217 scientists sign letter opposing logging as a response to wildfires

The House version of the 2018 Farm Bill would expand logging on public lands

Bald Mountain Fire Utah

One of the favorite responses of some politicians to devastating wildfires is to call for increased logging on public lands. Their reasoning is that having fewer trees will prevent large fires. The fact is that logging does not eliminate forest fires. For example, in a clear cut there is still fuel remaining, especially if the slash is left untreated, which can spread a fire faster than a forested area and can act as spot fire traps with dry, easily ignitable vegetation that is even more susceptible to propagating a fire from airborne burning embers up to a mile away from the main fire.

The House version of the 2018 Farm Bill being considered now would expand logging on public lands in response to recent increases in wildfires. A group of 217 scientists, educators, and land managers have signed an open letter 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.

Below is an excerpt from the scientists’ letter:

What Is Active Management and Does It Work to Reduce Fire Activity?

Active management has many forms and needs to be clearly defined in order to understand whether it is effective at influencing fire behavior. Management can either increase or decrease flammable vegetation, is effective or ineffective in dampening fire effects depending on many factors, especially fire weather, and has significant limitations and substantial ecological tradeoffs.

Thinning Is Ineffective in Extreme Fire Weather – Thinning is most often proposed to reduce fire risk and lower fire intensity. When fire weather is not extreme, thinning-from-below of small diameter trees followed by prescribed fire, and in some cases prescribed fire alone, can reduce fire severity in certain forest types for a limited period of time. However, as the climate changes, most of our fires will occur during extreme fire-weather (high winds and temperatures, low humidity, low vegetation moisture). These fires, like the ones burning in the West this summer, will affect large landscapes, regardless of thinning, and, in some cases, burn hundreds or thousands of acres in just a few days. Thinning large trees, including overstory trees in a stand, can increase the rate of fire spread by opening up the forest to increased wind velocity, damage soils, introduce invasive species that increase flammable understory vegetation, and impact wildlife habitat.  Thinning also requires an extensive and expensive roads network that degrades water quality by altering hydrological functions, including chronic sediment loads.

Post-disturbance Salvage Logging Reduces Forest Resilience and Can Raise Fire Hazards – Commonly practiced after natural disturbances (such as fire or beetle activity), post-disturbance clearcut logging hinders forest resilience by compacting soils, killing natural regeneration of conifer seedlings and shrubs associated with forest renewal, increases fine fuels from slash left on the ground that aids the spread of fire, removes the most fire-resistant large live and dead trees, and degrades fish and wildlife habitat. Roads, even “temporary ones,” trigger widespread water quality problems from sediment loading. Forests that have received this type of active management typically burn more severely in forest fires.

Wilderness and Other Protected Areas Are Not Especially Fire Prone – Proposals to remove environmental protections to increase logging for wildfire concerns are misinformed. For instance, scientists recently examined the severity of 1,500 forest fires affecting over 23 million acres during the past four decades in 11 western states. They found fires burned more severely in previously logged areas, while fires burned in natural fire mosaic patterns of low, moderate and high severity, in wilderness, parks, and roadless areas, thereby, maintaining resilient forests.

Consequently, there is no legitimate reason for weakening environmental safeguards to curtail fires nor will such measures protect communities.

Closing Remarks and Need for Science-based Solutions

The recent increase in wildfire acres burning is due to a complex interplay involving human-caused climate change coupled with expansion of homes and roads into fire-adapted ecosystems and decades of industrial-scale logging practices. Policies should be examined that discourage continued residential growth in ecosystems that evolved with fire. The most effective way to protect existing homes is to ensure that they are as insusceptible to burning as possible (e.g., fire resistant building materials, spark arresting vents and rain-gutter guards) and to create defensible space within a 100-foot radius of a structure. Wildland fire policy should fund defensible space, home retrofitting measures and ensure ample personnel are available to discourage and prevent human-caused wildfire ignitions. Ultimately, in order to stabilize and ideally slow global temperature rise, which will increasingly affect how wildfires burn in the future, we also need a comprehensive response to climate change that is based on clean renewable energy and storing more carbon in ecosystems.

