Re: Open Statement to the Trump Administration

Date: August 16, 2018

At the Geos Institute, we take seriously the statements made by Secretary Ryan Zinke that Americans concerned about timber harvesting on public lands are “environmental terrorists.”

Like so many of our fellow Americans, we explore, fish, hike, recreate, and enjoy our public lands. We are parents, homeowners, scientists, and everyday people working to advance social and ecological causes using the public processes our democracy was founded upon.

People advocating on behalf of the environment have cleaned up our air and water and prevented irreparable harm to ecosystems across our nation. Public lands are a key part of our children’s inheritance and we are proud to defend them against ill-conceived management and resource extraction.

We do not employ violence or the threat of violence in our efforts to protect the public lands that provide essential services to our communities. We deplore the use of violence because it is immoral to harm, or threaten to harm, others in the course of advocating for a particular action.

Unfounded verbal attacks like those from the Trump Administration violate the fundamental basis of our democracy – the idea that we can passionately debate issues in the public sphere freely without fear of harm. They impede our ability to work proactively in our communities on fire preparation – the very activities that protect homes, lives, and livelihoods.

The comments made by Secretary Zinke create a wedge where there is no need to have one and put Americans at risk of violence and misdirected retaliatory actions. Addressing climate change and its effects on wildfires is a complex endeavor, one that requires people with level heads to work together. Rhetoric like this gets in the way of real solutions and moves us backward. We expect and deserve better from our leaders.

As always, we stand ready to work with the Administration on proactive community protection from wildfires and we ask that administration officials refrain from statements that could lead to violence in our communities.

Keep the Tongass wild and roadless

By Dominick DellaSala, John Schoen and John Talberth

Originally published by the Juneau Empire, August 14, 2018

Alaskans are blessed with some of the wildest, most biologically prolific forests on the planet. Nowhere else is this more evident than the Tongass rainforest, the crown jewel of the national forest system. Unfortunately, the State of Alaska announced plans to team up with the Trump Administration to open up millions of acres to logging and road-based developments. This ill-conceived proposal would degrade the region’s pristine character and the foundation of a robust outdoor economy.

The Roadless Conservation Rule of 2001 protected over 58 million acres of the nation’s most remote places. It was the premier conservation achievement of its time that took years of careful deliberation, an unprecedented number of public meetings, over 1 million strongly (more than 95 percent) supportive public comments, and the backing of hundreds of scientists, all of who wanted the Tongass included.

While the Roadless Rule protects intact areas larger than 5,000 acres from logging, it has numerous allowances to include road connections between communities and other state highway projects, access to mining claims under the Mining Law of 1872, and access to utility corridors and hydropower projects. Some 55 projects within roadless areas in Alaska have been rapidly approved by the Forest Service. The Roadless Rule there fore is working in Alaska and plans to gut it are misguided. 

Better Dead than Gone: Rep. Walden pushes for dead tree removal and replanting

By Henry Houston, originally published by Eugene Weekly, August 9, 2018

The state of Oregon currently faces 14 fires, affecting nearly 180,000 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. When the fire season is over, some of what’s left is dead, burned trees.

But what happens to those burned trees?

Eastern Oregon Rep. Greg Walden is urging the U.S. Senate to adopt the House’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill, which would remove burned, dead trees from public lands “while they still have value and replant” forest — just like private timberlands do.

It’s common sense, Walden says, in an email newsletter to constituents.

That’s a problematic strategy, according to Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist at Geos Institute in Ashland.

To thin or not to thin: That is the question

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter | Originally published Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at E&E News.

GROVELAND, Calif. — The Rim Fire, which burned 257,314 acres of forest in 2013, was the biggest wildfire on record for the Sierra Nevada. Forest Service officials declared large areas of the Stanislaus National Forest “nuked” into a “moonscape” where pine trees might not grow back for a generation.

But five years later, Chad Hanson — a forest ecologist who opposes logging on federal lands — can barely avoid stepping on the ponderosa pine saplings that have taken root amid the blackened trunks in one fire-damaged patch of the 898,099-acre national forest. Here, where the Rim Fire burned especially hot, one of the biggest questions about the future of America’s climate-challenged woodlands plays out around Hanson’s ankles: Are forests healthier and safer if humans mostly leave them alone?

Dominick DellaSala, Barbara Zimmerman and Andy MacKinnon: Call for action on B.C.’s old-growth rainforests

As scientists, we have travelled the world’s rainforests on several continents. Few temperate places rival B.C.’s rich rainforest tapestry and its life-giving benefits.

Canadians are fortunate that B.C.’s globally rare old-growth rainforests are working behind the scenes all the time — helping to stabilize the climate, upholding irreplaceable cultural values of Indigenous peoples, and supporting tourism and recreation jobs. All of that is at risk, however, if logging continues at its current liquidation rate.

This alarming trend recently caught the attention of over 220 of the world’s scientists, who sent a letter to Premier John Horgan calling on the government to protect the remaining intact rainforests.

Unfortunately, British Columbia lacks a provincewide policy for protecting old-growth rainforests. On the one hand, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement — forged in 2016 by provincial and First Nations governments — is a global conservation model. On the other hand, logging on Vancouver Island and in the Interior is a complete reversal of Canada’s responsible forest management commitments. If B.C. is going to survive the coming climate-change storm, it needs to unify its forest protection policies before its old-growth forest legacy is gone.

Keep reading at The Province

Hundreds of international scientists call for urgent action to protect B.C’s rainforests

SFU student explains why the logging of these forests can be disastrous

By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
Originally published July 18, 2018 at The Peak 

On June 28, 223 international scientists called on the British Columbia government to stop the incessant logging of temperate rainforests in the province. The scientists addressed their concerns in a letter titled “International Scientists’ Call for Action to Protect Endangered Temperate Rainforests of British Columbia, Canada.”

The letter was organized by Dr. Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon. In a press release announcing the release of the letter, DellaSala highlighted the significance of BC’s forests and discussed how rare they are.

The inconvenient truth about forest fires

By Dominick DellaSala, Timothy Ingalsbee, and Luke Ruediger

July 29, 2018, Medford Mail Tribune

It seems like every time there is a forest fire, the timber industry blames environmentalists for a lack of “active forest management” and presumes that contemporary fires have catastrophic ecological consequences. David Schott’s opinion piece in the Mail Tribune July 22 does just that, using the Klamathon fire as an example.

But this fire began on residential land, not in the backcountry environmentalists seek to protect. It made its largest run on private residential, ranch, and timber land, pushed by strong winds. More roads and logging advocated by Schott will not protect communities nor maintain our natural environment.

The forests of our region are some of the most biologically diverse on the planet. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, fire resets nature’s successional clock from biologically rich old growth to also rich new forest — the circle of life. Fires were historically set by Native Americans to manage culturally important wildlife habitats. 

Forest policy looms over Oregon’s climate change debate

By Ted Sickinger

For as long as climate change legislation has been debated in Oregon, the forestry sector has been the ghost in the room.

If policymakers bothered to discuss it at all, they assumed the sector was carbon neutral, with the greenhouse gas emissions from logging offset by replanting and forest growth each year. But no one really knew; the data didn’t exist for Oregon. And in a state where big timber exercises outsize political clout relative to its economic importance, the politics of including it in any potential regulation or strategy to increase carbon stocks was simply a nonstarter.

Until now.

As lawmakers gear up to make another attempt to pass a climate change bill in 2019, new data suggests that the forest sector is not only a factor in Oregon’s carbon picture, it is THE factor and one of national and even international importance as lawmakers look to reduce the concentration of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere.

Keep reading at online at The Oregonian

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