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home : opinion : opinion

11/14/2012 3:59:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Forest management?
Dear Editor,
Your recent article regarding the possibility of good forest management reducing catastrophic wild fires was of interest to me as I was part of forest management for quite a few years throughout Oregon and Washington. I had been working for several years as a forester when I was one of several thousand firefighters dispatched to the Lake Chelan area (Safety Harbor Fire) and in the Entiat Valley fires. As I remember the figures I believe the acres burned were greater than the fires you mentioned in your article for this year.

You cite Representative Doc Hastings call for more forest management of the national forests as a way to reduce large fires. You also quote a blogger and also a retired forest ecologist as asking for more forest management for the same reason. I believe these statements may actually be true but a bit of wishful thinking on all of their parts. What probability is there that the U.S. Forest Service is going to get the funding to do what is actually needed when our National Debt now exceeds six trillion dollars and climbing?

The Forest Service is dabbling at the controlled burns but in actuality they are playing small potatoes compared to what would really need to be done to manage a forest. Logging is a necessary part of forest management. The big trees get old and die just like us humans. And they burn very well, standing or lying on the ground. To do proper management in our national forest would require changing laws put in place in the 60s and 70s by environmental groups to stop logging. As a result we have no logging industry or does the Forest Service have foresters programs to put out the logging plans necessary. As early as about 1989 the Forest Service had a surplus of over 4,000 foresters nationally as the laws and courts shut down the best forest management we had. As a result the present day Forest Service is mostly a custodial agency similar to the Park Service, catering to recreationalists. Forest management of all aspects of the forests no longer takes place in most areas of our local forests nor is it likely to increase anytime soon.

I could go on regarding the fact that forest fires have been burning in Oregon and Washington on both the wet and dry sides of the states long before white men wandered into the area. But that story is too long for a short letter.

Jack Davis


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