Forestry

Rancho Loco

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Look at the topography of the interface in the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernadino and Cleveland NF's and the Santa Monica mountains. Oakland Hills, Santa Cruz mountains.. I can go on. It's straight up and down.
 

BuzzH

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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.
I've been watching this thread pretty closely and have been reluctant to respond as its pretty obvious when someone has just enough "knowledge" to be partially right and a whole lot full of crap. I can tell you think you know about lodgepole stands and forestry, but this statement pretty well illustrates otherwise. Rotation ages for timber production may be 75-90 years (in the best habitat types), but lodgepole stands in the interior West have way longer shelf lives than 90 years, pretty common to see lodgepole stands 150-200+ years old that still haven't experienced stand replacing disturbance. That's for a wide variety of reasons, mainly elevation, aspect, and understory (lack thereof) that's present in most lodgepole mono-cultures. It takes a good combination of things to go "right" before lodgepole experience stand replacing disturbance. Also, lodgepole is a pretty damn important commercial tree and while not as valuable as other species, its extensively logged for veneer, sub flooring, construction grade dimension lumber, post/poles, etc.

It also absolutely does NOT need fire to regenerate.

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.
Thinning lodgepole? Yes, very early pre-commercial thinning and there is absolutely no reason to burn, chip, or otherwise treat the trees you thin. Most LP stands are pre-commercially thinned when they are very young, and very young stand are NOT very susceptible to m-pine beetle. Risk ratings (that I have done a chit load of in the past) are a function of elevation/latitude, age, tree diameter as well as climate, stand density, and other variables. I would like to see some hard evidence of "environmentalists" stopping construction of biomass plants...not saying it cant be true, but some proof of such claims should be provided. I think the market, or lack of a market, drives the construction of mills, biomass plants, etc. wayyy more than enviro-hippies.

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.............
Its not that Idaho simply has "shitty" forestry practices/sustainability, its just a function of longgg rotation ages in the interior West. Pretty tough to sustain long-term operations, at profitability levels that support automated and large mills that gobble up timber at break-neck speeds. There isn't enough stumpage that is close enough to mills, with short enough rotation ages, to keep even mid-sized mills operating long term in the IW for a variety of reasons (fuel prices, housing starts, economy, NAFTA, soft wood imports, etc. just to name a few).

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.
Agree, the bigger mills gobbled up the smaller mills via cheap diesel prices and out-bidding smaller mills all through the 80's, same thing happened in Montana, Idaho, etc. The bigger, more automated mills were buying sales hundreds of miles away from the plants and ran the smaller operation out of business. The market driven economy is good for some, not good for others and has a much greater influence over what mills survive and what mills fail than the enviro groups suing the FS. The FS, which by the way, is not mandated to supply an private enterprise with raw products so they can make money. They also have other considerations under the law other than timber production.

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.
Right, and who's going to provide the funding for this? The FS doesn't have enough money to hire trail crews and you're talking about treating vast acreages with herbicides? I suggest you get in touch with reality...the current administration is NOT going to fund increases to the FS budget to complete your "pie in the sky" work projects, just a fact.

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.
Not as simple as just policy change, management costs money. Until the FS, BLM, and even State land management agencies receive adequate funding, you're pissing up a rope. If the land management agencies had adequate funding, to implement the policies already on the books, things would be greatly improved. Don't get me wrong, its great to want to improve management and implement more policy, but that isn't done for free...and the windbags in Congress have NO desire to increase funding to improve management.

I would also like to see improved management via smaller mills supported by a combo of State, Federal, and Private timber, employing locals across the board from tree planting, federal/state agencies, mills, fuels management, etc. etc. that's my "pie in the sky"...that takes funding and commitment from congress. A Congress made up of mostly old, fat, white, male baby-boomers that cant see past the end of their noses and their 3rd vacation home, and that I have lost all faith in doing the right thing. Their track record sucks.
 