Public lands were established for the public good and include most of the nation’s remaining examples of intact ecosystems that provide clean water for millions of Americans, essential wildlife habitat, recreation and economic benefits to rural communities, as well as sequestering vast quantities of carbon. When a fire burns down a home it is tragic; when fire burns in a forest it is natural and essential to the integrity of the ecosystem, while also providing the most cost effective means of reducing fuels over large areas. Though it may seem to laypersons that a post-fire landscape is a catastrophe, numerous studies tell us that even in the patches where fires burn most intensely, the resulting wildlife habitats are among the most biologically diverse in the West.

For these reasons, we urge you to reject misplaced logging proposals that will damage our environment, hinder climate mitigation goals, and will fail to protect communities from wildfire.

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

44 thoughts on “217 scientists sign letter opposing logging as a response to wildfires”

      1. It didn’t take me 5 minutes to read, but I only spent 32 years living, fighting, and wondering why we changed a working practice to one that doesn’t, starting in the 1970s. The very first statement that logging does not reduce fire risk in extreme conditions is false on the face. You know it and I know it, you just won’t even talk about what REAL prevention entails because you are against logging, period.

          1. “against logging, period”. Ridiculous

            Perhaps, but he did dismantle the narrative printed here against thinning

  1. I would agree that logging, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily affect fire intensity. However, it did provide money for fuel treatment etc. Besides, all we really do on timbered FS land (outside of wilderness) is save the trees to become snags in the next fire.

  2. I agree with “37 years and to some extent ,Curmudgeon . The 270 Scientist article is very one -sided.
    There are obviously more than 270 scientists working on Forest management, and no opposing viewpoint and no other opposing ideas were presented . Very inappropriate .
    This last year about 9,300,000 A, burned ,and logging was somewhere in the neighborhood of ONLY 200,000 A [ 2%] .Let”s put this in perspective ,please .It is getting ridiculous, when the USFS is trying it’s utmost to make it difficult /and Expensive , for individuals to retrieve downed, or diseased dead timber to heat their homes !
    It is said, that 98 % of North Koreans think Chairman Kim is the GREATEST leader in the World ; and the other 2% are dead . The insular ideas within the USFS create some of the same thinking ,and bias for those employed by, or doing “studies ” funded by Govt .agencies.

  3. Let’s remember the orignal purpose of US forest service land– to provide our nation with a secure source of timber. While I’m not a constituionalist, and understand the need for shifting goals and objectives in the 21st century, millions of acres of USFS land is not a nature preserve. That said, what is being proposed by some members of our government is driven purely by greed, politics, and a general lack of understanding, whether or not what they are proposing is appropriate.

    Foresters, fire managers, ecologists, and biologists need to be making these big decisions region by region, not politicians. Otherwise everything looks like a nail to the bureaucratic hammer.

      1. I agree Zanne it is fact that the reserves were to protect the watetshed. And they have not because of logging. In fact my livlihood has been impacted by water loss due to current logging practices and the reasons are well documented see Jones and Perry publication. Over 50 years worth of data. I think it sad to use name calling like tree hugger to try to unqualify someones comments. There is much to be said about observations people have had. But observations alone do not explain the truth. If fact it by itself can be extremely misleading. Thank goodness for science and the scientific method. With all due respect to those sincerely struggling in this group to understand what is really the system based cause and effects I hope you do your own research and stay away from the ones here who are just trying to justify their paychecks and previous actions.

  4. So what about the 85% of wildfires that are human caused. Add that to the mix. And fires burning though previously logged second growth monoculture. Does the drastic reduction in NFS and BLM land managers improve the wildfire prevention outlook?

  5. Logging certainly does reduce wildfire risk and damage. Especially when followed by prescribed burning. During my career as a reforestation contractor in the Douglas Fir Region my crews broadcast burned more than 18,000 acres and hand planted more than 80,000 acres, mostly following clearcuts. That was in 1970 through 1990 and so far as I know (and I studied this area for my 2003 PhD dissertation, which has recently been published), none of these acres has experienced a wildfire, then or since.

