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David Morman 
Member since Sep 21, 2015


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Re: “Seven Things to Reflect On As The Forest Fire Flames Subside

As a professional forester with 33-years of experience in Oregon, I offer seven comments in response to Mr. Pedery’s opinion piece:
1. It is interesting that he criticizes the forest industry for using fires to advance its agenda even as he is using fires to advance his own. I encourage Oregon Wild to redirect its energy from criticizing others to direct participation in the many collaborative projects underway to promote landscape-scale forest restoration if it believes the priorities are wrong and money is being wasted.
2. He over-generalizes the fire tolerance of “old growth” (however that term is defined). Yes, for ponderosa pine and western larch but not so much for lodgepole pine, mountain hemlock, and white fir.
3. He seems to forget that about a third of Oregon’s forests are privately-owned financial assets that the owners would like protected. Unless he is advocating converting all forests to public ownership, just thinning around homes and letting fire run its course everywhere else is not sustainable when environmental, economic, and social values are holistically considered.
4. I would argue that 100 years of fire suppression and the last 30 years of a lack of vegetation management on federal lands have done more to promote recent unnatural fire behavior than continued fire suppression coupled with more active forest management on non-federal lands.
5. He seems to believe old growth continues to be under attack from logging. I am not sure where that is still happening at any scale close to the acres of old growth are being lost each year to fires than to chainsaws (think Santiam Pass). It is also important to remember that Oregon forests have always been affected by disturbances such as fire, windstorms, insects, and disease and were never an unbroken sea of large trees, but rather a mosaic of different age classes.
6. His tired rhetoric about environmental damage caused by logging does not reflect modern forest practices regulated by state and federal governments. There are good clearcuts and bad clearcuts just as there are good thinnings and bad thinnings. In the right forest type, in the right location, and depending on management objectives clearcut regeneration harvesting and perhaps even (gasp) salvage harvests can be the best choice and conducted in a manner that protects and maintains forest ecological processes.
7. It seems that society has three choices: 1. Let fires run their course and live with the consequences; 2. Do tax-payer subsidized light fuel treatments near communities that may or may not be adequate to save them or to restore forests to healthier conditions and will soon need to be repeated; or 3. Conduct more intensive, science-based, site specific restoration treatments across the broader landscape, which in some cases might actually generate some revenue.

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Posted by David Morman on 09/21/2015 at 11:03 AM

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