Another theft of the public wealth on tap -

david52_gwMarch 11, 2012

Begin quote:

"Like much else in government, U.S. public land policy is a vestige of the past, established in 1910 when America's population was just 92.2 million and a Western state such as Nevada had only 81,000 residents.

Today our needs are much different and much greater. The U.S. can no longer afford to keep tens of millions of acres of "public" land out of service. Some of these lands have great commercial value; others are environmental treasures. We need policies capable of distinguishing between the two.

Few Easterners realize the immense magnitude of the public lands. The federal government's holdings include about 58 million acres in Nevada, or 83 percent of the state's total land mass; 45 million acres in California (45 percent of the state); 34 million acres in Utah (65 percent); 33 million acres in Idaho (63 percent); and more than a fourth of all the land in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming.

Most public land decisions are made by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and involve matters such as the number of cows that will be allowed to graze, the areas available to off-road recreational vehicles, the prevention and fighting of forest fires, the building of local roads, the amount of timber harvesting, the leasing of land for oil and gas drilling, mineral rights and other such details. Outside the rural West, most such decisions are made by private landowners or by state and local governments.

Like other grand designs of the "progressive" era, public land policy has failed the test of time. Public lands have not been managed efficiently to maximize national benefits but instead in response to political pressures. Past mismanagement has turned many national forests into flammable tinderboxes.

Rural Westerners receive significant financial benefits when the federal government pays for many of their local roads and conservation services and provides many high-paying local federal jobs. Increasingly, however, they are questioning the trade-offs involved.

Daniel Kemmis, the former Democratic speaker and minority leader of the Montana House and onetime mayor of Missoula, has lamented that "our public lands ... are burdened by a steadily more outdated regulatory and governing framework."

Probably no more than 20 percent of the tens of millions of acres of public lands are nationally important, requiring federal oversight and protection. This includes 45 million acres of Forest Service and BLM lands in the national wilderness system and other environmentally special areas such as BLM's Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

An additional 60 percent, perhaps, are ordinary lands, used principally for recreational purposes, such as hiking, hunting, fishing and off-road-vehicle use. Most of the remaining public lands are useful primarily for commercial purposes, such as the timber-rich forests in the Pacific Northwest.

A rational public lands policy more suited to current and future needs would put the nationally important lands into a newly reorganized federal environmental protection system. Ordinary recreational lands would be managed at the state and local level, perhaps by transferring them to local counties. What better steward of a local recreation area than the people who live in the area?

The commercially most valuable lands, meanwhile, would be transferred to new ownership or put under long-term federal leases. Lands that have real commercial value could produce a double benefit: revenue from leases and land sales, and additional revenue from the jobs, minerals, oil, gas, lumber and other commodities the freed-up lands would produce.

It is time to end outdated federal land policies that are draining our country's wealth, tying up valuable resources in red tape and bureaucracy, and harming the environment.

Robert H. Nelson is a senior fellow with the Independent Institute in Oakland. A longer version of this article appears in the current issue of Policy Review.

end quote

I'll just confine myself to this tidbit: "Like other grand designs of the "progressive" era, public land policy has failed the test of time. Public lands have not been managed efficiently to maximize national benefits but instead in response to political pressures

Like how the squirrel got in the word "Progressive"? Anyone ever read history books about how it was the 'Conservatives' who had the brains to 'conserve' the land?

Now the kicker in these sentences is that yes, political pressure has indeed made a mess in many parts of the national forest / BLM. But then who brings the political pressure? You guessed it - oil and gas companies, mining companies, logging companies, etc. - the same ones this guy wants to sell the land to.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Aren't these types of editorials cyclical?

Looks as if there's to be another attack on the public lands - too much just sitting there not making anyone any profit.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:30PM
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step 1 - give tax breaks to billionaires and corporations
step 2 - run up enormous deficit
step 3 - sell public resources to billionaires and corporations to get rid of deficit.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:57PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Step 4 - allow the resource and infrastructure to degrade and pass on the costs of remediation to government.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 1:18PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

Steps 1-4 - ample evidence, no?