    My guess is that of the 217 “scientists,” almost all are dependent on taxpayer funding for their research. They have a dog in the fight, rather than actual field experience. I’m also guessing that a large number of these signers are computer modelers; skilled technicians who often become confused with actual scientists, sometimes through self-identifying themselves as such.

  6. I barely made it through the first paragraph without losing my lunch. These so called scientists are full of opinions on forest managment, but I doubt they have any experience showing the facts. Studies too numerous to list here prove these points, along with decades of APPLIED FOREST MANAGEMENT:

    1. Forest Roads pay for themselves. Timber purchasers assume the cost of road mait. when they purchase stumpage (rights) to harvest timber.
    a. Well designed forest roads, of which infastructure already exists to treat much of the acreage on federal ownership, REDUCE impacts to the landscape by improving upon chronic past failures, & using current best managment prractices to reduce sediment delivery to a point of insignificance.
    2. A thinned forest, much like a spread out burn pile reduces the fuel which a fire needs to spread.
    a. Localized extreme weather events can not be used to paint a picture for all ignitions, & spread rates in
    the way they are.
    3. Invasive species are a fact of life & extensive protocol exists to limit their introduction during harvesting operations. Do we stop check every private vehicle & make them wash their tires/undercarrige to prevent spread? NO.
    4. PSI. Pounds per square inch of modern harvesting equipment is less than the PSI of a single human walking in the woods. Surface (mineral) soil scarification is an important process that aids in regeneration of new trees in much the same way a low intensity fire can.
    5. Climate. No doubt has had an impact on the last few extreme fire seasons in the west.
    a. 100 years of suppression coupled with 50 years of inactive mgmt. has had a greater impact.
    b. Forests are currently running many times their historical densities.
    1. There is more mortality then growth on the Nat. Forest system today.
    c. Re-introducing fire into these dying, ovestocked stands increases their rate of spread through simple
    science. More fuel=more fire.
    6. A fraction (& I don’t have the #’s but believe it’s in the 1-2% range) of private, managed forest land burns every year compared to the federal ownership.

    Lets reduce the densities of these forests to reflect their historical norms, & then, then talk about re-introducing fire to the landscape. The natives were doing this long before we ever landed on these shores. We are burning what we could be using to provide a societal benefit. To do it, as they are now, leads to catastrophic stand replacing events, extreme sediment delivery, & creates a public health hazard. It should be illegal.

    1. Tragically, Mike’s comment is way too logical and full of informed experience for any academic to take seriously.

  7. Here is how it plays out.
    People dont like logging so no increased logging.
    People dont like prescribed fires or wfu so we limit them.
    We continue to have severe fire seasons but we keep paying for studies to find a solution.
    Nothing changes.
    And the govt can kiss my arse on invasive species. Its mandated I treat them but across the fence they claim immunity so everytime the water comes up or an animal walks by I get new seed of an invasive species they introduced.

  8. Here is my respectful opinion since I’m new to fire fighting but I have been doing property brush clearing for about 6 years and the Carr fire just burned through properties I have cleared and the one’s that the owners let me take out all the understory made it through the fire and ones that still had brush ended up burning down. So the “Thinning is ineffective in extreme fire weather” doesn’t sound completely right to me because we did have extreme fire weather on the Carr fire. But on the flip side I did see houses with excellent defensible space burn……. What is your opinion Mr. Gabbert? Thank you.

  9. I live in forested area. The forest has been managed with selective logging, and prescribe fire.

    There are areas in the same area that have been left untouched. I can tell you that the areas of selective logging and prescribe fire are far less prone to large fire activity.

    I can’t speak to other areas, but in NW Montana, Management has worked.

    We regularly have lightning starts on the forest, the areas that have been treated are much less likely to have large, devastating fires.

