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Editor: Tom Wolf's article about restoring the forests of northern New Mexico was interesting, but it left me with questions. While their method is expensive, it may be the most practical way of reaching the desired stand structure. Is there no way to recoup more of the costs by selling more of the material removed?

I was disappointed not to find a picture or a description of a stand after completion of the thinning. How many trees per acre are left? Are they leaving only ponderosa pine?

What does he mean when he says, "... the days of 'harvesting' trophy ponderosas are over"? Will the promising young ponderosas being released in the thinnings be harvested before they reach that "trophy" size, or will they be allowed to grow forever and never be cut? If the latter is the case, how is that sustainable?

Bill Botti

Eaton Rapids, Michigan

Tom Wolf responds: I share your concern about finding the most practical way to achieve the desired stand structure. However, projects like Healthy Forests/Happy Potters must go through the NEPA process. In our case, that meant funding a required archaeological review and a goshawk review. Then and only then were we in a position to ask the Forest Service to write a silvicultural prescription that would please all the interested parties.

I would have preferred clumping ponderosas with old-growth potential--better for forest health and better for goshawks. But we also had to deal with known and potential archaeological sites. We inherited a history of high-grading, fire suppression, and overgrazing that left us with doghair stands, juniper and white fir invasion, and fire ladders around our potential old-growth ponderosas.

Also, we did not have the option of selling our product; the legislation required that we give it away. In an extremely dangerous fire setting, such complexities shouldn't add up to paralysis by analysis, and I believe that this project will eventually succeed.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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