The other side of the neoconservatives - government assets/operations move to the private sector.

War - privatize - war - privatize - war - privatize fino alla nausea.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Step 5 - the peoples, who can no longer afford everything being sold at high privatized pricing, become like the peoples of other nations that have taken this or similar routes... and slum cities emerge like those in Colombia and Brazil, with poverty everywhere. Meanwhile, the 1% live protected by the police/paramilitary state while the government bows to them.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 1:37PM
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It was mighty thoughtful of our ancestorial government to save these resources for the really...was.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 5:25PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Vgkg, I always believed that. Back in the day I taught to undergrads Conservation of Natural Resources, as opposed to Exploitation of Natural Resources, processes that were already worrisome in the 1960s.

I can understand the trend now to sell off vast acreages to personhoods, such as Union Carbide and Berkshire-Hathaway, for attractive purchase prices and massive tax breaks forever. Wise Use and all that. Wise use of bought congresscritters for sure.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Hey there Marshall, perhaps back when these lands were put aside we still remembered how Europe was striped bare of it's natural resources. Future generations have enough reason to get pissed at us so we might as well go all the way huh.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 6:02PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

I just finished watching a BBC series debuting an Inspector Gently of Scotland Yard. I forget exactly where the events take place except the landscape was exceptionally free of trees. Scenes at the shoreline were devoid of bird life. Not my kind of landscape.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 2:00AM
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Of course, all these decades of ranchers getting to fat their cattle on public land that they don't have to pay taxes on has passed a big cost to the taxpayers. In the East farmers pay land taxes, even if much smaller than real estate tax it still amounts to money in gov coffers.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Pat, in particular, BLM land isn't going to be prime agriculture or grazing land, a lot of it is high desert sage brush, and the actual carrying capacity is pretty small - it gets down to 1 cow/calf unit for 10 acres, or even less than that.

For BLM land, a rancher pays a monthly cow/calf unit fee of $1.35 a month for grazing, and still has to maintain gates, fences, water, etc. So that would run, generally, from May through September, then they bring them in, sell the calves, and use the home pasture and summer-produced hay to keep them over until spring.

The forest and BLM permits/leases go with the ranch - I think there's a way to sell the lease to someone else, but I'm not sure how that works.

But thats the ranching business model around here, which I don't particularly have a problem with. A rancher has an irrigated property which grows hay over the summer, and houses the herd during the winter. Calves are born in February, the units go onto assorted grazing permits beginning in May, they stay there until October when they're brought down again, calves weaned and sold.

As the saying goes: cows, not condos.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Lest we forget, this was not our country to overtake and parse out in the first place... there were already peoples living here, as history recalls.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 7:07AM
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Dave, I am a proponent of well-managed public ownership of lands. However, one has to question whether the forestry service has the capability to properly and fairly manage half of north america.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:47AM
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That said, selling gov land to industry isn't a good solution either.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:33AM
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Generally speaking, the National Forest Service deals with the mountains, and the BLM with what isn't mountains.

From my experience, the Forest Service is a bureaucracy staffed with a combination of career bureaucrats, competent foresters and land managers, and a decent complement of un-fireable wastes of chair space. Much like any other large organization, I suppose. There is currently a massively slow, jumbled, nation-wide review and updating of forest management practices going on, a 10+ year process begun early in the Bush years, now culminating in changing rules. These rules will be obsolete by the time they ever get implemented.

Around here, the current, major bone of contention is the recent explosion in the use of off-road vehicles (4-wheelers and dirt bikes) on one hand, and closing old mining and logging roads on the other, because of lack of funding for road up-keep and environmental concerns on the other.

Then we have 'game retrieval', IOW using a 4-wheeler to go get your downed deer/elk off the road. That's another can of worms, basically a carte blanche to go hunt anywhere with your 4-wheeler. "Oh, officer, I'm just looking for the deer I shot yesterday..... haven't found it yet....."

