This article from the New York Times most definitely does not serve as the starting point for an informed discussion on wildfire management. It does, however, highlight some interesting issues . . .
With long strides, Chad T. Hanson plunged into a burned-out forest, his boots kicking up powdery ash. Blackened, lifeless trees stretched toward an azure sky.
Dr. Hanson, an ecologist, could not have been more delighted. “Any day out here is a happy day for me, because this is where the wildlife is,” he said with a grin.
On cue, a pair of birds appeared, swooping through the air and alighting on dead trees to attack them like jackhammers. They were black-backed woodpeckers, adapted by millions of years of evolution to live in burned-out forests. They were hunting grubs to feed their chicks.
Montana and the federal government signed the paperwork to establish a formal federal-state logging and restoration partnership . . .
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service on Monday for the state to play a bigger role in forest management on federal lands, which officials say will speed up backlogged logging projects.
Forest management and the declining timber industry have emerged as major issues in this year’s governor’s race, with Weyerhaeuser announcing last month that it would close a Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mill. The closure will put about 100 people out of work in addition to 100 administrative jobs that are being eliminated or moved with Weyerhaeuser’s purchase of Plum Creek Timber.
With the Chessman Reservoir as a backdrop, Bullock, Forest Service Regional Forester Leanne Marten and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs signed the Good Neighbor Authority agreement, which was authorized under the 2014 federal Farm Bill.
Larch tree cones grow near the top of very tall trees, which makes them tough to collect for anything other than squirrels.
The Flathead National Forest needs a lot of larch cones for its reseeding efforts, and it’s seeking public comment on how best to get them. The trees have brittle branches and bark that flakes off easily, making them difficult for humans to climb. Another alternative is shooting cone-bearing branches off the tree. “That’s apparently not one we’re interested in,” Flathead Forest spokesman Wade Muelhof said. The cones aren’t much bigger than grapes, and lots of them get lost as the branches fall to the ground.
So the preferred alternative involves cutting down about 270 trees over 10 years to supply seedling needs.
Here’s a pretty useful write-up on the proposed new national forest planning rule. Or, for those of you who like to read source documents, the official U.S. Forest Service press release and a link to the (take a deep breath) “Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule” can be found online at the Forest Service web site . . .
A proposed planning rule for managing national forests puts new emphasis on watershed health and recreation, but also strives to keep loggers in the woods, U.S. Forest Service officials said Thursday.
The national rule will guide local forest supervisors when they make their more specific forest management plans. Those plans govern where trees can be cut, the kinds of wildlife to watch out for, activities allowed in campgrounds and the backcountry, and how people can challenge forest decisions.
A shiny, new set of national forest management rules are due to take effect in early March . . .
The Obama administration says new rules to manage nearly 200 million acres of national forests will protect watersheds and wildlife while promoting uses ranging from recreation to logging.
The new rules, to replace guidelines thrown out by a federal court in 2009, are set to take effect in early March. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the rule change on Thursday.
Vilsack said in an interview that the rules reflect more than 300,000 comments received since a draft plan was released last year. The new rules strengthen a requirement that decisions be based on the best available science and recognize that forests are used for a variety of purposes, Vilsack said.
Here’s a useful announcement from today’s Daily Inter Lake . . .
Forest Stewardship workshops for landowners and forest managers are scheduled this summer in Kalispell, Yellow Bay on Flathead Lake, and Condon.
The three-day workshops are offered through the Montana State University Extension Forestry Program, which has assisted more than 3,100 participants in developing plans to care for their forests, according to Cindy Bertek, forest stewardship coordinator in Missoula.
Workshops will be held in Kalispell on July 21, 22 and 29; Yellow Bay on Aug. 18, 19 and 26 and Condon on Sept. 15, 16 and 23.