–Washington: 1) Year in jail and fine for ancient forest poacher, 2) Systematic lack of enforcement of criminal landslide loggers, 3) Logging for White oaks,
–Oregon: 4) 35 acre thin on Umatilla NF, 5) Not all the blame on enviros? 6) Juniper logging / Bundling,
–California: 7) Largest Damage recovery for a wildfire, 8) Last of Tahoe’s pure water wonder, 9) Mountain Lion corridor for Santa Cruz population, 10) Los Padres logging suspended by judge, 11) State Supreme Court says loggers are liable for ESA damages, 12) 1,400 square miles of forest cleansed by fire, 13) Headwaters deal finally fails in Supreme Court, 14) Firefighters destroying roadless area in Dillon creek, 15) Thinning works but Forest Service priorities are still wrong,
–Montana: 16) Thinning, fires and housing, 17) Northeast Yaak Project in court over grizzly habitat,
–Idaho: 18) Sen Craig’s bathroom stall interpretation of forest issues,
–Arizona: 19) Restoration Product integrity? 20) Mt Graham Red Squirrel extinction,
–Colorado: 21) Don’t Sign roadless manipulation, 22) Why not leave the land alone?
–Texas: 23) 23 century-old trees lost at the construction site in Austin
–Iowa: 24) 22 acres of impressive oaks torn apart by Tornado
–Ohio: 25) $10 million in damages sought from Ohio Edison
–Pennsylvania: 26) Save 31 white oak trees
–Northeast Forests: 27) Ozone and acid rain cuts down on forest growth! –Alabama: 28) Alabama Power Co. turns homeowners in tresitters and protesters, –USA: 29) Does fire harm our forest ecosystems? 30) Many species thrive from fires, 31) Hurricanes must be taken into account in predicting carbon storage,



1) A sentence was finally given for the 2004 theft of 27 old growth cedars from national forest land near Lake Wenatchee. For stealing the trees — aged 400 to 600 years — Kevin John Moran, 49, of Camano Island was sentenced to a year and a day in federal jail and a fine of $37,688. Moran, who entered a guilty plea in November, will have three years of supervised probation after his sentence is served. The trees were taken to mills in Western Washington. Forest Service Special Agent in Charge Tom Lyons tried to capture what has been lost: “These trees simply cannot be replaced in our lifetime. Mr. Moran took a portion of the last remaining stand of old growth cedar trees in the lower White River drainage.” Despite that, Judge Fred Van Sickle of the Spokane District Court, let Moran off pretty easily. Theft of government property — such as gigantic, irreplaceable cedars — is a Class C felony, which means a maximum sentence of 10 years or less, and a fine not to exceed $250,000. In this case the fine was comparable with the estimated market value of the trees. The logging was reported by a concerned citizen a year after the theft occurred. Moran was identified because he had a vehicle on the property and also owned nearby land. http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/environment/archives/143853.asp

2) “I don’t feel that there is a burden of responsibility that is taken seriously,” Tom Badger, a DOT geologist, told The Times. “I really think there is a systemic problem.” The state Department of Natural Resources may have been lenient when it comes to requiring the recommended geologic reviews when forest products companies try to clear cut land near state highways, according to a special report published by The Seattle Times this week. The Times looks at a number of examples, particularly highways in Grays Harbor County. The Department of Natural Resources has not been requiring the necessary geological reviews to indicate if landslides could put public safety or public resources at risk, The Times reported. Department of Transportation scientists have been so frustrated and concerned that they have created their own system to monitor roadside logging plans, according to The Times. DOT officials have raised concerns on about 20 logging sites within recent years along state highways, asking the Department of Natural Resources to require geological reviews before issuing logging permits. The Times reports that site visits happened at about half of those sites and state DOT geologists continue to spar with state foresters about logging plans above highways. http://www.thedailyworld.com/articles/2008/07/20/local_news/04news.txt

3) South Sound residents don’t have to visit Washington’s old-growth rain forests to get a glimpse of the state’s living history. It’s in the lustrous leaves and rugged branches of surviving Oregon white oaks, which once dominated South Sound prairies and still loom over some neighborhoods in Tacoma, Lakewood, Parkland and points south. “People don’t realize how long-lived they are,” said Connie Harrington, an Olympia-based forestry researcher who since 1999 has led a team of U.S. Forest Service scientists studying Washington’s only native oaks. Oregon white oaks can live 500 years or more, given the right circumstances. So it’s possible that some of the South Sound’s larger specimens may have sprouted before explorers such as Lt. Charles Wilkes entered Puget Sound in 1840. Historically, Oregon white oak habitat ranged from British Columbia – where they are commonly called Garry oaks – to California. But the trees now occupy less than 1 percent of the area where they once were concentrated. “It’s incredible how much oak woodland has been lost,” said Robin Dobson, a U.S. Forest Service botanist based in Hood River, Ore. The reason? In urban areas, people have cut oaks to make way for roads, homes and businesses. On commercial timberlands, more valuable conifers have supplanted oaks. Elsewhere, oaks have died or are slowly dying because they can’t compete with larger and more vigorous Douglas firs. But as Harrington and her colleagues have found, oaks thrive if given a chance. All that’s needed is to take them out of the dark. “Oak trees love the sun,” said David Anderson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist based in Klickitat County, which at 195,000 acres has the state’s largest concentration of Oregon white oaks. “They really don’t like shade.” Biologists cite the oaks’ importance to scores of species, perhaps most famously the vanishing Western gray squirrel. Its home on Fort Lewis includes 3,600 acres of oaks in areas that could be divided by the proposed cross-base highway. The Army began trying to save oaks about 10 years ago by cutting firs that blocked the sun and selling the timber, said Jeff Foster, the post ecologist. Harrington’s group has based much of its study on Fort Lewis, which provided several hundred thousand dollars in support, Foster said. The results have validated the post’s oak conservation efforts. “Even if these trees are pretty far gone, it looks like they can recover,” Foster said. Oregon white oaks are vital to wildlife as a source of food and a refuge for for insects, birds and mammals. http://www.thenewstribune.com/front/topphoto/story/412910.html


