calls from local residents that the Tahoe National Forest sharply scale back the cutting along Independence Creek north of Truckee.
“Are there places where there are some trees that I’ve seen out here – some live trees still standing and some stumps – that I would have preferred be marked for retention? Yes,” said Tom Quinn, supervisor of the Tahoe National Forest….The extensive cutting has incensed residents and conservationists, who were out in force at Friday’s meeting.
“We are shocked at the situation, the catastrophic damage being done by our government with absolutely no care for public input,” said Mary Leavell, who grazes cattle in the national forest with her husband.
“We all ultimately want forest health,” said Lauren Ranz, who lives part-time on a former 450-acre ranch near the logging zone. “But I don’t think this is the way to get it.”
Despite his concerns about cutting too many large, old trees, Quinn defended the project…He said the agency’s decision to allow the cutting of old-growth trees was consistent with the goal of aspen restoration, even though it angered neighbors. “They were probably social mistakes, more than ecological mistakes,” he said of the agency’s actions.
To try to quell criticism, Quinn announced that Forest Service officials have decided to halt logging of conifers 40 inches in diameter or greater on the remaining 190 acres of the 479-acre project. But he rejected suggestions to limit cutting to trees 30 inches in diameter or less….
“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Fred Mitchell who lives on 80 acres near where the cutting is taking place. “There are so few trees 40 inches and above, anyway.
“They’re brushing off the public like we are a minor nuisance, like we don’t count for anything,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell is one of a group of residents who have marshaled opposition by handing out flyers, contacting lawyers, political representatives and environmentalists, even placing mock tombstones on the stumps of large trees – some more than two centuries old – that have been logged.
“It’s not what they told us it would be,” said Gary Risse, a part-time area resident who is among those opposed. “I can tell you without a doubt there was no mention of clear-cuts whatsoever. That would have stopped it.”
…Chad Hanson, director and staff ecologist for the John Muir Project, said other agency projects have succeeded with less intense cutting.
“Scientific studies … do not support the assumption that you need to clear-cut forests, especially 150 feet or more away from aspen stands, or that you need to remove old- growth trees,” he said. “That is not scientifically necessary.”…
“I’ve covered about 300 acres of this project looking for legacy (old-growth) trees,” Mitchell said. “From what I can gather, there has only been one legacy tree left for every four and a quarter acres, which is not a very good number.”