7 Jan 2008, 3:53pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Zero Riparian Buffers

Today I broke with my standard practice of NOT writing letters to the Dead Tree Press. I don’t know what came over me. At any rate, here is what I wrote and gave away for free to the unthinking, ungrateful, pulp-pushing media moguls.

To the editor:

Riparian buffers, such as those proposed in the BLM revision of their Western Oregon Plan, are killing forests and poisoning streams. Massive build-up of fuels in regulatory riparian zones lead to catastrophic megafires that denude entire watersheds, cause excessive post-fire erosion and sediment smothering of salmon spawning gravels, increase stream turbidity, alter stream pH’s, reduce dissolved oxygen, coat the gills of fingerlings, and fertilize algae, all of which lead to even more fishery problems in the future.

At recent Senate hearings top forests scientists agreed that aggressive active forest management is desperately needed now to remove excess fuels and restore forest ecological functions, in order to prevent further destruction of Oregon’s old-growth forests. Your newspaper failed to cover that story, but it is very important and you should do so now.

Forest restoration is not just for ridgetops. The forest fire crisis is a landscape-scale problem and requires landscape-scale solutions. That means forest restoration treatments should be carried out right up to the edge of streams.

To protect riparian zones and their aquatic habitat we must tend them, not abandon them to catastrophic fires. Creating huge regulatory riparian buffers where forest restoration is excluded is not the environmentally beneficial option.

Mike Dubrasich

7 Jan 2008, 11:27pm
by Backcut

In many parts of the National Forests, stream buffers now exceed the ludicrous when they overlap ridgetops 300 feet or less distance from the streamcourse. Yes, we do need to manage all forestlands, especially lands that are homes to endangered species. Stream buffers should be for excluding bad skid trails and not for excluding beneficial fuels treatments. People need to learn just how “surgical”, clean and precise modern logging can be. The work is truly a living artform when you think about it.

8 Jan 2008, 1:10am
by Mike

Riparian buffer zones build up fuels faster than anywhere else in the forest. And when riparian zones burn, they burn hot. Thick biomass left in riparian zones, because of a regulatory hands-off approach, was blamed for carrying the Angora Fire deep into the South Lake Tahoe subdivision where 254 homes burned.

There are many reports of riparian forest fires boiling the water in mountain streams, but I have never witnessed that phenomenon. I have seen streams running chocolate with soot, ash, and mud, though.

13 Jan 2008, 1:06am
by bear bait

I have seen a dozen or more boiled squirrels and raptors in a metal cattle trough after a fire went through. I suppose a rancher ought to keep a few spud and onions in the water tanks now that conflagration is all the mode.



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