Forestry

jumpshooter

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Aug 11, 2015
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At some point in time, I hope that you can do a podcast on forestry. It is such an important topic to the well being of our wildlife, our public land management policy (or lack thereof), and of our rural economies.

There are so many topics here to hit, CBD, the Sierra Club and all their minions, and how they have basically locked up the proper management of our National Forests since 1990 when the spotted owl was listed.

The need to selectively manage our lands to have different mosaic of habitat for wildlife to have for foraging, shelter, and wintering. Our forests today are so dense that if anyone farts, it could start a wildlife.

Forestry doesn't have to be a 4 letter word. There are plenty of great examples of proper forest management out there to see and show as a good representation of how logging can mimic low intensity fire.

Furthermore, the Forest Service is continuing to talk about budget issues. Here in California, we have something like 160 million dead trees. Those trees died from drought due to over stocking. If we had been managing our forests, we could support local loggers, sawmill workers, and home builders. Today, we are exporting our logs overseas to China and then getting them back in the form of crap. We could have a healthy and vibrant industry (based in sustainable management) in a lot of areas which are really struggling for work. furthermore, that is a ton of money that the Forest Service would then have to actually manage our forests instead of spending all their budgets on watching our forests burn up.

Our wildlife depend on these forests and grasslands and we need proper management. Remember that no management is a decision as well. This all plays into what a lot of the Utah guys are using against public land ownership. Why not just manage what we have and not sell it off?

There are some very good people out there to talk with about this topic if you need suggestions, let me know.
 

jumpshooter

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Aug 11, 2015
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Well crickets.......

We now have over 1.2 million acres on fire in the west and this is a direct result of mismanagement of our public resources. I am not asking to sell off our public lands, but to manage them properly. Restore our forests to 40 to 60 trees per acre so that prescribed fire can then be used to control/manage our forests. We have in some places 500 to 1,000 trees per acre. This is not natural and not healthy. This is not how our forests will survive and flourish in the future.

In CA we have over 400,000 acres alone on fire right now at an expense of millions and millions of dollars. We have over 160 million dead trees. What are we waiting for?

Our deer hears are declining because of juniper encroachment (which historically was controlled by low intensity fire). Same with our sage grouse and other wildlife species which live on the edges of the forest and scrub habitats. We can do better and no one wants to have this discussion. Why not? Would you rather watch all your forests burn up?

We need to talk about this and do it soon. I grew up at the base of the southern Sierra Nevadas and spent every summer there hiking and fishing. Most of those watersheds had massive giant sequoia stands and they are all dying now. In some places there are entire watersheds which are devoid of trees. If you live in Colorado, it is much the same as in and around Breckenridge and that area to the southwest of Denver. The Forest Service doesn't have the money to go out and replant following these die-offs, so there are no trees left to come back too.

If we don't have this conversation, the larger interests are going to have it for us without us at the table. We need to manage our forests.

One last thing we need to have a discussion about is the way in which groups like the Sierra Club and CBD work. They are making hundreds of millions of dollars off of suing our federal government, and doing it claiming it is on our behalf. There is a tax loophole which allows a group like them to present a case to a federal judge. If the judge decides that there is a case to be made, then the federal government pays these groups to sue the Forest Service or BLM or Fish & Wildlife Service. This is a massive loop hole as the code was created so that an individual could get paid to take on the government and some politician thought that not-for profits should benefit as well. Then when these groups win, the winnings are completely confidential and they are funneled through the Sierra Club Foundation to make it look like it is a not for profit. This fleecing of our tax paying dollars is what holds up all of our current land management on federal lands, your lands.

Folks, you all got to wake up at some point or this subject is going to be used against you to sell off your lands. The Forest Service can manage our lands just fine when they have all their tools in their tool bag. Yes, that means some logging is needed. We don't need to clear-cut, except in cases where that is best for the health of the forest. Our forests can be managed for sustainability, the Native Americans did it for 13,000 years here with fire, but at a much lower intensity.
 

beginnerhunter

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Feb 15, 2016
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It gets discussed around here quite a bit. Also Randy has been posting on YouTube where he discusses the various agencies responsible for public land and the effects of Congress, etc. hamstringing those agencies.

It will take a bipartisan agreement to help. But the Democrats are afraid of environmentalists and certain Republicans like to use "mismanagement" to promote public land transfer. Why do anything when each side is getting what they want?
 

Rancho Loco

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Yeah, don't apply the forestry argument when we're talking about millions of acres of fire adaptive chaparral ecosystems. California was designed to burn, it's beauty is a result of destructive forces. Clearing brush won't stop fire, it just makes more brush to burn in a few years. And who's going to pay for it any way?