BigHornRam

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I've been watching this thread pretty closely and have been reluctant to respond as its pretty obvious when someone has just enough "knowledge" to be partially right and a whole lot full of crap. I can tell you think you know about lodgepole stands and forestry, but this statement pretty well illustrates otherwise. Rotation ages for timber production may be 75-90 years (in the best habitat types), but lodgepole stands in the interior West have way longer shelf lives than 90 years, pretty common to see lodgepole stands 150-200+ years old that still haven't experienced stand replacing disturbance. That's for a wide variety of reasons, mainly elevation, aspect, and understory (lack thereof) that's present in most lodgepole mono-cultures. It takes a good combination of things to go "right" before lodgepole experience stand replacing disturbance. Also, lodgepole is a pretty damn important commercial tree and while not as valuable as other species, its extensively logged for veneer, sub flooring, construction grade dimension lumber, post/poles, etc.

It also absolutely does NOT need fire to regenerate.



Thinning lodgepole? Yes, very early pre-commercial thinning and there is absolutely no reason to burn, chip, or otherwise treat the trees you thin. Most LP stands are pre-commercially thinned when they are very young, and very young stand are NOT very susceptible to m-pine beetle. Risk ratings (that I have done a chit load of in the past) are a function of elevation/latitude, age, tree diameter as well as climate, stand density, and other variables. I would like to see some hard evidence of "environmentalists" stopping construction of biomass plants...not saying it cant be true, but some proof of such claims should be provided. I think the market, or lack of a market, drives the construction of mills, biomass plants, etc. wayyy more than enviro-hippies.



Its not that Idaho simply has "shitty" forestry practices/sustainability, its just a function of longgg rotation ages in the interior West. Pretty tough to sustain long-term operations, at profitability levels that support automated and large mills that gobble up timber at break-neck speeds. There isn't enough stumpage that is close enough to mills, with short enough rotation ages, to keep even mid-sized mills operating long term in the IW for a variety of reasons (fuel prices, housing starts, economy, NAFTA, soft wood imports, etc. just to name a few).



Agree, the bigger mills gobbled up the smaller mills via cheap diesel prices and out-bidding smaller mills all through the 80's, same thing happened in Montana, Idaho, etc. The bigger, more automated mills were buying sales hundreds of miles away from the plants and ran the smaller operation out of business. The market driven economy is good for some, not good for others and has a much greater influence over what mills survive and what mills fail than the enviro groups suing the FS. The FS, which by the way, is not mandated to supply an private enterprise with raw products so they can make money. They also have other considerations under the law other than timber production.



Right, and who's going to provide the funding for this? The FS doesn't have enough money to hire trail crews and you're talking about treating vast acreages with herbicides? I suggest you get in touch with reality...the current administration is NOT going to fund increases to the FS budget to complete your "pie in the sky" work projects, just a fact.



Not as simple as just policy change, management costs money. Until the FS, BLM, and even State land management agencies receive adequate funding, you're pissing up a rope. If the land management agencies had adequate funding, to implement the policies already on the books, things would be greatly improved. Don't get me wrong, its great to want to improve management and implement more policy, but that isn't done for free...and the windbags in Congress have NO desire to increase funding to improve management.

I would also like to see improved management via smaller mills supported by a combo of State, Federal, and Private timber, employing locals across the board from tree planting, federal/state agencies, mills, fuels management, etc. etc. that's my "pie in the sky"...that takes funding and commitment from congress. A Congress made up of mostly old, fat, white, male baby-boomers that cant see past the end of their noses and their 3rd vacation home, and that I have lost all faith in doing the right thing. Their track record sucks.
Yep, whole lot of crap in this post.
 

MTGomer

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If the State of Arizona can withstand Tom Steyer’s attack on their energy grid this election cycle, corporation commissioner Tobin has developed an energy plan that includes thinning and treating 50k acres annually for biomass. It doesn’t entirely pencil, but neither does solar and wind at today’s costs, and biomass has potential for indirect savings from firefighting expenditures.

They claim that the Sierra Club is supportive of the plan, and after Yarnall
nobody has the balls to stand up against forest management in that state.
 

