We Need To Learn From Past Mistakes

I live very close to a national forest–a very large national forest. Watching what has happened in California makes me wonder how safe I am here. However, I am also aware that controlled burns in the national forest here are a part of summer life. I should also mention that generally there is enough rain during the summer to make these burns safe. Unfortunately that is not always the case in California, and sometimes a controlled burn is simply not practical. However, there are other ways to clear out brush and possible fuel for a fire.

The Washington Times posted an article about the California fires on Friday. What has happened in California is horrific, and we need to do everything we can to prevent it happening in the future.

The article reports:

A national logging organization is offering support to President Trump following catastrophic wildfires in California and a political debate over the causes of the destructive blazes.

“President Trump blamed poor forest management for wildfires in California and throughout the West, and there is truth to statements he has made,” said Daniel Dructor, executive vice president of the American Loggers Council, a coalition of state and regional associations that represents independent contract loggers.

“It’s time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management — including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning — are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes,” Mr. Dructor said in a statement.

According to the council, some 60 million to 80 million acres of national forest are at “high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire.”

Citing research from the U.S. Forest Service, the council backs such methods as thinning stressed trees and prescribed burns to reduce wildfires but said “only a small fraction of high-risk acres are being treated.”

Mr. Dructor advised the Trump administration and Congress to expand public-private partnerships to manage the problem.

The article concludes:

Loggers are America’s ‘boots on the ground’ to conserve our forests and reduce the risks of wildfire,” council president Chris Potts said in a statement.

We work in the woods every day, we understand forestry and see the dangers every day, and we know what needs to be done. Without forests, we are out of business. That’s why we’ll continue to work with Republicans and Democrats on needed reforms that will help to sustain our forests and protect our forests and communities from wildfire,” he said.

Lumber is a renewable resource. A properly managed forest can continue indefinitely. Good forest management will not only provide jobs and resources, it will create a healthy environment for wildlife and avoid the environmental catastrophe that the California forest fires have been.

Another Global Threat Down The Drain

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line yesterday about some recent research on deforestation. It seems that it is not happening.

The article reports:

I have noted from time to time the data from the United Nations Global Forest Resource Assessment (UNGFRA) that has found that deforestation stopped at least 25 years ago, and that net reforestation has been taking place.

But the UN data is not as good as one would like. This week, however, Naturemagazine published a major new studywith much more precise measurements and analysis than the UNGFRA based on 35 years’ worth of satellite imagery, and it finds that since 1982 global forest cover has increasedby 7.2 percent, or 2.24 million kilometers.

The article includes information from the study:

Changes in land use and land cover considerably alter the Earth’s energy balance and biogeochemical cycles, which contributes to climate change and—in turn—affects land surface properties and the provision of ecosystem services. However, quantification of global land change is lacking. Here we analyse 35 years’ worth of satellite data and provide a comprehensive record of global land-change dynamics during the period 1982–2016. We show that—contrary to the prevailing view that forest area has declined globally—tree cover has increased by 2.24 million km2 (+7.1% relative to the 1982 level). This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics. Global bare ground cover has decreased by 1.16 million km2 (−3.1%), most notably in agricultural regions in Asia. Of all land changes, 60% are associated with direct human activities and 40% with indirect drivers such as climate change. Land-use change exhibits regional dominance, including tropical deforestation and agricultural expansion, temperate reforestation or afforestation, cropland intensification and urbanization. Consistently across all climate domains, montane systems have gained tree cover and many arid and semi-arid ecosystems have lost vegetation cover. The mapped land changes and the driver attributions reflect a human-dominated Earth system.

In addition to the reforestation of the earth, global warming has slowed down since 1999.

In 2014, the BBC reported:

Scientists have struggled to explain the so-called pause that began in 1999, despite ever increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The latest theory says that a naturally occurring 30-year cycle in the Atlantic Ocean is behind the slowdown.

The researchers says this slow-moving current could continue to divert heat into the deep seas for another decade.

However, they caution that global temperatures are likely to increase rapidly when the cycle flips to a warmer phase.

I guess those who study the earth and its climate have not yet figured out all of the answers.

