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‘Deliberate extinction’: extensive clear-cuts, gas pipeline approved in endangered caribou habitat

Scientists warn another B.C. caribou herd could disappear as the provincial government approves 78 new logging cutblocks in critical habitat for the Hart Ranges herd, while construction of a pipeline for LNG industry takes out another chunk of boreal forest

By Sarah Cox, Originally published on Aug 7, 2019 at The Narwhal

Standing near the summit of a clear-cut mountain in B.C.’s interior, overlooking the brown and emerald green Anzac River valley, scientist Dominick DellaSala has a bird’s eye view of why the Hart Ranges caribou herd is at risk of extinction.

Only a fringe of forest remains around the distant mountain peak where the declining herd seeks protection from wolves and other predators in ever-shrinking habitat northeast of Prince George.

“The difference between this and Borneo is that there aren’t any orangutans behind me,” says DellaSala, pointing to extensive clear cuts covering much of the mountain side.

“You’ve got caribou at upper elevations. That’s their habitat out there. And they’re being squished to the top of the tallest mountains because all the habitat’s been taken out down below. The species is migratory, it goes up and down.”

DellaSala, chief scientist and president of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, is touring parts of B.C.’s ancient inland temperate rainforest as part of an Australian-led study documenting the world’s most important unlogged forests.

Continue reading at The Narwhal

 

Canada’s forgotten rainforest

Less than one-third of the world’s primary forests are still intact. Deep in the interior of British Columbia, a temperate rainforest that holds vast stores of carbon and is home to endangered caribou is being clear-cut as fast as the Amazon

By Sarah Cox, Originally published on Jul 27, 2019 at The Narwhal

On a balmy day in mid-July, in the heart of British Columbia, Dominick DellaSala steps out of a rented truck to examine the remains of one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet.

DellaSala, a scientist studying global forests that hold vast stores of carbon, is silent for a moment as he surveys a logging road punched through an ancient red cedar and western hemlock grove only days earlier.

A spared cedar tree, at least 400 years old, stands uncloaked in the sun beside the road, an empty bear den hidden in its hollow trunk.

“I haven’t seen logging this bad since I flew over Borneo,” says DellaSala, president and chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, a partner in an international project to map the world’s most important unlogged forests.

“It was a rainforest. Now it’s a wasteland.”

Continue reading at The Narwhal

Proposed Tongass change could speed young-growth transition

By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter, Originally published at E&E News on July 26, 2019

The Forest Service is proposing to open an additional 1,144 acres of the Tongass National Forest to harvesting of young-growth timber, opening a debate about where the transition away from old-growth timber should be focused.

In a proposed amendment to the forest management plan for the Tongass — the nation’s biggest national forest at nearly 17 million acres — the agency said it would allow more harvesting of young growth on a landscape known as moderate-vulnerability karst, which is typically underlain by a soluble rock like limestone.

Moderate-vulnerability karst doesn’t have caves or sinkholes — which are typically found in high-vulnerability karst landscapes — and the Forest Service said those areas can handle management activities such as timber harvesting. In addition, the agency said, regulations have been written in an inconsistent way that would allow cutting of trees in those locations if they were old growth.

“Analysis of old-growth harvest on moderate vulnerability karst has demonstrated that the standards in place were sufficient to maintain the natural processes and productivity of karst lands. This amendment will align the standards for young-growth and old-growth harvest on moderate vulnerability karst,” the Forest Service said in a news release.

Climate change calls for new look at fire, experts say

By Caitlin Fowlkes of the Tidings

Dominick A. DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, says more scientists agree that forest thinning in the backcountry is futile.

At a presentation he gave Friday during a symposium on fire, DellaSala said that according to a 2017 study, less than 1% of areas that were thinned had a forest fire.

He said thinning doesn’t work well in extreme fire weather, it can increase wind speed and vegetation, it doesn’t last longer than 10 to 15 years before it must be redone, and it can make land more prone to fire.

DellaSala, speaking at the 100th annual meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said there’s just no way to tell where lightening is going to strike.

“A lot of it is in backcountry, in steep areas that you can’t get to it anyway,” DellaSala said. “In many areas you don’t have access, and there’s no way you can treat enough of the landscape to make enough of a difference.”

Timber industry the focus of GOP wildfire response

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter

Originally published at E&E News on June 17, 2019

Republican climate policy is taking shape under the Trump administration, with a new forestry proposal offering an example of businesses setting the parameters of action.

