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Old 12-05-2003, 02:11 PM
Aozotorp
 
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Default A Letter and an Editorial

http://www.oregonlive.com/letters/or...editorial/1052
56792916000.xml

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Letters


Clear-cuts don't save forests

05/12/03


Your article, "Debate will begin today on GOP plan for forest health" (April
30), which discussed the "Healthy Forest Restoration Act," shines a light on
the disconnect between the bill's name and its meaning.


The bill would allow for 1,000-acre clear-cuts. Are we to believe that
1,000-acre clear-cuts are the key to achieving healthy forests?

As illogical as Rep. Greg Walden's bill is in its use of clear-cuts for forest
health, it also goes beyond that to reduce the risk of forest fire. The bill
identifies areas at "high risk of fire" locations that receive 160 inches of
rain per year. That's more than double the combined annual rainfall of Portland
and Seattle. Are we to believe that places receiving 160 inches of rain each
year are at a high risk of fire?

I don't want any more 1,000-acre clear-cuts in Oregon.

DAVID WILKINS Oregon Natural Resources Council North Portland

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/13..._on_wildfires+
..shtml

A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL

Wrongheaded on wildfires


5/12/2003

AST YEAR the Western Governors Association, concerned about damaging wildfires
in the region, put together a 10-year plan for dealing with them. Sensibly, its
major goals focused on protecting life and property by thinning trees and
underbrush around houses and protecting watersheds. This approach is quite
different from the one now favored by the Bush administration, which wants to
use the threat of wildfires as an excuse to invite timber companies to cut down
valuable old-growth trees in remote areas. As a quid pro quo, the companies
would also do some removal of the wildfire fuel -- underbrush and smaller trees
-- in those areas.


This policy of saving the forest by destroying the trees would help line the
pockets of timber companies, but it would do little to protect against the
fires that are most dangerous to the public. Moreover, the administration's
approach, reflected in a bill sponsored by Representative Scott McInnis of
Colorado, sets a perilous precedent of short-circuiting the environmental
review and appeals process. The use of this process by environmentalist
opponents of timber cutting has been blamed for stalling high-priority fuel
reduction projects, but two studies, one by the Genral Accounting Office and
another by Northern Arizona University, cast doubt on that contention.

No one disputes that the West faces a major risk of wildfires each summer. A
wrongheaded and nearly century-long policy of suppressing fires, which was not
reversed until the 1990s, created a dangerous buildup of fuel in the woods. The
region is also in the fourth year of a severe drought. Sprawl development
around big cities and second home projects in scenic mountain areas have pushed
more homes into the ''wildlife urban interface,'' where uncontrolled fires
ignite houses and put both residents and firefighters at risk.

A bill sponsored by two of Congress's experts on forestry would give priority
to community protection zones. This proposal, from George Miller of California
and Peter DeFazio of Oregon, would provide fire prevention grants to
communities based in part on their willingness to take such common-sense
measures as requiring nonflammable roofs on dwellings. Unlike the McInnis bill,
this one preserves environmental laws and regulations.

Both Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman
signed on to the Western Governors Association's wildfire plan before the
administration began promoting the wildfire issue as a way to open up
old-growth areas for industry cutting. There is a strong consensus among many
state and local officials and environmental organizations in favor of reducing
wildfires by thinning around communities and watersheds. The country can do
that without torching its environmental laws.



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Old 14-05-2003, 03:56 PM
Larry Caldwell
 
Posts: n/a
Default A Letter and an Editorial

(Aozotorp) writes:

No one disputes that the West faces a major risk of wildfires each summer. A
wrongheaded and nearly century-long policy of suppressing fires, which was not
reversed until the 1990s, created a dangerous buildup of fuel in the woods. The
region is also in the fourth year of a severe drought. Sprawl development
around big cities and second home projects in scenic mountain areas have pushed
more homes into the ''wildlife urban interface,'' where uncontrolled fires
ignite houses and put both residents and firefighters at risk.


I wonder how effective this "fire suppression" actually is. Even with
modern equipment, it has been impossible to stop the major forest fires
of the last decade. All they can realistically do is try to protect
structures and pray for rain. Historically, there have always been
excessive fuel loads and catastrophic forest fires.

The only real change is that we don't intentionally set everything on
fire every year like the Indians used to do. I don't hear anyone
advocating a return to arson as a way of enhancing hunting prospects.

Urban sprawl is a separate problem not directly related to forestry.
Homeowners need to take responsibility for managing their own property,
which includes a fire buffer zone, access roads and perhaps fire fighting
equipment. Certainly they need to provide a water supply. Small
woodlots also rarely receive any practical forest management. The
occupants may live in the country, but their orientation is urban and
they don't care for their land.

