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Community Fire Protection Alternative for Fire Safety

Conservation groups announced a new fire protection alternative designed to protect homes and firefighters from wildfires as a counter to pro-logging approaches that create fire- and climate-unsafe landscapes. The alternative was sent to Oregon Governor Kate Brown and has relevance to fire fighting efforts in California as well, where California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed massive logging that will do nothing to prepare communities for wildfire safety.

Read the response to Governor Brown’s Executive Order on Oregon’s Wildfire Response Council

tongass roadless

235 Scientists tell the Forest Service to put the brakes on Tongass Roadless Area logging and development

tongass roadlessContact: Dr. Dominick DellaSala (Dominick@geosinstitute.org; 541-621-7223)

Ashland, Oregon – over two hundred of the nation’s top conservation and natural resource scientists called on the Forest Service to suspend its efforts to rollback popular roadless area protections on over 9 million-acres of the nation’s most intact temperate rainforest in Alaska.

Considered the crown jewel of the national forest system, the 16.8 million-acre Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska contains thousands of near shore islands, spectacular glaciated mountains, and towering spruce-hemlock forests. Roadless areas (>5,000-acre areas lacking development) are the ecological foundation to some of the world’s most prolific salmon runs that support fish-eating bears, eagles, and wolves along with a vibrant outdoor and recreation economy that supports far more jobs and generates more money for local communities than the region’s extraction industries. Tongass old-growth forests, which the Forest Service intends to log, store more carbon than any forest in the nation, which is key to Alaska’s ability to prepare for unprecedented climate change already well underway.

According to Dominick A. DellaSala, Chief Scientist, Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, and editor/author of Temperate and Boreal Forests of the World: Ecology and Conservation, “Forest Service would best serve the public by shifting timber supply to young forests where a wall-of-wood will soon be ready to support the timber industry, instead of a wall-of-opposition from the public concerned about the fate of rainforests.”

The Roadless Conservation Rule (2001) protects over 50 million acres of the nation’s last intact landscapes. At the time, over 1 million Americans provided comments in support of this landmark conservation achievement, including hundreds of scientists that wanted Tongass roadless areas to have national protections. The Tongass is unique in containing over 9 million roadless acres, which is over half this national forest and ~19% of the national total.

Retired Alaskan wildlife biologist, Matt Kirchhoff, noted “ancient cedars will be cut down and exported to the Far East, and ironically, the US Taxpayer will pay for it. It’s time to stop the madness. Protect the still intact roadless areas in America’s only temperate rainforest.”

Retired Alaskan wildlife ecologist and co-editor/author of North Pacific Temperate Rainforests, John Schoen added “the consensus of scientists, including two former Forest Service Chiefs (Mike Dombeck, Jack Ward Thomas) is the nation’s remaining old growth should be protected from developments. Excluding the Tongass from the national roadless protections will have an irreversible consequence to the vibrant fish and wildlife populations that depend on these areas in America’s largest national forest.”

The Forest Service is taking public comments, which closes October 15, and has a website with details on the Alaska proposal.

Media Coverage

217 Scientists call on Congress to oppose logging provisions in the House Farm Bill

As scientists with backgrounds in ecological sciences and natural resources management, we are greatly concerned about proposals to speed up and expand logging on public lands in response to recent increases in wildfires in the West – proposals such as the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill. There are pragmatic, science-based solutions that can maintain biologically diverse fire-dependent ecosystems while reducing risks to communities and firefighters facing some of the most active fire seasons in recent memory. Unfortunately, such solutions are getting lost in the endless rhetoric and blaming that has characterized wildfires in the media, Congress, and the Trump administration. We the undersigned are calling on decision makers to facilitate a civil dialogue and careful consideration of the science to ensure that any policy changes will result in communities being protected while safeguarding essential ecosystem processes.

Read the full letter to Congress

Over 200 scientists sign letter to Congress about proposals to “fix” funding for Wildland Fire Management

Congress has included 90 anti-environmental riders on the Omnibus Appropriations bill that it is rushing to pass next week. Measures to address runaway wildfire suppression spending, for instance, include destructive riders to eliminate protections for old-growth forests and roadless areas in Alaska, expand Categorical Exclusions (no environmental review) on logging projects up to 6,000 acres, and weaken protections for endangered species.

I am excited to report that over 200 scientists have signed on so far. The letter will be delivered to Capitol Hill staffers on Friday morning DC time; however, we will continue to accept signatories through Tuesday of next week as we update the final count and resubmit the letter later.

View the letter delivered Friday, March 16, 2018.

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

Final Tongass logging plan draws mixed reaction

By Scott Streater

Reposted from E&E News on December 9, 2016

The Forest Service has formally approved a much-debated land-use plan amendment that calls for phasing out clearcutting of old-growth trees over a 16-year period in Tongass National Forest.

Some environmentalists criticized the move as not going far enough to protect the nation’s largest forest, while the timber industry is likely to object, as well.

Tongass National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart has finalized a record of decision (ROD) that calls for shifting to young-growth trees in areas that have been previously logged in the nearly 17-million-acre forest in southeast Alaska, according to a notice published in yesterday’s Federal Register.

Protection of Public Lands Cast in Doubt

“The majority of Americans love their public lands and will not stand for giving them to the states or private sector as that would be catastrophic ecologically and economically.”     -Dominick DellaSala

Geos Institute’s Dominick DellaSala is featured in a Climate Central article, published November 28, 2016. He discusses the the deregulation or disposal of public lands, to which he says the opposition will be fierce from both environmental groups and the public.

Read the Climate Central article

Also reprinted in Raw Story

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