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New Study: Logging Beetle-Killed Trees May Be Pointless

Audio

Aired 3/3/10

A new study shows logging beetle-killed trees in remote backcountry forest areas may not reduce fire risk or beetle outbreaks. Researches say the logging is a waste of money.

A new study shows logging beetle-killed trees in remote backcountry forest areas may not reduce fire risk or beetle outbreaks. Researches say the logging is a waste of money.

The scientific report suggests that bark beetle outbreaks may not lead to greater fire risk, and that tree thinning and logging is not likely to alleviate future large-scale epidemics of bark beetle.

The findings apply to millions of acres of lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests across North America and trees in San Diego County's backcountry.

Scott Black is a Portland, Oregon-based scientist who worked on the study.

Black said there is little or no evidence to show that logging in any form will eliminate large-scale bark beetle infestations which are driven by drought.

"The research clearly shows that bark beetles and the related death of trees does not lead to more fires," said Black.

Black says fires burn more in live forests than dead forests.

"It really doesn't make economic sense to go out and try to manage these giant landscapes to stop native insects from doing what native insects do which is to kill trees," said Black.

Black said spending more money to fire-proof homes that border forest areas would be most effective if used to create defensible space around homes.

Additionally, any building of temporary or permanent roads in roadless areas to combat beetle outbreaks could have substantial "short-and long-term ecological costs," Black said.

Black said those costs could include damage to wildlife and water, increased wildfire risk and the introduction of invasive species.

The report is based on years of field research and a comprehensive scientific literature review.

The report was released by the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, an Ashland, Oregon-based nonprofit organization.

Comments

Avatar for user 'donsandiego'

donsandiego | March 3, 2010 at 7:49 p.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

It should be noted that this "Scientific Review" applies to spruce and lodgepole pine roadless forests in Colorado and is authored by an environmental organizational in opposition proposed issues in Colorado.
Present local efforts are restricted to removing hazardous dead, dying or diseased trees near homes and access roads.
No one is claiming that San Diego's or other southern California county programs are attempting to reduce beetle outbreaks since science has shown thtat the beetles have left the trees by the time damage becomes apparent.
If we do nothing in our forests and woodlands, the trees (snags) will fall, possibly on homes, powerlines, or people.
Reducing the amount of available flammable material in and around homes will clearly reduce the intensity of a wildfire.
I have to wonder where you find articles like these and attempt to make them appear relevant when they clearly don't apply to our area.

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Avatar for user 'SchuylerKing'

SchuylerKing | March 8, 2010 at 4:41 p.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm a wildland firefighter trying to remember the number of times I've watched wildfires burn in ways chair-bound academicians said couldn't happen. I've lost count. Nature doesn't give a levitating rodent's patootie about what educated fools write, doing it's own thing despite silly papers to the contrary.

Hopefully, these academicians will ask *firefighters* how fires burn. I've never been asked, nor has any firefighter of my acquaintance--we often discuss such things because academicians, politicians and mis-named "enviromentalists" make our jobs more difficult. And infinitely more dangerous.

Park and forest officals love such disingenuous reports, using them to divert funding toward attracting and coddling tourists and away from proper forest management, (google the National Park Circus'...um...Service's...$1,000,000 outhouse). If there's a bad fire, officials will blame the report or the weather guessers--anybody or anything. Anything but their own negligence and dereliction of duty. Been there, seen that, got covered with soot. More than once.

As a wildland firefighter, the *best* I can say about this report is that the irresponsible negligence it encourages puts not only my life and the lives of my fellow firefighters in danger, but endangers families living near areas in which thousands of dead trees abound. Carried by the winds, a burning firebrand can travel farther than a rifle bullet, with tremendously more destructive--often, deadly--results.

Leaving--nationwide--millions of dead trees standing is like leaving an open bucket of gasoline in the smoker's lounge: It isn't a question of IF it will result in a tragedy but WHEN. Such an idea is malicious if not downright criminal.

There are 4 possible ignition sources for wildfires: Lightning, men, women and children. Inevitably, one of those ignition sources will meet up with the fuel. It may be sooner, it may be later, but it WILL happen.

It takes only grade-school logic to understand that, if you remove the fuel, a fire is impossible--a word I rarely use but it bears repeating: If you remove the fuel, a fire is IMPOSSIBLE. No one can die in it, no one's home can be reduced to smoldering rubble, because without fuel, fires simply *cannot* happen. Period.

The *worst* I can say about this outrageous, politically-tainted report is that it is a bald-faced lie. Someone will die, horribly, painfully, as a result of it. I hope it isn't me. Or you. Or your children.

BTW: I'm a *volunteer* firefighter. I don't get paid one red cent to fight a fire--in fact, it costs me money out of my own pocket; to take time off to fight fires, to drive sometimes a couple of hundred miles round-trip to take courses (from firefighters, not academicians) in fire behavior, or incident-command structure, or standards, or survival or EMT training. What I have said here is based on experience, observation and conviction, not conflict-of-interest or political agenda.

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