The more we build into the interface and the more we don't recognize climate change, the more homes will burn.
 

jryoung

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Yeah, don't apply the forestry argument when we're talking about millions of acres of fire adaptive chaparral ecosystems. California was designed to burn, it's beauty is a result of destructive forces. Clearing brush won't stop fire, it just makes more brush to burn in a few years. And who's going to pay for it any way?

The more we build into the interface and the more we don't recognize climate change, the more homes will burn.
Whole lotta manzanita, live oak and foothill pine gone up in the Mendo Complex (first pic) and Carr fire (second two). Not sure what the commercial value is in those wood products.

CA Chap.jpg
chap1.jpg
chap2.jpg
 

jumpshooter

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A lot of the fires are in timber as well. Here are just a few from the last year. We have over 120 million dead trees in the state. The brush that is burning is just near civilization, there are plenty of timber fires here. Come on down from MT and I will show you.

As for what does forest management mean, it means managing our forests to start with. The USFS has had a hands off approach since 1992 in the west. We need to start thinning our forest, managing the brush which is near the urban interface, and we need to do a lot more prefire planning and fuel reduction.
I am not talking about clear-cutting although that has it place when trying to start a forest anew. Thin the smaller trees, get the forest down from 200 to 500 trees per acre to 100 or less. Keep the larger, healthier trees, and manage the smaller ones which will continue to grow up and create a fire ladder.
Then when the forests are thinned, use livestock, fire, and logging to maintain a more open and fire resilient stand. 20180710_171421.jpg20180516_194238.jpg20180302_145227 (1).jpg20180302_144736 (1).jpg
 

TheTone

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Thin the smaller trees, get the forest down from 200 to 500 trees per acre to 100 or less.
Much of the private timber company lands and state lands around me are darn near mooscapes at this point. Its staggering the amount of trees being cut and even talking with the loggers they don't see it as sustainable. Also of note, the biggest fires near me the past three years have been on recently logged and replanted ground, they also both stopped when they reached mature, unlogged timber. Its funny for me to hear logging industry radio ads claim they plant 7 trees for each they cut; isn't that a direct contradiction of the claim there are too many trees on the landscape and the reason things need logged and/or thinned? It is also a common practice for them to go back into tree plantations after 5-20 years post planting and thin upwards of 50% of the tree's they planted and leave them lay which to me seems to create a pretty massive fire hazard.
 

cedahm

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If you live in Colorado, it is much the same as in and around Breckenridge and that area to the southwest of Denver. The Forest Service doesn't have the money to go out and replant following these die-offs, so there are no trees left to come back too.
I have a decent amount of experience in our pine beetle killed lodgepole environment. The problems are frequently discussed, but there has never been a proposal that has gotten any traction that I know of. I’d be very interested to hear a proposed approach to managing its aftermath.

Anecdotally - my uncle-in-law has a ranch that previously contained an old stand of very mature/large lodgepole (not sure on acreage, but probably 400ish on his deeded land). The beetles decimated it of course. Several years ago, he hired a single-shingle logger from ID who spent two summers in there selectively taking out trees. I recall several other cattle ranchers in the general area did similar with other small logging outfits. There was a small sawmill on the lower ranch and my U-I-l took maybe 50-100 sticks to mill into lumber for himself and some friends and neighbors, the logger got whatever else he could take (I think it was about a truckload a week, but I could be off) to do with as he pleased. Regardless, in the end, although everyone was happy, the logger barely covered expenses (and he was allowed to live up there for free and had use of some equipment).

That is one small example, but as a giant swath of N Central Colorado has 90+% of its lodgepole forests dead, what, from a logging perspective, would you say is an effective mitigation strategy now?
 

jumpshooter

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Lodgepole is a special circumstance in that it requires fire to regenerate. The stands of Lodgepole are even aged and live for 75 to 90 years, start to die and then the beetles invade. The fire then comes from lightning and replaces the forest. Part of the other problem with Lodgepole is that it really doesn't make a great wood product and most sawmills out west won't even take it. When I was in CO a couple of years ago, there were only like 2 sawmills in the entire state and trucking would take out any profit. Another problem with Lodgepole is the Mt. pine beetle and you can go in and treat the forest by thinning it out, but you have to get ride of the slash or the beetles will build up in the slash and then attach the trees. This means burn piles of chipping and taking to a biomass plant. There are very few biomass plants because environmentalists have very successfully prohibited more from being built. This is a natural cycle and I don't know if there is a lot that can be done to prevent this. I have a friend who is working in and around Vail and Aspin and they are having a lot of luck with the beetles by disrupting their communication (which inhibits their mechanism to build up and replace full stands) by fermones. This is a new science, and still relies of the trees being healthy. There were some older stands of Lodgepole around Crater Lake, but I think that these burned a couple of years ago. I would be interesting to see if we could get the trees to live longer than their normal stands do and thin them out. I don't have any clients in that ecosystem, so it won't be me, but would be interesting to see.