4) MILL CREEK CANYON — Loggers will soon thin out 35 acres in the Umatilla National Forest to reduce the risk of forest fires in a 700-acre watershed that supplies 85 percent of Walla Walla’s water. “This land is the first stage of our water treatment … the water is naturally filtered here,” said Special Projects Engineer Hal Thomas, pointing out that a fire there could seriously damage the Mill Creek Watershed and its ability to filter snow and rain runoff. On Friday, Thomas and City Councilman Jim Barrow hiked through a 35-acre parcel of Oregon land that is owned by the city, checking out how much thinning will take place. “Nature has a way of taking care of the problem if you don’t, and sooner or later it’s going to burn,” said Barrow during the 45-minute drive to the area located near Tiger Canyon Saddle. If the entire watershed did burn, Thomas said silt levels in Mill Creek could drastically increase for as many as five years, forcing the city to rely more on costly well water. And he added that the city might also be forced to require water conservation programs to some 10,000 families and businesses. “We just don’t know how long those ground water resources would last,” Thomas said. “Almost all these trees have the mistletoe fungus,” the consultant said as he scanned the tops of larch, spruce and Alpine fir trees. “What you look for is a tree that has a healthy crown and is not diseased.” Douglas estimates it will take a four-person crew about one month to harvest around 200,000 board feet of lumber and 40 tons of pulp from the area. But he also pointed out it’s a small logging operation, which means the city might end up having to pay to make this project profitable to bidders. The good news is the state of Oregon is willing to help pay for 75 percent of the costs, up to $20,000, but only for a project completed this year. “We want to get it done now while there is support from Oregon,” Thomas said. He pointed out there is still the possibility the project could end up making money if the bids come in high enough. On Monday, a number of bidders will inspect the 35-acre lot. After their inspection, they will have until July 31 to bid how much they will pay for the lumber and pulp, and how much they will charge to clean the remaining waste material. Thomas added that even though the project covers a little less than 10 percent of the watershed, the area to be thinned is the only road access point for miles. So the city wants to keep the fuels low in case of a human-caused fire, he said. http://www.union-bulletin.com/articles/2008/07/19/local_news/0807203watershed.txt

5) I must take issue with putting all the blame on enviros with their hands-off ideology. As a former Oregon logger and present forest restoration professional with 40 years working in the woods, I have watched big timber companies liquidate over 95 percent of old growth in the feeding frenzy of the go-go years of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Few in the industry thought of the economic future of the rural folks they employed. Few gave a thought to what kind of forest they were creating. Few recognized the extreme fire hazard they were creating with logging practices that left 20 or 30 tons of slash an acre where there had been 5 or 10 tons, or 1,000 to 2,000 peckerwood trees an acre where there had once been 20 to 30 mature and old growth trees. No one thought of the ecological consequences of short 50- or 60- year rotations creating in many places green deserts of unthinned plantations of Douglas fir and p. pine monocultures – that liquefy in forest fires, the loss of wildlife habitat once the 10-year browse bloom of huge clear-cuts brushed over, and conifer replantings failing to take on native hardwood sites. In short, treating our diverse and productive forests as if they were agricultural croplands. Yes, we should be able to salvage logs where site conditions allow (it shouldn’t be allowed on steep 60-percent slopes and on erodible granitic soils except by chopper – and that is expensive as hell with current fuel costs). Enviros were right about salvage operations removing merchantable trees and leaving brush, slash and smaller ladder fuels which also create high fire hazard. That’s why the litigation. In sum, the timber industry is responsible, along with government agencies that allowed these bad practices, for its own decline and the decline of once-viable rural communities. Boom and bust has been the name of the game. Untold suffering and degradation have followed. And catastrophic fires. As a Native American, I am proud of the legacy of healthy forests we passed on to you to take care of. But I am saddened by the way you have squandered this precious gift from the Creator and the heritage and responsibility now of all of us. http://www.trinityjournal.com/news/2008/0723/Opinion/019.html

6) The return of logging to Harney County could be right around the corner. It may not be the days of old when large pine trees rolled out of the forest on log trucks, but the harvesting of juniper for biomass fuel could provide both jobs and energy. Last week, July 8-10, a crew from John Deere was in town to demonstrate how juniper could be harvested and bundled, ready for transport to an energy-producing facility. Mike Schmidt, forestry biomass manager for John Deere, said they wanted to demonstrate how juniper could be used for product. “It is an invasive species, and if it is harvested, landowners will be reclaiming the rangeland for forage and water,” he said. Working on a slope of land a few miles from town, a stand of juniper was cut using a carbide blade, mounted on the front of a feller-buncher. Depending on the terrain and the density of the stand, Schmidt said the feller-buncher could cover 20 to 30 acres a day. Once the trees are cut, a slash bundler moves in. It picks the trees up whole and places them on a high-tech compactor. Using 150 tons of compression, the juniper is compacted into 30-inch diameter bundles, wrapped with twine and cut at a designated length. The slash bundler can handle trees up to 20 inches in diameter and averages about 20 bundles an hour.
Because of their design, neither the feller-buncher nor the slash bundler have much of an impact on the land. “They’re not dragging anything on the ground, there’s no ground pressure, so soil compaction is a non-issue,” Schmidt said. He then invited those in attendance to take a walk through the harvested area to see for themselves. Once the juniper is bundled, it can lay on the ground for several years and not lose its usefulness. “The bundles are compacted so tight, they won’t shrink,” Schmidt said. “They will dry out, which will make them weigh less, and that will result in lower transportation costs.” On average, enough juniper can be harvested on one to two acres to fill up a log truck.Another benefit is that the entire tree is used, so there are no slash piles left behind. Schmidt stated that because the machinery is designed using the latest technology, they hope to attract more young people to the industry. “Training to operate these machines is available, and they use a simulator much like an airplane simulator,” Schmidt said. “And they’re good paying jobs.” http://burnstimesherald.info/2008/07/16/bundles-of-energy/


