Just what is a ‘resilient’ forest, anyway?


Study finds resilient, frequent-fire forests have far fewer trees

Peer-Reviewed Publication

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – DAVIS

Sierra Nevada forests during drought
IMAGE: FORESTS IN CALIFORNIA’S SIERRA NEVADA FACE MULTIPLE THREATS, FROM DROUGHT AND BARK BEETLES TO SEVERE WILDFIRE AND OTHER CLIMATE-RELATED IMPACTS. view more 
CREDIT: PACIFIC SOUTHWEST FOREST SERVICE, USDA

What does a “resilient” forest look like in California’s Sierra Nevada? A lot fewer trees than we’re used to, according to a study of frequent-fire forests from the University of California, Davis.

More than a century ago, Sierra Nevada forests faced almost no competition from neighboring trees for resources. The tree densities of the late 1800s would astonish most Californians today. Because of fire suppression, trees in current forests live alongside six to seven times as many trees as their ancestors did — competing for less water amid drier and hotter conditions. 

The study, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, suggests that low-density stands that largely eliminate tree competition are key to creating forests resilient to the multiple stressors of severe wildfire, drought, bark beetles and climate change. 

This approach would be a significant departure from current management strategies, which use competition among trees to direct forest development. 

Defining ‘resilience’

But first, the study asks: Just what does “resilience” even mean? Increasingly appearing in management plans, the term has been vague and difficult to quantify. The authors developed this working definition: “Resilience is a measure of the forest’s adaptability to a range of stresses and reflects the functional integrity of the ecosystem.”  

They also found that a common forestry tool — the Stand Density Index, or SDI — is effective for assessing a forest’s resilience.

“Resilient forests respond to a range of stressors, not just one,” said lead author Malcolm North, an affiliate professor of forest ecology with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. “‘Resistance’ is about surviving a particular stress, like fire — but there’s a lot more going on in these forests, particularly with the strain of climate change.”

Competitive nature

For fire-adapted forests in the Sierra, managing for resilience requires drastically reducing densities — as much as 80% of trees, in some cases. 

“Treatments for restoring resilience in today’s forests will need to be much more intensive then the current focus on fuels reduction,” said Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley, a co-author on the paper.

The study compared large-scale historical and contemporary datasets and forest conditions in the southern and central Sierra Nevada, from Sequoia National Forest to the Stanislaus National Forest. It found that between 1911 and 2011, tree densities increased six- to seven-fold while average tree size was reduced by half. 

A century ago, both stand densities and competition were low. More than three-quarters of forest stands had low or no competition to slow a tree’s growth and reduce its vigor. In contrast, nearly all — 82%-95% — of modern frequent-fire forests are considered in “full competition.”

The study indicates that forests with very low tree densities can be more resilient to compounded threats of fire, drought and other climate stressors while maintaining healthy water quality, wildlife habitat and other natural benefits. Forests burned by high-severity fires or killed by drought lose such ecosystem services. 

Wake-up call

The authors say the 2012-2016 drought, in which nearly 150 million trees died from drought-induced bark beetle infestations, served as a wake-up call to the forestry community that different approaches are required to help forests confront multiple threats, not only severe wildfires.

 A shift away from managing for competitive forests and toward eliminating competition could allow the few to thrive and be more resilient.

“People have grown accustomed to the high-density forest we live in,” North said. “Most people would be surprised to see what these forests once looked like when frequent surface fires kept them at very low densities. But taking out smaller trees and leaving trees able to get through fire and drought leaves a pretty impressive forest. It does mean creating very open conditions with little inter-tree competition. But there’s a lot of historical data that supports this.”

 “We think resilient forests can be created, but it requires drastically reducing tree density until there’s little to no competition,” said Brandon Collins of UC Berkeley, another co-author on the paper. “Doing this will allow these forests to adapt to future climate.”

Additional co-authors include Ryan Tompkins of UC Cooperative Extension, and Alexis Bernal and Robert York of UC Berkeley. 

The study was funded by the National Park Service Pacific West Region, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, U.S. Joint Fire Sciences Program, and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Division.


JOURNAL

Forest Ecology and Management

DOI

10.1016/j.foreco.2021.120004 

METHOD OF RESEARCH

Imaging analysis

ARTICLE TITLE

Operational resilience in western US frequent-fire forests

ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE

18-Jan-2022

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David Elstrom
January 22, 2022 2:10 pm

Do these pretentious pinheads ever stop to think that forests were “resilient” by themselves long before Climatistas came along?

rbabcock
Reply to  David Elstrom
January 22, 2022 2:35 pm

“pretentious pinheads (PhD’s)” My apologies to the un-pretentious ones and those that actually participate in real science and the scientific method.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  David Elstrom
January 22, 2022 3:08 pm

sure, but many of the forests were clear cut- and they grew back extremely densely- so they need thinning

MarkW
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 22, 2022 3:55 pm

That’s what frequent, small fires are for.

H B
Reply to  MarkW
January 22, 2022 5:19 pm

and deer

Reply to  H B
January 22, 2022 7:43 pm

Unless, it is a particularly tasty tree like fruit trees, deer only browse the buds and young shoots. That is, they make trees grow bushier.

Several times, deer have eaten my freshly planted fruit and nut trees to the ground. Circular wire guards are required for many fruit and nut trees.