  10. Are they really coming from science? Or are they coming from ideology? I know who 20 of these “scientists” are. They have been working hard in Southwestern Oregon for the last 30 years first to kill logging and then make sure it cannot come back at all. Others are doing the same thing in other areas where logging was once a very important part of the local area. What nobody was ever told was the loggers out in the woods were the main initial attack force against wildfire. That was a fact. If you ever go to a presentation about the rise of mega fires in the Western US, you will see that these kind of fires started happening with greater frequency, (because they had happened before…ie the Tillamook Burns in Oregon), AFTER the collapse of the logging industry. You will hear that blamed on everything from climate change to “plantations planted after logging”…but never will you hear anybody at the presentations point out that loggers left and then within five years we start having mega fires. Logging IS part of the solution to restoring management. So is controlled burning. So is brush thinning mechanically and manually. Even goats and sheep can play a role. But, we are at crisis point now. NO effective means of helping the situation can be overlooked. And oh by the way, the mega fires leave behind HUGE open areas of brush, and snags ready to be fuel for the next mega fire…..in ways logging never has. As proof, just look at what has happened here in Southwestern Oregon following the 2002 Biscuit Fire. It roared through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. It destroyed over a half million acres of never logged wilderness. Since the Biscuit Fire, we have had the Chetco Bar Fire last year which burned 191,125 acres. That is followed this year by the Klondike Fire which has burned 146,038. If you combine that with the Taylor Creek Fire which was merged with the Klondike Fire through burnouts, you have a mega fire of 198,877 acres in size. A fire that reached that size again not because of the results of logging…but of previous fires in the area. Fact.

    1. Greg: You are right on target. The southwestern Oregon “scientists” are an activist arm of the OSU cabal that has given us marbled murrelets and spotted owls to eliminate proven logging practices. This is just a handful of elitists who have put their own career and livelihood over those of thousands of loggers, tree planters, and sawmill workers. You can look it up — they all have names and agendas.

      From 1953 until 1987, a time when federal and state lands were being actively managed in response to the nation’s economic and housing booms, there was a single large-scale wildfire in western Oregon — the 1966 Oxbow Fire on BLM land. Last year along, there were 10 such wildfires, and all occurring on federal lands excluded from logging. Ten!

      The Kalmiopsis was one of the first Wilderness areas ever created, and specifically to protect a number of rare, endemic plants found nowhere else in the world. Warnings were put out by me and by others that these lands need to be “actively managed,” rather than subjected to benign neglect for the benefit of a few backpackers (almost entirely white males). The Kalmiopsis has now been the source of four of the largest wildfires in history: the Silver Complex (1987), the Biscuit (2002), the Chetco Bar (2017), and the Klondike (2018) all got started there.

      Question: Since the Kalmiopsis was created specifically to protect a number of identified plants, how have these help up during these fires? Rejuvenated? Decimated? Other? And why hasn’t the USFS made it a priority to report on these “protected” plants after each of these events?

      1. Credibility is everything right? Bob Zyback has been paid by the timber industry supporters example Douglas County to come up with results they want. His work from that paycheck does not meet scientific standards but gave the county a report they wanted to justify pushing for more logging on public lands. The methods used were obviously bias and would not pass muster as appropriate scientific method. That may not matter to some who believe that logging is good and nothing will change that. But I want to know the truth and if logging is good for the forest and it’s ecosystem then I would be happy. Why would I care? If what is done actually supports the proper functioning and wildlife populations that do so much work to keep the forest healthy are in good shape I would see logging as good too. But that is not truth as the ecosystems and the species, many species are in serious trouble. I know this because I have personally observed and many peer reviewed science publications describe. The problem with some in this string of comments is that they think snags are bad when they are critical and needed in high numbers to support system process through time. If you can not value all of the species and their habitat and the process they conduct to keep the forest healthy than just like the current problem with pollinators if you have your way we will not have forests in just a few generations. I am not against using some of the forest resources including for wood. Thinning the clear cut plantations is a necessary action to reduce the even and connected canopy. But stopping the bleeding by stopping the amount and extent of clear cutting and logging in general is necessary. Nothing is wasted in the forest. Dead trees have 40% or more living biomass than live trees. They play a huge role in everything.