Anyway, all this is being fought with sound bites and ideology ("Trees are only good for 2x4s and baseball bats / we need these resources to become energy independent / God put us on Earth to tame Mother Nature / etc. " at the top that have little to do with reality at the bottom. Folks talk about logging - in practice, the good stuff was logged out years ago, with a few exceptions that the companies are after, and nobody seems to remember that its the tax payer who puts in the roads so the company can go get the trees, and a simple accounting shows that we're paying them to harvest the wood to sell back to us. On top of that, the problem isn't so much access to the remaining forest, but competition with Canada, who manage their significantly larger forest reserves differently, the actual remaining forests we haver would take about 10-15 years to polish off with a full scale, economical logging - and then even that is gone. What is happening is smaller scale logging, with specialty uses - around here we have one outfit that logs aspen for wall paneling, another that turns it into excelsior. They do alright. They complain, of course, but they don't seem to have too much trouble getting all the wood they need to run at full capacity.

When it comes to cattle range management in the Forest, again I tend to support that - its the economic model around here. Now where that is under pressure isn the lack of access to public lands, it has far more to do with the whole beef industry - what puts these guys in economic trouble is some feedlot down in Florida, South Korea banning US beef imports, and stuff like that.

What seems to be missing is anyone looking out at the 'big picture', which I think is essential. The Rocky Mountains / Sierras / Cascades are the fresh water source for a huge population, and that forest is under going enormous stress from climate change - drought, longer fire seasons, record number of fires and acreage burned every year, and the ongoing pinion/pine/spruce beetle pandemic, which is killing hundreds of millions of trees. So the whole plant cover of the mountains in North America is rapidly changing.

Just an idea of what this means for drinking water. The Hayman fire burned up a big chunk of the drainage of the South Platte River, the main water source for Denver. The subsequent amount of silt that washed down into the reservoirs put a serious dent into the storage capacity of their reservoirs. Link is to some hippy tree-hugger site that explains some of this.

As for the big picture, this weekend we're looking at a potent storm coming in from the SW, with a strong dust storm coming in the day before the snow,
Anyway, I've got to run. more later

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 10:36AM
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I get your point, David, re future water shortages and climate change overall, in the big picture. You write Canada manages its forests differently. Can anyone explain or elaborate ?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 10:45AM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

I second woodnymph's request. I would also like to learn more.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 12:07PM
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To finish the thought re dust storms. The dust comes in off the desert - BLM and Reservation land - the amount of dust is enough to color the entire snowpack in the state a nice shade of tan. That makes it absorb heat faster, making it melt faster, which causes floods. The dust gets kicked up primarily due to drought, but there is also a significant amount of soil deterioration due to over-grazing and poor farming techniques. I think an argument might be made to manage the entire system for water - protect the watershed as a primary goal.

As for Canadian forest management, I'm far from an expert, but from what I gather, they manage their entire forests for timber - as do the private forestry companies / land owners in the PNW - cut them down, replant hybrids or specific species needed for lumber at set distances. So they have a robust forestry department managing harvest, watershed, and replanting, where we have next to nothing.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 4:20PM
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I can remember back in the day of the early 70' I think when the public was told that forest harvesting was a well managed operation - that the trees which were harvested were replanted so there would be an endless resource and our forests would be maintained.

Then it came to light that what was being replanted was "trash" trees, of no consequence or use to anyone and very prone to disease.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 4:29PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The old growth forest here is effectively extinct due to repeated waves of clear cutting. So much for astute management. Miles and miles of the local landscape are stump ranches. In the southwestern part of WA many rural cafes etc. had "Spotted Owl Served Here" and similar messages in their windows last time I passed through.

With mostly denuded hillsides behind.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 1:54AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Some years back I drove through northern California, often marvelling at the old growth forests until I discovered that the loggers had clear cut behind a screen of old trees lining the highway

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 7:29AM
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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

I kept this post from this forum from 11 years ago. I hope Stan Moore doesn't mind I am using it here.

----- Original Message -----
From: stan moore
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2001 3:40 PM
Subject: putting people first?

