7 Apr 2008, 5:53pm
Ecology Management
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Montane Meadow and Open Area Encroachment in the Lincoln Forest, Sacramento Grazing Allotment

Frost, Ric, Casey Roberts, Garrett Hyatt, John Fowler. 2007. Montane Meadow and Open Area Encroachment in the Lincoln Forest, Sacramento Grazing Allotment. New Mexico State Univ. Cooperative Extension Service/Agricultural Experiment Station, Range Improvement Task Force, Report 69.

Full text [here] (12,952 KB)

and

Frost, Ric. 2007. Just One Match - An Easy Way To Destroy New Mexico. Range Magazine, Spring 2007.

Full text [here] (329 KB)

The second paper is a “popular” version of the first for lay readers, although both are very good and not too technical for most people.

Selected excerpts from “Just One Match“:

It is amazing how much fire one match can cause. Back in the year 2000, one match ignited the infamous Cerro Grande fire by Los Alamos, N.M. This same fire “ignited” an indepth study of Southwestern forest conditions by the state university. This report reveals that the Cerro Grande, Scott-Able, Viveash and several other fires on government lands that same season destroyed approximately 689 square miles of habitat in New Mexico.

The report points out that the intensity of the catastrophic habitat-destroying fires was a direct result of the fuel-load biomass levels created by the Mexican spotted owl environmental lawsuit. Logging restrictions were imposed on government-controlled lands. The study reveals that U.S. Forest Service-controlled lands in New Mexico forests alone had accumulated approximately 1.4 billion board feet of fuel-load biomass buildup between the years 1986 to 1999, as logging declined 82.4 percent during the same period. …

All of the Mexican spotted owl habitat in the Los Alamos area and the owl-nesting protected locations were lost, as were many of the ground-dwelling endangered species. Other endangered and protected habitat areas were also seriously compromised or destroyed by these fires.

The report also points out the loss of an entire cultural timber-harvesting infrastructure due to owl restrictions and the resulting loss of the economic sector to rural communities in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is in addition to the costs of fire fighting, the personal costs and loss of homes (including the threat to the Los Alamos nuclear facilities in the path of the Cerro Grande fire), as well as the human lives lost as a result of these fires. It is doubtful that the families who lost everything were concerned over the the loss of a few birds.
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1 Apr 2008, 6:43pm
Management Policy
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Comments to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Regarding “Appropriate Management Response”

Dubrasich, Michael E. and Gregory J. Brenner. 2008. Comments to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Regarding “Appropriate Management Response”. Western Institute for Study of the Environment.

Full text [here]

Note: If you would like a free CD with the Comments and the Appendices (450+ MB), please email W.I.S.E. a request with your address.

Selected Excerpts:

Executive Summary

The purpose of this document is to request that the Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before altering or amending their Forest Plan to include unprepared fire, known as Wildland Use Fires.

We believe unprepared fires can have significant effects upon natural resources and the human environment. The National Environmental Policy Act requires the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements before the U.S. government engages in activities that might have significant effects.

The EIS process aids in revealing, analyzing, and public discussion of the potential effects before they happen. That is a beneficial process, as well as required under federal law.

This document is a statement of our rationale for requesting an EIS process. We present this document to the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest so that they might understand and comply with federal law. …

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22 Mar 2008, 7:25pm
Management
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Old-Growth Forest Science, Policy, and Management in the Pacific Northwest Region

Beck, Paul H., Timber Manager, Herbert Lumber Company, Riddle Oregon. Old-Growth Forest Science, Policy, and Management in the Pacific Northwest Region — Testimony to the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, March 13, 2008.

Full text [here]

Follow-up questions [here]

Selected excerpts:

Chairman Wyden, Senator Smith, members of the committee, good afternoon and thank you for inviting me here today; my name is Paul Beck and I am the Timber Manager for Herbert Lumber Company in Riddle Oregon. I am a fourth generation sawmill worker. The Forests of the Umpqua and the Rogue have not only been my office of thirty years, they have been my home and my recreation for over fifty three. I am here today representing Herbert Lumber, Douglas Timber Operators (DTO) and American Forest Resource Council (AFRC). My goal here today is to help you better understand our company, our industry, our community, our forests, and the true history of those forests.

There are many myths surrounding all of these things. My desire is to dispel those myths.

The timber wars of the last twenty years in Oregon are full of villains and heroes, which vary by storyteller. But as policymakers, I urge my senators from Oregon and other Members of Congress to separate reality from mythology.

