Forest MISmanagement Causes Wildfires
By Jerry Smith
Director of Environmental Affairs for
United Four Wheel Drive Associations
Once again, the subject of forest MISmanagement comes to the forefront.
Forest MISmanagement is, even more, the cause for the extreme wildfires we suffer from than climate change.
Nature will cull certain areas
If you take a broad angle look at current forest health, it will show you trees much the same age and few open areas as there once were.
When Nature was left to manage the earth’s forests, it used fire as the primary way of keeping the forests healthy. As man began suppressing fires, less and less of the woods were subjected to “Nature’s way.”
Nature had a way of keeping a patchwork of the forests. That allowed new growth adequate sunlight, and other necessary elements to grow in one area, mid-growth would have its areas, and mature growth would be in yet another.
Islands of Green
Back up the calendar about 57-years (before the Wilderness Act of 1964), and we had healthy forests, logging essentially made up for the lack of Nature’s fires.
By removing mature growth trees, room for the next generation of timbered woods was made. Forest fires of the past would leave small islands of green, healthy growth. From these islands, new seeds would spread to reforest the burned areas.
Today’s wildfires burn everything top to bottom and hot enough to sterilize the soil as much as 6” down. What kind of “conservation” does that equate with??
New Laws, Less Access
Then, along comes the mid-sixties and do-gooders who managed to push through new land management laws with their Wildernesses, Wilderness Study Areas, Roadless Areas, and dozens of smaller named areas to “conserve” and “preserve and protect” the forests and, of course, protect the “endangered” species.
Now the forests essentially had no fires and minimal logging. Abandoned, entire forests have grown and matured at the same time. When a tree matures, it cannot deal with stress like a thriving, healthy growing tree.
Multiply that one tree by the millions in our forests, and you have an old, tired, sickly forest. A forest with 50+ years of fire fuel buildup on the forest floor is the topper.
Now, any drought or other stressor can kill or maim those trees, making them susceptible to any disease or insect that comes around.
At that point, entire areas of trees die and become fuel for the subsequent fire that comes along.
The most straightforward remedy is to resurrect the logging industry while there is still some commercial value in the standing timber.
Loggers could go into an area and cut the dead and dying along with the few green trees left.
Compared to the present-day “treatments” the USFS uses, loggers can work in multiple areas to maximize their profits and do more to restore the forest to health.
Much growth in the forest is not commercially viable as lumber, but it might be chipped for paper pulp or other uses.
“Treatments” vs. Logging
Where the “treatments” are nearly insignificant in terms of the percentage of the forest returning to health, logging would involve heavy equipment and a motivated business owner working to make a profit. “Treatments” are mainly done to help protect something.
This leaves an open area ready for new growth. In many instances, planting seedling trees will be the next step. The only problem with planting seedlings is that it only happens once. Given the opportunity, Nature will replace the sick or dead seedling with a new one for several years if necessary.
The bottom line is that the Department of Agriculture and USFS MUST change their management from failed “conservation” and “Preserve and Protect” to where they operate under the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield LAW. If they do not, many, if not most, National Forests may become mountain deserts. This would allow for more landslides and erosion. We all know what landslides onto forest roads mean. Closure!!!
In case you’re wondering, “What does this have to do with 4-wheeling?” put your thinking cap on and imagine places you explore in your 4-wheel drive.
Do you go into the forests in your 4wd??
What do loggers need to access the timber they cut??
The answer would be “roads.” They often build new roads or reopen old, closed ones, allowing us to explore new places. Last, how often are burned areas closed to the motorized public for years?? The scenery is not something you desire, either. Now, do you see the relationship??
In case you’re wondering, “What does this have to do 4-wheeling?” put your thinking cap on and imagine places you explore in your 4-wheel drive.
Do you go into the forests in your 4wd?? What do loggers need to access the timber they cut??
The answer would be “roads.” They often build new roads or reopen old closed ones, allowing us to explore new places. Last, how often are burned areas closed to the motorized public for years?? Now, do you see the relationship??