America’s Phasianidae, i.e. grouse and turkeys browse tree and brush buds.
Elk, bison, moose, mule deer, antelope, gophers, even rabbits browse woody buds.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 22, 2022 7:05 pm

Nor should one forget that when many trees are raised in a monoculture approach, they concentrate their pests and diseases; mahogany ‘swietenia mahagoni’, rubber trees, Brazilian rosewood, etc.

e.g. 2, bark beetles are cyclical in that when their prey trees are abundant, especially in dense stands, the beetles multiply and destroy many trees. Bark beetle infestations have been recorded many times before. John Gierach, an author, wrote about his job cutting down, by axe, bark beetle killed conifers in Colorado back in the 1960s.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ATheoK
January 23, 2022 2:53 am

after most forestry- trees are not planted- we depend on nature to plant the trees, especially in the north- trees are planted in the southeast and some in the west- the reason is that planting trees is very expensive and often doesn’t succeed

beng135
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 9:21 am

The mostly oak-hickory-maple forest in many areas of the Appalachian Mnts can & does re-grow from cut stumps — more than once. Re-planting not necessary. Pines do require re-planting, or often “seed” pines left after cutting to re-seed cleared areas.

Last edited 4 months ago by beng135
Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  beng135
January 23, 2022 9:52 am

planting never happens anymore- that I’m aware of in the Northeast – here, if you cut pine heavy on rich soils it’ll convert to hardwoods- on dry soils, if you do a shelterwood thinning- you have a good chance of getting pine back (spruce in the northerly areas) without planting- I’ve seen stands with “natural regeneration” of pine so thick I couldn’t walk through it- but, we like that to deal with the white pine weevil

Michael
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 24, 2022 6:12 am

British Columbia in Canada is the largest producer of softwood lumber, spruce, pine, fir, in the world. To be able to log there you must pay stumpage to the crown (government) and re-plant after logging. I worked as a tree planter for one season and we found survival rates above 80%. We always planted seedlings, either bare-root or plugs, which has soil around the roots. We planted three trees for every one cut by logging and now 40 years later, this second growth timber is ready to harvest again. Tree planting works.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Michael
January 24, 2022 10:59 am

it works in some areas- not so well in other areas

Romeo Rachi
Reply to  Michael
January 25, 2022 6:50 am

Agreed! It was the norm in northwest forests before the Clinton administration basically stopped all logging on federal lands. Anyone who ever went to the forests could see how dense the replanted clearcuts would grow in. Trees planted only a few feet at most apart and by the 10th or 15th year, super dense and dark and devoid of any growth under the canopy. About this time is when they would start clearing out some of the trees and leave one every three feet or so. In about forty years, they would cut again.
I went back home this last fall to do some fishing and visit friends and family and up near Woodland, WA. there is a large tree farm specializing in saplings for the forest industry. All the commercial plots still replant after they cut. Some of those plots have been cut four or five times now. It is quite amazing ang the hunting is pretty good on their lands.
Replanting works and when forestry is done right, is a very sustainable and appropriate forestry management tool.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 9:46 am

Sierra Nevada/Cascade range? Malarkey on clear cut. Some done yes. Generally no. The only clear cuts of common observation was to reduce/eliminate invasive specie. Sometimes caused from too frequent fire ‘man=risk’ wanted or unwanted. Lightning Fires are mother nature.

Romeo Rachi
Reply to  Fred Middleton
January 25, 2022 7:12 am

Yes, clear-cut. Virtually all the forests of the northwest from the Sierra’s to the Cascade range up to Canada have been clear-cut at least once, if not several times. Clearcutting was a very common practice prior to the Clinton administrations banning of all logging back in the 90’s. And all thanks to the Spotted Owl and/or Marbled Murrelet.
Clearcutting is still commonplace on private lands and is a very quick, cheap and effective way to get the most from the trees. Is it the least invasive? No. Are there better, less intrusive ways of harvesting the trees? Yes. But that comes with added cost and in many cases, isn’t necessary. Steep or unstable slopes or very wet or swampy terrain do not lend themselves well to clearcutting. But flat or stable hillsides do.
Clear-cuts may not look pretty but they provide a lot of benefit for the larger forest animals like deer and elk as well as smaller critters like chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits. When done right, it can be a great asset to forestry management.
Attached is an image of Swift Reservoir in Washington State. I remember going fishing and hunting here with my dad and brother back in the 80’s and 90’s. The clear-cuts you see are new and in forests that have grown back since then. The entire north and south shores were clear-cut back then. My dad took deer on both sides of the lake thanks to those clear-cuts. Now, those are more than likely the 4th round of clear-cuts taking place in those locations, if not the 5th.

Clearcut.JPG
Duane
Reply to  David Elstrom
January 22, 2022 5:45 pm

Dude – try reading the post before commenting stupidly.

The main point of the study was that under current management practices that minimize fires, forests are less resistant to common stressors. In other words forests did better without “management” by so called experts.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Duane
January 23, 2022 3:00 am

regarding “management”- most logging in North America was hardly “management”- it was just “cut out and get out”- its only in more recent times that some management now occurs with professional foresters- with college degrees in forestry, “wildlife mgt.”, biology, etc.- and even with foresters, much of the work was and is poorly done- so I’m not going to defend all forestry- in fact, I’m probably the biggest critic of forestry since so much of it is poorly done- when done right, it’s a good thing

so, yes, forests did better before the “white” man came along and started exploiting all resources from the Earth via mining, logging, harvesting gravel, etc.

when you refer to “so called experts”- there were no such experts for most logging- just guys with saws with no concern for the future of the forest- now there are, and over time forestry is improving but it has a long way to go- the biggest threat to forests is people moving into them, especially the arid forests of the west- in the east we have too many invasive species and plans to destroy millions of acres of forests to install “clean and green energy”

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 9:51 am

NonSense. Forest Practice regulations began in some plus/minus 1896. In part based on European forest practices. An illusion of ‘old growth’ and some weak owl has done more to derail nature than forest practices of the past 50 years.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Fred Middleton
January 23, 2022 9:56 am

NonSense up yours- most logging was without “professional forestry” until the 2nd half of the 20th century- there were regulations way back then but not more than a few foresters in the country- some states had no regulations- others had weak regulations- often not enforced- even here in fanatic Massachusetts where most logging was high grading until the ’70s

and yes, I know, German foresters came here late in the 19th century but had little effect at large until some generations passed

