Key findings from the synthesis were:
Efforts to promote resilience of socioecological systems increasingly consider the interaction of social values and ecological processes in pursuit of long-term mutual benefits and social learning for local communities and larger social networks.
Research indicates that strategic placement of treatments to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations and to restore fire as an ecosystem process within fire sheds can lower the risk for undesirable social and ecological outcomes associated with uncharacteristically large, severe, and dangerous fires, which include impacts to wildlife species of concern, such as the fisher and California spotted owl.
Science generally supports active treatment in some riparian and core wildlife zones to restore fire regimes. However, adaptive management, including experimentation at large landscape scales, is needed to evaluate which areas are priorities for treatment and what levels of treatment produce beneficial or neutral impacts to wildlife species and other socioecological values over long periods.
Yep, this is what we are already doing on my Ranger District. It is always important to focus on what we are leaving, rather than what is being removed. We still have longstanding limitations of protecting old growth and a ban on clearcutting. The picture is an example of salvage logging just six months after completion.
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
I saw a local article about our part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program.
For the first time in many years, loggers and conservation groups are working together and the results have been stunning, according to Katherine Evatt, president of the Pine Grove-based Foothill Conservancy.
The Amador Calaveras Consensus Group has been working in the Stanislaus and Eldorado national forests on projects that are part of a larger national program called Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration.
The goal is to restore forests for people, water and wildlife, and a report released in December shows some of those goals are being met.
The ACCG Cornerstone Project is one of 23 national projects that split $40 million in 2012. According to the fiscal year-end report for the project, the two forests spent more than $658,000 in CFLRA funds this year, matched by more than $433,000 of other Forest Service funds. There was more than $67,700 in ACCG in-kind partner contributions and more than $1 million in leverage funds from ACCG members. Additional funds included a $196,000 grant from the Coca-Cola Company as well as $283,000 worth of in-service work under stewardship contracts.
The article is here
This is an example of what our thinning projects look like, when completed. As you can see, the stand is still well-stocked, and ladder fuels have been removed. You can also see that the stand will be resilient and that all the logging slash has been removed, as well. In looking closer, I’m not seeing any damaged trees, as well. Additionally, no large trees ( over 30″ dbh ) were cut, unless they could fall and hit the adjacent highway.
This logging was done during this season, and work is continuing in other units. The project is quite visual, being all along a major Sierra Nevada highway. We call this style of project “thinning from below”. Any thoughts?
“Description: Current Sierra Nevada forest management is often focused on strategically reducing fuels without an explicit strategy for ecological restoration across the landscape matrix. Summarizing recent scientific literature, we suggest managers produce different stand structures and densities across the landscape using topographic variables (i.e., slope shape, aspect, and slope position) as a guide for varying treatments. Local cool or moist areas, where historically fire would have burned less frequently or at lower severity, would have higher density and canopy cover, providing habitat for sensitive species. In contrast upper, southern-aspect slopes would have low densities of large fire-resistant trees. For thinning, marking rules would be based on crown strata or age cohorts and species, rather than uniform diameter limits. Collectively, our management recommendations emphasize the ecological role of fire, changing climate conditions, sensitive wildlife habitat, and the importance of forest structure heterogeneity.”
This is a basic scientific reasoning for the marking prescriptions we are using in our current project. In scanning through some of it (it seems QUITE comprehensive!), I found this little gem.
‘How is ecological restoration defined in the GTR? In the face of changing
climate conditions, our focus is on increasing ecosystem resiliency. This focus
is consistent with that described in USDA Forest Service Manual 2020.5,
which defines ecological restoration as: “The process of assisting the recovery
of resilience and adaptive capacity of ecosystems that have been degraded,
damaged, or destroyed. Restoration focuses on establishing the composition,
structure, pattern, and ecological processes necessary to make terrestrial and
aquatic ecosystems sustainable, resilient, and healthy under current and future
(Below is the press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. Click here to download a copy of the appeal. Photos of the Jacob Ryan project area, including old-growth trees aged by the Center and previously marked for logging by the Forest Service, can be seen and downloaded here. – mk)
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— For the third time in a decade, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club today administratively appealed a 25,000-acre timber sale that is slated to log old-growth trees and forests on the Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyon’s north rim.
Approved in January, this is the Forest Service’s fifth iteration of the Jacob Ryan timber sale since 2003, each plan seeking to log old-growth trees and forests. The Center and Sierra Club blocked two earlier iterations of the sale; the Forest Service voluntarily withdrew two others.
“This forest needs a limited amount of small-tree thinning to safely reintroduce natural fires, but for a decade the Forest Service has rejected common sense and opted instead to cut down old trees,” said Jay Lininger, an ecologist with the Center. “The Jacob Ryan timber sale makes a mockery of forest restoration and exposes the need for leadership and reform within the Forest Service.
” Today’s appeal challenges logging of old-growth trees and argues that logging will not retain sufficient forest canopy to support the rare northern goshawk — a woodland raptor. A source population of goshawks lives on the Kaibab Plateau, where Jacob Ryan is located. According to a Forest Service report, goshawks are “vulnerable to extirpation or extinction in Arizona.”
“It is just outrageous that the Forest Service is proposing for the fifth time to log these old growth and large trees, when we have so little remaining,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “The old growth and large trees make up less than 3 percent of our forests and are a critical component of healthy forests and essential for wildlife species such as the northern goshawk. In a real restoration project, they would be the centerpiece, not slated for logging.”
In its last failed attempt to implement the timber sale, the Forest Service in 2009 admitted violating its own management plan in response to a Center appeal. Center staff documented old-growth trees marked for cutting, despite bogus claimsby the Forest Service that it would protect old growth.