7) U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said the settlement marks the U.S. Forest Service’s largest damage recovery for a wildfire. The Omaha, Neb.-based company agreed to settle after a federal judge in Sacramento ruled against it in February, Union Pacific spokeswoman Zoe Richmond said. U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. had said the federal government could seek damages far beyond the previous legal benchmarks — lost market value of burned trees and the cost of fighting the fire. He ruled that a jury also could consider the loss of public recreation, scenery and wildlife, as well as wilderness areas with old-growth trees that never would have been logged for sale. That would allow the government to seek significantly higher damages. In this case, the government estimated that could be as high as $190 million, a figure the railroad was disputing, according to court records. “A precedent has been set here … that will let us assess the true, inherent value of forest land,” U.S. Associate Attorney General Kevin O’Connor said during a news conference in Sacramento. He said the case would serve as a national model for the Forest Service and Justice Department. Federal officials also announced that U.S. attorneys in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Utah have dedicated teams to recover damages from people and entities deemed to have started costly wildland blazes. “It’s sending a message that their negligence in setting a fire has consequences,” O’Connor said. An estimated $600 million in such damages could be recovered nationwide from fires set on Forest Service land, said Mark Rey, undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the head of the Forest Service. The Union Pacific settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed after a fire about 100 miles northeast of Sacramento that started in August 2000 and burned more than 52,000 acres in the Plumas and Lassen national forests. It was contained after three weeks at a cost of $22 million. It later was determined that sparks from welders repairing tracks set it off. Richmond, the company spokeswoman, said railroad employees thought they had extinguished the sparks that were burning alongside the tracks. Union Pacific said a passing train probably blew them back to life. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j1f06PQqcTOgJFBwGM3fLvOatHGQD9237M6O0

8) Thirty-nine trillion gallons so pure, so clear, it might as well be air. For me and my family, Lake Tahoe is a delightful new experience. A recent move pulled us from Wyoming and planted us in Reno, Nev., on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From our foothills perch, we look east across the huge, desert-dry reaches of the Great Basin. In the other direction, over an 8,900-foot pass, lies Tahoe. It pulls us like a psychic magnet. Getting to know a new landscape is always a worthy activity, and particularly one as diverse and rewarding as Tahoe. Ringed by mountains of brilliant white granite, it is the largest alpine lake in the country: 22 miles by 12 miles and 1,645 feet deep at its deepest point. It never freezes. Even in winter the blue seems to glow from within like a piece of sky among the peaks. Wherever you go along its 72-mile shoreline, the lake always is a splendid, oceanic emptiness, cold and limpid and strangely remote. You can’t take your eyes off it, but almost everything you do is on the margin. It’s a rich margin, including four wilderness areas in three national forests; six state parks; seven major ski resorts and six smaller ones; hiking trails, bike paths and back roads measuring thousands of miles; two cities and several small communities, home to more than 35,000 people; historic mansions, tacky strip malls, posh restaurants, quirky bistros, lodges both tony and rustic; and, of course, neon-flashing casinos on the Nevada side. The menu of outdoor activities can feel overwhelming. What to do next? Ski, hike, ride a bike, paddle a boat, climb a rock, catch a fish, loaf along the beach? Do them all, and you’ve hardly begun, but I’ve given it a good try. http://www.denverpost.com/travel/ci_9915167

9) Professor Jim Thorne, a wildlife habitat ecologist at UC Davis, has identified the two remaining crucial connection points, or “corridors,” the lions need to use to get from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the rest of the state: Coyote Valley north of Morgan Hill, which connects the Santa Cruz and Northern Diablo Mountain ranges; and the Pajaro Valley, whose river bisects the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Gabilan Mountains near Watsonville. Following this trail, a determined mountain lion could reach the Tehachapi Mountains, which connects the Coast Range with the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. Thorne fears these two areas could both disappear under subdivisions if they are not protected now. A recent plan to build 26,000 homes and a mixed-use office park in Coyote Valley was withdrawn in March when it seemed clear the San Jose City Council might not support it, but other development proposals are in the making. The Pajaro Valley is two-thirds agricultural fields but has no permanent development exemptions and little protected open space. “The likely issue is that there probably isn’t enough space on the Peninsula to have a population that is self-maintaining genetically speaking, without having space to come and leave and mix with other populations,” said Thorne. “There’s enough roads springing up that the Santa Cruz Mountains are in danger of being isolated from the rest of California, at least from the perspective of a mountain lion.” For a sense of what that vision might entail, a person need look no further than the Santa Monica Mountains, a slightly larger range that was long ago cut off from the rest of the state, habitat-wise, with the construction of Highway 101. Officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area estimate that five mountain lions, at most, continue to exist there — less than half the number they have known of since 2002. Park officials are now working with the California Department of Transportation to build a highway underpass, just for the mountain lions, that would connect with the Simi Hills to the north. The first effort to count the number of mountain lions in the Santa Cruz range, as well as record their health and habits, got off the ground last year at UC Santa Cruz. With the help of a trapper, the Bay Area Puma Project will collar and track 10 pumas at a time as they make their way across the mountain range and points beyond. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_9939662

10) A federal judge has blocked a U.S. Forest Service plan to have commercial loggers remove trees burned on 1,000 acres in Los Padres National Forest during the 2006 Day fire. U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu ruled last week that the Forest Service could not move ahead with the project as planned without more environmental review of the potential effects, but it could take steps to allow some foresting, such as salvaging trees in an area of less than 250 acres. John Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch, said the environmental group filed suit in February because of concerns that commercial logging would lead to damaging soil erosion. “We recommended they use Forest Service crews to cut down the trees and then leave them in place, instead of allowing logging companies to come in and take them to the sawmill,” Kuyper said. “Cut trees left in place do not cause ground disturbance, in contrast with commercial logging, which uses heavy equipment that leads to soil compaction.” Kuyper said commercial logging also often involves dragging the multi-ton trees to a central location, leaving “slide trails” that can cause erosion.Kathy Good, a Los Padres National Forest spokeswoman, said the trees need to be removed because they could fall onto roads used by tourists and pose a safety hazard. She said the plan is to remove only those trees that are hazardous. “The reason for bringing in a commercial logger is that we don’t have the staff for the job and we hoped to have some use made of the trees,” Good said. Good said she could not comment on specifics of the judge’s decision or plans. Forest administrators were unavailable for comment Thursday because they were dealing with fires in Los Padres, she said. http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/jul/18/plan-to-remove-burned-trees-barred/

