Forest Legacies Programs

Forest degradation and deforestation contribute more greenhouse gas pollution globally than the entire transportation network.

Conversely, protecting and responsibly managing forests for their capacity to store carbon for long periods (centuries) along with their associated biodiversity and clean water is pivotal to stemming serious global warming problems. Thus, we seek to elevate the importance of intact forests and watersheds in the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska nationally and globally in climate change and land-use policies.

Because public lands policies depend to a great extent on which political party is in the White House or in the majority in Congress, we periodically revise program goals to be responsive to threats and opportunities on public lands. Our near-term goals are:

  • Transition logging on the Tongass Rainforest out of 2.5 million acres of old growth to about 100,000 acres of previously logged plantations within five years, thereby ensuring the Tongass will continue to sequester up to 8% of the nation’s globally warming pollution annually.
  • Defend public lands from inappropriate logging and fire management policies – Fire Ecology
  • During forest plan revisions, advocate for protection of ~1 million acres of at-risk legacy forests in the Pacific Northwest that store the equivalent of ~80 times Oregon’s global warming pollution.
  • Permanently protect 220,000 acres of a legacy landscape that may act as a climate refuge within the world-class Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion.
fire report coexisting with large fires

Ways to Co-exist with Large Fires and Their Ecosystem Benefits

fire report coexisting with large firesThis fire primer is meant for decision makers concerned about forest fires in the American West. Using best science, we address seven fundamental questions related to the ecological importance of large fires and their appropriate management on public lands. Specifically, we examine: (1) what works best for reducing fire risks to homes and firefighters; (2) are large wildland fires an ecological catastrophe as claimed; (3) are fires increasing from historical levels; (4) does forest thinning reduce fire intensity or lower large fire occurrence; (5) how does post-fire logging affect forest rejuvenation and reburn intensity; (6) do insect outbreaks increase fire occurrence or intensity; and (7) how is climate change affecting fire behavior in the West?

Over 200 scientists request that the Administration accelerate transition out of old-growth logging

Seven of the nation’s top scientific societies and 200 distinguished climate and natural resource scientists are urging the USDA and the Obama Administration to speed up its transition out of old-growth logging on the Tongass National Forest. The large trees, productive soils, and dense foliage on the Tongass store ten times more carbon than any other national forest. When these rainforests are logged, most of the stored carbon is released as carbon dioxide pollution, contributing to global warming in Alaska and worldwide.

According to Dominick DellaSala, “Quickly transitioning the Tongass rainforest out of clearcutting old-growth forests would bring certainty to the timber industry and secure the legacy of rainforest benefits for the American people.

Press Release:

Phase out of Tongass old-growth logging

A 2014 study of second growth timber on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska shows that the U.S. Forest Service can transition out of old growth logging in 5 years, and shift timber sales into young growth located in previously logged and roaded areas.

As Dominick DellaSala stated, “We have a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to stop the needless logging of old growth in one of the world’s last relatively intact rainforests, with the added benefit of keeping carbon in the forest and out of the atmosphere.”

Press Releases:

pnw redwoods national park in fog

Managing Coast Redwoods for Resilience in a Changing Climate

pnw redwoods national park in fogReports:

The North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, California Landscape Cooperative, Geos Institute, Society for Conservation Biology (Humboldt State Chapter), and the Environmental Protection Information Center hosted a workshop and field trip entitled: “Managing Coast Redwoods for Resilience in a Changing Climate,” which took place on September 6 and 7, 2013 at Humboldt State University and Redwood National Park.

Emerald Waters – Wild Rivers At Risk

The Kalmiopsis region in southwest Oregon is home to wild rivers and rare beauty. It is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes on the West Coast. It is also threatened by industrial scale nickel mines. British investors are looking to turn the wild and pristine wildlands into a wasteland of haul roads, ore smelters, and mountain top removal. Grassroots conservation groups are building support to protect 90,000 acres of the Rough & Ready, Baldface, and Hunter Creek watersheds from mine development. Join the efforts today.

Watch the video depicting this rare and beautiful landscape.

Emerald Waters – Wild Rivers At Risk from KS Wild on Vimeo.

fire natures phoenix bookcover

The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature’s Phoenix

fire natures phoenix bookcoverThe Ecological Importance of High-Severity Fires, presents information on the current paradigm shift in the way people think about wildfire and ecosystems.

While much of the current forest management in fire-adapted ecosystems, especially forests, is focused on fire prevention and suppression, little has been reported on the ecological role of fire, and nothing has been presented on the importance of high-severity fire with regards to the maintenance of native biodiversity and fire-dependent ecosystems and species.

This text fills that void, providing a comprehensive reference for documenting and synthesizing fire’s ecological role.

  • Offers the first reference written on mixed- and high-severity fires and their relevance for biodiversity
  • Contains a broad synthesis of the ecology of mixed- and high-severity fires covering such topics as vegetation, birds, mammals, insects, aquatics, and management actions
  • Explores the conservation vs. public controversy issues around megafires in a rapidly warming world

Purchase the book from Amazon

Book Reviews of Nature’s Phoenix:

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Fireside Chat

fire fireside chat thumbIn the “Fireside Chat” presentation (click on link below), we view post-fire landscapes through an ecological lens that allows us to see the ecosystem benefits and unique biodiversity that follows wildfires.

An ecological perspective is needed because the public most often hears that fire (especially severe ones) is bad for forests. Indeed, many forests, from low- elevation ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir to upper elevation and high latitude subalpine and boreal, depend on a significant amount of severe fire. 

Fireside Chat was prepared for the media, managers, conservation groups, and decision makers using the Prezi presentation software and storytelling tool.

Click here to start the presentation.  You may enlarge the presentation to full screen and use the right/left arrows or slide bar  to navigate the zoomable canvas. Once finished, you may also use the pan/zoom to revisit sections.

In addition, you can click here to see a slide show of salvage logging on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, following the Biscuit Fire in southwest Oregon.  And click here to see a photo gallery of post-fire logging and roading on industrial, private lands near Glendale, Oregon.

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Ecosystem Benefits of Wildfire vs. Post-Fire Logging Impacts

fire factsheet thumbMost wildfires in montane (mountainous) forests and shrublands of the western United States are ecologically beneficial and needed for the proper function and maintenance of fire-dependent biota. Unfortunately, many decision-makers view fire as “catastrophic” and believe it to be increasing beyond historical bounds. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a deficit of wildfire acresin most western montane forests as compared to historical times due primarily to fire suppression. Although historical data using comparable tracking metrics are lacking on a subset of the very large fires (“mega-fires”), there has been no significant upward trend in these fires detected in the past 15 years, although longer timelines are needed for meaningful conclusions.

Read the entire fact sheet.

Old-growth Forests Hold Keys to Adapting to Climate Change

Scientists released new findings on the importance of mature and old-growth forests in preparing the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon and northern California for global climate disruptions. Published in the January edition of The Natural Areas Journal (Volume 32: 65-74) by the Natural Areas Association, the study calls on regional land managers to protect mature and old-growth forests as an insurance policy for fish and wildlife facing mounting climate change pressures from rising temperatures, declining snow levels, and reductions in fog along the coast.

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