Myth 1

If manufacturers would convert to only small log operations then we could thin young stands to provide all the material necessary to supply society’s needs for wood products.

Just as you cannot build a house out of one dimension of lumber, say 2×4’s, you cannot build an industry that produces nothing but one type of wood. If you walk through a house under constructions you certainly will find a lot of 2×4’s. This is a primary framing component. But if you look closer you will see a vast number of various other grades and dimensions. The timber industry of the Northwest has evolved to fill the needs of this market.
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14 Mar 2008, 6:42pm
Management
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The Forest Carbon and Emissions Model (FCEM)

Bonnicksen, Thomas M. The Forest Carbon And Emissions Model. 2008.  The Forest Foundation, Auburn, CA

FCEM Report No. 1 — Overview and technical information (beta version). Full text [here]

FCEM Report No. 2 — Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Four California Wildfires: Opportunities to Prevent and Reverse Environmental and Climate Impacts. Full text [here]

Review with selected excerpts by Mike Dubrasich:

The Forest Carbon and Emissions Model (FCEM) is a mathematical method (model) for estimating the amount of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) emitted by forest fires. FCEM requires minimum input of stand data, the number of acres burned, and the percent understory and overstory mortality. From those FCEM computes carbon stored and the emissions from fire combustion and from subsequent decay of dead wood.

FCEM is based on the (scientifically) reported biomass for various forest types and species, and the reported partitioning of that biomass into above-ground and below-ground components, as well as into trees and shrubs. Other components include equations that estimate the biomass lost to combustion and subsequent decay, the carbon stored in harvested trees, and the biomass stored in post-fire forest regrowth.

At this time FCEM (the beta version) is a deterministic model. That is, it outputs a value, not a range of probable values. However, by adjusting the inputs a user may generate a range of output values.

FCEM also provides a comparison of the output value to passenger car per year equivalents, megawatts of coal-fired power plant equivalents, as well as comparing them to total greenhouse gas emissions in California.
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5 Mar 2008, 12:16pm
Management Policy
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The “Roadless Rule” and Global Warming - What You Should Really Know

Hageman, Harriet M. The “Roadless Rule” and Global Warming - What You Should Really Know. Wyoming Agriculture Dec. 2007/Jan. 2008

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

On Oct. 19, 2007 the parties to the ongoing dispute over the “Roadless Rule” appeared once again before Judge Brimmer to argue about whether the Rule violated numerous federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Wilderness Act. The current dispute is a continuation of the State of Wyoming’s 2001 lawsuit, and stems from Judge Brimmer’s 2003 decision (found at 277 F.Supp.2d 1197 (D.Wyo. 2003)) to enjoin enforcement of the Roadless Rule based on the fact that it violated NEPA and the Wilderness Act.

Despite Judge Brimmer’s injunction, and because of the numerous lawsuits that have been filed challenging any sort of active and effective forest management, many National Forest Managers have continued to adhere to the mandates of the Roadless Rule, thereby implementing an illegal, politically-driven, and ecologically-devastating policy.

In 2004 I explained in several editorials that the Roadless Rule is bad for forest health and is bad for Wyoming. It was developed in the waning days of the Clinton administration to deny access, management and use of, 58.5 million acres of National Forest lands (30% of the National Forests; 2% of the total land mass of the United States; 3.2 million acres in Wyoming). It was adopted following what was arguably the most truncated, superficial and scientifically-devoid NEPA rulemaking in history. The alleged “public process” associated with the Roadless Rule was politically driven rather than scientifically supported, with less than thirteen (13) months having elapsed between the announcement of the proposed Rule and publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

It was an illegal, Washington, D.C. driven, one-size-fits-all approach to management of 1/3 of our National Forests. It was designed to ignore the physical aspects, management considerations, economic issues, and social/cultural dimensions that make each National Forest unique. It treated Wyoming’s National Forests exactly the same as the National forests in North Carolina and Puerto Rico, and violated the individualized Forest Management Plans that have been painstakingly developed pursuant to the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The Roadless Rule bypassed scientific analysis; hijacked local participation in forest management; and anointed Washington, D.C. as the supreme authority on forest management decisions …
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26 Dec 2007, 1:57pm
Management Philosophy
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“The Solution is Aircraft”

Pyne, Stephen J. “The Solution is Aircraft”: Aircraft and the Political Economy of Canadian Forest Fires. American Review of Canadian Studies, 2006, pp 458-477.

