As I write this I am vexed by the fact that nearly 100,000 thousand acres of pristine forests are burning and nearly one-million acres of forest (public forests) have burned to the ground in and around the Pacific Northwest so far this year alone. The vast majority of these forests are publically owned and managed by Federal agencies under the overview of the EPA (http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/07/northwest_wildfires_more_than.html).
As a result of the flames, heat and smoke, thousands of forest animals have died and many others are suffering with severe injuries and their habitat is now long-gone. Wildfires are indiscriminate killers of endangered species, as well as numerous other species of birds and many other forest animals. It’s impossible to put an economic value on a forest full of life; but having said that; and simply from a renewable resource point of view, just the trees that have been lost had an economic (timber) value in excess of a billion dollars!
Photo: The scorched-earth devastation of just a small fire is obvious
The EPA, BLM, U.S. Forestry and their environmentalist (‘Green’) support base claim that they want to preserve habitat and save endangered species, but by way of their own actions, policies and regulations, more habitat and species have been lost over the past decades under their management policies than were lost ever before, and are being lost, every year, year after year at an alarming rate!
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results…
So the question is why are we losing so much forest? And the answer is very simple… the forests are being mismanaged through the continued bungling-intervention of the EPA, the ‘environmentalists’ and the ‘green’ movement into the arena of forestry.
I know something about the subject of forests and forest management since I grew-up living, working, hunting and fishing in the area of the forests that are being consumed by these incredibly massive fires, which have become a recurring annual theme over the past two and a half decades since the intervention of the ‘environmentalist’ into the area for forest management practices. But who are these ‘environmentalists’ anyway.
Generally speaking (and there are exceptions), the ‘environmentalists’ who have taken an interest in controlling how our public forests are used don’t live in the forests, and they view the human race (you, me our families and friends) as less valuable and relevant than a frog, fish, or a tree. They are people who seem to lack an understanding of the principals of renewable manageable resources, and who have become activists against those who would use the public forests responsibly, having had relatively little (if any) time and relevant experience living in or working in our forests themselves. Many of them are aligned with the concepts and principals of the ‘progressive’ socialist movement. If you debate them, many of these same people will quickly remind you of their ‘degrees’, etc… In other words, they are telling you that they ‘know it all’, and certainly more than you. However, anyone who has successfully managed a forest knows (as is seen in privately owned and managed forests) that reading some books in college and going on a few field trips just doesn't cut it; a piece of paper hanging on the wall is no substitute for actual experience that is gained over many generations of successful forest management. No more so than someone trying to be a farmer with the same token experience… it just doesn't work.
And coincidentally, many of the books that some universities are using in their forestry programs are authored by some of the same ‘green’ environmentalist forest managers who have had a hand in developing the current failed forest management polices as applied over the past two decades; just look what’s happening! Books and lectures simply cannot teach common sense or instill the on-the-ground experience that loggers and foresters develop over the span of their lives, and through generation after generation of families working in the woods. There’s just no debating when it comes to the contrast between the current recurring disaster management model, and the past successes in forest management with sustainable and renewable timber harvests, combined with abundant wildlife habitat; without the mammoth annual fires we are experiencing today.
Here (the link just below) is an important (precedent example) of how proper forest management, which includes selective logging and other proper management practices, saved a forest and stopped a major wildfire: http://cronkitenewsonline.com/2011/12/experts-decades-of-logging-treatments-helped-stop-wallow-fire-at-reservation/
Photo of a tract of fire resistant forest that has been selectively logged
In the early 1970’s I worked in the woods logging and then later worked as a millwright for Southern Oregon Plywood. My brothers were also loggers as were many of my friends and countless others who lived in Southern Oregon. Like farmers who tended to their fields and cared for them year after year, and who depended upon those fields and the resulting crop production, loggers cared for the forests; they had to; forests were the lifeline for their family’s financial security.
Loggers and their families also spent a lot of time in the woods even when they weren't working; they hunted and fished in the forests for generations. And through that continual close contact with the forest and the wildlife, loggers gained more knowledge about the forests and the animals that lived there than many of the scientists, giving them a unique understanding of the intricate and complex interactions of the biodiversity that exists in the forests.
