Bush to Urge Logging Plan to Help Curb Fires
August 21, 2002 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Bush to Urge Logging Plan to Help Curb Fires (registration metafilter/metafilter). Puppet-boy Bush wants to open up selective national forests to logging to help prevent forest fires. While we're at it why don't we kill all the endangered species before they die out? Let's use those polar ice caps for Poland Spring, they're melting anyway!
posted by mad (55 comments total)
 
tired of those annoying wildfires? they wouldn't happen if it weren't for those damnable forests.
posted by quonsar at 7:49 AM on August 21, 2002


Hey, good plan... afterwards, we can bomb ourselves so we don't have to worry about terrorism anymore.
posted by Foosnark at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2002


Bush's logic never ceases to astound and scare me.
posted by rift2001 at 7:53 AM on August 21, 2002


The saddest part of this is that some will accept this as a valid reason. Remember RR's comments about trees adding to pollution?

"Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources." Ronald Reagan quoted in Sierra vol 65 (Sept/Oct) page 17 (1980)" (sorry can't find a link)

Some people will believe anything if it forwards their agenda. (Of course, not me ;-)
posted by Red58 at 7:59 AM on August 21, 2002


Firebreaks would have some merit, but we know that the resulting logging contracts would funnel money back into pork barrel budgets, rather than directly benefitting green energy efforts that might reduce our drought and resulting forest fires.
posted by machaus at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2002


Am I the only one having trouble logging in with metafilter/metafilter username/password?
posted by mikrophon at 8:06 AM on August 21, 2002


Here's an older Mother Jones article on the same topic with more details on why this is, at best, a questionable approach.
posted by alan at 8:10 AM on August 21, 2002


Shut up, you'll give him ideas!
posted by omidius at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2002


Log in problems? Try: cpunks/cpunks
posted by mad at 8:20 AM on August 21, 2002


US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) did the same thing less than a month ago, slipping loopholes to allow logging in his own state (but none others threatened by wildfires) into a defense spending bill.

It looks like this kind of BS crosses party lines.
posted by toothless joe at 8:20 AM on August 21, 2002


Foosnark, thanks for the belly laugh!

That audit found that nearly $2.5 million in funds designated for rehabilitation and restoration projects in Montana's Bitterroot National Forest were instead spent on preparations for commercial logging projects.

I remember reading in Bill Bryson's book, A Walk in the Woods, it costs the government money to sell off the trees in our national forests, because the National Forestry service has to build the roads to get to the site being sold off. So the figure was something like average cost $9.00 an acre to build the roads vs. $7.00 an acre received in payment from the logging companies.

Not only are we losing precious trees, it costs us money.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:30 AM on August 21, 2002


Do any of you people live in the areas ravaged by fire this past year?

Puppet-boy Bush...

{rolls eyes... sighs}
posted by Witty at 8:37 AM on August 21, 2002


it costs us money

Plus there's the cost for the smokejumpers and all that, and I would bet that the feds don't recover much of that cost from timber sales.

Personally, I think if timber sales on federal land are to be allowed, the feds should (a) charge back the costs of road building and fire protection to the logging companies; (b) assess a 10% royalty fee to fund the Forest Service; and (c) apply some of these funds to offer buyouts to people who live in areas adjoining federal parkland.

The only other alternative I have, extreme as it is: no logging at all on federal land and let nature take its course.
posted by PeteyStock at 8:42 AM on August 21, 2002


Surely deforestation just replaces the fires with floods and erosion?
posted by niceness at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2002


When nature takes its course, it burns. It burns people's homes and they get really really mad and sad about it.
posted by Witty at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2002


When nature takes its course, it burns. It burns people's homes and they get really really mad and sad about it.

Or, maybe that's just part of the risk of living in a forest. I risk being hit by an earthquake by living in California, East Coasters risk hurricanes, people in the Plains states risk tornadoes--so what? Do you think people don't get upset when those happen? And you're not talking about major population density in the forest compared to other places that could be hit by various other natural disasters. I don't mean to sound so cavalier about people's property and lives, but I don't see how you could avoid all natural disasters that threaten you life or your property.
posted by LionIndex at 9:07 AM on August 21, 2002


Will someone articulate why this really is a bad thing, especially in light of all the massive forest fires of late?

but I don't see how you could avoid all natural disasters that threaten you life or your property.