11) The California Supreme Court gave new protection to the state’s endangered species Thursday, ruling unanimously that developers, loggers and other commercial interests may be required to compensate for unforeseen wildlife losses. The ruling, which affects both public works and private development, threw out a long-term logging plan approved by the state for 200,000 acres in Humboldt County, a plan that lower courts put on hold several years ago. The state high court said the Department of Forestry had approved an “unidentifiable” plan that was still a work in progress and then delegated its completion to the logging company. Justice Carlos R. Moreno, writing for the court, called the Forestry Department’s action illegal and an abrogation of its duties. The California Department of Forestry “failed to proceed according to law,” Moreno wrote. Although companies need not compensate for species killed in natural disasters out of the industry’s control, they must mitigate for wildlife losses when the company’s conduct contributed to them or when a natural disaster makes the commercial activity more threatening to endangered wildlife, the court said. “When natural disasters change baseline conditions, then logging activities that previously would not have had a significant impact on endangered species may now have such an impact,” Moreno wrote. Industry critics expressed fears that the ruling could deter companies from entering into voluntary conservation plans. Paul Weiland, a land-use lawyer who represented the building industry in the case, said developers might be reluctant to sign an agreement that requires them to compensate for unforeseen losses of wildlife above and beyond what they have been required to spend for mitigation to get the permit. Permits for the taking of endangered species can be in effect for several decades. Pacific’s endangered species permit was for 50 years. “The question is, who should bear that risk,” Weiland said. “People are willing to take on a permit when they feel they understand the risk, but when the risk is unknowable, people are less inclined to do it.” http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-me-endangered18-2008jul18,0,1646638.story

12) If every cloud has a silver lining, what good can be said of the big brown dome of wildfire smoke that capped much of California these past few weeks? Plenty, say ecologists who study the effects of fire on the landscape. While the siege of lightning-sparked fires continues to inundate parts of Northern California with hazardously smoky air, the blazes also consumed more than 1,400 square miles of dangerously overgrown forests and oak woodlands – the size of nearly three Lake Tahoe basins – leaving that much less fuel for future, more catastrophic and expensive fires. Federal land managers in California are retooling their firefighting strategies to capture more of the public safety, economic and environmental benefits of letting wildfires run their natural course without overwhelming the public with smoke and destroying homes. That’s a tough balancing act in the nation’s most populous state, which already endures the smoggiest and grittiest air in the country. But in a select few remote national forests, parks and wilderness areas, ecologists say, the federal government has been weaning itself off Smokey Bear’s admonitions with measurable success. “We didn’t have any injuries. We didn’t burn any houses, and we cleared out 15,000 acres of dense vegetation that hasn’t seen fire in decades and, in some places, a century – and that’s a good thing,” said Brent Skaggs, a U.S. Forest Service fire management officer who let nature take its course under close watch – and tricky weather – in the Clover fire that was recently contained in the Sequoia and Inyo national forests. Federal officials call it “reintroducing fire” to the landscape. Historically, wildfire smoke filled the Central Valley and draped the mountains flanking much of the summer and fall. Extinguishing the fires became a federal mandate with the creation of the Forest Service at the turn of the 20th century. http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/1091986.html

13) The California Supreme Court on Thursday chided two state agencies for approving the controversial $480 million Headwaters Forest deal under which the state and federal governments bought 10,000 acres of old-growth redwood groves and set standards for how the Pacific Lumber Co. would log a remaining 220,000 acres in Northern California. The court ordered the Scotia-based company, which is owned by Maxxam Inc. of Houston, to submit new plans addressing how it intended to log near watersheds. The justices said the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Forestry and Fire wrongly agreed to protect Pacific Lumber from having to alter its endangered species protection plan if new animals become threatened. The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling culminates nearly 10 years of legal wrangling over two lawsuits filed by environmental groups and the United Steelworkers of America objecting to the 1999 deal. But the ruling has little immediate effect on Pacific Lumber’s logging activities in Humboldt County because the company has been operating under a different harvesting plan since a trial court judge first ruled against it in 2003. What’s more a federal bankruptcy judge last month awarded control of the bankrupt company to the Ukiah-based Mendocino Redwood Co., which has promised to significantly slow tree-cutting and is supported by environmentalists. Officials with Mendocino Redwood didn’t return a call for comment. Scott Greacen, head of the Environmental Protection Information Center, which sued the state and Pacific Lumber along with the Sierra Club, said the Supreme Court ruling written by Justice Carlos Moreno will force the state to better consider endangered species protection when approving timber harvest plans. “This is a stunning victory for the environment and for holding government agencies accountable,” Greacen said. http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_9913501?nclick_check=1

14) Here is the incident report from the other day that they hooked a Rock Creek dozer line into the GO road. I believe this had to go through the Dillon Creek Roadless area. Rock creek is the most intact creek around and the logging is shaking houses on the property I’m living on many miles away because they are falling so much old growth where no one lives. Notice the fire immediately went over the line, same as at the Wooly Creek fire which I have photos of if anyone wants them. They may also want to put a dozer line into the Elk Valley area near Dillon Creek. It is famous for being the reason for the GO road throw down in the 80’s and the Salvage Rides throw down of the 90’s. Any one who thinks they can put the pressure on the Six Rivers and Klamath NF, or local representatives should. This is roadless, wilderness, and sacred areas in one of the wildest places in the lower 48. It is also the area where the craziest logging showdowns in the last twenty-five years have happened for the Klamath River area. It is also threatening zero houses yet they are building dozer lines and roads like crazy. http://saveancientforests.blogspot.com/2008/07/hells-half-acre.html


15) With a sweep of her hands, Carol McCoy-Brown shows off the park-like setting of Warm Lake, where well-spaced pine trees loom over a forest floor nearly free of underbrush. She points to the rustic wood-frame cabins that dot the Forest Service land in the mountains southeast of McCall – all spared last August by a forest fire that burned right to the community’s doorsteps. McCoy-Brown, a district ranger with the Boise National Forest, credits a nine-year, $1.6 million Forest Service program to thin trees and clear flammable brush with keeping the 300,000-acre Cascade Complex fire at bay last year. “It costs a lot less to do these projects than it does to fight a wildfire,” she said. But taxpayers didn’t see the savings. The Forest Service did fight that fire, at a cost of more than $53 million. While dollars and people were devoted to this and other forest fires around the West, preventive programs – like the one at Warm Lake – were put on hold. And fires rob federal agencies of more than just the resources needed to keep homes and cabins safe in the future. In big fire years – which, thanks in part to a century of suppression, are now more common than ever – money and manpower are diverted from recreational needs, environmental preservation and even timber sales. Scientists and land managers say the forests need fires to be healthy. http://www.idahostatesman.com/102/story/449460.html


