Why Logging is Not the Solution We Need to Prevent Wildfires
Article posted by C.A.S.H. Committee To Abolish Sport Hunting

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Fall-Winter 2018

By M.R.G.

logging truck

Wildfires are becoming an ever increasing concern among Americans, and people are searching for answers as to how to prevent fires from happening in the future. This search for a solution becomes ever more pressing as more lives are lost, human and animal alike. Thousands of people have lost their homes and many their pets, either separated and not found, or taken by the fire. Sanctuaries for now homeless humans and animals are filling up, and wildlife are desperately fleeing, their land consumed by the flames. These tragedies beg the question, “What can be done to prevent this?”

One possible answer to that question that some, including President Trump and his administration, stand behind is logging. The Guardian reported that Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, and Sonny Purdue, agriculture secretary, said that proposed new legislation would allow for the “thinning” of forests to help prevent wildfires. Zinke said he was confident Congress would soon pass a new farm bill that would remove environmental reviews for the removal of trees and brush, as well as the building of roads through federal forests. See complete article here:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/27/wildfires-ryan-zinke-logging-environment-thinning

Those who support logging believe, put simply, that cutting down trees will clear land of burnable material. Thus calling into question the effect of the protected status held by many forestlands in the western United States. There have been recent proposals to reduce or eliminate forest protection and increase logging, under the impression that this will quell the severity of forest fires. It may seem obvious that removing the stuff that burns would cause a reduction in wildfire severity but that, however, is a grossly over-simplistic viewpoint.

A study published by Ecosphere, one of the Ecological Society of America’s online scientific journals, states explicitly that logging is not a viable solution for reducing wildfire severity. Speaking of the results of the study, which examined 1500 fires, affecting 9.5 million hectares between 1984 and 2014, it is said that “[They] found forests with higher levels of protection had lower [wildfire] severity values even though they are generally identified as having the highest overall levels of biomass and fuel loading”. What may not be obvious to some, is the actual ecological benefit that trees have to these environments. Provided by research ecologist Chad Hanson, these include producing shade, which decreases a forest’s overall temperature and dryness, and providing a barrier to wind, which causes the rapid spreading of fires. If logging were to occur, it would leave behind combustible material, such as twigs and other kindling, and allow for the growth of invasive and easily combustible weeds that take hold in place of trees, while also removing all sources of shade and wind protection. Not to mention the loss of habitat for so many wild animals that need protection.

Some solutions other than logging, provided by Chad Hanson, include fire proofing houses, making sure gutters are clear of debris, moving powerlines underground, and having homeowners have a 100 foot zone around their homes that they clear of shrubs, branches, and small trees once a year. This, he says “is the only type of "thinning" that will effectively protect homes”.

It is important to not let fear cause rash, uneducated decisions to be made. What may seem like a likely solution is many times an over simplification of a multifaceted issue.


Please see the full article “President Trump is wrong about wildfire prevention” by Chad Hanson here:
https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/17/opinions/president-trump-is-wrong-about-wildfire-prevention-hanson/index.html

The scientific paper mentioned above “Does increased forest protection correspond to higher fire severity in frequent-fire forests of the western United States?” can be found here:
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ecs2.1492


Editor’s Note: Timber management allows for new growth for deer and other hunted species. It clearly plays into wildlife management’s goal of increasing huntable populations.

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Fall-Winter 2018

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