Shouldn't something be done? I know we can't predict/prevent certain natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, but fires (which aren't natural disasters if they are man made) are a different animal. Besides, not just peoples homes got destroyed, several rookie firefighters were killed fighting one of the blazes. I think some sensible fire prevention policy ought to take effect so long as the Federal government owns so much damn land out West.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:21 AM on August 21, 2002


LionIndex: One word - sarcasm.

insomnyuk: Yes, something should be done. For decades, most of the last century, we did everything to prevent forest fire, INSTEAD of letting nature take its course once in a while. Fires like the ones we are witnessing this year are inevitable in those conditions.

Logging doesn't mean (as some in this thread would like to think) stripping the land of every tree and leaving the results there to erode. Part of logging is replanting. Coupled with controlled burning, it's a far better plan than watch fire destroy the forest and homes and having NOTHING to salvage from it.

It's just easier for some to take a pot-shot at Bush on the front page.
posted by Witty at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2002


A natural forest exhibits several characteristics that allow it to respond to fire in a healthy manner. These include (1) multiple species of trees (not monocultures), (2) mutiple ages of trees (since different size/age trees of the same species will respond to fire in a different way), (3) "random" dispersion of trees of multiple ages and types across a given area. The after-effects of logging are to significantly diminish these 3 characteristics, thereby increasing the damaging effects of fires which do occur.
posted by yesster at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2002


eliminate forests. eliminate lightning. be a good american.
posted by quonsar at 9:59 AM on August 21, 2002


So if the forest is 'unnatural' then don't you agree that some sort of human intervention ought to simulate the natural fire control of a 'natural' forest?
posted by insomnyuk at 10:00 AM on August 21, 2002


If you live on a flood plain, you will likely be flooded. If you live in a forest, at some point you will likely loose your home to fire. Fault-lines, earth quakes. If you build your house in an area where there are mountain lions, you are going to have lions to deal with. Etc.

Firefighters died because they were trying to save houses and put out the fire. If it were allowed to burn itself out, no fire fighters would be involved.

Logging generally means cutting down old growth and diverse forests and, at best, replanting fast growing evergreens. Such new "forests" have lost all diversity. Should these trees live long enough to become a forest (of identical trees all the same age), they are prone to being destroyed by disease. Of course clear cutting of forest is rampant throughout the world.

And foresters will explain, as you indicated Witty, that the best plan is to let fires go. (Many of which are caused by lightening.) There are many trees are actually designed by nature, to burn. Their seed pods do not open except in the extreme conditions only possible in a fire. Because we have been putting out smaller fires over the years, the amount of deadwood has reached overflow. The fires now are larger and virtually impossible to control.
posted by Red58 at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2002


Fires are a natural part of forest ecosystems. Indeed, several species of evergreen pinecones only germinate after being exposed to extreme heat - it's a built in safeguard against overpopulation.

Thus, fires are supposed to happen. The only reason they're a problem is because we've destroyed so much of the existing forest ecosystems. Cutting away more of what's left can serve only to worsen the problem.

There's no way to justify this course of action as being environmentally responsible. As such, it should be criticised and evaluated with scrutiny. Doing so should not be brushed away as a mere "pot-shot".
posted by aladfar at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2002


Witty: It's just easier for some to take a pot-shot at Bush on the front page.

True, but he is such as easy mark!
posted by TCMITS at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2002


Forgive the repetition - Red58 must have posted at the same time as I.
posted by aladfar at 10:03 AM on August 21, 2002


Typically 'selective logging' is very dangerous in terms of forest prevention. For instance, in the Bitterroot Mts, where i used to live, the forest service defined selective cuts as anything leaving 3 to 5 trees per acre. Which, of course, means everything gets cut down. The loggers the strip (literally) the trees of all of their branches, pile it high and leave it to dry out. Additionally, logging roads, both legal and otherwise, can act as fire conduits, essentially helping the spread of fires. Some studies have also shown that fire breaks are very dangerous, since they create a natural "edge" for the fire to follow and can increase the likelihood of "blowdown" (literally blown down trees which significantly increases the chances of a fire).