Stephen J. Pyne is Regents Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and author of 18 books and numerous essays. This essay derives from Pyne’s newest book, Awful Splendour: A Fire History of Canada.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

Introduction: Fire and the Northern Economy

The paradoxes are two, and both are well grounded in Canadian experience. The first is that institutions must reconcile the dynamics of political confederation with the rhythms of the boreal forest. The former builds on measured action, a steady pooling of many competing interests into a collective mean. The latter revels in extremes. Especially when it burns, the boreal forest goes from boom to bust to boom; and while nowhere is wildfire a bureaucratic category, the boreal landscape particularly mocks the norms, means, and statistics of aggregation that allow most agencies to plan. Almost always there is too much or too little, and never do reforms after the last firefight immediately lead to successes in the next. Instead, institutions repeatedly take a drubbing.

Aggravating the situation is the British North American Act that led to Confederation in which the provinces were granted control over their lands and natural resources. For 60 years an exception emerged in that the territory acquired from Hudson’s Bay Company, notably in the west, along with the Railway Belt and Peace River Bloc in British Columbia (B.C.), remained under the auspices of the Dominion even as provinces evolved and sprawled over those lands. Instead, the Dominion administered the resources; of particular significance was the Dominion Forestry Branch (DFB) within the Department of Interior which oversaw an archipelago of forest reserves, modeled closely on those of the United States. This estate gave the national government an active presence in and considerable leverage over how forestry might be conducted. Then in 1930 the Dominion ceded those lands to the provinces. The Dominion Forestry Branch nearly vanished, spared only because of its research capabilities. Thus, while the dynamics of the boreal environment argued for large entities, the politics of Canadian confederation pushed for smaller ones. That is the first paradox.

The second is that the Canadian scene matches the world’s most savage fires against its most advanced machines. Here, free-burning flame meets internal combustion. For Canada, however, combining the primitive with the technologically modern is far from unusual. Harold Innis early pointed out the apparent incongruity of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the industrial tip of global capitalism’s spear, thrusting through the Canadian wilderness, and later observed the necessity, for a country that was both modern and dispersed, to seize the latest developments in communication and transportation. Donald Worster, less kindly, has pointed out the industrial basis for Canada’s exploitation of its natural wealth, likening the country to a technological crack-baby. That Canada should turn to industrial technology to cope with backcountry fires should surprise no one…

The apparent solution was to apply capital to acquire equipment to move water. The outcome was a magnificent expression of the Canadian genius for applied knowledge. Canada became the world authority on portable pumps and hoses, and in order to move those appliances to the flaming front, on aircraft. Planes did for fire what railroads did for wood, wheat, and minerals. Instantly, aircraft began to change the geography of Canadian fire, and reformed permanently its political economy. Equally helpful, it allowed technology to substitute for philosophy. Cansos, float-equipped Beavers, Wajax pumps, these could furnish a common medium for the Canadian fire community in ways that politics could not. Canadian fire officers would come to share technology, and the means by which they would commit technology; they would not share institutions or ends. That technology imposed its own politics of power was a consideration they ignored in their determination not to surrender the levers and throttles that governed the relationship between province and Dominion.

26 Dec 2007, 1:18pm
Management Philosophy
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Burning Border

Pyne, Stephen J., Burning Border. Environmental History, 12 (Oct 2007)

Stephen J. Pyne is Regents Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and author of 18 books and numerous essays. This essay derives from Pyne’s newest book, Awful Splendour: A Fire History of Canada, reviewed [here].
Full text of Burning Border [here]

Selected excerpts:

ABSTRACT — The United States and Canada approach wildland fire differently. Fire matters to both countries for reasons of economics, public safety, duty-of-care to nature preserves, and bureaucratic identity and inertia. A useful survey of their differences could focus on three simple indices: how each assesses fire threats, how each assigns responsibility for fire management, and how each relates fire protection to land use. In all three instances, each country has evolved apparently similar but in reality parallel strategies that, like their shared border, meet but don’t merge. These differences reflect larger national traits.