Dear friends --

Recently I was listening to a radio talk show program that allowed callers
to speak with a lawyer. One caller shared his problem -- he has purchased
19 acres of land near Gilroy, California around 40 years ago. The land had
greatly esclatated in value, and now he was ready to subdivide it and
develop it. Each acre could be subdivided into 4 parcels that could be sold
for $100,000 per parcel. So, this 19 acres could be sold for $7.6 million.
But there was a problem. The city required an environmental assessment, and
the assessment found an endangered salamander species living on the
property. So the city told the fellow he had to leave 9 acres vacant and
could "only" develop the remaining 10 acres, and had to leave some habitat
for the salamanders. Thus the property could only bring him $4 million
instead of $7.6 million (compared to an original investment of $70,000 forty
years ago).
The man was upset that the government could take away his full development
rights and wanted to know if he could sue.

This situation reminds me of the general pattern of mankind's use and view
of the earth and its wild inhabitants, whether they be Gunnison Sage Grouse,
Attwater's Prairie Chickens, Lesser Prairie Chickens, Heath Hens (now
extinct), or any of a myriad of other life forms which are members of the
biotic community.

We hear politicians and prominent conservative spokespersons talk about how
we need to "put people first", as if we have not been doing so all along.
All one needs to do is jump into an airplane and look at all the people and
their influence on this planet. Even the rugged west is greatly altered by
humans and their activities. The direct and indirect impact of cattle
grazing, for instance, has greatly altered plant communities and fire
regimes even in the most sparsely populated areas of our continent. Wild
animals and plants are always an afterthought. And when we stand up and
say, let's preserve species from extinction, we get a backlash from those
who want to convert everything to human use and profit.

No wonder Aldo Leopold said that to receive an ecological education is to
live alone in a world of wounds! How can we ever get people to realize that
we are part of a web of life on this planet, and that species are important?
How can we get people to see that there is more value to the land than
economic value and commercial development?

We do not need to worry about putting people first -- that has always come
automatically for humans. We need to think about preserving other species,
no matter how unimportant and insignificant they may seem to our uneducated
minds. Humans are not on the verge of extinction. But Gunnison Sage Grouse
are. Heath Hens are gone forever. Once a species is lost, we cannot get it
back. Any species lost to our mismanagement, negligence, or deliberate
neglect is an indictment of our poor stewardship of this planet, if you
choose to view humans as earth's stewards.

I say, don't be misled by the Limbaugh, G.W. Bush crowd. People are always
put first! We can and will continue to do so, but let's never forget and
abandon the other inhabitants of our planet. There is a reason they are
here in the chain of life, even if we do not always understand that reason.
We will not go immediately extinct if we let the Gunnison Sage Grouse go
into extinction. But how many strands in the web, how many links in the
chain can we let go of before it all comes crashing in on us? No one knows,
and it would be foolish to try to find out.

How many millions of dollars does that man in Gilroy need? Can he get by
with four million instead of seven point six? Fran Hamerstrom said that a
prairie chicken is as beautiful as the Mona Lisa. Everything in nature has
its place.

When I look at the face of our new president on the tv, I know that I am
seeing a man who is completely oblivious to these concepts. We have to
stand our ground and say to him -- putting people first must not mean
abandoning wild nature altogether. Ultimately our own species' survival
will depend on our far-sightedness.

Stan Moore San Geronimo, CA

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 2:04PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Very well put and continuing to be germane. People as a whole are always put first so that when someone or some agency says stop, their is shocked reaction about "taking" something of value to a person or company.

The problem, as this old ecologist learned long ago, is the belief that one can preserve a species by setting aside a bit of land or water. This may work with a small creature tied to a specific habitat, but with other species the habitat is much greater by including migratory issues, nesting and feeding patterns, and other elements important to the long term survival and vigor of the protected species.

