All that was obvious is that you don't like logging.
That's if you believe that they only way to deal with the cleanup job is to have the logging companies do it and let them do what they otherwise need to do in order to make a profit at it. However, if you decide that the public good of performing the cleanup without the ancillary effects of having the lumber companies do it as a byproduct of logging the forests is worth public expense, then there's no need to involve the logging companies and suffer the bad consequences thereof.
First, do you know what it costs to do the kind of work you are asking for? The typical number I see is $1,400 per acre. There are 190 million acres at critical risk of conflagration. That's $266 billion dollars for a single treatment.
That's a lot of "public good" without taking some trees to pay for it. It's unaffordable.
Second, it takes logging equipment to do that kind of work and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Typically, a forest in the Sierra, for example, has about 40 trees per acre over 24," where before humans intervened (according to forest archaeologist, Dr. Tom Bonnicksen of Texas A&M) there were but six larger trees per acre, albeit as much as six feet in diameter. When trees are stocked at 300 per acre, you often need a climber to take it apart without screwing up the keepers. So there is reason to take a fair number of larger trees if only to reduce water competition.
I do full blown habitat restoration work, so I do the kind of work you would like to see in done in forests. I conduct continuous process development in native plant reintroduction and pest plant control. Somebody has to get that fuel out of there and watch the jobsite carefully for several years thereafter. There's nothing like a landowner for that job.
Third, a good logging road is not the problem they used to be. The best among the industry have come a long way in the last 40 years in that respect. High-lead, or helicopter yarding is very expensive.
Fourth, I don't suppose you know that the forests have accelerated their growth far beyond anything we have ever experienced due to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide. Somebody is going to have to deal with all the resulting extra vegetation or we will watch this awful process of neglect and conflagration repeat itself until the weeds dry it out so badly a tree won't grow.
Finally, considering the urgency of this problem, this isn't necessarily about what is optimal from your perspective, but at least it is economically possible to get it done. In many cases, this is about making the better choice among bad options. The Apache seem to have done pretty well at that, once they fired the Forest Service.
You can have this (where the Apache log and graze the land rather aggressively):
or this (National Forest property):
Both photos were taken the same day, both were burned in the Rodeo/Chediski fire. It's really too bad the Apache didn't have time to undo more of the damage before it blew up. As it is, they got screwed by people who wanted the forest "preserved" their way.
In some cases, the worst of logging jobs is preferable to the kind of fires we have seen.
I think you have a bias against logging. Not all of them are bad you know. The best thing to do would be to get rid of National Forests entirely. It's really the only way to get the kind of attention to detail in consideration of overlapping demands humans put on a forest.
I'd bet you aren't ready for that. Methinks you want it for free.
We had a blowdown ourselves. I was in a crew that had to go into the camp on short notice and cut down hundreds of trees that were blocking roads, leaning over program areas ready to fall, etc. We cut down a bunch of these and dragged them out of the way. The lumber company said that they'd come pick up the logs.
Instead what happened was that they picked up the logs, cut down a bunch of other trees that were perfectly healthy and should have been left standing, left slash lying around to fill up with ticks and provide fire hazard, and basically scalp and abuse the camp.
I understand that unnatural forest management techniques have led to a problem that will require non-optimal techniques to resolve. Damage has been done, and damage will be necessary to alleviate it. I agree that removal of trees is both necessary and desirable. I agree that logging companies can have a role in this. But I don't trust the Bush administration to do this without compromising the recreational and conservationist purposes of the forests in the name of profit.
National forests have many roles. One of them is providing raw materials for the paper and lumber companies. But it is not the overriding interest; there are many others. Rhetoric about the fire disasters in California should not be used to mask or justify abuse of the National Forests for corporate interests.
Once again I come back to the model of what's being done in the Superior National Forest/BWCAW. Why can't that model be followed, or adapted, to the California situation?