  11. Raised in the National Forest, Worked almost 48 years as FF about 1/2 of that time with USFS. Served 22 years on IMTs. Researched and instructed fire behavior since 1974 to present.
    Thinning definitely helps! Yes nothing works for every fire. Yes poor logging and thinning practices of the past can increase fire danger, such as lop and scatter pre-commercial thinning. But spacing trees out where crowns do not touch and treating the slash greatly reduces the threat of Crown fired and bug kill.
    On almost every crowning timber fire I have been on we backed off to areas that had been thinned and stopped the fire there. The Hayman Fire was a great example. After the fire we made a presentation to local congressman and other politicians.
    There may be more grass in some ecosystems but we can direct attack grass fires but not a crown fire. Running grsss fires do not initate a crown fire in a thinned forest with treated slash. I have seen a few crown fires burn through a properly treated forest, but not initiate there. Fire scientest know Fire intensity is BTUs/per/sec/ft. Flame length is also a result of intensity. Lower the BTUs available per ft and you lower the intensity and flame length.
    Most scientist know very little about fire, we need to listen to those from the Fire lab and the folks who have spent over 20 years fighting and managing fires.
    Every FBAN’s, IMT member and fire behavior person I have known supports careful logging with slash treatment and prescribe fire as a way to support a healthy forest that is less prone to extreme fire behavior.

  12. Who are these scientists? What is the area of expertise? I feel confident that most of these scientists, don’t really understand how a healthy forested ecosystem functions. I’m all for using science to make land management decisions. However, making decisions based on personal beliefs does not provide any benefit to the forested ecosystem. I have been a forester on a large federally owned forest for over 30 years. As we have increased our commercial timber thinnings and removed the small, sub-merchantable trees and increased our acres of prescribed fire, the number of wildfires has decreased by 70%. I think most professional land managers understand that due to the past decades of wildfire suppression and lack of prescribed burning we have an unhealthy forested ecosystem. To bring back that ecosystem back to a healthy functioning ecosystem, we must use active forest management, to include thinnings, and prescribed burning. This healthy functioning ecosystem will also provide quality habitat for those species (plants & animals) that are currently reduced due to a lack good quality habitat. No single forest management practice will bring about the return of a healthy functioning forested ecosystem. It will take all of the tools in the forest management tool box to bring back a healthy forest ecosystem. Now is not the time to argue, now is the time to come together to bring back healthy, functioning ecosystems.

  13. Why in the world would you ask a scientist? Ask the fire chiefs on the front lines ask the dnr folks that walk those forest everyday. That’s why we are facin the problems we face today is because of the stupid tree hugging “scientist” that somehow are running the wild?

  14. Please leave our forests to regenerate at their own pace and allow our native animals to keep their habitat.

      1. Wildlife love dead trees and flourish from the structure in fact they starve and have no shelter and cover and nesting and denning without it. The dead trees feed them too with lots of bugs and fungi. You cannot have a forest without wildlife but you can have sterile tree plantations at least for a couple of rotations of logging then eventually all the synthetic nitrogen you throw on the forest and herbicides you spray to eliminate competition will not work any more and you will have losses of land capable of growing forest. Think about this…the forest used to grow huge diameter and height trees. That is what species evolved with here for a very long time. Do you think that will ever happen again in places that have been logged?

    1. Kay,

      We can speed the regeneration process, reduce the negative environmental impacts, while providing societal needs by salvage harvesting. Animals love timber harvests & regenerated forests. Come with me on a logging job & I’ll show you all the wildlife that is drawn to the habitat created. Timber harvest is not final, it is an intermediate step in regenerating a forest or salvaging what is left after catastrophic destruction. Trees do not exist in this snap-shot in time to remain as they will as you see them today. They will either die of natural causes or burn. In fact many more do every year, then are replaced by ingrowth on the national forest system every year.

  15. I have spent 30 plus years in the woods as a professional in natural resources and I support what the scientists are stating. The timber industry is doing what they have been sadly allowed to do for now 100 plus years and that is play upon fear of fire and ignorance of the general public to push their $ greed and desire to own our few acres of nature that we have graciously set aside for our wildlife and water. As a biologist and a person like many that depends upon the storage of water in our will ands to grow food I have directly observed and bear witness to the lies and propoganda industry has used that have already caused huge loss of what we need and hold dear. The best thing we can do is allow the forest to heal and if trees die by fire that actually is what will protect the forest and provide what the forest needs to nurture the new forest. If you log out the trees you are stripping the forest of its defense and food and water storage capacity. Yes there are already logged clear cuts now of small diameter trees thickly planted having a even canopy that need to be treated but these are not merchantable so of course industry will hide that this is where the treatment needs to be. The industry has gotten rich created oligarchy in its wake where I live and yes lots of poverty. And I just prey people will do the right thing to turn it around.