IT IS OFTEN SAID that fire is no respecter of borders. In fact, it respects any boundaries that affect its ability to propagate. Satellite images routinely reveal stark contrasts in fire behavior among landscapes partitioned to farming, ranching, nature preserves, public forests, shopping malls, and exurbs. The U.S.-Canada border is no exception. The delineation would remain abstractly political if both countries had identical land use, adopted similar fire policies, and managed fire the same way. They don’t. There are national styles in fire as in literature and health care. Their practices are only superficially interchangeable, like pumps and CL-215s. In their deep structure their fires differ as much as the divergent politics behind the American style of federalism and the Canadian brand of confederation.

Does fire really matter? Here an answer is simple: Canada is a large and combustible swathe of fire-planet Earth. Historically, fires swept its prairies every two or three years; combusted its Cordilleran forests every five to fifty; and devoured its boreal forest, in immense chunks, every 50-120 years, a rhythm of binge-burning equaled solely in Russia. Only its sodden outer limits, Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Cape Breton, have evaded serious burns. On average Canada now experiences 8,500 fires a year that burn 2.5 million hectares, although statistics mean little in a place where the episodic big burn does all of the ecological work and where fires can blister 7.5 million hectares in a summer. All this matters because Canadians have sought to shield much of their national estate from flame and now spend $500-$900 million annually on the effort, a number galloping upward. The determination to battle blazes has come from commercial concerns over timber, a need to protect vulnerable human settlements, and bureaucratic inertia. Canada’s forest fires are thus a matter of economics, public safety, duty-of-care obligations to nature preserves, and, for those agencies who fight or study them, institutional survival. In all this it resembles American cognates-with a difference.

Byway of example, reflect how each assesses fire danger, how each distributes responsibility for fire management, and how each relates fire protection to land use. (The fire communities of both countries are congenitally partial to grouping by threes-the fire triangle serving as the water cycle does for hydrologists.) In all three instances, each country has evolved apparently similar but in reality parallel strategies that, like their shared border, meet but don’t merge…

11 Dec 2007, 7:10pm
Ecology Management
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Burning Banff

By Stephen J. Pyne

Originally published in Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 11.2 (Summer 2004) [here] by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

There are five of us, plus three pack horses, and we are strung along a trail that threads into Banff National Park. Banff is to the Rocky Mountains what the Grand Canyon is to the Colorado Plateau. A packtrip through its knotted peaks is the equivalent of a float trip down the Colorado River. We enter the park along the Red Deer River in the northeast.

Its critics dismiss Banff as a trash park-savaged by transcontinental highways and a railroad, the Bow Valley in particular deflowered by golf courses, ski resorts, swarms of tourists, a hydropower dam, its landscape degraded beyond redemption. In the mid-1990s Banff was even threatened with delisting as a World Heritage Site. Its defenders, however, note that the park has preserved nearly all its biotic pieces and holds intact its majestic matrix of streams, forests, storms, and slashing peaks. It yet retains its grizzlies, wolves, mountain lions; its elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats; a monumental megafauna to match its monumental scenery. Most spectacularly, nearly alone among Canadian parks, and rarely for North America, Banff has nurtured a habitat for free-burning fire.

A pack trip is thus a traverse through some of the most interesting fire management in North America. Banff is Canada’s first national park; a century later it had become for Parks Canada the flagship for an aggressive policy of ecological integrity for which free-burning fire was the vital spark. Ecological integrity aims to keep all the parts and processes of a biota and to grant them a suitable structure so that they can maintain themselves indefinitely. It contrasts with other preservationist philosophies by ignoring such standards as naturalness, wilderness, or historical authenticity, which may or may not contribute to the perpetuation of species and how they live. A policy such as Banff’s is, as postmodernists like to mutter, a contested matter.

All the themes are here: Banff is where they arose and where the relevant ideas took to the field to decide the issue. That makes Banff typical, or prototypical. What makes it special is that ecological integrity can apply to any landscape; at Banff it applies to an extraordinary menagerie of big animals and the habitats that sustain them. Fire matters because fire seems to be essential to those habitats. Ecological integrity may only succeed if Banff burns. The trick is to see that it burns properly. And that is the purpose for this curious expedition, an intellectual inspection…

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9 Dec 2007, 8:12pm
Management
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Forestry in Indian Country

Over the last twenty years there has been one clear, consistent, and surprisingly infallible advocate for forests, Mr. James Petersen of the Evergreen Foundation. Jim is the founder, publisher, and editor of Evergreen Magazine [here].