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 10:21 am

Modern forestry management is mostly clear cutting far enough from the hiway that vacationers can’t see it as they drive by…and an industry commitment to make a donation to the local boy scout group to plant some seedlings. Don’t believe? Drive from Atlanta to anywhere else in Georgia observing a mile to the side as you crest hills…

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  DMacKenzie
January 23, 2022 11:45 am

A lot of it is clear cutting- which I don’t care for. I don’t defend it. It’s the lazy way to do forestry- but, they do have their rationalizations. I hiked in some of that monoculture forests once and found it disturbing and I almost got lost close to the road when I couldn’t see it. In the north selection forestry and uneven forestry is more common and some of that is poorly done too. To see some great forestry check out Mike Leonard’s Facebook forestry photo albums at: https://www.facebook.com/MikeLeonardConsultingForester/photos/?tab=albums. He’s also in central Mass.

A big problem with large scale clear cutting- anywhere – is the bad public relations that result from it. Here in Mass. the state was doing it on a large scale on state forests- and even the large Quabin Reservoir which sends water to Boston. This stirred up so much opposition- that it resulted in shutting down logging on state and Quabin land for several years. They still do some clear cutting but much smaller in size.

I’ve gotten caught up in all the forestry “wars” here in Mass. for decades. What I like to promote is lots of forestry on most forest land but to the highest standards. I show a few of mine on my extremely amateur YouTube videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/JoeZorzin

The problem with forestry is that there’s not enough of it- what would help it would be a woody biomass market but the climatistas won’t let us have it.

Haverwillde
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 12:54 pm

The bugaboo of the clearcut, is hogwash. In some areas of the country if you want to harvest trees, you need to clearcut. I live in the countries largest rainforest, the Tongass. The Bull Scat that has been spread about clear-cuts is disgusting. I spend time in many of the formerly clear-cut forests. The primary need is to thin the trees. Even the access roads to the clear-cuts become so thick with alders, it is easier to walk in the forest than on the road. If you don’t harvest, you end up with lots of rotting trees.

The Federal management of the forests is a joke. You can’t manage by D.C. Political Decrees, yet that is the only process in place. It is time to turn all those forests over to the states to own and manage.

menace
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 24, 2022 10:29 am

A more modern approach is needed. Allow loggers come in and take trees in select designated areas of 1/4 sq mile. Have them go out and clear the surrounding area up to one mile of underbrush and small trees and excess dry fuel. Collect and chip the forest fodder, including branches and bark stripped from harvested trees, and process and ship it to power plants to burn for energy. Mulch the rest mixed with processed effluent and sell as high grade natural fertilizer. Use revenue generated to compensate the foresters for the extra effort.

DonM
Reply to  menace
January 24, 2022 11:46 am

… I don’t own a whole 160 acres, if I did, I would not clear it all.

When my 30 acres is ready, how do you want me to cut it?

Rud Istvan
January 22, 2022 2:20 pm

The tree density thing has been known for decades. With frequent small fires, happens naturally. Small stuff gets burnt, big stuff survives because the fires don’t crown. Since the fires aren’t massive in area, when big stuff dies small stuff can grow enough toward the open canopy before surviving the next small ground fire.

rbabcock
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 22, 2022 2:31 pm

I remember seeing a local PBS show many years ago outlining how the southern long leaf pine forests of eastern North Carolina survived exactly how you described it. The entire ecosystem was based on frequent quick moving fires in the undergrowth generally set off by lightning. The taller trees didn’t have any issues with the fires and the animals either burrowed in or outran the fires which typically weren’t that large to begin with.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  rbabcock
January 22, 2022 3:10 pm

wild fires are now rare in the American southeast coastal plane because the forests there are intensely managed- including controlled burns

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 10:23 am

And intensely logged.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  DMacKenzie
January 23, 2022 11:38 am

that’s right- got a problem with that?

Duane
Reply to  rbabcock
January 22, 2022 5:50 pm

Southern longleaf pines are actually selected to thrive with frequent low intensity wildfires. The reproductive system of the trees – their pine cones – react to fire by opening up and dropping seeds to the forest floor.

LKMiller
Reply to  Duane
January 23, 2022 6:36 am

Not exactly. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) cones are not serotinous. Rather, longleaf pine grows a fairly thick bark as they grow, which prevents low intensity ground fires from killing them.

Jack pine (P. banksiana) and to a lesser extent lodgepole pine (P. contorta) do have serotinous cones that require heat to open. Frequently that heat comes from wildland fire, but an also happen when logging slash containing cones lies in close contact with the ground and the heat of the sun is sufficient to open the cones.

beng135
Reply to  LKMiller
January 23, 2022 9:40 am

Longleaf pine can grow well north of its range — here’s mine in west Maryland at left after 15 yrs..

HoneyLocust in rain.jpg
LKMiller
Reply to  beng135
January 23, 2022 9:58 am

Are you sure that is longleaf pine? The needles are much shorter than typical longleaf, but that symptom is also a sign of stress.

Which is what you would expect planting a species well outside it’s natural range…

beng135
Reply to  LKMiller
January 24, 2022 8:46 am

Yes, it’s a longleaf,pine bought from a forestry company in Georgia that specialized in replanting “montaine” longleaf pines native to northeast Alabama (more cold-tolerant). The problem here isn’t cold damage, it’s wet snow/ice severely bending the branches.

Last edited 4 months ago by beng135
beng135
Reply to  LKMiller
January 24, 2022 8:50 am

Here’s another view — I have two.