16) In the dense woods near here, the U.S. Forest Service says it has found the “sweet spot.” That’s what Dave Atkins calls the area where environmental, economic and social concerns overlap, a spot on the landscape where the needs of nature and humans are balanced. “As we demand more of our natural resources in the West, we have to adapt our management,” said Atkins, the acting Ninemile district ranger on the Lolo National Forest. In the modern West, development is converting many rural areas into a problematic “wildland-urban interface,” but Forest Service officials believe they’ve found the answer in their Frenchtown Face restoration project. The $1 million project, which started in May after six years of planning, is designed to reduce the risk of severe wildfires and restore the forest’s health, while producing jobs and revenue for the local economy. It is one of the largest stewardship contracts in the Forest Service’s Northern Region, and work will continue through 2014. Developers are building a growing number of homes alongside the national forest boundary, where wildfires in 2000 heightened public concern about the potential for even more intense fires. (One of those fires, called the Black Cat, came with a vengeance last summer.) The project includes commercial logging and thinning on 3,600 acres that border 1.5 miles of private land and homes. Prescribed burning is planned on another 10,000 acres to reduce fuels and enhance wildlife forage. About 4,600 acres will be sprayed for noxious weeds, and 19 major culverts will be replaced or removed to allow fish passage. Also, nearly 115 miles of roads will be decommissioned, and improvements are slated for campgrounds, picnic areas, parking areas, trailheads, and off-highway vehicle, mountain bike and horse trails. Under the current project, trees larger than 19 inches in diameter are being left alone, while smaller trees are being selectively cut and underbrush is being removed with chain saws and prescribed burns. “We were making a killing, the Forest Service was losing and the money was going elsewhere under the old-style timber sale contracts, but this isn’t like that,” said Scott Kuehn, a procurement forester with Tricon Timber. “It’s much more complicated and it has different benefits for everyone involved. It’s more about restoring the forest than regenerating” it for future logging. http://missoulian.com/articles/2008/07/23/news/local/news04.txt

17) The fate of a logging project in extreme Northwest Montana is in the hands of a federal judge who must decide if the project is bad for grizzly bears. The issue at hand centers around the Northeast Yaak Project in the Kootenai National Forest, which is a combination of helicopter logging and habitat restoration that the U.S. Forest Service says will improve grizzly bear habitat. However, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies says the project will only drive grizzly bears closer to extinction in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem. The first logging in the area began last month, so the alliance asked judge Donald Molloy in Missoula to stop the project, but he refused to do so. Both sides spent Thursday arguing their case to Molloy in person. The USFS admits grizzlies might leave their core habitat to avoid the helicopters, but only for a short time, but the Alliance for the Wild Rockies counters that even that can be harmful to the animals. The alliance is also arguing that the project will affect bears in other ways. Molloy said he’ll soon make a ruling in the case. http://www.montanasnewsstation.com/Global/story.asp?S=8694718&nav=menu227_


18) In Sen. Craig’s narrative we had sound forest management in Idaho’s forests from the time the Weyerhaeuser’s cut down the first growth of trees and the Forest Service put out all the fires. This age of enlightenment, in Craig’s forest history, ended in the 1970s when environmentalists came along and handcuffed the timber industry. Suddenly, overnight the forests filled with fuel and bugs and disease and made Idaho and the West’s forests unhealthy. Beginning in the 1980s the forests started burning and the federal government began letting them burn up. The gist of Craig’s folk forest history is that the only way to fix Idaho and the West’s forests is through logging. His basic story hasn’t changed since the early 1990s. The actual history is of course different, according to every forest scientist and historian around. Fire burned through different forest types in the state at different frequencies depending on the forest type, the climate and other factors. In southern Idaho’s ponderosa pine forest fire regularly burned every seven to 30 years thinning out the underbrush and young trees but leaving the thick-barked pines. Cattle ranchers moved in and grazed down the grasses, reducing the fuels that carried the frequent small fires. Miners and loggers cut down the biggest trees and left the species that weren’t marketable. Fire suppression eliminated the small fires. The number of trees per acre began rising. The national forests, protected by Teddy Roosevelt over the objections of Idaho Sen. Weldon Heyburn, were not intensively managed until after World War II. The only management previously was fire suppression, which became increasingly successful until after the war. But with most of the private forests of the Pacific Northwest now young and growing after harvests in the first half of the century, the national forests became the woodshed of the post-war nation. Timber companies were given long, large contracts to cut down forests that included both good and questionable forest practices. Environmentalists really didn’t have much impact on the harvest until the 1980s, when problems with water quality from poor roads and preserving endangered species led the nation to overcorrect at the same time Craig was building his career in Congress. http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2008/07/16/rockybarker/craigs_alternative_forest_history


19) Arizona Forest Restoration Products Inc. (AZFRP) explains how it can decline to receive cash compensation from the U.S. Forest Service in payment for ecological services rendered during the restorative thinning of Northern Arizona forests, while supporting the payment of $550 per acre by the Forest Service to the White Mountain Stewardship Contract. AZFRP confirmed today that it will decline to receive cash compensation from the U.S. Forest Service in payment for ecological services rendered during the restorative thinning of Northern Arizona forests. This position statement is fully in line with AZFRP’s stated intention, from its inception, to develop an economically sustainable engine to fund landscape-scale ecological restoration in Northern Arizona. Conversely, AZFRP will continue to support the payment of $550 per acre by the Forest Service to the White Mountain Stewardship Contract and the funding of this contract for its full 10 years. “These positions are not contradictory” said Pascal Berlioux, President & Chief Executive Officer of AZFRP. “Actually, they rest on the very simple economics of reality, and it may be useful to clarify them.” Simply put, it can cost up to approximately $1,055 to thin an acre in Northern Arizona (mobilization $15, cutting $205, skidding $155, loading $100, trucking $470, slash handling $45, road maintenance $15, overhead $50). If 550 cubic feet of round wood are retrieved per acre, as is reported for the White Mountain Stewardship Contract, and if this wood is sold for around $35 per ton, then the revenue is about $600 per acre. If there is no revenue from the biomass, as is the case with the White Mountain Stewardship Contract, the contractor can lose up to about $455 per acre, and it is logical for the Forest Service to compensate this contractor for their loss and to pay them a profit. If they did not, nobody would do the job. But this is not a solution sustainable either at landscape-scale nor indefinitely. Quite simply, there are one million acres identified in the “Consensus Scenario” of the Analysis of Small Diameter Wood Supply in Northern Arizona for which mechanical treatment is appropriate. http://www.wmicentral.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19863685&BRD=2264&PAG=461&dept_id=506172&rfi=6