Bring back the antelope and bison? Hardly practical and limited to ranched livestock, not ranging herds of big herbivores.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 2:22PM
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I'm all for keeping the public lands for the use of the public. That being said, sound forest management practices should be used when managing the forested lands. The main reason National Forests, and State Forests to a lesser extent, aren't being logged timely (according to schedule) is the so called environmental groups (well meaning, to be sure) keep suing the feds and delaying the harvests. Result: pest infestations and wildfires, not to mention lost revenue from overmature wood not having being utilized when it was actually ready to be used to make wood products which we all use.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 11:19PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

There is no such thing as overmature wood, your basic premise is quaintly erroneous and based on the very concept of everything as a commercial entity managed for commerce and commerce only. Add to that the fact that huge percentages of the public forest have in fact been leveled already - the situation of which you complain does not exist.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 1:20AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Bboy has it right.Wildland forests are not crops although blocks of logged off lands have been replanted with favored clones and managed by private interests for the most part. The mindset of the National Forest management is multiple usage, not just board feet available. Habitats and watershed management are among the primary concerns.

Why do you think there have been massive and record floods in the Pacific North West? Excessive runoff thick with slash and trash and eroded soils.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:47AM
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What may be true in the PNW is not necessarily so somewhere else. Here for example, where we have a 5000-acre state forest on a 100,000 acre island. Most of it was planted up with non-native trees during the Roosevelt era. The natural condition of the area is a fire-prone sand plain for the most part. Fire has been suppressed entirely for over a century and the result is massive amounts of highly flammable material that wouldn't be there without major human intervention. What looks very nice and natural is not at all. The native heath hen went extinct due to the fire-suppression and every time I go in there I am amazed at the bizarre absence of animal life. It is a desert of coniferous trees growing in impoverished soil. Not even many birds can subsist there.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:25AM
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This is a case of 'all of the above'. So again a few points - different forests, different climates, different ecosystems different government/private land owner policies all being talked about with the same sound bites.

My main point here is that not only have the old concepts of forest management - gvt support for heavy logging, fire suppression, Pat's example above, etc. proved to have unintended consequences, - that current plans for forestry management slowly now being implemented are also obsolete because they don't take into account climate change and the subsequent rapid changes in cover, species composition, etc.

At the link is a NASA article about pine beetle kill in North America, with a short video. As bad as it is in the United States Rocky mountains, its even worse in Canada. This is about the pine beetle - there is also a spruce beetle that is doing a similar number at the higher elevations, and we've already gone through the pinion beetle at lower elevations that wiped out 90% of those trees. Millions and millions of acres.

These beetles survive because the winters aren't cold enough anymore to kill the eggs and larvae off. As well, the longer growing season allows two generations in a single summer. And every year now for over a decade, its a new record for the number and extent of forest fires in the west.

You'd think there would be a market for logging the dead trees - there is, but the problem is the sheer amount available, which has to be cut and trucked to the mill before it falls over, the smaller size of the trees, which yields less lumber / tree, and then the elephants in the room - the over-all economy, fuel costs, health care costs, building demand, and so on. So even if the trees are free for the taking, it doesn't make much of a dent on the forest, and all the talk about exploiting the resource means heavy gvt subsidies.

There is also an argument to be made - and I think its very valid on steep slopes - that letting the dead trees fall over and rot might be the best environmental solution to protect the water shed. And there are indeed environmental groups that will sue to stop any logging at all, even on flatter land where run-off isn't an issue.

Just north of here was a logging town with an entire rail system extending 100-odd miles around, harvesting Ponderosa Pine in the early 1900's. They clear cut everything except the weird stuff (which now are these huge trees in odd places), and all around grew up a thicket of stunted, over-crowded small trees, and with decades of fire-supression, are now ripe for catastrophic fires. They can't find a commercial use for them, so the Forest Service pays people to go in and thin them out. The crews cut, maybe, couple thousand acres a year - just a drop in the bucket.