Longleaf2017.jpg
aussiecol
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 22, 2022 4:05 pm

With Australian eucalypt forests, when tree density levels exceed the preferred stocking rates, the dominant trees out grow the less dominant ones which eventually die out. I assume it would be the same with the conifers in North America.
Just natures way of creating ”resilience”. But as Joseph states, that result can be speeded up by decades with commercial thinning.

Janice Moore
Reply to  aussiecol
January 22, 2022 5:22 pm

It is. In high school biology, we learned that our evergreen forests are “fire climax” forests. The seedlings of trees like Douglas Fir (here in Washington State, USA) take significantly longer to grow than those of the deciduous trees. A forest fire every few years kills off the fast-growing, deciduous trees (alder, cottonwood, or the like) whose seedlings block the sunlight from the baby evergreens. The Douglas Fir (and Ponderosa Pine and others) can survive a fire and then grow big enough to “elbow out” the deciduous trees.

Good forest MANAGEMENT (as Mr. Zorzin and Mr. Leonard did or do practice) is a win-win. Excellent quality timber with no forest fires (with all their devastating collateral damage) needed.

aussiecol
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 22, 2022 6:32 pm

Thanks Janice.
Also, I should have added that the wetter mixed forests here only see a fire frequency of between 200 to 400 years which are usually catastrophic and burns everything. The resulting eucalypt regrowth become in an even age forest where the results mentioned above are more common. There are pockets of old eucalypt forest that exceed 650 years, which if doesn’t see a fire soon or not logged, eventually die and replaced by rainforest.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  aussiecol
January 23, 2022 10:26 am

Commercial clear cutting enabled by a brown envelop full of cash is what prevents forest fires locally….

Duane
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 22, 2022 5:47 pm

It’s actually a pretty simple concept. The more fuel density, the more fire intensity. And the more crowded and stressed trees are – just like other species including humans – the more susceptible to disease.

Linda Goodman
January 22, 2022 2:36 pm

re·sil·ience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; ie: A carbon jackboot will make most lives a living hell and resilience is the only means of survival.

John VC(@jvcstone)
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 22, 2022 3:55 pm

In other words the ability to bounce back–I’m thinking rubber trees

DonM
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 24, 2022 11:53 am

🙂 and, based on the fact that I am the center of the universe, ‘Quickly’ is further defined by my longevity and my life experience. So, a forest is not resilient unless I can see it for myself. 🙂

(green perspective.)

Tom Halla
January 22, 2022 2:50 pm

Now convince the Sierra Club and Friends of The Earth of that definition of resilient forests, rather than their preferred doing nothing. Until the sue and settle management of wildlands in the West ends, no real progress will be made.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Tom Halla
January 23, 2022 3:30 am

Good point. Good management practices based on scientific knowledge were replaced by ideological non-management. And the judicial system if forced (by the existing laws that it must apply) to make ideology supersede science.

Last edited 4 months ago by Joao Martins
markl
January 22, 2022 2:51 pm

History is only referred to when it serves their purpose.

LKMiller
January 22, 2022 2:55 pm

I think it is worth noting that not all forests are the same. For example, in the northeastern US wildland fires are fairly rare. Why? Precipitation is fairly evenly balanced throughout the year, so that drought stress doesn’t happen very often. Forest stands thus can grow quite densely, and self thin through survival of the most fit.

West of the Mississippi, summer drought is fairly common. Drought stressed trees are susceptible to insects, disease, and premature death, which adds to the fuel load.

All this notwithstanding, this article falls in the Captain Obvious category. We have known this about western forests for a LONG time. The problem is the legacy of decades of wildland fire control.

So, let’s blame Smokey.

Joseph Zorzin
January 22, 2022 3:07 pm

Yes, and I speak from a half century of practicing forestry in Massachusetts- thinning forests is good for many reasons- they’ll be more resilient, grow faster, produce valuable timber faster, be better habitats, less likely to burn, etc. The problem now is how to thin them due to cost. It’s helpful to have a market for the trees you want to remove. If they are small trees or defective/damaged trees or trees of species with no market value- you’ll have to spend a fortune to do the thinning. The ideal solution is to develop a woody biomass/pellet industry which will cover some of the cost if not all of it. The problem is too many people think that’s a horrible idea. The greens hate any tree cutting. They think it’s best to leave all the trees alone to sequester carbon- forgetting how much carbon gets released in a fire and forgetting how much they love THEIR wood homes and wood furniture and paper products. They hate the fact that burning this wood releases “carbon pollution”. And, unfortunately, some people associate woody biomass/pellets as just another green, renewable, over subsidized industry- but it isn’t. It is indeed renewable and it can provide baseload power or if converted to pellets for home use- it’s a fine substitute for firewood. The pellets produced are bone dry so they burn better than firewood which is seldom that dry and often dirty with bugs, bark, etc. The photo is of a friend’s pellet stone which he likes very much- he says it’s far superior to his previous wood burning stove. It produces far less ash than firewood and burns cleaner. Now, I’m sure I’m going to hear about the vast subsidies-which is bullshit. Sure, there is some here and there but so do almost every industry on the planet, so give up on that argument. All things considered, it is a solution to thin forests, produce LOCAL ENERGY, provide LOCAL jobs and some renewable baseload power to biomass power plants. There is a lot of potential nationwide. One USDA report was called the Billion Ton Report. And, yes, burning this wood produces plant food emissions- and over the long term, these thinned forests can produce VALUABLE timber for the owner, whether a private or public owner. If people like wood products they should support long term forestry including biomass as a tool for the managers.

SAM_0743.JPG
Rud Istvan
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 22, 2022 4:06 pm

You are describing how we managed for near 40 years the three big steep woodlots on my Wisconsin dairy farm. Marked and logged about every 15 years, pure selective cut. We had no market for crowns (no pellet industry I know of in SW Wisconsin), so I would go in in winter and cut as much as possible for firewood. Brought out on a converted old manure spreader behind my AWD tractor. Stored the limbs for years in a big unused farm shed to dry, then cut and maybe split about 4 full (not face) cords per year for winter firebox/wood stove heating.