20) We were going to see the scopes. The mountain was under lockdown. Armed guards, rented by the University of Arizona, blocked passage up the new road and patrolled the alpine forest on the crest of Mount Graham. Only certified astronomers and construction workers were permitted entry. And university donors. And Vatican priests. But not environmentalists. And not Apaches. The tail-lights of SUVs streamed through the trees, packing astronomers and their cohorts towards the giant machine eyes, on a road plastered over the secret middens of the mountain’s most famous native: the Mount Graham red squirrel. The tiny squirrel was once thought be extinct. A wider survey showed an isolated population on the mountain’s peak. In 1987, the squirrel was finally listed as a endangered species. Mount Graham is a sky island, a 10,700-foot-tall extrusion from the floor of the Sonoran desert, which has traveled its own evolutionary course since the last ice age, more than 10,000 years ago. The mountain is a kind of continental Galapagos, featuring seven different biomes, stacked on top each other like an ecological flow chart. At the very top of the pyramid (and the mountain) is a cloud forest of fir and spruce, the southernmost manifestation of this biome. This is an ancient forest, as stout and mossy as the fabled forests of Oregon. That’s where the squirrels hang out. Of course, the forests has been gnawed at over the years by loggers and the like, but there was still more than 600-acres of it left when the astronomers laid claimed to the area, with the ironclad brutality of a mining company. The University got its way because it has powerful politicians in its pocket, ranging from Bruce Babbitt to John McCain, and they used them relentlessly, especially the vile McCain. The university tapped McCain to push through congress the so-called Idaho and Arizona Conservation Act of 1988. This deceptively-titled law was actually a double-barrel blast at the environment: it gave the green light to illegal logging in the wildlands of Idaho and for the construction of the Mount Graham telescopes, shielding them from any kind of litigation by environmentalists or Apaches. To help sneak this malign measure through congress, the University shelled out more than a half-million dollars for the services of the powerhouse DC lobbying firm Patton, Boggs and Blow. The bill passed in the dead of night and, in the words of one University of Arizona lawyer, it gave the astronomers the right to move forward “even if it killed every squirrel”. http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair07162008.html


21) Sportsmen’s groups are pressuring Gov. Bill Ritter not to sign off on a soon-to-be-proposed rule regulating roadless areas in national forests. The rule, negotiated by the Ritter administration and the U.S. Forest Service, is expected to protect about 4.1 million acres but potentially open 300,000 acres to development, according to a consortium of conservation groups. The Forest Service’s timetable would adopt the rule before the Bush administration leaves office. “This rule leaves Colorado with less protection on its national forest than any other state in the country,” said Jane Danowitz, director for the Pew Charitable Trust public lands program. The Ritter administration, which took over the roadless plan from former Gov. Bill Owens, did add what it called “insurance policy” modifications to protect land. “Gov. Ritter’s goal on the roadless issue is the same as it is on all of these land-management issues — to strike a balance that protects our water, our mountains, our wildlife and our communities while allowing for responsible development where appropriate,” Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said in a statement. Starting today, three outdoors groups are airing a radio commercial urging Ritter not to back the proposed rule. The Bush administration created the state planning program to supplant a 2001 rule, issued by outgoing President Clinton, protecting 58 million acres of roadless areas in national forests. Most states opposed the change, and a federal court upheld the 2001 rule. Only Colorado, under Owens, a Republican, and Idaho went ahead with state plans. Ritter inherited the roadless task force from Owens. http://origin.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_9965756

22) Where do you draw the line on developed recreation? The U.S. Forest Service has been asking that question since at least 1919, when a young landscape architect named Arthur Carhart was dispatched to northwestern Colorado to design a road around a remote lake. Why not leave the land alone? Carhart asked. His Forest Service bosses agreed, and Trappers Lake is sometimes called the cradle of wilderness. Now that question is being asked again, this time as the result of a proposal from the ski industry going before Congress. Legislation being readied by U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, would broaden the allowed uses of national forests by ski area operators. “My bill would make it clear that activities like mountain biking, concerts and other appropriate uses can be allowed at these ski areas,” said Udall in a press release. Environmental groups, however, say Udall’s proposal is too broad. The bill, says Ryan Demmy Bidwell, executive director of Colorado Wild, a ski industry watchdog, “leaves the door open to urbanized recreation activities like roller coasters and water parks that are inappropriate anywhere on national forest land.” The Forest Service has long struggled with defining what is appropriate. Carhart himself wanted the Forest Service to enable the general public to enjoy national forests by building campgrounds and roads. The agency did, and after World War II, picked up the pace. A major partner – the largest single source of visitors to national forests – has been downhill ski areas. In deciding what is appropriate recreation, the Forest Service is guided first by a 1986 law that defines ski areas as being places that offer alpine and Nordic skiing. Not mentioned is snowboarding or, for that matter, many other uses occurring even then. http://www.telluridewatch.com/pages/full_story?article-Ski-Areas-Look-to-Expand-Recreation-Uses-


23) Outcries from neighbors in west Austin, near the Bee Caves Apartments under construction near Oak Hill, have put some pressure on city hall to fine a subcontractor for demolishing 23 century-old trees at the construction site. “There have been lots of calls from that area and lots of concerned citizens throughout the city who look at this as the worst violation of tree removals that they’ve seen,” says Pat Murphy, Austin Environmental Officer. He says the city has been investigating for some time violations that might be filed in municipal court. He says that decision was made and they are now pursuing, in municipal court, 20 violations. “The maximum fine is $2,000 per violation,” Murphy says. At the maximum penalty, that could add up to a total of $40,000 in fines for the subcontractor, Gillingwater Excavation. “Municipal Court has set a fine or fee schedule of $1,500 dollars and $10 per violation,” Murphy says. If city hall does not pursue the maximum fine, that would amount to a potential $38,500 break for Gillingwater and whatever other parties which could be named as potentially liable for the razed trees. Murphy says the city believes the incident was an honest mistake, because of the manner in which the trees were cut down. “Typically, if someone has done a limit of construction on their site and has basically made that a barrier, we have allowed them not to survey trees in those areas. In this case, unfortunately, that’s the very area that they’ve cleared.” http://www.590klbj.com/News/Story.aspx?ID=95216


