Montana: Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Proposal is all about selling out to Pyramid lumber

To rationalize this expenditure of public resources, the plan is
predicated on questionable assumptions about forest health, fire
suppression and the effectiveness of thinning as a fire hazard
reduction mechanism. The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Proposal has
gotten a lot of positive press, including most recently in a guest
column in the Missoulian on Dec. 1. The plan appears to be a publicly
funded gift (of trees and tax dollars) to the Pyramid Lumber Company
to garner timber industry support for wilderness.
The BCSP also proposes the designation of 87,000 acres of wilderness
additions to the Bob Marshall and Mission Mountains wildernesses, and
the closure and full restoration of old roads n both actions worthy of

The 87,000 acres proposed as wilderness would be an important
bull trout, grizzly, lynx, wolf and elk migration corridor, not to
mention home to many other species. BCSP proponents assert that the
forests around Seeley Lake are suffering from fire exclusion, hence
they are more dense than would otherwise be “natural,” and thus a fire
hazard. The preferred “solution” is to have Pyramid Lumber log the
forest. There are two problems with this line of thinking. First, most
large fires are climatic/weather driven events, not fuels driven.
Extended drought, high winds, high temperatures and low humidity
enable fires to burn through all fuel loadings. Many of the large
Western fires in recent years were in forests that had been previously
logged and/or thinned, with little apparent effect on fire spread or
severity. In fact, logging can increase fire severity and spread by
increasing solar radiation to forest floor and increasing penetration
of wind, both of which contribute to drying fuels. Second, there is a
growing body of research that finds mechanical thinning alone
(logging) is seldom effective at stopping or even reducing fire
intensity under severe fire conditions. Even if fuels reduction were
the goal, it can be accomplished without the environmental impacts
that come with logging. The National Park Service does a superb job of
fuels management n without logging n throughout the West. And if
community protection of Seeley Lake is the ultimate goal, than
reduction in the flammability of homes themselves by mandatory metal
roofs, keeping gutters free of debris and other strategies have proven
far more effective at reducing structure losses than thinning
projects. One of the biggest problems in the plan is that it fails to
consider the cumulative impacts associated with logging. Logging is
never benign.

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

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