Bottom line is that logging never helps stop fires. Unless you cut it all down, of course.
posted by crackerass at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2002


How many of you live in wood frame homes? How many have other items, too numerous to count, which are made of wood? We use and renew our forests, and have for centuries.
Currently in Southern Oregon, the 400,000 acre Biscuit fire is burning out of control. This is directly attributable to lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club and Earth First which have prevented the Forest Service from logging and properly maintaining the National Forests. While the Sierra Club is kicking back in their cush offices, pleased at the "natural" course of this disaster, many endangered and threatened species are being eradicated by this fire, not to mention millions of animals that are not on the endangered list that are being killed or displaced by this, the largest fire of the season. Add to that the expense of fighting the fire, which will dwarf the costs of what would have been proper stewardship in the first place, and the loss of life and property, and we can all say "thank you" to the well-meaning but wrong headed environmentalists who, along with the knee jerk liberals here on mefi, should be taking responsibilty for the vast loss of animal life, the resulting erosion and fisheries habitat destruction, and the other costs of this environmental boondoggle.
posted by gnz2001 at 10:13 AM on August 21, 2002


Firefighters died because they were trying to save houses and put out the fire. If it were allowed to burn itself out, no fire fighters would be involved.

Would it have been ok with you if they weren't simply defening homes (owned by evil, unnatural human virii)?

Like these firefighters who died in 2001?

I don't understand the logic of using the word natural, as if humans don't belong. We are just as much a part of 'nature' as anything else. Like when an ant builds an ant-hut. Therefore isn't anything we do technically natural? Why the separation between man and nature?
posted by insomnyuk at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2002


Fires like the ones we are witnessing this year are inevitable in those conditions.

IIRC, policymakers had the same debates back in 1988 when the Yellowstone Fires happened. Of course, we're talking about one of the crown jewels of the Park Service, not some wilderness area managed by the Forest Service, but I think a lot of the same issues -- i.e., "let-burn" vs. suppression -- are still up for argument.
posted by PeteyStock at 10:18 AM on August 21, 2002


Therefore isn't anything we do technically natural? Why the separation between man and nature?

Because if we don't seperate them, we can't make foolish and unsupported claims of our own importance, kinda like this:

This is directly attributable to lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club and Earth First which have prevented the Forest Service from logging and properly maintaining the National Forests.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:18 AM on August 21, 2002


We humans are such silly creatures. We act as though we have the knowledge to dominate nature properly, when in fact we're just as tempest-tossed as the rest of the other living things on this rock.

If you live in a forest, don't expect your house to survive. Have an escape plan. Forests burn, it's just a matter of when.

If you build with brick or stone, your rebuilding effort might not have to start from zero, but your mileage may vary.
posted by beth at 10:31 AM on August 21, 2002


aladfar said: There's no way to justify this course of action as being environmentally responsible. As such, it should be criticised and evaluated with scrutiny. Doing so should not be brushed away as a mere "pot-shot".

Criticize and evaluate? Sounds like you've already made up your mind.

I'm not referring to the post or the topic as a pot-shot. I'm targeting the following comment:

Puppet-boy Bush...

Regardless of how the poster feels about George W. Bush, I don't think it's appropriate to name-call on the front page. To me, it's a troll. But anyway...
posted by Witty at 10:31 AM on August 21, 2002


After the big fires in Oakland some years ago, firemen were interviewed on television about the events and how fires would be handled in the future.

Several houses were shown on TV, surrounded by wood and scrub, made of wood and with wooden roofs. The fireman said that the fire dept would not spend any time AT ALL protecting a house like that. It was inevitable that the house would be lost. Yes, lots of residents were dismayed.

If firefighters are protecting your life, then I feel it is appropriate for them to be there. But not to save a house. Humans can't go anywhere with impunity and expect nature to be suppressed for their convenience.

And yes I believe that humans are animals and a part of nature. A fact that seems to be ignored when some humans want to see themselves as more important than everything else.

Witty, I'm sorry if you lost your house in the fire. But I wouldn't want anyone to die trying to save my house from a natural disaster. That's what insurance is for. (And my house is made of solid brick.)
posted by Red58 at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2002


Wulfie, the claim (self important or not) is valid. If logging had been allowed in the Southern Oregon forests, the Forest Service roads would have been maintained, allowing for easier firefighting. If the Sierra Club had not blocked such action, the huge fuel load of underbrush and deadfall would have been cleared. The small lightening strike that occurred near Florence Creek would not have resulted in the massive destruction of habitat and life which it has.
posted by gnz2001 at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2002


... logging never helps stop fires.

We do not want to stop all the fires, but only the big ones, the 20% of the fires that causes 80% of the damages.

