Skip to comments.Zinke takes forestry fight to fire-ravaged California
Posted on 08/12/2018 5:13:27 PM PDT by yesthatjallen
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is seizing on Californias wildfires to promote a policy long-supported by Republicans that fires could be stopped if forests were logged.
The former Montana congressman is poised to push the benefits of whats known as forest management at an event with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in California on Monday next to the state's largest forest fire in history.
Yet it's not just the blaze that makes the trip important for Zinke and Perdue.
Galvanized by President Trump's recent tweets on the issue and a looming farm bill vote in the House that carries a number of amendments that could open up logging, the new push is also a golden political opportunity, one that environmentalists are calling foul on.
Interior representatives said Zinkes recent tweets and planned visit to Redding, Calif., do not mark a new effort by the agency to preach forest management, saying its a message Zinke has been promoting for years.
It's really not a renewed push, said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift. He is constantly thinking about wildfire and the next wildfire season and what we can do to prevent loss of life, property and resources.
Zinke signed a secretarial order in September 2017 to adopt more aggressive practices, using the full authority of the Department, to prevent and combat the spread of catastrophic wildfires through robust fuels reduction and pre-suppression techniques.
More recently, in May, Zinke released a joint memorandum with Perdue, whose agency oversees the U.S. Forest Service, promoting increased collaboration between the two departments.
The message Zinke and Perdue are amplifying is the need for prescribed burns, mechanical thinning and targeted cuts of trees, a concept the Interior Department is calling active forest management.
In an op-ed Wednesday for USA Today, Zinke said the forest fires were reversible.
There are years worth of dead logs, overgrown shrubs and snags, which many firefighters call widow makers because they are so deadly, he wrote. The buildup of fuels is the condition we can and must reverse through active forest management like prescribed burns, mechanical thinning and timber harvests.
Zinke also said radical environmentalists would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods.
Environmentalists, however, say forest management is just a euphemism for logging, something theyve been fighting against for years. And they see this years farm bill in the House as the latest legislative effort by congressional Republicans to make significant progress toward more logging.
In the farm bill, there's a forestry title. The House version of the forestry title is replete with a revision that would cut out environmental review to allow logging for just about any reason, said Randi Spivak, Public Lands Program Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. They are taking advantage of this moment and, I think, shamefully playing on the publics legitimate fears of wildfires.
The House version of the farm bill that passed June 21 includes provisions that would fast track new road construction and commercial logging in national forests. Additionally, the bill would exempt dozens of projects in national forests from full environmental review.
The Senates version of the legislation does not include those provisions, and the two measures will likely be hammered out in a conference committee in the fall.
Environmentalists say the House-passed provisions would significantly weaken protections for forest habitat, and that arguments in favor of logging to prevent forest fires are not wholly based in science, in addition to being economically driven by industry voices.
They call it active management and thinning, but they are really talking about logging by waiving environmental laws and input, Spivak said. For lots of members of Congress, they have timber and mills in their district, so it's really self serving.
However, Glen MacDonald, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, says that the argued benefits of logging are complicated and dont always fall along party lines.
This debate does not always come down easily to a simple model of conservation groups and scientists versus logging companies, MacDonald said. Some conservation groups, such as the venerable Save the Redwoods League, have launched logging plans for second-growth forest as part of their overall strategy for sustaining healthy redwood forests in the northwestern portions of the state.
He said the debate isnt likely to be settled anytime soon, and that fires will worsen due to climate change.
In California, though, state leaders are pushing back on the administrations blame, calling the messaging from Washington a red herring as Trump moves to roll back a number of environmental and air regulations meant to fight global warming, which they say is the main contributor to the enormous fires.
California has some of the strongest environmental laws in the country, but the impact of extreme drought conditions caused by climate change are intensifying wildfires, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) wrote in a op-ed for The Hill on Friday. Contrary to his tweets, the Trump administrations anti-environment policies, not Californias pro-environment reforms, will make matters worse and hurt our planet for generations to come.
Other National Forests should review the practices of the Black Hills NF wrt logging.
I understand that the two large fires in WA State last year contributed roughly 40% of the total carbon out put of the State last year.
Check out the Coal Seam fires in China wrt annual CO2 output.
Just marinate on the thought of how many forest creatures are destroyed in a fast moving 700,000 acre wildfire. Kinda puts about half their argument to bed.
This would be an interesting debate to have with the enviro extremists. These fires are adding so much in pollution and greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, yet they oppose efforts to manage forests to make these firestorms less likely to explode as they have this year.
Bring it on. Let’s have the debate.
Yes, it’s ridiculous. I go hiking a fair amount, and the amount of dead trees just lying around the forests all over California is absurd. Then when that stuff goes up in flames, it’s just a massive powder keg. Please thin these forests out!
No one will ask them to pay for their carbon release on that account... tsk tsk... only corporate and individual business is taxed, not the state burning forests, silly us
Many of the fires in California are not forest fires; they are mainly scrub brush (chapparel) wildfires and cannot be prevented by improved logging practices.
The Ferguson fire near and in Yosemite is a forest fire. The forests of the Sierra can be better managed. Many of the Sierra forests have been hard hit by bark beetles and there are many dead standing trees, especially around Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Wiki: Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the US state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. It is shaped by a Mediterranean climate (mild, wet winters and hot dry summers) and wildfire, featuring summer-drought-tolerant plants with hard sclerophyllous evergreen leaves, as contrasted with the associated soft-leaved, drought-deciduous, scrub community of coastal sage scrub, found below the chaparral biome. Chaparral covers 5% of the state of California, and associated Mediterranean shrubland an additional 3.5%. The name comes from the Spanish word for evergreen oak shrubland.
How many square miles of forest and how many houses have to be lost before the environmentalists can connect the dots between forest management and fewer uncontrolled forest fires?
By not clearing brush, thinning trees, and not building fire roads with a plan to quickly contain a forest fire, results in the unnecessary losses in life, in homes, wild animals, pets, and trees.
Of course Democrats NEVER see or acknowledge the flaws in their destructive policies. California has lost 500 square miles of woodland to the ravaging forest fires because of their insane environmentalism.
Just what remedies do the environmentalists have in mind? Nothing. Just let the fire burn itself out like it did 300 years ago.
Randi Spivak, Public Lands Program Director at the Center for Biological Diversity — For lots of members of Congress, they have timber and mills in their district, so it’s really self serving.
So serving your constituents is “self serving.” It would seem that Spivak wants every Congresscritter to be beholden to the environmentalists, not to their crumb-seeking, deplorable, bible thumping, gun toting constituents.
Actually most of the brush burning in these fires is Chamise.
It is a severe danger to fire fighters because their turnout gear gets tangled in it, making travel through it a slow process.
And it is oily and burns hot.
The purpose of these fires is to drive settlers out.
Those are the dots they connected 40 years ago when the Agenda 21 burn-out maps were prepared.
How does that stuff not burn hot?
What we really need to do is force congress to completely end “Motorized Travel Restrictions” in all wild land immediately.
One of my favorite trails on the San Fran Peninsula is the Chamise Trail connecting Rancho San Antonio to Hidden Villa.
Here is a list of the common plants in Chamise Chapparel and Sage Scrub.
Most of the California chapparel and scrub is very resinous, ignites quickly and burns hot. The Wiki article points out that it is natural for these biomes to burn every 10 to 100 years.
No, not “greasewood.”
That is mostly found in coastal hills.
It also burns hot, but is easy to work through.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.