24) DUNKERTON – The property featured 22 acres of impressive oaks. A few towering examples likely started growing 150 years ago. “There were probably a couple dozen monstrous ones,” Bobby Wheeler says. Four sentinels guarding the woodland’s northeast corner stood out as particular favorites. They served as a landmark for hunters and were Wheeler’s old friends. The stand of trees also contained a network of trails wide enough for Wheeler to navigate with an ATV. He maintained the property as a natural playground for his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He and his family were in the basement when a tornado passed on May 25. The National Weather Service estimates the EF5 that devastated portions of Butler, Black Hawk and Buchanan counties was 1.2 miles wide as the storm clipped rural Dunkerton. The tornado tore through Wheeler’s stand of trees north of town, toppling hardwoods and mangling evergreens. “Anything that was hard either broke off or tipped over,” Wheeler says. “It just totally changed the landscape. Everything got lowered by 50 feet, 60 feet maybe.” Cassie Wheeler remembers her father’s reaction. “He said he was close to crying.” Joe Herring, a district forester for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, understands the hurt landowners feel. “Most people who own woods and spend time in them, most of those people develop an emotional attachment to the property and the land,” he says. “The love of trees is old and has been around a long time.” Part of Herring’s job is to address what, if anything, might be salvaged in such a situation. First of all, he says, a severely damaged tree may survive. “You can really batter the hell out of a tree, and it won’t croak and die,” Herring says. Quality of life, on the other hand, may be an issue. Leaving the tree, and letting nature play out its hand, may not serve what Herring describes as a management plan for a sustainable forest. One option, though not always palatable to property owners, is to remove the damaged trees. “A salvage harvest,” Herring says, “… which is just like it sounds, to basically salvage what you can.” “If you have some serious damage, it can be in the timber’s best interest,” he adds. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-ia-exchange-trees-tor,0,5838683.story


25) LISBON – A Lisbon man is seeking more than $10 million in damages from Ohio Edison and the company they hired to cut down 39 trees on his property. On Monday, Wayne Wilson, of 37093 U.S. Route 30, filed a motion to amend his complaint against Ohio Edison, specifically naming the damages he seeks and adding a defendant to the case. Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike approved the motion Tuesday and allowed the complaint to be amended. The amended complaint seeks compensatory damages in excess of $50,000 and putative damages of $10 million. The compensatory damages include “the value of the trees cut and timber unlawfully removed, as well as the diminution in value of the premises,” the complaint states. Penn Line Service, Inc., of Scottsdale, Penn., the company hired by Ohio Edison to remove Wilson’s blue spruce pine trees on Feb. 6, was added as a defendant in the amended complaint. Asked for a comment regarding Wilson’s complaint, Tricia Ingraham, a spokesperson for FirstEnergy, the parent company of Ohio Edison, said, “We do this kind of vegetation management work as part of our ongoing effort to provide safe and reliable electric service to our customers.” “Utilities are under pressure from federal regulators to make sure there are not outages resulting from contact with power lines. Many utilities have taken a more aggressive stance that if trees are under the lines, they need to come out. And we do have easements in place that allow us to perform the work,” Ingraham said. Ohio Edison holds a transmission easement over Wilson’s property. In the mid-1980s, Wilson planted the trees on his property to “ensure privacy and enhance the value of his property,” the complaint states. In March 2007, Ohio Edison said the trees posed a threat to transmission lines and requested Wilson agree to cutting down 50 trees, the complaint states. In December, Pike granted Wilson a temporary injunction against having his trees cut, but in January denied a permanent injunction, ruling Ohio Edison could technically cut the trees, though he recommended the utility wait until the case could be heard on its full merits. Ignoring the recommendation, Ohio Edison cut the trees in February. After Ohio Edison cut the trees, Wilson erected crosses on the land where the trees once stood. Wilson later requested Pike recuse himself from the upcoming trial because of Pike’s denying permanent injunction, but Pike ruled in May he will not recuse himself. A March 3, 2009 trial date has been set to determine if Ohio Edison acted properly when cutting down the trees. http://www.salemnews.net/page/content.detail/id/503617.html


26) A grove of 31 white oak trees sits on the edge of property owned by Sandra Simpson and Jim Sorenson on Aderhold Road. Three of the trees may be a risk to the couple’s property, including one tree that could crush their garage. Since the grove is borough property, Simpson and Sorenson requested council’s intervention, but now they wish they hadn’t. At last week’s meeting, council authorized resident Paul Foertsch and his tree service to handle those three — in exchange for the wood from 20 more. Foertsch says he’s taking a gamble. Between the trees’ questionable density, nails from old tree houses and other flaws, the trees could be worth little as lumber, he said. Other sources place the potential value of the trees at three to four times what Foertsch would normally earn to cut them. Simpson and Sorenson have circulated a petition to stop the trade. They are working with other residents to put together alternatives, including seeking grant money and community service labor from the county to clear trails, add picnic tables and turn the grove into a park. They’re also searching for evidence that, both financially and ecologically, council could be missing the forest for the trees. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_577491.html

Northeast Forests:

27) “Just like we breathe in air through our mouth and lungs, these plants take in air through their leaves and take in the pollution just as we do,” said Andy Finton of The Nature Conservancy. Finton says ozone has cut down on forest growth. “The productivity of northeastern forests has been shown to be decreased by ozone by up to and greater than 10 percent,” he said. That’s just one new finding on the impact of air pollution on New England, published in a report just released by The Nature Conservancy called “Threats From Above.” “This study has shown that air pollution affects more ecosystems than we ever thought before and more severely than we thought,” said Finton. And with forested land covering 60 percent of the state our trees are telling a story. “Recently there’s been tremendous die-off of oak forests in southeastern Massachusetts,” he said. The victims of many stresses including acid rain, a by product of air pollution. “The oak forests are very susceptible to the acid component of pollution,” said Finton. “Because these forests are already very acidic they don’t have much leeway in getting more acidic.” Mercury emissions from power plants are also finding their way into local ecosystems, cutting a path through the soil into the water. “We’ve got hot spots of mercury, especially in these white mountains even north central Massachusetts has a real hot spot of mercury,” Finton told WBZ. Namely the Merrimack River, tagged for high levels of mercury traced back to air pollution. “By reducing the effects of air pollution we will have vital systems for generations to come,” Finton said. http://wbztv.com/local/air.pollution.the.2.776317.html