The pines in the Sierras are different, they have evolved with fire, but in most places, the fires historically weren't stand replacing. The kept smaller trees in check and let the larger trees free to grow. These historic stands had between 30 and 75 trees per acre. Unfortunately California's Forest Practice Rules require the private landowners to plant at 300 trees per acre, which is why you see the landowners come in and thin those stands around 10 to 15 years year old down to maybe 150 trees per acre. We have been working with the regulators to understand that this is part of the issue, but the environmentalists are saying that we are just trying to cut and run. In Idaho, I would agree, I see a lot of shitty forestry which isn't sustainable.............

In California, we have gone from over 200 mills in the 80's to less than 30 now, so our infrastructure has crumbled and we can't process enough of our dead and dying trees even. The Forest Service hasn't cut more than a couple of million board feet annually because every time they put out a timber sale, it gets sued. This is the issue, there is a tax code which needs to be changed that currently allows groups like CBD and The Sierra Club to get paid to sue the Government. They make hundreds of millions of dollars doing this annually.

As for the brush, we can do a lot better job at managing it in places where it matters, those areas around the urban interface. I agree, most of the Mendocino Complex is burning a lot of brush, scrub, and gray pine, which need to burn. Other fires are burning in really nice timber, the west part of the Carr Fire burned across a lot of SPI lands. The Furgeson Fire is burning a lot of private forest lands down south. The brush can be treated with herbicide in places that are in close proximity to communities. This will have to be done every 3 to 5 years to keep it down, or we need to create a very large grazing program. If we had a biomass industry, we could chip all this material and use it for energy production. There is a lot that can be done here, it just takes money. The Forest Service could be generating revenue from timber sales if they wanted to.

Part of my whole reason for bringing up this topic is to point out that while the whole Public Lands initiative is great, it doesn't solve the problem as we need a policy change as well so that the Forest Service can effectively manage their lands. If we don't change this policy, we are going to have more and more people calling for the selling off of federal lands.... We can't deal with just part of the problem, we have to stop saying that there is no problem with the way that these lands are being managed and overturn this shitty tax loophole.
 

PrairieHunter

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Great info jumpshooter. As you mention each place is different, what works in one probably won't in others.

Its' crazy that we dig up coal and ship it across the country when we have abundant and underutilized biomass nearly everywhere. I got tired of seeing all the biomass go underutilized and began diverting waste from the Laramie landfill to create heat and biochar. It's beginning to get popular in some parts of the world like Colorado, Oregon, and California but we have a long way to go in Wyoming to catch up.

Another part of the problem in the current equation is all the Canadian timber we use in the USA. Would be nice to see more American product used to create markets for the lumber and get some of these sawmills back up and running. I walked through the old sawmill in Encampment, WY last year. Sad. Literally looks like they just stopped coming to work one day which must have devastated that town.
 

Rancho Loco

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Grazing and herbicides at the interface? Never going to happen due to terrain, logistics, money and local opposition.

We need to recognize the realities of development, invasives and climate change not only in the interface, but across the entire chapparal and sagebrush steppe ecosystems across the west and act accordingly. Blaming a lack of turning sticks into 2x's and strandboard, or "ecoterrorists" isn't addressing the problem over millions of acres of the western US.
 

Rancho Loco

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Great info jumpshooter. As you mention each place is different, what works in one probably won't in others.

Its' crazy that we dig up coal and ship it across the country when we have abundant and underutilized biomass nearly everywhere. I got tired of seeing all the biomass go underutilized and began diverting waste from the Laramie landfill to create heat and biochar. It's beginning to get popular in some parts of the world like Colorado, Oregon, and California but we have a long way to go in Wyoming to catch up.

Another part of the problem in the current equation is all the Canadian timber we use in the USA. Would be nice to see more American product used to create markets for the lumber and get some of these sawmills back up and running. I walked through the old sawmill in Encampment, WY last year. Sad. Literally looks like they just stopped coming to work one day which must have devastated that town.
Biomass won't pencil. Take a look at the terrain and the transportation needs alone and it will never pencil.
 

BigHornRam

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Here is link to a very good forestry website that has a lot of great articles about much of what you are talking about. It is put together by Dave Atkins, a retired forest service employee. Dave is a Montana tree farmer and neighboring landowner to me, and is very passionate about forestry issues. Look the site over and let me know what you think.

https://treesource.org/
 

PrairieHunter

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Biomass won't pencil. Take a look at the terrain and the transportation needs alone and it will never pencil.
You are welcome to your opinion but there are plenty of biomass success stories in the region from pellets to biochar and even Chadron St college with utilizes around 10k tons of biomass to heat and cool the campus.

Blanket statements like yours are easy to disprove with examples. New technology and outside the box thinking will continue to create new opportunities for woody biomass, in spite of your opinion that it never will.
 
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