pnw northern spotted owl USFWS

Keepers of the spotted owl

pnw northern spotted owl USFWSAt the world’s first breeding centre in Langley, B.C., spotted owls are hatched in incubators, given around the clock medical care and hand fed euthanized rodents in a last-ditch effort to save the species from Canadian extinction. All the while scientists warn that the province has yet to recognize the endangered raptor as a symbol of our escalating failure to protect old-growth forests. Read the entire in-dept piece by Sarah Cox at The Narwhal.

DellaSala likened the spotted owl to the quintessential canary in a coal mine. The owl is an indicator of a “whole complex ecosystem with all the parts that are in jeopardy,” he said. “This is just one of the parts and it’s telling us we have not done a responsible job of maintaining the old-growth ecosystems upon which the owl and thousands of other species depend.”

Trump threatens funding over ‘ridiculous’ wildfires

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter, originally published by E&E News

President Trump yesterday made inaccurate wildfire and water claims while meeting with local officials from California, and threatened to withhold federal firefighting money from the Golden State.

Moments after Trump accepted a certificate thanking him for the response to this summer’s Carr Fire, the sixth most destructive in state history, he incorrectly asserted that California could avoid forest fires altogether if more trees were cut down.

“We’re tired of giving California hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars all the time for their forest fires, when you wouldn’t have them if they manage their forests properly,” he said. “So California, get on the ball, because we’re not going to hand you any more money; it’s ridiculous.”

tongass rainforest dds

Roads into Alaska’s Tongass can affect climate

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter (F

tongass rainforest dds

The Trump administration is one step closer to carving roads through one of the country’s biggest carbon sinks.

Earlier this week, comments closed on an industry-supported proposal that could reshape the Tongass National Forest, the country’s biggest stretch of woods. The federal plan is advancing as scientists say that forests will help determine what level of damage the world experiences from warming — bad to catastrophic.

Photo by Dominick DellaSala

The Forest Service proposal aims to build roads through the Tongass. But it’s more than a traffic question. Both sides see it as a precursor to logging more old-growth trees. And more broadly, conservationists say it illustrates the gap between what forests need to thrive and what this administration is giving them.

Burning impact: What happens after the fire

By Anette McGee Rasch for the Mail Tribune, October 14, 2018

Only 2 percent of the land affected by the 211,801-acre Klondike and Taylor Creek fires on the Wild Rivers and Gold Beach Ranger Districts burned at high severity; an additional 75 percent burned at “low” or “very low” severities — or remained “unburned,” according to a recent U.S. Forest Service assessment. About 20 percent burned at medium severity.

This was determined by Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team members — soil scientists, hydrologists and other Forest Service specialists — who combined ground observations with information from aerial reconnaissance flights and satellite-generated images to produce a soil burn severity map that will now be utilized to create an action plan.

The BAER team just wrapped up a two-week project to identify “imminent post-wildfire threats to human life, safety, property, and also, critical natural or cultural resources on Forest Service lands,” according to public information officer Andy Lyon.

Fire and Smoke: Where thinning is winning

By Mark Freeman for the Mail Tribune, October 10, 2018

Editor’s note: This is Part 5 of a five-day series on devastating wildfires and their effects on Southern Oregon done in partnership with KTVL Channel 10. Also see Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

ASHLAND — More than 3,000 lightning bolts all itching to pick a wildfire fight came crashing into Southern Oregon July 15, yet one of those bolts bound for the Ashland watershed never stood a chance.

With great promise, it smashed into a massive 300-plus-year-old Ponderosa pine that rises like a sentry atop Skyline Ridge, which separates the Ashland and Talent watersheds. Scars show the electricity spiraled around the tree three times, blowing off shards of bark, before it unleashed its fiery fury at the tree’s base.

And that was it.

Scientists say logging forests won’t reduce wildfire risk

By Annette McGee Rasch for The Mail Tribune, published September 21, 2018

A group of environmental scientists have written a letter to Congress advising that efforts to control wildfires should focus on reducing fire hazards near communities, homes and roads and not on logging larger, fire-resistant trees deeper in the forest.

More than 200 scientists with backgrounds in areas such as wildfire ecology and natural resource management recently sent the letter to Congress urging the removal of pro-logging amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s hard for most policymakers to ignore science from so many experts when they explain why the logging provisions would harm forests and worsen wildfire conditions in the West while doing nothing to protect communities,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with Geos Institute, which focuses on climate change and other environmental issues.

Beyond smoke and mirrors

By Dominick DellaSala; Originally published in the Ashland Daily Tidings, August 29, 2018

Just about every day someone has a quick-fix logging “solution” and scapegoat to blame for the growing wildfire problem caused by years of climate neglect and poor planning. Meanwhile, smoke and fires are damaging our local economy, forcing home evacuations and causing tragic loss of life. Everyone wants to do something. So, what do we know about wildfires and is there a simple solution, given fires are not going away, no matter how hard we try?

Climate change plus industrial logging plus human-caused fire ignitions equal fire increases

Since the 1980s, wildfire acres have been increasing, although much fewer acres burn now compared to historic times. The main culprit — dinosaur carbon used to run our cars, homes and factories is conspiring climatically with carbon released from deforestation. The consequence — the hotter/drier it gets, the more fires we see.

Roberts preps new draft bill for upcoming conference

Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at E&E News

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts said yesterday he aims to have a new draft farm bill ready by the time a House-Senate conference committee meets on the legislation next week.

The Kansas Republican told reporters the top four lawmakers on the House and Senate agriculture committees discussed the 2018 farm bill on a conference call yesterday, as they try to iron out differences on nutrition, conservation and other aspects of the five-year measure.

The 2014 farm bill expires at the end of September.

“I think that went well,” Roberts said of the discussion with Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

Asked whether he expects to present a draft conference report to the panel at its first meeting Sept. 5, Roberts said: “That’s the goal. We’re not there yet. More meetings and more phone calls.”

With the expiration of the current farm bill looming, and midterm elections weeks later, pressure is growing on the Republican-led Congress to complete a bill before a potential flip of the House to Democratic control.

Klondike fire crews brace for ‘long fight ahead’

BY ANNETTE MCGEE RASCH FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE, August 18, 2018

With the Taylor Creek and Klondike fires merged at nearly 120,000 acres — and still growing — many southwestern Oregonians fear the blaze is poised to enter the record books alongside the 2002 Biscuit fire and last year’s Chetco Bar fire.

In an effort to quell that possibility, fire managers brought in reinforcements from California Saturday with the goal of full suppression.

Because of the fire’s size and complex challenges, operations have been split between two teams: Taylor Creek Klondike East based near Selma, and Taylor Creek Klondike West, now headquartered at the Curry County Fairgrounds in Gold Beach.

California’s Interagency Incident Management Team 4 took over operations on the entire west-facing flank of the fire complex Saturday. This team possesses experience with steep terrain and dry fuel types, and plans to go into “full suppression mode” to protect coastal residents.

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