Why Oregon forests may continue to burn

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

Scientists’ warning to humanity has Earth Day meaning

By Dominick A. DellaSala, posted April 22, 2018 at Medford Mail Tribune

In 1992, I was one of 1,700 scientists, including Nobel laureates, who issued the “Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” because of damage humans were inflicting on the Earth. This March, I joined 20,000 scientists in sounding a second alarm as humanity is on an even faster collision with Earth’s life-giving systems.

This is not Chicken Little or “fake news.” Scientists read the planet’s life signs like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. We use satellites, global weather stations and polar ice measurements to document how humans are altering the global climate and destroying the planet’s ecosystems in unprecedented ways. In the years since the first warning, Earth’s dashboard lights are signaling a pending system-wide failure that threatens life on Earth on a scale soon to rival the epic demise of the dinosaurs.

Consider these alarming trends:

Half of all species on Earth could be extinguished by mid- to late century, mainly from habitat destruction and global warming as more and more people consume finite natural resources and our ecological footprint reaches dangerous levels. For the Rogue Valley, summer temperatures will heat up by 7 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Coastal towns will experience unprecedented sea-level rise from melting glaciers. Health ailments such as Lyme disease, asthma and heat exhaustion, exacerbated by climate change, will increasingly hurt children, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged. Category 5 hurricanes will become the new norm for east coast residents and Alaska Native villages will be displaced by floods and permafrost melting. It’s hard to put a smiley face on Earth Day celebrations after forecasting such alarming trends. But I am an eternal optimist and a parent, so I have to believe there is still time to act for a better future.

Continue Reading

Our forests can make Oregon the first carbon-neutral state

By Dominick A. DellaSala, Posted April 21, 2018 at The Oregonian

As a forest ecologist, I have argued for decades that public forests need to be protected as our irreplaceable natural legacy. New studies from Oregon State University and Oregon's Global Warming Commission Task Force on Forest Carbon show that there are critically important climate benefits to be added that could make Oregon the nation's first carbon-neutral state if forestry practices are improved.

It turns out that Oregon's forests are nature's cooling towers. Through the process of photosynthesis, forests absorb atmospheric carbon and use it to make their food (sugar), storing excess carbon in tree trunks, plants and soils for centuries. When forests are cut down, most of this stored carbon is released to the atmosphere as a global warming pollutant from decomposing logging slash and the transport and manufacture of wood products. Forest loss globally accounts for some 17 percent of these pollutants. Clearcutting, mainly on private lands, and the sell-off of 320,000 acres of family-owned forests since 1974, is limiting the capacity of forests in Oregon to provide climate savings.

Continue Reading

Wildfire funding fix confounds omnibus talks

Marc Heller and Geof Koss, E&E News reporters

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A long-term solution to address the climbing cost of wildfires continued to stymie lawmakers yesterday, despite a near-agreement to loosen some environmental restrictions on timber harvesting.

Lawmakers, congressional aides and industry insiders tracking the issue said top lawmakers were on the cusp of a deal early this week, only to see it dashed for a reason that some hadn't seen as contentious: how to set up disaster funding so the Forest Service can cover the cost without hurting other programs.

The basic outline of a deal, they said, involved expanding certain categorical exclusions from the National Environmental Policy Act. The exceptions allowed for forest thinning on several thousand acres and expanding "good neighbor" authority that allows the Forest Service to work with states on forest management projects.

Continue Reading

Negotiators aim to settle policy fights, post omnibus tonight

George Cahlink and Geof Koss, E&E News reporters

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Congressional leaders hope to have massive omnibus spending legislation on the House floor by Thursday, assuming they can resolve a few dozen outstanding policy fights.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this morning he's "hoping" to file the $1.3 trillion spending bill late tonight, paving the way for the House Rules Committee to consider the bill tomorrow and then floor action Thursday.

He said he does not expect to need to pass an interim stopgap spending bill to avert a federal shutdown when current funding runs out Friday.

Continue Reading


Please give generously today.

Donate Now

Initiative of
Geos Institute