MarkMcD
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 22, 2022 4:08 pm

Rocket mass heaters are even MORE economical than slow combustion ones. Een less ash residue and almost smokeless, just plant food coming from the grate and the chimney.

Kit P
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 12:38 pm

There are lawyers who specialize in environmental litigation. They need to pay does at there big city country clubs.

otropogo
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 24, 2022 11:09 am

My understanding is that significant thinning of forest will result in significant increase in deer, which leads to a multitude of costly and difficult social and environmental problems, from auto collisions, to deer invading towns and vegetable gardens, and even to the eventual collapse of local deer populations due to disease caused by the stress of overpopulation. It seems to me that before anything as dramatic as an 80% reduction in forest density is embarked on, a workable strategy has to be designed and implemented for continually culling the deer population in an economically feasible way (ie. by profitably marketing the meat and hides, etc. rather than filling the landfills with them).

In British Columbia a number of municipalities have come up with harebrained schemes to cull deer that have moved into town, using cage traps and bolt guns that outraged the animal “advocates” and succumbed easily to sabotage and were further stalled by costly litigation. Yet all they had to do was to persuade the provincial government to set up a baited zone with access limited to specially licensed hunters. Even antlerless permits for the area for the area would have helped cull the population. But instead the few remaining hunters were only allowed to take four-point bucks, which did nothing to stem the population explosion.
.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  otropogo
January 24, 2022 11:21 am

“My understanding is that significant thinning of forest will result in significant increase in deer, which leads to a multitude of costly and difficult social and environmental problems”

Promote hunting. Apparently this obvious solution is not politically correct in BC.

Bob
January 22, 2022 3:26 pm

What is going unsaid here is the difference between forest management and forest preservation. Forest preservation is a hands off, let nature rule approach. It is incredibly stupid, wasteful and unsustainable. Forest management on the other hand is far more complex. Human management requires responsible logging, thinning and prescribed burns. We choose the forest we want and reduce what we don’t want. Allow humans to use and enjoy the forest for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and yes driving through the forest. All those roads built for harvesting the resources and for recreation are ideal for all manner of forest management and fire fighting. They are a plus not a minus. Not all roads need to be made available to motor vehicle travel, some portion of them should be reserved for foot, horse maybe even bicycle use. The point is the public should not be locked out of their own forests, controlled maybe but not locked out.

MarkW
Reply to  Bob
January 22, 2022 5:57 pm

Let nature rule, is unsustainable?????

How did forests ever survive prior to the Gaia inventing mankind?

Bob
Reply to  MarkW
January 22, 2022 7:35 pm

Regular small fires.

MarkW
Reply to  Bob
January 23, 2022 7:53 am

Which would qualify as “let nature rule”.

Bob
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2022 3:52 pm

That’s right but that isn’t the point is it? The point is that the forests we live in today are not the same as they were when we Europeans first appeared on the scene. They were more open and predominately made up of fire resistant species. That is not the case today. They are cluttered with over grown understory and non native trees that are less fire resistant. Now when we have a fire there are large stocks of tinder and kindling just waiting to be ignited and easily consuming the less fire tolerant species which in turn make it easy to ignite the fire tolerant species. The point is we have loved our forests to death.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2022 3:04 am

yes, the forests survived just fine- but now we need to get the forests sustainable with vast number of homo sapiens who need wood products- what would be unsustainable if the forests are locked up is civilization which needs the wood- but of course the climatistas would prefer to destroy forests to save the Earth by installing monstrous “clean and green” energy

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 7:12 am

Resource Lock up. 1990’s

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Bob
January 22, 2022 7:08 pm

I don’t believe we let nature rule anywhere in North America, we may close areas off to sound forest management but if a fire starts there they pounce and put it out.

That isn’t nature rules!

Bob
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 22, 2022 7:39 pm

That is precisely the problem, leave it alone, no thinning, no prescribed burns, no logging, then when a fire happens there a huge understory just waiting to crown.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Bob
January 23, 2022 9:56 am

1 Hour fuels perpetuate any fire.

Bob
Reply to  Fred Middleton
January 23, 2022 3:56 pm

That is true but would you rather have the one hour fuels ignited in you lawn or your wood pile?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 23, 2022 3:05 am

not in National Parks and Wilderness Areas- better to have controlled burns rather than wild fires which destroy the resource- and yes, nature is a resource

beng135
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 23, 2022 9:50 am

That isn’t nature rules!

Exactly.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Bob
January 23, 2022 7:10 am

The debate in Western Forest management 1990 forward was a political play. Within Sierra/Cascade conifer forest, private and government, ample photo graphic evidence. Early black/white photos post Civil War in near Oregon and California trail, show a very different conifer density than 1980’s. There are established solutions, but only outside of media debate.  May 31, 2019 – 2,034 lightning strikes were recorded within California. Local Indians of 1800’s did not manage these natural fires. conceptshttps://yubanet.com/regional/2034-lightning-strikes-recorded-yesterday-in-california-178-on-the-tahoe-national-forest/.


Bob
Reply to  Fred Middleton
January 23, 2022 4:04 pm

You are right Fred concerning the Indians I have read that they used their own version of prescribed burns.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Bob
January 23, 2022 10:58 am

Well actually the amount of forest thinning you are allowed depends on your submission to the local Forestry management officer. These submissions can involve a lot of paperwork and eco-studies, a statement from the nearest fire department, or in their simplest form, a few Benjamins in an envelope, or somewhat more expensive forestry management, a track record of really wild annual parties to which the local officials are invited.