As wildfires become an emblem of climate change, the GOP wants to help the timber industry respond. The strategy mostly disregards emissions, accepts some collateral damage to local ecosystems and limits public oversight of corporate activity.

The Forest Service’s new proposed rule, open for comment until Aug. 12, would loosen environmental reviews for many projects, including logging and road-building. A new suite of categorical exclusions for those projects would require only public notice, not public comment.

Lane County’s forests being whittled down

By Roy Keene and Dominick DellaSala
Posted Jun 13, 2019 at The Register Guard

The Shotcash BLM timber sale would clear cut some 1,200 acres of ecologically healthy, still-growing, 60-80 year old timber within the heavily logged Mohawk River drainage. In a watershed checkerboarded with thousands of acres of clear cuts and almost entirely depleted of older forests, the BLM claims it needs more seedling plantations. We think this is a bad idea.

In its 1957 forest inventory, the United States Forest Service reported Lane County having a sawtimber volume of 97 billion board feet. Its 2001-2010 inventory reported only 64 billion board feet, a 34% decline. In the last half century of so-called “sustained yield management,” 33 billion board feet of Lane’s timber has been liquidated. The 2010 inventory shows 83% of the county’s remaining timber volume vested in federal forests. Having consumed most of their mature timber, Lane County’s mills now press federal lands. The BLM seems eager to accommodate the county at the public’s expense. 

Roadless areas are nature’s climate solutions

Pristine areas must protected from relentless development

Originally published May. 29, 2019 8:00 p.m.at the San Francisco Examiner

Ancient forests, like Muir Woods National Monument, are vital for carbon absorption.The 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Alliance of World Scientists, and #Scientists4Future all warn that if we do not transition away from fossil fuels quickly, climate change will threaten civilization itself in the coming decades. Scientists are now saying that pristine areas, like roadless areas and unlogged forests, can buy us time as we transition to a carbon-free economy but only if protected from relentless development.

Unfortunately, the fate of millions of acres of roadless areas in Alaska and Utah is now at risk from the Trump administration’s efforts to upend one of the nation’s landmark conservation achievements – the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2000. This is coming at a time when we need every wild place to avoid an unprecedent global crisis of 1 million species extinctions, as the authoritative Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services recently warned.

Anyone in the Bay Area who cares about wild spaces ought to be alarmed by the pending extinction crisis and the administration’s efforts to usher in clearcut logging and road building in Alaska’s coastal temperate rainforests and Utah’s roadless forests. Here’s why.

family hiking

In-the-Blink-of-An Eye We Save Humanity from Itself

“Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘Till it’s gone”
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi (1970)

family hikingI was just 14 when Big Yellow Taxi struck an emotional chord in me. Nearly a half century later, these words matter more to our own survival than any time in human history. This May, carbon emissions hit an all-time high as temperature gauges near the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia recorded the unthinkable: 87 degrees F when it’s supposed to be in the 50s! Perhaps, even worse, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released findings that 1 million species will soon go the way of the dodo, as humanity draws down more of its share of the planet’s life-giving systems. This is a crisis of immense proportions and most of humanity really won’t know what we got till it’s gone.

Every single species on this planet is a freak of the Universe. We were born out of a Cosmic explosion billions of years ago triggering swirling star-dust clouds and Cosmic debris that eventually coalesced into this amazing and highly improbable (unique) blue-ball-of life.

With blatant disregard for the great Mystery in all this, we face an ultimatum.

Tall and old or dense and young: Which kind of forest is better for the climate?

  • Scientists say reforestation and better forest management can provide 18 percent of climate change mitigation through 2030. But studies appear to be divided about whether it’s better to prioritize the conservation of old forests or the replanting of young ones.
  • A closer look, however, reconciles these two viewpoints. While young forests tend to absorb more carbon overall because trees can be crowded together when they’re small, a tree’s carbon absorption rate accelerates as it ages. This means that forests comprised of tall, old trees – like the temperate rainforests of North America’s Pacific coast – are some of the planet’s biggest carbon storehouses.
  • But when forests are logged, their immense stores of carbon are quickly released. A study found the logging of forests in the U.S. state of Oregon emitted 33 million tons of CO2 – almost as much as the world’s dirtiest coal plant.
  • Researchers are calling on industry to help buffer climate change by doubling tree harvest rotations to 80 years, and urge government agencies managing forests to impose their own harvest restrictions

Read the full article by Paul Koberstein & Jessica Applegate at Mongabay

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