BigHornRam

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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.
This fire near me from a couple years ago started on National Forest and was human caused. It was scheduled for a thinning treatment at the time but was being delayed by litigation. Unthinned forest, both public and private had almost complete mortality of the trees.
0610180710.jpg

Adjacent private property that had been properly thinned, the fire dropped to the ground and ended there.

0607180732.jpg

0607180739_Burst01.jpg

Do you have any pictures to share of the fire behavior you are talking about, Tone? Any pictures of the moonscape?
 

TheTone

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This fire near me from a couple years ago started on National Forest and was human caused. It was scheduled for a thinning treatment at the time but was being delayed by litigation. Unthinned forest, both public and private had almost complete mortality of the trees.
View attachment 86067

Adjacent private property that had been properly thinned, the fire dropped to the ground and ended there.

View attachment 86068

View attachment 86069

Do you have any pictures to share of the fire behavior you are talking about, Tone? Any pictures of the moonscape?
I'll try to find time to take some pictures in the next couple weeks, unfortunately work is busy and then its time to elk hunt. Google earth can do a pretty good job in lots of the areas in the lower clearwater country of idaho of showing just how much things are rapidly changing.
 

jumpshooter

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Rahcno Loco, Just to let you know that I might know a few things more than you are giving me credit for, I have been a Registered Professional Forester in Ca for almost 20 years working on private lands, not-for-profits land trusts, open space districts, and several other small land based owners. I have also been very active in forest policy and legislative policy in Ca for years now. I have several family members which work for the Forest Service and Cal Fire, so I might also have a bit of a base in forest policy. Oh and just to let you know, I have also worked in the Santa Cruz Mountains my entire career, so I have a very good idea how to deal with the urban interface. A firebreak that I maintained for several years and that is now over 50 years old stopped the Lockhead fire from burning Bonny Dune and other parts of the Santa Cruz mountains from burning to the ground in 2008.

Since you want to see proof about biomass plants being stopped, I suggest you start by googling the following: https://www.sierraclub.org/policy/energy/biomass-guidance This is the policy of the Sierra Club......... "In keeping with our FOREST POLICY, we oppose all biomass energy generation processes including fuel production which contribute to the destruction of existing forests" Pretty strong leg to stand on there.

From there, just google the following:
Eugene Biomass plant in 2014
here is one in Portland: https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/06/power_plant_protesters_hypocri.html
Here is one in Rhode Island just for fun: https://www.ecori.org/government/2018/5/16/silent-protest-as-biomass-bill-advances
Here is one in Florida: http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/3741/facing-the-vocal-opposition

Biomass can work. Look at the area around Flagstaff Az. This is a perfect example of where a biomass plant can be put in and really helps to thin out the forests. This was a cooperative effort and has worked on private, public and reservation lands.

As for lodgepole pine not being very valuable, we are seeing prices ranging from $300/1,000 bd ft to as high as $400. When logging costs are at $300 to $350/1,000 bd ft, that is a low value product. As opposed to Douglas-fir, sugar pine and Ponderosa pine which are $400 to $700 for the pine and $1000 for fir depending on when you sold this year and where. Oregon was through the roof.

You talk in several different responses about having funding needs for these agencies. Just in Ca, we have 20 million acres of federal timberland. There is enough money that could be generated from thinning to pay for large amounts of work across the west. This is the egg vs. the chicken, but there is funding that could be gathered in very large amounts. This would solve their funding issues just fine. It would also create local jobs and help in a lot of the small local economies which have been down for so long.