I am also curious how private forest owners manage to control fire so
well. I have noticed that, though private timber interests own half of
the forests in Oregon, the vast majority of the woodlands burned has been
on public land.

--
http://home.teleport.com/~larryc
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Old 14-05-2003, 05:56 PM
Aozotorp
 
Posts: n/a
Default A Letter and an Editorial


(Aozotorp) writes:

No one disputes that the West faces a major risk of wildfires each summer.

A
wrongheaded and nearly century-long policy of suppressing fires, which was

not
reversed until the 1990s, created a dangerous buildup of fuel in the woods.

The
region is also in the fourth year of a severe drought. Sprawl development
around big cities and second home projects in scenic mountain areas have

pushed
more homes into the ''wildlife urban interface,'' where uncontrolled fires
ignite houses and put both residents and firefighters at risk.


I wonder how effective this "fire suppression" actually is. Even with
modern equipment, it has been impossible to stop the major forest fires
of the last decade. All they can realistically do is try to protect
structures and pray for rain. Historically, there have always been
excessive fuel loads and catastrophic forest fires.

The only real change is that we don't intentionally set everything on
fire every year like the Indians used to do. I don't hear anyone
advocating a return to arson as a way of enhancing hunting prospects.


I was not aware the Indians set fire to the forests every year!



Urban sprawl is a separate problem not directly related to forestry.
Homeowners need to take responsibility for managing their own property,
which includes a fire buffer zone, access roads and perhaps fire fighting
equipment. Certainly they need to provide a water supply. Small
woodlots also rarely receive any practical forest management. The
occupants may live in the country, but their orientation is urban and
they don't care for their land.

I am also curious how private forest owners manage to control fire so
well. I have noticed that, though private timber interests own half of
the forests in Oregon, the vast majority of the woodlands burned has been
on public land.


Sterile tree fams most likely will not go up!
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Old 14-05-2003, 06:20 PM
mhagen
 
Posts: n/a
Default A Letter and an Editorial

Aozotorp wrote:
(Aozotorp) writes:


No one disputes that the West faces a major risk of wildfires each summer.


A

wrongheaded and nearly century-long policy of suppressing fires, which was


not

reversed until the 1990s, created a dangerous buildup of fuel in the woods.


The

region is also in the fourth year of a severe drought. Sprawl development
around big cities and second home projects in scenic mountain areas have


pushed

more homes into the ''wildlife urban interface,'' where uncontrolled fires
ignite houses and put both residents and firefighters at risk.


I wonder how effective this "fire suppression" actually is. Even with
modern equipment, it has been impossible to stop the major forest fires
of the last decade. All they can realistically do is try to protect
structures and pray for rain. Historically, there have always been
excessive fuel loads and catastrophic forest fires.

The only real change is that we don't intentionally set everything on
fire every year like the Indians used to do. I don't hear anyone
advocating a return to arson as a way of enhancing hunting prospects.



I was not aware the Indians set fire to the forests every year!



Urban sprawl is a separate problem not directly related to forestry.
Homeowners need to take responsibility for managing their own property,
which includes a fire buffer zone, access roads and perhaps fire fighting
equipment. Certainly they need to provide a water supply. Small
woodlots also rarely receive any practical forest management. The
occupants may live in the country, but their orientation is urban and
they don't care for their land.

I am also curious how private forest owners manage to control fire so
well. I have noticed that, though private timber interests own half of
the forests in Oregon, the vast majority of the woodlands burned has been
on public land.



Sterile tree fams most likely will not go up!


That's a fairly well established fact. The debate seems to be between
the folk who insist the Indians were only "light" burners and those who
maintain they totally transformed the North American landscape. My
theory (based on western washington) is that burning practices and
frequency varied. Some areas (lowlands and areas near settlements)
burned so frequently that vegetation communities were fire adapted and
very useful to the inhabitants. Most of these are now town sites, since
the "prairies" appeared to be most suitable to homesteaders. In other
areas, like higher elevations and wet forests, natural causes and
frequencies prevailed. Even so that meant a good burn was likely once
every century. See Cronon for eastern burning practices. Pyne did a
series of fire books covering the entire world. Both authors are good reads.

Private timberlands burn but usually are put out quickly. Nine times
out of ten the cause is an escaped slash burn. As a rule they control
access, methodically eliminate fuels and have a grid of roads that not
only act as firelines but make fire suppression much easier than on the
Feds territory. Private outfits also have their own fire fighting
equipment, can instantly get loggers to put in line and have cooperative
agreements with state forestry fire fighters.

