More logging won’t stop wildfires

More logging won’t stop wildfires

Conservation Northwest / Jul 23, 2015 / Forest Field Program, Wildfire

Indiscriminate logging won’t stop wildfires or benefit wildlife. But prescribed burns (shown here), selective thinning, and management of forests for ecological resilience benefits forests, people and wildlife. Photo: CNW archives
By Dave Werntz, Science and Conservation Director

It’s true. As stated in today’s Op-Ed in The New York Times (More Logging Won’t Stop Wildfires by Chad T. Hanson and Dominick A. DellaSala), Wyoming Senator John Barrasso’s legislation to mandate a four-fold increase in federal forest logging won’t stop wildfires, improve conditions for wildlife, or address the legacy of old-growth logging and fire suppression that drives the size and behavior of modern fire events in the American West.

Instead, the Senate bill applies the old formula to cut regulations and curtail public oversight, which may work well politically but fails ecologically.

Most of Washington’s Representatives saw through the smoke-screen and voted against a similar billin the U.S. House. Representative DelBene, Kilmer, Heck, Larson, Smith, and McDermott deserve a note of thanks.

Consider contacting your Senators and urging them to oppose S.1691 and other risky logging legislation.

There is a better way. The key is to manage forests for ecological resilience – the capacity to withstand and recover from fire, insects, drought, and other natural events. Fire is inevitable and necessary in our fire-adapted western forests, and fire is predicted to become more prominent as the atmosphere continues to warm. That will require smart management, engaging scientists to conduct landscape evaluations at the scale that ecological processes like fire operate in order to identify and prioritize actions that restore forest and watershed conditions, consistent with these principles.

It’s a better investment of public dollars and effort, in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, to work with fire and not against it, as is occurring on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest through its restoration strategy, and on the Colville National Forest’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration project.

On these landscapes, under the watchful eye of our Forest Field Program, actions involve protecting and restoring populations of large and old fire resistant trees, removing river-polluting roads, relying on managed or natural fire where possible, and avoiding the debacle of post-fire logging.

  • Read more about the topic of wildfire and forest management in our Winter 2015 newsletter.
  • Learn about Conservation Northwest’s Forest Field Program, which works to restore and protect forests while also promoting sustainable forestry and benefiting local communities.