As just one example of the many successful practices of loggers; dead and dying trees and underbrush (fuel for fires) were removed and eliminated during selective harvesting of the forests, and in the process of harvests, small access roads were made, which served as fire breaks and access for firefighters in the event of a fire. During that time and preceding decades, back when loggers were allowed to log public forests, fires that burned hundreds of thousands and millions of acres of timber were very rare, almost non-existent. And that was because the forests were healthy and the density of the forest and the underbrush were kept to a minimum as a result of proper management and continued annual harvests. Forests were managed as a sustainable and renewable resource, which in turn benefited the wildlife with sustainable reliable habitat and in the process, also provided recreational opportunities for the people. That former relationship between loggers and the forest was truly symbiotic.
I can still recall the spotted owl debacle, where loggers, who for all intents and purposes were the caretakers of the forests were completely closed-out of the public forests in wholesale fashion as a result of the ‘green’ movement and environmentalists! All logging came to a complete halt as well as the associated management practices. This resulted in the shutdown of numerous West Coast lumber mills and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in and related to the timber industry which was thereafter decimated.
During the lobby by the ‘green movement’ and environmentalists, they argued that the rate of logging prior to the 1990’s would eliminate the old growth forests… here is a quote:
“Environmentalists admit that saving the owls' habitat could cost jobs. But, they argue, these jobs will vanish no matter what. For if cutting continues at its current rate of 125,000 acres a year, the old-growth forests will be gone within thirty years and the mills forced to close anyhow.” (taken from this article: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v4n1/ ).
However, as we have all witnessed, since the transition to the ‘green movement’s’ ban on logging in public forests, we are in fact actually losing many hundreds of thousands of acres of forest annually! It’s a travesty of monumental proportions… when people like these try to play God, the results are usually tragic and harm both humanity and the wildlife.
Through the use of politics combined with bad science the ‘green movement’ and environmentalists led the way to the implementation of seriously flawed policies (regulations) and practices. The EPA and the BLM along with Federal forestry agencies and their environmentalist support base had in the early 1990’s effected a major management policy change in order to supposedly save forest habitat for a species of owl (spotted owl) that was ‘allegedly’ endangered (http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19930114&slug=1679945)
Result: In the early 1990’s Federal forests became off-limits to loggers.
Of course under the ‘new management’ practices of the environmentalist-led EPA, BLM and Federal Forestry Departments, the forests became (and are) very seriously overgrown leading to unhealthy stands of trees (with dead and dying trees) that were vulnerable to disease, insects and of course fire, as did the underbrush.
Forests became so dense that if a fire started (regardless of reason)… the fire would burn extremely hot and spread very fast; it’s so simple a child can understand the concept… more fuel, more forest fire.
And at the end of the day, many years later after Feds and the ‘green’ environmentalists kicked the loggers out of the forests and took-over, placing ‘their’ policies, regulations and management practices into place, the spotted owl population has continued to drop! This is irrefutable evidence that their interventions, policies and regulations have utterly failed to affect the owls, and in that failure, the public interest has lost even more animals and habitat to fire! Through their own actions, we now have even more animals heading towards potential extinction! What a contradiction to the claims of these people!
Under the ‘green environmental’ forest management polices/practices (‘hands off, no logging’), forests have become so dense that when lightning starts a fire, instead of just burning-off a relatively small area before the fire is brought under control, as it was in the days of managed logging, fires today now burn entire tracks of forests amounting to hundreds of thousands of acres annually, all of which is burned to the bare ground!
Let’s keep in the mind that this is now the new ‘norm’, and since it takes many decades for the trees to be re-established, the net result is that we are losing more and more forest annually, instead of gaining more forest area and wildlife habitat; just the opposite of what the environmentalists and the EPA preach to the public. So what’s the point?
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out…. Just look at the annual total acres that are burned to the ground… It’s truly shocking that this is even allowed to continue as it has, year after year.
Photo: Ashes from Federally managed forests burning is covering the cars in several communities.
So much for the ‘habitat’ of the spotted owl! And of course the habitats for dozens of other species were (are) lost as well. As of this writing, I am down in the area of the fires interviewing local people, and hundreds of thousands of acres of ‘critical habitat’ (old growth and other trees) has been converted to the ash that is falling from the sky; it’s like a nuclear winter without the radiation. Ash from the burned forests is covering entire cities!