    1. Cindy,

      If greed were the impoteous, I would throw in my hat & let the federal ground burn up & remain unharvested. It is better for private landowners to have less wood available from public sources, as it helps in maintaining high prices, & high profits for timber harvested. However, this is much larger than the bottom line for all of us. We care deeply about the land, environment, & public health. All of which are at risk while letting these fires burn out or control in what is largely a human-altered system.

      We can speed the “healing” process of the forest by implementing carefully designed salvage harvest operations, & replanting the forest when we are done. Doing so minimizes bare mineral soil exposure-decreasing sedimentation, & increases the amount of early seral habitat so beneficial to numerous wildlife species. Continued high-intensity fires, in repeated, short-succession intervals favors brush & hardwood species, sterilizing the seedbank of conifer reproduction, & many times eliminating the overstory seedsource to arrest succession at a stage never to attain the magnificent forest you so claim to protect (at least in our lifetimes).

      We have the tools, techniques, & education to eliminate the public health, life, & environmental hazards associated with these fires. It’s past time to implement them.

      1. Mike,
        First off the one and only time in history when the private timber industry did not want public forests to be harvested is actually documented and that was in the early 1900s when the rich timber and railroad Barrons counter to law at the time kept timber lands that they were supposed to sell to settlers for a small amount but didnt and further enriched themselves. I saw a letter to the USFS of the time myself stating that they did not want public forest land to be logged. But that changed quickly as WWII and private lands were cut out. I live in that destroyed cork boot print and that is when my family lost their water for growing their food because the creek dried up. And there is now strong evidence that is was due to that logging. I know many other families that have also suffered this fate.
        Timber industry has stated many times in public meetings that I have attended that they want all of public lands in their financial portfolio and they state over and over that they need public land to stay competitive which is another unsustainable issue termed and described well by author Chris Maser in his published book ‘Forest Legacy’ where he describes the fallicy of the industry economics entitled the Soil Rent Theory. You see by removing the boles of trees as you do in logging and putting them on trucks you are in reality stripping the forest of the most important structure of the forest that feeds and shelters everything including itself after it naturally dies from fire and other processes that support the forest ecosystem processes including water storage, carbon storage, nitrogen and other essenial nutrition. The dead wood is the frame work of a healthy forest. So taking away the live mature and old trees or salvaging the dead trees is like overdrawing the bank saving account as it destroys the supply of essential nutrients that those tree boles give over hundreds of years via fungi networking. So in fact you are taking away the clothing and starving the ecosystem and no longer have a sustainable forest. The quantities of dead wood left after logging is a pittance to what is needed to support the system and species that support it. Also we know that when you strip the forest of its mother trees as you do in logging you take away the immunity system because they send chemicals via the deadwood and fungi network to their offspring along with other chemical signals to ward off disease and other stressors like drought. So you end up with a highly flamible plantation most responsible for fire spread and intensity as described in recent published research and to which I personnally have experienced as a fire fighter in my years working in the forest. And which is a biological desert yep just like a corn field which has been deemed one of the most biologically dead zones out there. That is not what a public forest should be. I see many more dead young trees in plantations these days experiencing drought of the past 8 years than I see in unharmed unlogged forests. If you add up across our country the amount of forest taken out and turned into private plantations or farmers fields and now housing what is left on public lands is small. Why can’t the industry just leave it alone? If you say it is because of fire you are not telling the truth and there is where the greed comes in. I was watching a national geographic program recently that puts the loss of functioning forests worldwide and here in perspective. It has not really changed all that much except it is just faster. I wish you could see the forest for more than the trees in your pocket. I can show you …come and see.. that is if you really care about forests.

  16. GOOD Analysis by Mike D ,rather than the overarching , tree hugging insinuations in the comments prior to Mike’s. Reasonable people might be able to find reasonable solutions ?