I think we are dealing here with two separate issues:
1. policies against fires (e.g. firebreaks)
2. implementation (and abuse) of those policies

1. If the density inflammable material in a forest is too high, a wildfire will destroy most of the forest. How to get a high density? Simple, extinguish even the smallest fire! Thus, dry wood accumulates and the next spark will cause hell. Sounds familiar? However, as Red58 said, nature adapted, Sequoia trees also love the occasional fire.

Here is a mathematical model that deals with forest fires (and complex systems). A simple description of the model is available at Nature-News ("The researchers illustrate...").
The article gets into details ("To illustrate HOT...") and you can see some examples of optimized firebreaks in Fig1. If you have more time and bandwidth, you can find a larger version of the article here and an excellent PowerPoint file (Mb!) that goes step by step into explaining the model.

2. Thus, there is a rationale behind the logging. The next part is how to implement such a policy (assuming that we prefer selective logging over any other method). As the original article and most of the posts worry about power abuse, here is my question: what would be a good implementation / monitoring of this policy?
posted by MzB at 10:39 AM on August 21, 2002


gnz2001, prove one word of it ... and don't call me Wulfie until after our first date.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:40 AM on August 21, 2002


And yes I believe that humans are animals and a part of nature. A fact that seems to be ignored when some humans want to see themselves as more important than everything else.

So if we are animals isn't self preservation of the species the highest order?

If you live in a forest, don't expect your house to survive. Have an escape plan. Forests burn, it's just a matter of when.

I agree that people take on a degree of risk when moving into a heavily wooded area (thats why perhaps they should clearcut a good amount of the space in between their home and the woods), but you can't blame them for the lack of sensible forest management on the part of government entities which are out of their control.

Some environmentalists want all humans to live in small, carefully sealed human cities and leave "nature" to itself.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:44 AM on August 21, 2002


Witty, I'm sorry if you lost your house in the fire.

What gave you that idea? I live just outside D.C., where the only natural disaster that exists is suburban sprawl.
posted by Witty at 10:52 AM on August 21, 2002


Some environmentalists want all humans to live in small, carefully sealed human cities and leave "nature" to itself.

And their names are Ted, Woody and Junior. They live on Barsoom. Or perhaps in my ear.

I frankly don't know anyone who advocates this, but I appreciate your scare-quoting "nature." Brrr!
posted by Skot at 10:57 AM on August 21, 2002


Puppet-boy Bush...

Regardless of how the poster feels about George W. Bush, I don't think it's appropriate to name-call on the front page. To me, it's a troll. But anyway...


I actually thought about this before posting it. My main criteria for calling him a puppet-boy was that I'm fairly certain that he hasn't spent his life weighing the environmental impacts of this decision. As our elected leader he is indeed a puppet in many respects, as he should be the voice of the people.

So maybe the boy was uncalled for, but sometimes his vocabulary is a bit immature. I'm not alone.
posted by mad at 11:02 AM on August 21, 2002


Someone above mentioned the Yellowstone fires of 1988. Yellowstone in the Afterglow is an online book that goes into lots of detail regarding the various ramifications of that massive fire. In general, the conclusion seems to be that the fires had a net positive effect on the Park. I'm not suggesting that a national forest such as Yellowstone should necessarily be treated the same way as a one near more populated areas, but the link has some worthwhile information on how certain ecosystems can benefit from fires.
posted by gwint at 11:05 AM on August 21, 2002


Humans and their needs are not paramount. Only those who fear nature and the paths she lays for us insist on the childish sentiment of "me first".

These recent, large fires are the result of misguided fire suppression and logging. Attempts to portray environmentalism as a cause is just the usual despicable Chamber of Commerce swill, designed to increase logging profits and rationalize further rape of the wilderness.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:08 AM on August 21, 2002


I'm not alone.

That's what I keep telling myself.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:09 AM on August 21, 2002


So if we are animals isn't self preservation of the species the highest order?

That question is self-defeating. Self preservation, and preservation of the species are often opposed values. If you don't think that's true, go to a live public debate between loggers and environmentalists sometime.