But again the big issue is the watershed - faster, earlier run-off, the risk of flooding, longer fire seasons leading to loss of plant cover - increasing silt and debris loads filling dams, wrecking infrastructure, all that. We are seeing, over the course of 10-20 years, a huge shift in forest ecology in the western forests. An ever-inceasing portion of the Forest Service budget is spent on fighting fires - and in this age of tax cuts and further gvt austerity, I wonder where thats heading. Continent-wide (actually world-wide) higher temperatures, longer fire seasons, massive beetle damage, and drought are in the driver's seat, and we're not paying enough attention.

Can't see the forest for the trees, as it were.........

Here is a link that might be useful: link to NASA site

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:25AM
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Very informative link, David. I never realized a dead tree could be less flammable than a green one. Lots of interesting info there.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 12:27PM
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I was surprised at that as well. During the 2001 - 2002 exceptional drought, which coincided with the pinion beetle pandemic, the trees were covered with highly flammable pitch from all the beetle bore holes. Due to the drought, the actual moisture content of the trees was 6-8% - by contrast, kiln-dried lumber is 10%. Those things were matches.

That summer, aside from the huge Hayman fire that messed the watershed for the South Platte River, there were two big forest fires here - one at Mesa Verde national partk - luckily, the management closed the park the week before the fire started, otherwise it would have been a real mess, what with one narrow, steep road in and out - and a few miles to the east of us was the Missionary Ridge Fire - sending up a 30,000 foot high cloud of smoke every afternoon for weeks.

At the link is a utube clip of a fire tornado that started up in the dry bed of a reservoir - the folks around the place had parked their cars in the empty lake, and then this came along, flipping them all over, throwing full-sized flaming trees hundreds of feet into the air.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 1:38PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Pines and other trees that reproduce after fire are naturally inflammable, even under normal conditions.

The fuelwood buildup in the intermountain region is the fruit of the Smokey the Bear fire suppression policy. Reduction of ground fires for a long time has allowed a fir layer to take hold beneath the pines and grow up among them, forming the basis for catastrophic crown fires over extensive areas that used to be vegetated primarily be pines and low grasses, with frequent low quick fires maintaining a park-like landscape containing a smaller amount of young, low-branching trees - most of them not firs.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:23PM
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Its the same with the traditional Ponderosa forest - frequent low-intensity burns kept a park with widely spaced huge trees, with fire-resistant bark.

But that too was largely influenced by thousands of years of native peoples, who burned the place regularly for hunting.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:09PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Ponderosa pine forest is what I was talking about.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 6:09PM
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The forester here told me that the speed with which he has seen the young short-leaf pines (living) catch fire is scary. Scrub oak isn't much of a worry, nor the mature conifers or hardwoods. it's the large numbers of young pitchy pines close together, which of course wouldn't be there if there were relatively frequent fires. Like in many parts of the east they are doing controlled burns, but it is slow and costly.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:23PM
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Very interesting and informative thread David. You and a few others brought out some points which I wasn't aware of or hadn't really considered. Will be checking into this further. I hope those in charge of our land management and forestry, whichever party they may be, will have sense enough to preserve our environment. Unfortunately, at times, it seems to be low on the totem pole.

Not exactly having to do with land preservation but environmentally connected ...... There is a wildlife preserve about 80 miles from my house, ranchers also lease, that you can drive through and see quite a variety of animals; too many bird species to list, deer, hogs, gators, bobcats, armadillos, raccoons, possums, turtles, snakes, etc. My son and his family took a drive through on Saturday and were blessed/surprised to see a panther and her cub. Not many people ever get to see a panther in the wild much less one with a cub so they were very excited to say the least. Panthers are slowly making a comeback here in Florida.

Bears too have made a comeback. When I was a kid, we used to occasionally see a panther in the cane fields around our house but I never heard of anyone sighting a bear anywhere in Florida. Bears were something you saw in the Smokey Mountains if you were lucky. Now it is pretty common to site one in the Everglades or Ocala National Park. My parents were coming home from Ft Myers a couple of months ago and a black bear ran across the road in front of them. In some areas they have become a nuisance. Hunters have tried to get the state to open a hunting season on them but thankfully, so far, the state has refused.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:43AM
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I'll say it again. Proper forest management includes harvesting trees. They are a renewable resource. It's a big problem that there are people who believe that trees should be left alone to grow what? Forever?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 9:11PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Wow! What a concept: leave part of nature to manage itself, the thinking being that state of affairs actually has some instrinsic value!!