Last edited 4 months ago by DMacKenzie
meab
January 22, 2022 3:36 pm

The authors say the 2012-2016 drought, in which nearly 150 million trees died from drought-induced bark beetle infestations, served as a wake-up call to the forestry community that different approaches are required to help forests confront multiple threats, not only severe wildfires.

That’s pure B.S. Bark beetle outbreaks didn’t just start nor are they endemic to just areas with a warm climate. In the 1990s bark beetles killed 2.3 million acres of spruce in Alaska (in an area that’s known for its bitter cold weather). It has been (falsely) claimed that cold weather kills them and it’s not getting cold anymore. That claim doesn’t survive the most cursory examination since it is still getting cold in areas that have had recent infestations. A study done in Alberta a few years ago showed that 1/2 of their bark beetle population survived 40 below zero temperatures. It’s simply the case that a bark beetle infestation can kill trees that are under duress from a drought. Bark Beetles co-evolved with forests over many, many thousands of years (perhaps millions) and during that time droughts happened and so did bark beetle induced forest die-offs.

The claim that there has been a recent wake-up call is just more carnival barking from rent-seeking scientists.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  meab
January 22, 2022 7:06 pm

Yes, here in Alberta they said climate change caused the pine beetles to run amok
Except we get good stretches of -40 and colder every year and next spring the beetles tunnel out and keep on eating

Fred Middleton
Reply to  meab
January 23, 2022 7:20 am

California recorded data – drought of 200 years.

california_drought_timeline.png
Peta of Newark
January 22, 2022 3:45 pm

Quote:”competing for less water amid drier and hotter conditions

It’s not really water that they’re competing for, its what’s dissolved in the water that is important.
Plants get more than sufficient water than they need for Photosynthesis because for every CO2 molecule they take, that molecule will have 6, 8, 10 how many water molecules attached. Hence the original name for CO2 = Carbonic Acid

Quote:”A century ago, both stand densities and competition were low
Consider what that statement says in light of what I said above.
i.e. In low stand densities, each tree can have more of whatever it is that in the water they are taking up from the soil or and…..
iow: in the low stand densities the trees are better fed than the high density trees

Therein is surely Shirley the clue to having high stand densities of resistant trees.
And what every farmer and grower on this Earth probably uttered as their first words.

Feed those things, give them food, give them fertiliser.

In modern times what they need as fertiliser, thanks to ploughs, tillage, city-building, quarrying and road traffic is snowing down on them constantly. The same stuff causing Global Greening and melting Arctic Ice in the same way de-icing salt melts ice on roads and pavements.

What those trees need are all the Trace Elements and Micro Nutrients
e.g. Iron##, Copper, Boron, Manganese, Iodine, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium etc etc etc
IOW: The stuff that volcanoes are made of and puff up into the sky as their fancy takes them.
Also the hard black stuff left behind after they have vented their fury.

## Iron is amazingly important for ‘toughness’ and ‘resilience’
Don’t take my word, ask anyone who is tasked with maintaining grass in ‘high traffic situations’ – such as park-keepers and greens-men on golf courses

Thus, if you want resistant trees, trees that are resistant to fire, pests, disease and drought, simply give them a generous measure of The Black Stuff

edit: sp & grammer and arctic

Last edited 4 months ago by Peta of Newark
MarkW
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 22, 2022 4:00 pm

that molecule will have 6, 8, 10 how many water molecules attached.

Source please.

MarkW
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 22, 2022 6:00 pm

Plants get more than sufficient water than they need for Photosynthesis because for every CO2 molecule they take,

If that were true, no plant would ever die from not being watered enough.

meab
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 22, 2022 6:09 pm

Another post that could have benefited from 2 minutes of research. Almost all of the CO2 taken up by plants is NOT dissolved in water. This misunderstanding on your part, Peta, explains why you have the absolutely crazy idea that if you fertilize the deserts plants will magically grow without water.

But, of course, you really didn’t even need to research this. Anyone with half a brain knows that if you don’t water a houseplant it will die. DUH.

You aren’t, by chance, on massive doses of painkillers for your sciatica are you, Peta?

MarkW
Reply to  meab
January 23, 2022 7:56 am

On the other hand, there hundreds of examples of people bringing water to deserts and making things grow.

January 22, 2022 3:56 pm

“Climate Smart Forestry” is the latest buzz phrase being published for the Forestry Sector. What is it? It’s about protecting forests, longer rotations, minimizing disturbance to forest soils and the residual forest stand, and storing carbon in long lived forest products. As a consulting forester in my own business, I already do all that. Now the forest bureaucracies are pushing “climate forestry plans”.
What is the difference between a “climate” forestry plan and a standard forest management plan? If you insert the word climate enough in a standard plan does it magically become a “climate” plan and achieve that superior status?! I also note that some government agencies and “nonprofits” are using the title “climate foresters”. What is the difference between a “climate” forester and a consulting forester like myself? Isn’t the work I do – helping to protect and manage thousands of acres of forest land good for the climate?
If I change my business name from North Quabbin Forestry to “Climate Change Forestry”, will I be a “Climate Hero”?
This has nothing to do with promoting forestry; it’s all about promoting bigger wasteful forest bureaucracies and wealthy “nonprofits” who feed off forestry issues but produce nothing of value.
Mike Leonard, Consulting Forester
North Quabbin Forestry – http://www.northquabbinforestry.com
Petersham, MA

2hotel9
January 22, 2022 4:00 pm

Simple question, simple answer. A resilient forest is one properly husbanded. College educated stupid f**ks are not intelligent enough to figure that out.

MarkMcD
January 22, 2022 4:02 pm

The authors say the 2012-2016 drought, in which nearly 150 million trees died from drought-induced bark beetle infestations, served as a wake-up call to the forestry community that different approaches are required to help forests confront multiple threats, not only severe wildfires.