The sticking point in this thread is that we (generally) don't know what sensible forest management is. I live in Montana, very near Yellowstone. I went to public hearings after the fires when everyone was trying to figure out what went wrong. There was no consensus, except that future policies had to be adaptive to individual situations. Beaurocracies don't tend to be very good at adaptive management, and commercial interests are to self-motivated to be trusted with common resources. To claim "logging" (or any profit industry) as a management technique is missing the point of common stewardship. I don't believe in a blanket answer, and hence, I don't trust George Bush to have it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:10 AM on August 21, 2002


Humans and their needs are not paramount. Only those who fear nature and the paths she lays for us insist on the childish sentiment of "me first".

Okay, Gaia worshipper, how is that NOT a cause?
posted by insomnyuk at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2002


insomnyuk - firebreaks would probably work wonders if they were properly managed. But with the States' current trained chimp/president in power, any scheme like this would undoubtedly turn into another corporate grabfest where cash will invariably end up in some Republican slush fund.
posted by sid at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2002


Oh my God! Did I just agree with fold_and_mutilate? I feel so...so...liberal. (just funnin' with ya, f_and_m).
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2002


What gave you that idea? I live just outside D.C., where the only natural disaster that exists is suburban sprawl.
and puppet-boy bush...
posted by quonsar at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2002


As long as we're in there cutting down the trees, would anyone mind of we drill for oil? Come on, it will be good for the econmy.
posted by a3matrix at 11:52 AM on August 21, 2002


I live in the middle of some of British Columbia's best logging forests. We have a variety of forestry practices in BC, ranging from true selective logging to absurdly huge clearcuts.

And we have forest fires.

Logging does not prevent forest fires. Two years ago we had a helluva firestorm season, with two humongous fires within an hours' drive of my home. Both fires were in areas that have been well-logged. All the fire roads, clearcuts, brush-clearing, fire breaks, waterbombing, and hand-to-hand fire combat did sweet bugger all to reduce the size and longevity of these fires.

There's only one solution: pave the earth.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:21 PM on August 21, 2002


There's only one solution: pave the earth.

Well, what we have paved doesn't always help either. The Bitteroot Valley fires in Montana jumped Highway 93 many times. Firefighters had no trouble getting to the fire to fight, they had trouble staying out of its way. five fresh fish, I bow to your way with words.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2002


By the way, I just noticed something. Many in this thread interchange the ideas of forest and wilderness. National Forest land and Wilderness are seperate designations, and (to the best of my knowledge) road building and logging are prohibited in areas designated Wilderness. Sorry I didn't notice that before, but I do think that can help keep a little more focus on the discussion of the areas we're really talking about.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:42 PM on August 21, 2002


The Bitterroot fires wouldn't have jumped that highway if it were 23 lanes, though! We need more asphalt and fewer trees!

Just wanted to note that in BC, we have the privilege of operating Martin Mars flying boats -- big mofo firefighting aeroplanes that scoop up 27,000 litres (7,200 gallons) of water while still flying, and drop that load on the forest. No dinking around with squirtguns here!
posted by five fresh fish at 3:27 PM on August 21, 2002


Forgive the long post, but I thought this post I made in another context might perhaps be of interest:

The West is on fire. With at least six weeks of prime fire season left this year, there are already hundreds of thousands of acres burned or burning. Some say this may wind up being the worst fire year on record.

I'm seeing it first-hand, as I'm in a cabin in Northern California. As I wrote some friends:

"The sky is filled with smoke. It's drifting south from huge fires up in the Klamath, and it's so thick I couldn't see across the valley today. The sun is setting hazily behind a blood-red sky. It's eerie.

"But it is an illustration of a primal truth about the North Coast: this land is shaped by water and fire. During the Winter, rain falls in waves, as much as 120" a year, and the rivers run high and frothy and the ferns grow and the forest drips. But in the summer, when often no rain at all falls for months on end, this is a dry, Mediterranean place, a land of dry grass and crunching leaves.

"And when it dries, it burns. Before the arrival of Europeans, the natives set fires every year, to keep the brush down and to promote the growth of berries and wildlife. Early settlers describe not only the towering redwoods, rivers full of salmon and an astounding number of grizzlies (in modern California, they're only found on the state flag), but wide open meadows and savannah-like oak "parks." The fires, coming as they did every year, tended to sweep through low and quick, burning grasses, bushes and young trees, but leaving the massive old trees unscathed.

"Now, after a century of logging and fire suppression, the new woods tend to be choked with brush, and the meadows have widely been overrun with manzanita and young evergreens. Now, when a fire starts, it has plenty of fuel to burn long enough and hot enough to burn even the older trees. If there's a strong wind, the fire can start to catch from branch to branch in the canopies - what's called a "crown fire," and what firefighters most fear. That's what's happened in the Klamath. Right now, hundreds of thousands of acres are burning just over 50 miles away, and highway 199 is closed.