One other thing to point out is a response to this statement "The FS, which by the way, is not mandated to supply an private enterprise with raw products so they can make money." This is a point of contention that goes all the way back to John Muir and Gifford Pinchott and was one of the main reasons that there was a divide between the two following the creation of the Forest Service and the set aside of millions of acres. In the end, Pinchott and Roosevelt sought that it would be best to allow for local communities to manage and draw economic revenue at a small (non-industrial) scale. So while it isn't a mandate, one of the hopes was that the forests would serve as not just a place for wildlife to have refuge, but be a place where recreation could occur as well as some scale of a landbase for local economies. These small local economies which are still struggling today. There can be a great balance, it just takes a different vision. I manage the property I live on for multiple uses. There are 150 kids running around this property for 4 months out of the year. We have a small thinning every year in the fall following the departure of the kids back to school. The property serves as a source of revenue for the landowner to live off of. During the winter the property has mushroom pickers and hunters on it. All of these things are possible and are in practice in many places, not just here.

The question about biomass and at what cost is an important one. Currently we are running around $0.04 to $0.06 for a kilowatt hour of natural gas. Biomass is running between $0.12 to $0.15 in the most recent sales that I have seen. This is important to figure in to this discussion as it does mean paying more. However, I just came from Redding CA, where the Carr Fire has been burning for about 3 weeks and they still haven't seen the sun. Smoke is so bad from this fire it isn't even healthy to be out in. At what cost is our children health? Parts of that area burnt in 2008 as well. How often do some of those areas have to burn up before we start looking at other options. You say no chipping or herbicide near residences. Why not? I am currently doing just land for several large projects which involve the urban interface. The alternative is not an option (which is letting them burn up). We use chipping and some cases herbicide to treat the initial stage. From there, we use livestock to keep the vegetation "mowed down". Then every 15 to 20 years you might have to come back in with equipment to do something again. It isn't impossible, but people need to plan for it and budget for it. It they want to be fire resistant, then they need to realize that just buying their piece of heaven isn't enough. They need for manage their ever changing landscape.
 

Straight Arrow

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BHR and jumpshooter, i think everyone agrees that some of the "forest management" techniques you describe are viable and of high priority with respect to treatment of areas with urban wildland interface characteristics.
However, for you to advocate that your anecdotal examples reflect microcosms of what should be employed across the western US millions and millions of acres of public lands is unrealistic ... and actually absurd at this point in history for practical, as well as fiscal and political reasons. Furthermore, to focus primarily on reduction of fuels as the remedy for mitigating wildfires, while seemingly ignoring the reality of global warming and drought on wildlands, characterizes the advocacy as part of the "log our way out of wildfire" ideology which has been continuously shown to be fallacy.
 

jumpshooter

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Straight Arrow, did you missed the point that I suggested taking our forests down to 50 to 100 tps per acre. Do you not see the economics that are involved in that. We are talking about billions of dollars in revenue. Billions of dollars will go a long way to managing these issues.

You say that logging isn't politically reasonable, if you aren't going to thin the forests, then you are really at a standstill as our forests are extremely overstocked. Yes, there are problems like some of these forests are more brush that surround or urban areas like Southern Calif, but there are also plenty of areas which aren't. As for global warming, if that is your concern, then these trees, or at least a lot of the smaller ones are going to die in the near future and why not gain revenue from them? That revenue can be used for all kinds of other projects. Once you get the trees per acre down, then you can burn, or use livestock, or herbicide to treat the brush that comes back. This isn't a one time fix, but only the beginning to a log-term management. We have seen now what 30 years of doing nothing across most of our FS lands has led too. It isn't working.

Also, and I will be the first person to say this, the forest industry did a terrible job in the logging of our lands in the past. Clearcutting was the primary tool which was used across large portions of our land and used as a justification because of economics and efficiency. I don't see this on public lands in the future. Selection and other lighter touch prescriptions need to be employed to encourage large trees and restore/transition the forest to an older more mature forest. Now, there are times and places where even-age silvicultre may need to be done for wildlife, or for some other means, but that isn't needed to be the primary method. Some forests/trees are shade intolerant and may need gaps for regeneration in the future, but that is down the road.

While you don't like the my examples of where this has worked, it is all I can give you as I don't have the luxury of managing thousands or millions of acres. All I can do is show you where it works and how private landowners have made it work while still having great forests to talk about. Also, if you think that this problem doesn't need the help of private industry, then you are kidding yourselves. You need to mills, loggers, truckers and all the additional infrastructure to make this all happen.

