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?
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.
Number of fires in June double from recent years
In a recent interview with KTVZ in Central Oregon, Dr. Dominick DellaSala explains the environmental factors that lead to an increase in potential wildfires.
This May, Dominick DellaSala was part of a team of researchers and citizen scientists conducting field surveys on the Stanislaus National Forest within the world-class (biodiverse) Sierra-Nevada region of California.
The trip was on the site of the Rim Fire, California’s third largest in recent history, that burned in 2013 over 250,000 acres bordering Yosemite National Park.
What they found was an ecosystem teeming with life, new growth, and diversity, not a barren wasteland.
Read more about Dominick’s walk on the wild side here.
Last year’s fire season was bad. This year’s could be too. So why does agreement on a plan to reduce the likelihood of forest fires remain elusive?
“We keep hearing that if only we could do active management we could reduce the risk of severe fires,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute, a climate change solutions advocacy group based in Ashland. “I heard that continuously when I testified before Congress last September. But when we looked at 1,500 fires, we found it’s the areas with the most active management that had the highest amount of high-severity fires. They wouldn’t believe that data.”
Read the full article by Pete Danko at the Portland Business Journal
Geos Institute and NGO comments on the Chetco Bar post-fire logging environmental assessment. The Chetco fire took place in an area of extraordinary botanical diversity, spectacular wild rivers, and a potential climate sanctuary along the Oregon-California border that benefited from the fire but will be impacted by extensive post-fire logging by the Forest Service.
Geos Institute provided extensive science comments submitted to the Klamath National Forest on behalf of 15 conservation organizations concerned about massive post-fire logging in spotted owl habitat and adjacent to roadless areas in the world-class Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion.
Read the April 11, 2018 article “Alaska’s transition away from old growth logging just got a big step closer” online at JuneauEmpire.com
Geos Institute releases a new report, “Everything you wanted to know about wildland fires in forests but were afraid to ask: lessons learned, ways forward“, summarizing latest wildfire science and calls on decision makers to develop science-based policies that protect communities from fire and allow wildfires to perform their ecological functions safely in the backcountry.
- Phys.org highlighted this report on April 9, 2018
Originally published March 15, 2018, available online at Seattle Times
There is no better place to experience old-growth forests than the Tongass and Chugach national forests. Here, all five species of Pacific salmon line up to spawn like rush-hour traffic, spruce and hemlock trees tower like skyscrapers, and bears and wolves still run free.
By Gordon Orians and Dominick A. DellaSala
The Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the crown jewel of our national forest system, is facing an unprecedented threat.
At the end of last year, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced two legislative budget riders aimed at allowing thousands of acres of pristine, roadless old-growth rain forest on the Tongass and the Chugach National Forest to be clear-cut.
We recently joined more than 220 of our fellow scientists from Alaska and across the country in sending a letter to Congress urging members to reject these backdoor efforts to undermine long-standing roadless and old-growth forest protections.