When You Neglect The Obvious

The following is a December 2017 News Release from the U.S.D.A.:

VALLEJO, Calif., December 11, 2017 – The USDA Forest Service today announced that an additional 27 million trees, mostly conifers, died throughout California since November 2016, bringing the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles to an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered in the central and southern Sierra Nevada region of the state.

“The number of dead and dying trees has co ntinued to rise, along with the risks to communities and firefighters if a wildfire breaks out in these areas,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region. “It is apparent from our survey flights this year that California’s trees have not yet recovered from the drought, and remain vulnerable to beetle attacks and increased wildfire threat. The USDA Forest Service will continue to focus on mitigating hazard trees and thinning overly dense forests so they are heal thier and better able to survive stressors like this in the future.”

Moore continued, “To increase the pace and scale of this important work, we need to fix how fire suppression is funded. Last year fire management alone consumed 56 percent of the USDA For est Service’s national budget. As fire suppression costs continue to grow as a percentage of the USDA Forest Service’s budget, funding is shrinking for non- fire programs that protect watersheds and restore forests, making them more resilient to wildfire an d drought.”

Though California received record -breaking rains in the winter of 2016-2017, the effects of five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and rising temperatures have led to historic levels of tree die-off. The Tree Mortality Task Force (TMTF), with support from the Governor’s office and comprised of more than 80 local, state and federal agencies and private utility companies, continues to remove hazardous dead trees. To date, the TMTF members have collectively felled or removed over 1 million dead trees; this includes over 480,000 dead trees felled or removed by the USDA Forest Service.

The TMTF members are using a triage approach to this tree mortality crisis, first focusing on public safety by removing dead and dying trees in high hazard areas. To further improve forest health, the USDA Forest Service and CAL FIRE have increased their pace and scale of prescribed fire. The USDA Forest Service has treated over 55,000 acres and CAL FIRE has com pleted over 33,000 acres in fuel treatment projects. By combining tree removal with prescribed fire, crews will be able to decrease overly dense stands of trees, reduce greenhouse gases, and protect communities across the state.

“Tree mortality at this magnitude takes on- going cooperation between public, non- profit and private entities,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and California’s state forester. “California’s forests are a critical part of the State’s strategy to address climate change. By working together and using all the resources at our disposal we will be able to make more progress towards our common goal of healthier, more resilient forests that benefit all Californians.”

With record breaking levels of tree die-off, the TMTF has used t his event as an opportunity to collaborate on several fronts: from public workshops about reforestation, public outreach in urban and rural areas, and awarding over $21 million in grants aimed to protect watersheds, remove dead trees and restore our forest s. The TMTF continues to collaborate on the efficient use of resources to protect public safety and build consensus around long -term management strategies for California’s forest lands.

“The Tree Mortality Task force has provided an essential venue for co ordination of response efforts, exchange of ideas, reporting, and accountability for the ongoing statewide response to this incident,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig of Fresno County. “Leadership from the Governor’s Office, CAL FIRE and Office of Emergency Services has helped to ensure county issues are heard and addressed. Monthly coordination of the 10 most impacted counties has resulted in a more effective use of resources and has allowed counties to share ideas and successes.”

With a staggering 129 mil lion dead trees in the state, the work of the task force is far from over. The strong foundation built will continue to be an advantage as the TMTF continues to address tree mortality and its impacts.

Learn more about tree mortality and the work to restore our forests in California at the USDA Forest Service ‘s web page Our Changing Forests . To learn about how to be prepared and protect your home against wildfire and your trees against bark beetle attacks visit CAL FIRE’s web page Ready for Wildfire.

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Media Notes:

Tree Mortality Website
2017 Tree Mortality Aerial Detection Survey Results
Tree Mortality Combined Map, 2014- 2017
Tree Mortality Progression Map, 2014- 2017
Animated Tree Mortality Progression Map, 2014- 2017
Tree Mortality Project Pictures
CAL FIRE Prescribed Fire Video B -Roll
CAL FIRE Tree Removal Video B-Roll

If you follow the link to the original article, there are multiple links in the Press Release.