If you want more examples, I am happy to show them to you, but you aren't going to see nice studies about them or big presentations as these are primarily on small landowners and not-for profit groups. Most industrial lands are being managed for profit while some of these other private lands are being managed for multiple uses. Tell me what you want to see and I can show you or better yet, come on out here for a deer hunt.....
 

Rancho Loco

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Just real quick since I lived in Bonny Doon, the Martin fire was in 2008, the Lockheed fire in '09. As for the firebreak, where was that? Because if it was the one cut through the Gray Whale Unit of Henry Cowell to protect the Pineridge Development, that was not a maintained break. It was in my backyard though.

Best thing I saw during that fire was an Aerounion P3 Orion blowing the shingles off my house after a retardant drop. I will always be mad I didn't film it, but we were a bit busy charging hose lines.
 

Straight Arrow

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... if you aren't going to thin the forests ...
Millions and millions of acres of public forests? And then do it again periodically? At what costs? Paid by whom?
While you don't like the my examples of where this has worked ...
NO, you misread. Your examples work well in small areas and should be models for urban wildland interface areas at wildfire risk.
You need to mills, loggers, truckers and all the additional infrastructure to make this all happen.
Right ... and then lumber is worth a nickle a stick since there is a glut ... then all the mills, loggers, and truckers work for reduced income ... all while we taxpayers build more roads to thin the vast forests of North America. Is there really such a significant shortage of lumber?

Less emphasis on your lengthy diatribes about the virtues of a hyper-expanded timber harvesting industry ... and more attention to the meaning of what others have explained.
 
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BuzzH

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jumpshooter,

Also, some of what you're talking about, "thinning" in particular, you just cant thin lodgepole stands without experiencing lots of wind-throw. When you look at the vast acreages of public forest lands in WY, MT, CO, ID and look at the amount of lodgepole that is not feasible economically to treat, how is there a profit there? Just building roads alone would be cost prohibitive, not to mention entering the stands at least twice, once to pre-commercially thin it, then again to clearcut. Road maintenance between pre-commercial thinning and clearcut would not be cheap either. Then, as you pointed out at 400/1000 for lodgepole...I'm not seeing anything profitable to a logger unless the FS funds the road building, maintenance, and labor for pre-commercial thinning. Remember all the whining, bitching, and complaining about "below cost" federal land logging? I do...

I agree with you that some forest types are no question over-stocked, but I would argue its not the case in lodgepole. DF/PP forest types...yes, no question. Spruce/Fir types some yes. Pinyon/Juniper...again yes, along with lots of encroachment. But, any treatment you do on PJ is never going to covered via sale of the trees themselves...what commercial value is there in pinyon/juniper?

As its been pointed out, there are just lots of places where management practices like you're describing, on small scale projects, will ever pencil out on public lands.

I'm not opposed to applying some of what you're describing, but I think you need to jump into reality and recognize that congress has NO intention of providing the type of funding to the FS/BLM it would take to do it. Selling the logs isn't going to cover the costs...and not by a long shot. At best, maybe off-setting some of the costs, but far from providing a net revenue gain to the agencies.

Like I also pointed out, there is no mandate for the FS/BLM to provide logs to private industry to make a profit. Then there's the other multiple use considerations too, clean air, clean water, wildlife, recreation, etc. etc. that also have to be addressed under the law. Laws passed by Congress that the agencies absolutely have to follow.

Dealing with a private landowner, on small acreage projects, that don't require road building, don't require any other considerations are wayyyy different than dealing with federal and even state owned lands. Two totally different beasts.
 

jumpshooter

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The Lockhead fire was held for the most part as it advanced south on the main road on RMC Lonestars property which was a shaded fuelbreak which was stared in 1958 by my mentor and I helped to maintain before the property was sold to Sempervirens Fund and the Land Trust. Cal Fire was able to use the fuel break and backfire from it.Untitled.jpg
 
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