I thought the beetle problem had been confirmed to be the LACK of forest management such that there were far more older trees, which were more vulnerable (tasty?) to the beetles.

AFAIK it was seen by the sane ones as a warning the greenie bans and activism was risking entire forests because green activism knew nothing other than ‘save the cuddlies’…

Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2022 5:09 pm

Excellent paper, although a recitation of what has been known in forest science for 100 years and in practice for 10,000 years.

Widely spaced trees in many forest types survive frequent ground fires and are more vigorous without competition from adjacent trees. Piling, burning, mulching, and grazing between the trees acts much like frequent fire in reducing ground fuels. Such forests are resilient to fire: fires don’t crown and the widely-spaced trees survive.

Historically frequent fire was anthropgenic. Deliberate, expert, regular, human-ignited fires were the most widespread (universally adopted) cultural practice in pre-Columbian North and South America (and on other continents as well).

The indigenous people had many reasons for burning: reduce the fire hazard, encourage forage and mast for animals, create firewood for human hearths, open sight lines for hunting, drive game, encourage craft fibers such as beargrass, hazel, willow, etc. and many more.

The serendipity realization is that restoring forests to traditional stocking (<20 trees per acre) not only protects heritage, it also makes forests less likely to explode into megafires that destroy myriad resources and sometimes even towns.

It turns out that traditional forest management is just what is needed for our modern forests.

Caveat — tree farms are not forests. Their management differs. Our public forests need forest management: restoration of traditional of open, park-like widely-spaced stands that provide fire reduction and resiliency as well as protecting other natural resources. Tree farming is a business and like any other type of farming should be done in the private sector only. Public forests are not and should not be tree farms.

And By The Way, all this has nothing to do with "climate change". It's political, but it's not CAGW. Proper stewardship is needed across all climate zones, regardless.

Doug Huffman(@doughuffman)
January 22, 2022 5:26 pm
Philip
January 22, 2022 5:29 pm

You cannot talk about resiliency or ecosystem until you’ve defined the nature of the forest.
Is it coniferous? Deciduous? Mixed? Is it being farmed or left to itself? It is timber you want or pulp? Has it got water? And who doesn’t have it? And do you want more or less of that tree which has claimed the water?
There are many more questions but that example should do. Generally speaking, a coniferous tree like a Pine or Fir or Spruce tree needs about 15-20 feet between it and its neighbor for personal space. Large topped deciduous like a Maple or Ash or Cherry can need up to 50 feet. So again, more questions need to be answered.
It took my family working summer and winter for about 15 years to turn forty-acres of mixed forest into a productive venture. So, nothing we [can] do, will be suddenly effective, and certainly whatever and whenever the government decides, it will take twice again as long. So, I wouldn’t think forestry is the place for ‘greenies’ hoping to effect climate change.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Philip
January 22, 2022 5:47 pm

Restating: tree farms are not forests. What you do on your private land is fine there but not appropriate for public land. Public land should not be managed like a for-profit farm but for other values such as wildlife, water, public safety, heritage, scenery, recreation, etc.

Public forests of all possible species mixes should be restored to traditional conditions appropriate to the history of the site and include hazard abatement and fire resiliency, for the public good.

Let’s not do socialized farming, tree or row crop. Socialized farming has failed everywhere it has been tried. Do your thing, make a profit on your own land, but don’t impose your business strategy on public land. It won’t work there.

Philip
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2022 7:50 pm

Utter nonsense. If you think private mixed forestry is a tree farm or row crops [like planting corn] you’re ignorant of the practice. Private forests are selectively harvested and planted advantageously to the young trees having the very best opportunity to reach maximum potential for timber. Water and game conservation go hand in hand with forest management. What you’re thinking of I don’t know. Maybe what governments did years ago. The only place I’ve seen any newly planted tree acreage in a close row are trees planted for pulp. No private ‘timber’ forest manager in their right mind will plant ‘timber’ in such a fashion.

Government land’ ought to be managed as business like as possible. Including profits from allowing [conditional] selective harvesting by private firms. Forest health has zero to do with heritage or scenery or recreation. The heritage of an unkept, beetle ridden, scaberulous forest isn’t conducive to scenery or recreation.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Philip
January 22, 2022 8:32 pm

Not ignorant; I’ve been a professional forestry consultant and woodland owner for 50+ years. Tree farming is the art and science of growing commercial tree products, with or without rows, with or without timber. I do it on my land. I grow some timber but mostly decorative woods (figured maple), ornamentals (Christmas trees in rows), craft fibers (barks, shoots, wands, cordage fibers), firewood, and edibles (morels). We have wildlife, scenery, etc., but my land is not public. No trespassing, please.

Forests, public forests are something entirely different. Their management is entirely different, although some of the incidental products are the same. Their main purpose is not as a business but as a public trust for water, wildlife, recreation, and nature preserves. The public is welcome on public lands. Different, different, different.

For the last 40 years public forest management has failed in its mission. The old strategy of timber harvesting gave way to No Touch, Let It Burn. Neither was satisfactory. A different approach is needed: restoration to heritage conditions is the answer.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2022 9:20 pm

How? How does millions of acres of forests get restored to heritage conditions? All I see coming is the eventual catastrophic destruction of most of those millions of acres of forests. It’s happening right now, between 2020 and 2021 some 500,000 acres in my local part of the Sierra Nevada burned. Forest so tight it’s difficult to walk through. I don’t think anything will be done.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Randle Dewees
January 22, 2022 10:32 pm

The Dixie Fire alone was close to a million acres on 3 NF’s, despite the fact that the Plumas has been at the center of this debate for 40+ years. Etc etc. Too little, too late. So you’re right, the situation seems hopeless.

My attitude is never give up, anyway. Leave some kind of record of effort. Try to convince people to do the right thing. The best I can do, for no reward. Maybe in 100 years the light will come on.