Evergreen Magazine is a step above any other forestry periodical, but occasionally Jim publishes a super issue, one that is truly archival. Winter 2005-2006, is one such ground-breaking, deeply insightful, historic work. Entitled Forestry in Indian Country: Models of Sustainability for Our Nation’s Forests? the issue examines forestry as practiced by Native Americans on tribal reservations and compares it to forestry practiced on our National Forests. It is a superb collection of essays, expert reports, and stunning photography (many by Larry Workman of the Quinault Nation).

So much is revealed in this issue. The first articles are by outsiders, Euro-American forest scientists with political foci. They seek to impose “helpful” red-tape bureaucratic burdens on the tribes. They do not mention the interwoven historical nature of the forest and the Indians. Their approach is sadly prejudicial and bigoted. Imagine telling people who have managed their land successfully for thousands of years how the white man thinks it ought to be done, complete with phony ecology and “natural” catastrophic fire.

But then the Native American voices are heard in the rest of the articles. From A School of Red Herring by Gary S. Morishima, Technical Advisor, Quinault Nation:

Tribes have been managing natural resource systems for thousands of years, but protecting tribal legacies for the future is no simple task. The resources that are essential to sustain tribal cultures are coming under relentless attack from a variety of economic and political forces … To a great extent, these threats stem from the introduction of an invasive species several centuries ago … Europeans.

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8 Dec 2007, 1:32pm
Management Policy
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Back to the Rim: The Story of the Warm Fire

By Mike Dubrasich

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

The Grand Canyon is a national icon, a symbolic monument that echoes through American literature, art, and science. The Grand Canyon is a piece of our national identity.

It is thus ironic (or perhaps entirely appropriate) that the principal feature of the Grand Canyon is nothing. The GC is a big hole in the ground. The viewer’s startling revelation is in regards to what is not there (terra firma) rather than what is there (thin air)…

To be sure, the shape of the nothingness is also important. The sides of the empty space are spectacular cliffs, with domed and flat-topped pinnacles and spires. The enclosure of the void is colorful and sculpted with form and line, but what makes the terrain so amazing is its sheer verticality. From the top it’s a long ways to the bottom, and more or less straight down…

There is another feature of the Grand Canyon. If you stand at the northern edge and look away from the Canyon, that is, with your back to the Rim, you will see a forest. It’s not just any forest, either. It is the Kaibab Forest, the ponderosa pine forest of the Kaibab Plateau, one of the most magnificent forests in the world…

The Kaibab Forest has never captured the American imagination in the way the Canyon has. This is ironic (and tragically inappropriate in our opinion) because the Kaibab Forest has substance, while the Grand Canyon is, principally, nothing.

The Kaibab Forest is a ponderosa pine forest. About half the forest is nearly pure pine, and a third is mixed conifer (ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce, Colorado blue spruce, white fir, and subalpine fir). Pure spruce forests, aspen groves, and meadows make up the rest…

For at least the last 9,000 years people have been living in the Kaibab Forest. Thousands of archaeological sites have been found, indicating that the entire Forest has been almost continuously occupied by somebody or other since way back when. The residents were variously hunters, gatherers, farmers, and herders. They were human beings. They interacted with the landscape just like human beings everywhere: through the agency of fire.

People have been setting fire to the Kaibab Plateau for thousands of years. They set fires to clear land for farming, to remove hazards, to drive game, and for dozens of other practical reasons. They probably also set fires by accident, although the majority were likely by intent.

Lightning fires also occurred every year. However, the lightning fires encountered a pre-burned landscape and so they behaved like anthropogenic fires. Catastrophic fires that killed all the trees across vast tracts were rare, because fuels were never allowed to build up to catastrophic levels…

The early explorers widely attributed the open character of the Kaibab Forest to anthropogenic fire, although Indian burning was called “Paiute forestry” by detractors. John Wesley Powell, the greatest Grand Canyon explorer, was a supporter of anthropogenic fire as a forest management tool, and had a public political fight with Gifford Pinchot over the practice. Both men’s careers were crippled by the battle, but Pinchot’s ideas prevailed.

Over the last 100 years the US Forest Service has fought tooth and nail against Paiute forestry. The animus ran and runs deep, so deep that the USFS denies to this day the impact of Prehistoric Man and anthropogenic fire on American forests.

This Denial of the Obvious is a form of institutional intellectual schizophrenia. An odd mix of the precise detail, together with a romantic but false grand impression so characteristic of the eco-religious, suffuse the USFS oeuvre…

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