Thinning forests aims to reduce fire risk

To restore a forest and reduce the risk of severe wildfires, a conservation group is cutting down trees.

The Nature Conservancy is selectively logging dry forests in Washington's Central Cascades as part of a long-term plan to make thousands of privately owned forestland more resilient to fire, disease and climate change.

A century of wildfire suppression has resulted in overgrown tree stands that are ripe for fire, so the group is weeding out smaller trees that can serve as kindling for fires. They're leaving bigger, older and more fire-resistant ponderosa pines while removing tree species such as grand fir that are more susceptible to fire.

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, said thinning that's done right can be a good tool but it's not the only one.

"I don't see it as a panacea and it should be strategically used to defend homes and lives and get into the truly flammable area," he said. Often missing from the equation is letting fires burn naturally under safe conditions, he added.

Keep reading the full article in U.S. News & World Report

Trump budget bad news for nature

Although President Trump's budget is still taking shape, it appears that it would significantly reduce regulations, impact air and water quality and degrade the health of humans, the natural environment and Southern Oregon's tourism industry, according to local environmental groups.

Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, said during a working trip to Washington, D.C., that there are many potential negative impacts, ranging from air and water pollution to an increase in disease-bearing insects moving north and west from the tropics.

"Cutting science and climate-change funding via the Trump budget proposal means increased human suffering, especially to vulnerable populations — the young, elderly and poor," said DellaSala, whose daughter has had Lyme disease for five years, caught from a tick in their Talent backyard.

"In D.C., anything to do with science, especially climate change, is in the cross-hairs," DellaSala said. "If there's no viable EPA, there's going to be more air and water pollution and less regulation, but here in Washington, they all say the budget is DOA (dead on arrival)."

Keep reading the full article in the Mail Tribune

Trump appointees a threat to national forest and climate refugia

Dominick DellaSala was interviewed in a recent Climate Central article "Food Security, Forests At Risk Under Trump’s USDA". 

The wildfire threat will not be reduced by efforts in Congress or in the Trump administration to increase logging, said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute, a climate change think tank.

“As climate change results in more extreme fire weather in places, throwing more money at the problem won’t result in a fire-fix as climate increasingly becomes the top-down driver of fire behavior,” he said.

DellaSala said it’s also important that the USDA manage and preserve forests — especially Alaska’s rain forests — as carbon sinks in order for the U.S. to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement. The pact calls for countries to cut climate pollution to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F), a level considered dangerous by the United Nations.

Read the full article at Climate Central

Northwest Forest Plan Under Review

south kalmiopsis dellasalaSince 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan has been providing protections for millions of acres of old-growth forests, imperiled spotted owls, hundreds of rare species, and wild salmon on federal lands in Washington, Oregon, and California. Without the Plan's protections, all old-growth forests, aside from remote areas, would likely have been destroyed sometime this decade by unsustainable logging. This is why hundreds of scientists and conservation groups have worked hard to uphold the protections afforded these forests for over two decades.

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