"There's no quick way out. The only solution is gradual habitat restoration, work that is of necessity slow and careful, since no one's exactly sure what was here before us (all the natives in this area were slaughtered in the "Indian Wars" during and after the Gold Rush, and the early pioneers were more interested in cutting trees or catching salmon than counting them), and a gradual re-introduction of controlled burns. We have to use scientific estimations and reconstructions to figure out what will work best. Together, restoration, controlled burns and preservation may in time leave a more natural, resilient landscape - and one less likely to suffer catastrophic burns."

Then I received this email, in which noted forestry guru Jerry Franklin says:

"It is critical that all participants in the dialogue recognize that there are different kinds of forests which have different types of natural (appropriate?) fire behaviors... [A] lot of folks don't seem to be recognizing that high fuel loadings are typically present in some forest types (e.g., the conifer forests of western Washington and NW Oregon) which have infrequent, stand-replacement type fire regimes. Fuel reduction programs (except for logging slash) are not appropriate to management of these forests for ecological values and fire suppression programs have not even begun to have any impacts on the natural fire cycles. Furthermore, many of the subalpine forests in the Rockies and Sierras (e.g., lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir) also have these types of fire regimes.

"The issues (and they area serious) are with the forest types and sites that had natural fire regimes involving frequent, light to moderate intensity fires, mainly the ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forest types. Fire suppression programs in these forests over the last century, coupled with removal of the large old trees and, often, active efforts to establish dense ("fully stocked") stands on many of these sites have drastically altered fuel loadings and created the potential for stand replacement fires which were rarely natural occurrences on these sites. Suppression on these sites HAS significantly modified fire cycles resulting in stands/sites/landscapes having gone without fire for 4 to 10 or more times the length of their natural fire return interval.

"Few environmentalists understand how many trees and how much fuel really needs to be removed to affect fire behavior and move things back on a more natural fire track, especially on mixed conifer sites. It is appropriate to remove most small and many medium sized trees on many of these sites. Removing just the trees under 12" in diamter is a spit-into-the-fire kind of a proposition on these sites; to seriously impact fuel loadings and distributions and, therefore, fire behavior, is going to require removal of substantial numbers of medium diameter trees... Having said that, I can think of almost no situations where removal of old-growth trees would be appropriate in a fuel-reduction, fire restoration program. They should (categorically) be left."

To make matters worse, all the climate-change models indicate much wetter, colder winters and hotter, much drier summers in this region. That will compound the problem, as more vegetation grows in the winter then dries out in the summer. And, just to make matters more difficult politically, the timber industry is pushing for dressed-up clearcuts in the name of "fire prevention," which all the experts agree will be not only ecologically destructive, but worsen the problem in the long run. This of course has environmentalists in an uproar, and is likely to produce further stalemate.

So, here's my question: maintaining "natural" forests over millions of acres in N. Cal/ Oregon will, it appears, require a fairly massive and somewhat sustained human intervention in the landscape. If we just "leave it alone," it will all burn.

Are we ready to become active, conscious managers of wild ecosystems, either culturally or politically?

[anyways, hope you found that interesting enough to justify the long post...]
posted by AlexSteffen at 4:05 PM on August 21, 2002


AlexSteffen, yes that was interesting enough to justify any length post. Thank you for sharing a remarkable insight. But your question has a simple answer:


Are we ready to become active, conscious managers of wild ecosystems, either culturally or politically?

No.

1) Those who write policy are predominately from areas immune to massive tree based fires (brush fire is a different beast, Southern California; just deal with it). Concerns there are "proper land use" (profitability through wood and tourism). 2) Policy driven initiatives move too slowly to react to local conditions. But policy based initiatives are all our federal govt. knows. Perhaps they shouldn't be in charge of local lands? Just suggesting, I mean... 3) The timber industry has funding for lobbyists, rational use minded persons don't (get over the Sierra Club. They don't represent the local communities affected. They have a particular agenda). 4) Don't dream that our consumptive based administration has long term effects in mind. We're talking about the folks who want to invade another country to effect elections, for god's sake.

Wish I could paint a rosier picture, but ... can you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:17 PM on August 21, 2002


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