  17. Just think, if we logged everything there would be no more trees to catch on fire! Yay logging!

  18. It appears from Cindy’s several posts ,that she may have had a sub-optimal experience in her little corner of the world . That ,however, does not excuse her personal attacks on individuals mentioned by name , in her posts![ Mike , Bob Zyback,etc]
    Some examples of the inappropriate Grenade throwing ; 10/2/2018 by Cindy- ” If you say it is because of fire ,you are NOT TELLING THE TRUTH [lying] ;and that is where the greed come in”
    10/3/2018 by Cindy- ” Bob Zyback has been PAID by theTimber industry ,including supporters,to come up with the results they want.” ‘_the methods used were obviously bias’ [ ? meaning biased] . The implication here, of individual dishonesty, is obvious !

    I think that these personal attacks in this particular thread need to end, and some common sense reign?

  19. “[S]cientists…examined the severity of 1,500 forest fires affecting over 23
    million acres during the past four decades in 11 western states. They found fires burned more
    severely in previously logged areas, while fires burned in natural fire mosaic patterns of low,
    moderate and high severity, in wilderness, parks, and roadless areas, thereby, maintaining
    resilient forests.”

    “Why trust scientists?” one contributor asks.

    Because scientists are trained to correctly and validly apply observational methods and statistical techniques to a given set of data — in this case, differential outcomes of forest fires in logged, managed, and pristine forests — to deduce an underlying objective truth about that set of data. That underlying, objective truth is independently verifiable — not one predicated on “experience” or “personal beliefs.” This means that anyone — environmentalist, forest manager, politician, industry magnate or otherwise — would be bound to arrive at the same conclusion by looking at validly collected data.

    While 40+ years of front-line experience undoubtedly invests one with a wealth of anecdotal knowledge, it cannot, by definition, capture the entire, unadulterated truth about fires in logged, managed, and pristine forests.

    I challenge anyone on this thread to produce a valid set of data the refutes the scientists’ findings.

      1. Brendan, well articulated (spelled correctly) Bad arthritis in hands and cell phone not good :). Apologies.

        1. Guys,

          Thinning + fire is a win, win for lowering severity, large-uncontrolled crown runs, & tree mortality. There’s a reason it’s so highly recommended around your home if your in the WUI, & it isn’t just to make you feel better. Numerous studies prove this too. Here’s a couple:



          Of course fires burn a little hotter through recently established plantations. This is why we don’t let them burn there . And when they do, we suppress them, & replant to mitigate any detrimental affects to the watershed. We are required by law to perform this rehab. Unfortunately, our federal partners are not & I can take you to thousands of acres of eroding hillsides under federal ownership that severely burned, did not naturally regenerate, and/or suffered plantation mortality due to incomplete competing veg. control. The acres burned, by weighted percentage of ownership consistently favor the Forest Service ground on the order of 95%+. Does lightening disproportionately strike federal land over private/BLM? I don’t think so. Past/current management & suppression tactics drive the exploding fire season.

          1. Actually lighting does dis proportionately strIke public lands compared to private. Have you seen the strike data? If you are going to challenge their opinions perhaps you should really review all of the data. Logging impacts the ecosystem and habitat so if you’re going to destroy the functionality of the forest you might want to really know more about it.

  20. This is a bizarre letter. Scientists ignoring the scientific process. They try to prove their point of view with cherrypicked data rather than try and disprove their hypothesis.
    Their anchor point of “Thinning Is Ineffective in Extreme Fire Weather” and, with no supporting data, that “most of our fires will occur during extreme fire-weather (high winds and temperatures, low humidity, low vegetation moisture)“ therefore we shouldn’t thin; totally nonsensical. That is akin to saying seatbelts and airbags won’t protect people in extreme crashes, therefore we should not use seatbelts and airbags.

    This letter is sponsored by the Geos Institute. If you peruse the Geos Institute webpage there is a totally contradictory article on their Forest Legacies section called “Fire and Smoke: Where thinning is winning”.

    This group of people remind me of the old radio show Dr. Science. The show’s motto is “He knows more than you do.” The show always concluded with the disclaimer that he is “not a real doctor,” but that Dr. Science has “a Master’s Degree… in science!”

  21. Hopefully in this instance the politicians will listen to the scientists not to the corporations.

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