Cleaning up the forests is one way to help control forest fires which can begin for a number of reasons. Some are man-made and some are the result of lightning strikes. Even in drought conditions, if the forest has been properly cleared of dead wood and potential fuel, a fire will be much more easily contained. The fires in California are tragic and the loss of property is enormous, but some of this disaster could have been avoided had the State of California cleaned some of the forests during the winter months.

This was an avoidable disaster.

A Natural Way To Curb The Danger Of Forest Fires

Before the days of radical environmentalism, forests were harvested and partially cleared by lumber companies. Since the lumber companies wanted to stay in business, in most cases they were careful to harvest the trees in a way that guaranteed to sustainability of the forest. Unfortunately, the radical part of the environmental movement has stopped not only the harvesting of trees, but the clearing out of the underbrush. As a result of this, we have seen horrible fires in the western states of America. Because the underbrush and dead trees have not been cleared, the forests have plenty of fuel to keep them going.

Well, there is a natural way to help prevent these massive forest fires–and it doesn’t even involve the use of carbon emitting machines.

In December of 2014, The Colorado Springs Independent posted an article about Lani Malmberg.

The article reports:

Though she’s currently on a 10-day contract to clear brush from Cedar Heights, she’s best known in these parts for 16 years of fall visits to Bear Creek Park, where her “employees” manage weeds in a more eco-friendly manner than commonly used machinery or chemicals. A visit to her EWE4IC Ecological Services website, goatseatweeds.com, begins with a Top 10 list of why goats rule in this manner. Among benefits: They aid in fire prevention while helping build healthy soil by tramping, aerating and fertilizing it, also making it more absorptive for water, combating runoff.

She uses border collies to herd the goats and keep them in line while they clear the underbrush. Although there would be nothing wrong with harvesting wood and clearing underbrush from our national forests (as long as new trees were planted), those efforts are being blocked by environmentalists (thus creating the situation which allows these massive wildfires we have been dealing with). Mrs. Malmberg provides an alternative that is natural and ecologically sound. This is one idea that I believe both the environmentalists and those who live near the forests should be willing to support.

Introducing Common Sense Into Environmentalism

Today’s Washington Free Beacon posted a story with some background information on the recent fires in Colorado.

The article reports:

Robert Zubrin, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and President of the aerospace engineering research and development firm Pioneer Astronautics, blamed environmentalists for the spread of these fires.

“They facilitated the spread of fire by keeping people from logging, adding firebreaks, and using pesticides,” he said.

Zubrin wrote a book on this subject, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, which he will present today at the American Enterprise Institute.

Zubrin recently wrote that climate change does not explain these fires. “The culprits here … have not been humans, but Western Pine Beetles,” he wrote, which turned “over 60 million acres of formerly evergreen pine forests into dead red tinder, dry ammunition” for fires.

One of the things that would prevent this type of wildfire would be permitting logging in these forests to clean out the dead trees and underbrush.

Mr. Zubrin further stated:

Logging as part of a program of rational forest management” could decrease the risk of fire by “thinning out mature trees that are the pine beetles’ major targets,” and creating “gaps between forests, to act as firebreaks and beetle-breaks,” he said.

If “you turn that wood into furniture, it doesn’t turn into CO2,” Zubrin said. Green activists “don’t care if a billion tons of wood turns into CO2,” so long as people are not responsible.

Environmentalists, of course, dispute this claim, stating that the Western Pine Beetles are doing the job of thinning the forests. Just for the record, I would like to note that the beetles are not doing a very effective job.

Anthony Moore, Owner of the Independent Log Company, has stated:

“We do a firebreak on all jobs,” he said. As part of his logging, Moore even clears out landing zones for helicopters and action zones for firefighters.

“We care for the forest just as much as the environmentalists,” he said. “I was born and raised on the mountains. They are my kids’ future and the public likes to see them.”

Patrick Donovan, receiver for Intermountain Resources, LLC, said of a beetle-killed tree: “It died, it stays in the forest—it’s fuel.”

Conservatives do not support dirty air and dirty water–what we do support is introducing common sense to environmentalism.

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