The Feds got the higher and more lightening prone ground. Less roads,
steeper slopes, way less personel to put out the fires, and a slough of
heavy fuels that really can't be reduced with either the environemtnal
rules or log costs as they are. Plus the fallout from preventing ground
fires for a century. The interesting observation is why the national
parks have so much less fire. They have even less access and personel
than the Forest Service or BLM, are definitely up in lightning country
and have plenty of fuel. As far as I know, the Parks have only recently
gone to a "let it burn" policy for backcountry blazes.

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Old 15-05-2003, 03:56 AM
Larry Harrell
 
Posts: n/a
Default A Letter and an Editorial

mhagen wrote in message ...

snip


The Feds got the higher and more lightening prone ground. Less roads,
steeper slopes, way less personel to put out the fires, and a slough of
heavy fuels that really can't be reduced with either the environemtnal
rules or log costs as they are. Plus the fallout from preventing ground
fires for a century.


Also figuring into the mix is the downsizing of the Forest Service.
Field-going people ( GS-9 and lower ) were downsized during the 90's.
(However, GS-10's and above were "up-sized" during that same period)
With less personnel in the woods, fires tend to get rolling starts
before regular USFS firefighters get there. In the past, timber crews
often had more fire experience than engine crews. These days, many
Ranger Districts have no timber crews whatsoever, and are missing
people who are needed, especially during "lightning busts". Back in
'87, our Ranger District had 43 lightning fires in three days,
including one that was 27,000 acres. I was a temporary timbermarker
then and was pressed into service as a fire camp manager for 3 days.
After that, I fought fire in the wilderness area for three more days.
Loggers working USFS timber sales are also required to be "fire
ready", with testing of all their fire fighting equipment during the
project.



The interesting observation is why the national
parks have so much less fire. They have even less access and personel
than the Forest Service or BLM, are definitely up in lightning country
and have plenty of fuel. As far as I know, the Parks have only recently
gone to a "let it burn" policy for backcountry blazes.


There have been plenty of fires in National Parks. Everyone saw what
happened in Yellowstone but, two huge fires burned over all three
highways into Yosemite Valley back in '90. Stands of huge old growth
were killed in high intensity fires. Didn't last years McNally Fire
fire threaten Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park?


I'd expect a big change coming in fire suppression. Rather than
immediately dispatching personnel to all fires, I think the Feds may
"evaluate" conditions, locations and other factors before deciding
whether to put it out. While it sounds kind of scary, none of those
"let burn" areas will be close to private property or important
improvements.

Larry


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Old 15-05-2003, 12:44 PM
Joe Zorzin
 
Posts: n/a
Default A Letter and an Editorial

"Larry Harrell" wrote in message
om...
mhagen wrote in message

...

snip


The Feds got the higher and more lightening prone ground. Less roads,
steeper slopes, way less personel to put out the fires, and a slough of
heavy fuels that really can't be reduced with either the environemtnal
rules or log costs as they are. Plus the fallout from preventing ground
fires for a century.


Also figuring into the mix is the downsizing of the Forest Service.
Field-going people ( GS-9 and lower ) were downsized during the 90's.
(However, GS-10's and above were "up-sized" during that same period)


It figures- when downsizing is needed- just get rid of the forest "niggras"
who do the real work of forestry- the "field hands"! After all, it's only
government- they have no need to produce more than they consume.



With less personnel in the woods, fires tend to get rolling starts
before regular USFS firefighters get there. In the past, timber crews
often had more fire experience than engine crews. These days, many
Ranger Districts have no timber crews whatsoever, and are missing
people who are needed, especially during "lightning busts". Back in
'87, our Ranger District had 43 lightning fires in three days,
including one that was 27,000 acres. I was a temporary timbermarker
then and was pressed into service as a fire camp manager for 3 days.
After that, I fought fire in the wilderness area for three more days.
Loggers working USFS timber sales are also required to be "fire
ready", with testing of all their fire fighting equipment during the
project.



The interesting observation is why the national
parks have so much less fire. They have even less access and personel
than the Forest Service or BLM, are definitely up in lightning country
and have plenty of fuel. As far as I know, the Parks have only recently
gone to a "let it burn" policy for backcountry blazes.


There have been plenty of fires in National Parks. Everyone saw what
happened in Yellowstone but, two huge fires burned over all three
highways into Yosemite Valley back in '90. Stands of huge old growth
were killed in high intensity fires. Didn't last years McNally Fire
fire threaten Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park?


I'd expect a big change coming in fire suppression. Rather than
immediately dispatching personnel to all fires, I think the Feds may
"evaluate" conditions, locations and other factors before deciding
whether to put it out. While it sounds kind of scary, none of those
"let burn" areas will be close to private property or important
improvements.

Larry





 
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