28) Barbara Wilson of Jacksonville, Alabama (above right) had never been an activist before. But when a representative of the Alabama Power Company appeared at her front door last year and told her the company going to chop down the three 75-year-old pecan trees in her front yard, she decided not to take it lying down. The power company had recently changed its longstanding policy of trimming trees underneath power lines to one of cutting them down. Wilson told the company she’d do everything in her power to stop them, and she put up signs in her yard and started a petition to save the trees. Fellow Jacksonville resident and longtime Sierra Club activist Rufus Kinney saw Wilson’s signs and stopped to talk with her. And on the morning Alabama Power arrived to chop down the trees, they found Wilson and Kinney in folding chairs, chained to the trees, a crowd on hand, and Wilson’s grandson Jake up in one of the trees, telling the power company to “leave my Nana’s trees alone!” The power company set another date for removal, and this time not only were the two again chained to the trees, an even larger crowd and media were on hand. The company then sued Wilson and Kinney, who retained the pro bono services of Birmingham attorney Mark Martin (below at left, with Wilson, Kinney, and key supporter Derek Raulerson), who had successfully represented the Sierra Club before. Among other findings, Martin revealed that similarly situated trees in wealthier locales were being trimmed, not cut down. In March 2008, a county circuit judge ruled that Alabama Power’s new policy was illegal and there was no significant evidence it would increase safety. The company announced it would appeal the decision, but on June 18 it officially dropped its case against Wilson and Kinney. “We received so much support from total strangers who appreciated us standing up for something we believed in,” says Wilson. http://sierraclub.typepad.com/scrapbook/2008/07/activists-stand.html


29) This year, as in every previous year, fires are occurring in the forests of the western United States. And, as in previous years, we read the predictable headlines about how many acres of forest were “destroyed” by wildland fires. Of course, when fires burn houses, this is a catastrophe, and we must redouble efforts to prevent this through programs to clear brush immediately adjacent to homes and encourage fire-resistant roofing and siding. But the question remains: Does fire harm our forest ecosystems? Recent scientific evidence is providing answers that contradict many long-held assumptions. For example, contrary to popular belief, there is far less fire in our forests now than there was historically. In the 19th century, prior to government fire suppression programs, the average annual area burned was eight to 10 times higher than it is now. Over the past few decades, fires have increased somewhat, but still remain well below their natural levels in western forests. Increasingly, forest managers are realizing that, despite increased spending on fire suppression, fires cannot be indefinitely kept at unnatural levels in ecosystems that are adapted to frequent burning. Flames several stories high make dramatic and sensational images, and tend to be the focus of coverage on television, giving the public a skewed impression of how fires affect our forests. In fact, the majority of the area burned each year generally experiences low- or moderate-intensity effects in which flames slowly creep along the forest floor and most of the trees survive. In the areas where most of the trees are killed by fire, scientists are making some of the most interesting and counter-intuitive discoveries. Far from being destroyed, these areas show some of the greatest rejuvenation and ecological richness. In such areas, natural conifer regeneration occurs, often with thousands of seedlings per acre after the fire. Some conifer species, in fact, require high-intensity fire in order to release their seeds and reproduce. These effects are perfectly natural in western forests. Historically, most of these conifer forests had mixed-severity effects. Some stands remained green and lightly burned while all trees were killed in others. Moreover, some of the highest levels of biodiversity are found in the most heavily burned areas for both wildlife and plants. Many flowering plants and shrubs depend upon fire for germination and reproduction. http://www.theunion.com/article/20080723/OPINION/319918154/1056&parentprofile=-1

30) From my perspective as an ecologist, I have become aware of one of nature’s best-kept secrets —there are some plant and animal species that one is hard-pressed to see anywhere outside a severely burned forest. Consider the black-backed woodpecker. This bird species is relatively restricted in its distribution to burned-forest conditions Everything about it, including its jet-black coloration, undoubtedly reflects a long evolutionary history with burned forests. This (and many other) woodpecker species rely on the larvae of wood-boring beetles, some of which are so specialized that they have infrared sensors allowing them to detect and then colonize burning forests. Many additional bird species, including the mountain bluebird, three-toed woodpecker, and olive-sided flycatcher, also reach their greatest abundance in severely burned forests. And then there’s the fire morel, which occurs only in severely burned forests. This has been a boom year for morel mushrooms at the local farmer’s market precisely because of last year’s severe forest fires in western Montana. An appreciation of the biological uniqueness of severely burned forests is important because if we value and want to maintain the full variety of organisms with which we share this Earth, we must begin to recognize the healthy nature of severely burned forests. We must also begin to recognize that those are the very forests targeted for post-fire logging activity. Unfortunately, post-fire logging removes the very element—dense stands of dead trees—upon which many fire-dependent species depend for nest sites and food resources. With respect to birds, the effects of post-fire salvage harvesting are uniformly negative. In fact, most timber-drilling and timber-gleaning bird species disappear altogether if a forest is salvage-logged. Therefore, such places are arguably the last places we should be going for our wood. We need to change our thinking when it comes to logging after forest fires. There is potential economic value in the timber, yes, but there are numerous other values in a burned forest. And the prospect of losing those values must be weighed against the potential economic gain that may accompany postfire timber harvest. Burned areas are probably the most ecologically sensitive places from which we might extract trees. http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/severely_burned_forests_one_of_natures_best_kept_secrets

31) In the March 2002 issue of the journal Environmental Pollution, Steven McNulty, USDA Forest Service Southern Global Change Program Leader, suggests that the effects of hurricanes must be taken into account in predicting the carbon storage capacity of US Forests along the southeastern seaboard. At least one major hurricane hits the southeastern US coastline two out of every three years. Over 55 percent of the land in the southern U.S. is forested: timber damage from one hurricane can exceed $1 billion – and significantly reduce carbon stored. “A single hurricane can convert ten percent of the total annual carbon storage for the United States into dead and downed forest biomass,” said McNulty. “Hurricanes leave behind a lot of dead trees that decompose and return carbon to the atmosphere before it can be harvested.” McNulty analyzed hurricane damage data collected between 1900 and 1996 to address three issues related to carbon sequestration. First, he looked at how much carbon is transferred from living to dead carbon pools when trees are broken or uprooted. Second, he explored what happened to the downed trees – whether they were salvage logged, burned, or consumed by insects. Finally, he examined the long-term impacts of hurricanes on forest regeneration and productivity. McNulty found that even though hurricanes do not immediately change the state of carbon in a downed tree, a large amount of accumulated forest carbon is lost in the years following a major storm. For economic reasons, most of the wood from hurricanes is not salvaged. Not only is carbon lost as trees decompose, but the downed wood becomes fuel for wild fires that can kill surviving vegetation and release additional carbon dioxide. “If increased carbon sequestration is going to be one of the mechanisms used to reduce net emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States,” said McNulty, “incentives to increase post-hurricane timber salvage need to be addressed. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020325080253.htm

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