You know, a piece of the world in the condition it was when it fostered the arising of our species.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Leaving nature alone is not always the best idea, bb. Shall I elaborate? Yes, elvis--please do. I'm really interested in what you have to say. Being the open minded person that I am, I'll take a chance.

Okay, bb. How about mosquito eradication vs. malaria? How about ticks vs. Lyme's disease? Bubonic plague and rats?

Or the plant world--like trees. I'm willing to bet you use paper products. Got any wood in your home? Cultivate plants, like a garden? Definitely won't find those neat rows in nature.

And on and on. Lighten up. Trees are plants; they grow, some get cut, they grow some more. Properly done, forest management is a good thing.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:12PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

There's the catch: proper management for some means selective cutting and protecting watershed and for others means clear-cutting and profits and let the public sector address the downstream impacts: erratic job and tax bases, environmental damages, watershed devastation, etc.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:21PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, the all or nothing, black and white counterargument has nothing to do with what I said.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:28PM
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But! Pine needs full sun. And thanks to Roosevelt's CCC crews, a lot of tree plantations are mature at the same time, and need to be "slicked off". The trees in this case are a crop, ready for harvest. The seedlings planted to replace the cut ones needs full sun to grow. A clear cut looks bad for a few years, but it's not the end of the world. After planting, the clear cut is actually a very vertically challenged forest, soon to grow tall again.

Cutting the sides of mountains? If it's done wrong, i.e., clear cutting, it's a disaster.

Sound silvicultural practices, as are required in Wisconsin via Best Forest Management Practices (BMP's) result in attractive, productive sustainable forests, excellent wildlife habitat, and clean water.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:40PM
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This morning, prior to visiting the HT forum, I was reading on the BBC about illegal logging around the world, run by organized crime, a 10 - 15 billion dollar a year industry. That story at the link.

The scale of the problem is breathtaking. I remember reading, a few years ago, about the whole-sale logging of parts of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, with logging companies going 24/7, each company having upwards of 500 bull-dozers, all the wood going to make pallets, 2x4's, scaffolding, etc in Asia. And now those cleared places burn, the smoke adding to the already horrendous problems of air pollution in that part of the world.

Within that story were two further links, this one talking about illegal logging in the Philippines and the disastrous flooding that happened last month,

But back to the topic of managing the forests of North America. The problem with logging, even selective logging, is that the current, over-all economy - as well as the competition from Canada, means that it is pretty difficult for any large-scale logging to make it. There are a few, small-scale logging operations around here, but the big players like Louisiana Pacific just aren't making it any more. LP closed their remaining strand board plant in Colorado 15 years ago to 'consolidate operations'. Largely because the trees aren't there any more.

But logging is largely beside the point, when tens of millions of acres of trees are dying due to beetle kill, and what that does to the watershed. Thats one of the effects of global warming, which for half of Congress, officially doesn't exist, therefore must be ignored.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to main story

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:58AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Wilderness is a valid, even necessary management option. Particularly for old growth species, which do not occur much, if at all in blocks of trees which are cut too frequently for an old growth condition to develop.

The past routine was to sell public trees to private companies at a loss. The National Forest network was set up because it was being seen that there was not going to be any trees left to cut in the lowlands. Now the hills and mountains have been recently and extensively scalped as well, with new cutting sized trees not being up to size yet. And, as mentioned, climate change is killing large sections of these off, probably also stands that may never have been cut even once.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 12:37PM
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bboy, the "National Forest network" wasn't "set up because it was being seen that there was not going to be any trees left to be cut in the lowlands."

It started in 1891 with the Land Revision Act, prompted by LA businessmen and landowners concerned with the damage to the watershed of the San Gabriel Mtns done by miners and ranchers.

What do you mean when you say "old growth species"?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 4:57PM
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