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Logging does not prevent wildfires.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Roy Keene For The Register-Guard

Bob Zybach (guest viewpoint, Jan. 4) may have a doctorate in forest science, but he clearly shows he lacks an education in history when he refers to the Tillamook Burn to support his thesis that logging will reduce the severity and spread of fires.

The Tillamook fires were ignited by logging, then spread by logging slash.

Some of the largest, most destructive fires in America were caused by logging, such as the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin that burned a million acres and killed 1,200 people.

Many of the recent fires in Lane County were started by logging, and then spread through slash and flammable tree plantations.

History, not science, refutes the claim that logging helps to prevent forest fires.

The forests of the West are far more vulnerable to fire due to a century of industrial logging and fire suppression. Logging has removed most of the older, fire-resistant trees from the forests.

Fire suppression has encouraged many smaller and more flammable trees, brush and dense plantations to fill the holes. Logging has set the forests of the West up to burn big and hot.

More logging will not fix this.

Logging is commonly defined as merchantable trees being yarded out of the woods by heavy machinery or helicopters.

The best processes to reduce forest fire spread and severity rarely require logging.

Instead, crews on foot use chain saws, brush cutters and matches to cut small unmerchantable trees and brush, stack them into piles, then burn them when conditions are right.

When this is done along both sides of forest roads, fire defensible zones are created where an "average" fire will die down due to a lack of fuel.

Pumper trucks can access these zones in front of a fire to wet and cool the soil. These kinds of projects can be seen along the eastern stretch of Highway 126 near Sisters. They fostered truly local jobs instead of helicopter logging, which sends more timber to distant mills at a net loss to taxpayers.

Because real fuel reduction processes rarely involve logging, they shouldn't be lumped in with so-called "thinnings" and other timber grabs by environmentalists.

These projects should not have to be sweetened with more logging. They should be federally funded and prioritized to address forest roads and at-risk public infrastructure. After decades of federal forest plundering by agency and industry with little regard for residual forest condition, it's time to pay the piper.

A lot of public money and even human lives are spent every year trying to protect private homes in the forest.

To reduce firefighting expense and risk to firefighters, forest home-owners should be required to have unobstructed access, appropriate perimeter fuel reduction, fire resistant roofing and adequate water supplies.

How ironic that the Bush administration is facilitating subdivisions on forestlands in Montana while pushing for more logging to reduce firefighting costs!

Indeed, this administration's entire approach to reduce forest fire has been dishonest, simply a smoke screen for more logging.

I reviewed a multitude of their projects on the ground and found them to be consistently focused on removing mature timber while increasing soil compaction, slash and wind throw, while producing dryer, hotter stand conditions.

Zybach should not be naive: Federal forest management is still driven by politics, not science!

Our new president could reform this archaic order if he can resist timber campaign dollars and the pseudo science generated by industry-dominated institutions.

Yes, President Obama could bring welcome change to our forest as well as to Washington, D.C.

In the West, Mr. President, why not start with initiating honest fuel reduction processes that will help restore forests, jobs and trust in forest science?

Roy Keene has helped design, implement and critique many fuel reduction and restoration projects on private, public and tribal forestlands in the West.
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Title Annotation:Local Opinion
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 11, 2009
Words:642
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