It’s a fact that under the continued management of the public’s forest lands by the same idiotic policies, we now have annual forest fires that devastate huge areas of forest, and in the process destroy all of the trees, as opposed to having some of the trees harvested resulting in a healthy forest as had existed in the past; forests which then were also more fire-resistant. Some may try to argue that the fires are a result of the drought. Of course that’s a ruse to deflect blame from the implementation of a seriously flawed management policy. In the prior era of managed forest harvests, we also had periods of severe drought, without the results we are seeing today. Added to which, forests which are selectively logged and managed are far more fire resistant, drought or not, and that fact is undeniable.
So which method makes more sense? Sustainable logging as it was successfully practiced for nearly a century; or…. The current ‘green environmentalist’ methods where no logging is allowed in public forests resulting in hundreds of thousands of acres of forests regularly burning to the ground leaving nothing but ash and bare ground that is devoid of plant life and subject to severe erosion?
The erosion of the scorched earth in-turn leads to excessive silt run-off into the streams and rivers, which covers the critical gravel beds in the streams and rivers that are required for the fish eggs of spawning fish such as Salmon. Of course the recent decline in Salmon and Steelhead runs are certainly associated to this situation. Additionally, the loss of forests results in the loss of critical shade trees in and around watersheds, which results in the warming of stream and river water temperatures; this also adversely affects the fish populations.
The late Summer and Fall storms of the Pacific Northwest which spawn the lightning that ignite the forests also provide the downpours that wash the silt into the streams and rivers that resulted from the aftermath of the massive forest fires. And this silting of the waterways comes at the worst possible time… just as the Salmon are moving upriver to spawn in the gravel beds of the rivers and streams. However, with the overburden of silt that has washed-down off the now barren mountain sides, the gravel beds are covered in silt and are no longer viable for the spawning Salmon. This is not an optimal situation for the spawning Salmon; in fact, it can cause entire runs of Salmon to fail in their efforts to reproduce! As a fisherman myself, this situation is beyond frustrating.
As anyone can easily see, the relative newcomer green environmentalist-scientists have it all wrong, and every year since the implementation of their fatally flawed concepts and polices we watch as more and more forests are consumed by massive fires such as those that are burning as I write this.
If these forests were properly managed and logged as they were just 30 years ago in the Pacific Northwest, we would have trees still standing and abundant animal habitat in areas that are now burned to the dirt, and we would have renewable forest harvests as in the past providing full-time jobs for thousands of people. And as it was in the past, healthy standing forests shading the watersheds and minimized erosion, providing optimal water temperatures and low water turbidity in the streams and rivers resulting in abundant runs of fish, something that local Indian tribes greatly desire.
Instead, thanks to the intervention of the EPA, the ‘green movement’ and environmentalists, we have less and less forest, which leads to less and less water, and less fish, while the good people of Siskiyou, Jackson, Josephine and Klamath Counties are suffering from record high un-employment as they watch helplessly as billions of dollars of timber is turned to ash each year.
And in the end, with the forests burned to the ground, if a few spotted owls survive the blaze, the spotted owl has no trees and no habitat. So what was the point?
It just doesn't get any dumber than this. We have the blind leading the blind.
Thinking Americans need to stand-up to the current stupidity and form a united front against the idiots who think they know what’s best for everyone else, our natural resources, our schools and our local Counties.
Photo: Smoke from a massive wildfire pollutes the pristine mountain air of Northern California
How long can America survive the obtuse policies of ‘green environmentalism’?
Some readers might be thinking; why should I care? Or, how does this affect me since I live across the U.S. from these wildfires. We all need to care and take action because this kind of mismanagement can happen anywhere environmentalists stick their noses into areas where they have less than adequate experience. As I write this, and as a result of yet another environmentalist intervention, numerous perfectly good West Coast dams are being eyed for removal! Of course this makes perfect sense to these upside-down thinking people, especially given that the West Coast is seriously short on water as it is, and needs more dams, not less!
Are we going to wait until these clowns let it all burn?