The authors caught the clue, partially. They have more clout than me. So maybe it’s not completely hopeless. If there was a will, we could find a way. And note this: restoring a forest to 5 tpa means removing the other 500 tpa. The harvest might be worth enough to pay for the treatments.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Randle Dewees
January 23, 2022 10:05 am

Something will be done during a flood. Flood of goof balls. Have or Have Not. Already stated, clearly, Preservation vs Use Management.

Philip
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 22, 2022 11:16 pm

Nope. So called Tree hugging conservation is not the ideal. We need to use them. Profit from them and to maintain them not as government property alone, but as trust between govt. and private business. People thinking like you keep housing at a million dollars a unit when with a little education and contractual forethought many a citizen could seek a license contract to oversee a section of forest and selectively harvest giving the govt. their stump fee/tax or whatever you want to call it. We’d get more done and we wouldn’t need any new agency[s] to oversee the contracts. The Forest Service would suffice. This idea that public forests are sacred got us into this whole ‘don’t touch’ mess in the first place. We need new thinking, not continuing the tried and failed. But I’m sure people who hold your opinion will win out and we’ll continue down this road of failure until the next generation comes along and isn’t afraid to break the hippie forth wall of scream and whine but don’t touch.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Philip
January 23, 2022 6:10 am

Well, if I could pick one of the two utopias (commercially managed into resilience, or “a miracle happens” and the forest becomes in some way “heritage”), I’ll take the miracle. But either way it’s not going to happen, at least not before essentially all of the forest is burned in huge catastrophic fires. There is a wall of restrictions and regulations, and an army of bureaucrats, NGOs, and courts to “interpret” and enforce them. That will keep anything meaningful from happening.

This discussion is just a lot of hot air.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Philip
January 23, 2022 10:14 am

United States Constitution. Nowhere is there a provision for the Government Command to take-steal-appropriate lands of a State or Territory within the Constitution. 1896 – California Forest offered to the California State by Washington DC, as a manageable resource. Free. Constitutionally? California even in that day Yo Yo Politicians’ said – how much will you pay us to do so? Failure by DC then created the National Forest system within the Department of Agriculture

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 23, 2022 3:15 am

“Their main purpose is not as a business but as a public trust for water, wildlife, recreation, and nature preserves.” You can have all that plus produce “wood products”. In a world with 7 billion people- we’ll need to manage most forest land including public forest. Not doing so is like the attitude that we don’t need to drill for oil or dig for coal- leave in the ground. As for “heritage conditions”- that will be fine when the population gets back to trivial numbers.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 23, 2022 3:12 am

America has 330 million people- they all like wood products- if you restrict too much forest land from mgt,, then less wood will be produced and the price will go up- it’s as simple as that. And, not all forestry results in what you call a tree farm. In the American southeast, they really are tree farms- millions of acres planted in rows- mostly monoculture- very boring-yet, very productive. Most forestry isn’t that way- it’s far less intense, without planting and often without clear cutting. We say it’s “extensive” rather than intensive. That might be a good kind of forestry for public lands and is common in the northern public forests.

LKMiller
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 23, 2022 6:58 am

Mike – I cannot agree. Across the US West, the federal government broke it’s implicit contract with local communities, counties, and states when it essentially shut down management of the National Forests for timber production. The feds came in more than 100 years ago, saying that since the states don’t have the resources to manage the forests withing their borders, we (Uncle Sam) will take over and do it for you.

But, recognizing at the time that a) these were State forests initially and b) there was a growing demand for timber, the federal government managed accordingly. The subsequent timber sale revenue was a boon to local communities, counties, and states, and rural timbered areas thrived.

With the passage of the poorly named Northwest Forest Plan Revision in 1994, the federal government essentially told the timbered rural west to pound sand. I happen to live surrounded by Exhibit A, the Kootenai National Forest. The KNF is 2.2 million acres, and dominates 78% of the land area of Lincoln Co. Montana. During the “bad old days,” the KNF never harvested more than 300 million board feet (mbf) – the current net annual growth is well north of 500 mbf – but now struggles to put out 50 mbf.

You do the math. With each passing year, the tremendous backlog of standing timber grows ever larger, with all the attendant problems of decadent forests. And in Libby, there is no longer a sawmill, indeed, there isn’t one of any consequence in the whole county. Instead of exporting 2×4’s, Lincoln Co, exports its children. And, Lincoln Co has the highest unemployment rate in all of Montana. This is immoral, and wrong.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  LKMiller
January 23, 2022 10:20 am

Correct. Federal politicians – via appointees in Departments, rewrote the interpretation of what these people said and wrote. John AdamsSamuel AdamsBenjamin FranklinAlexander HamiltonPatrick HenryThomas JeffersonJames MadisonJohn Marshall, George Mason, and George Washington.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  LKMiller
January 23, 2022 11:15 am

Yes. Granted all the above. The Fed land was taken from the states in violation of the Articles of Admission at statehood and in violation of the US Constitution (Article 1, Clause 17). This travesty goes back to Teddy Roosevelt. The Feds have been atrocious land managers for over 100 years. Today the Fed lands have been incinerated and local communities have been devastated.

But the states and large industrial landowners have not been much better managers. Big Timber has called the shots on public land for decades and really are to blame. Their goal has been to halt all logging on public land so as to cartel the timber supply. Who do you think funds the politicians and the sue-happy enviros? It’s no secret. Big Timber grows short-rotation tree fiber intensively (tree farming) and the public lands are left untouched — by corrupted policies — to burn catastrophically.

That’s the situation we have. It does not seem to matter who owns the land; crappy management ensues in all cases.

It turns out that Big Timber is floundering because their business model cannot deliver a decent rate-of-return on capital. Trees grow too slowly. Alternative investments do better. In fact, the largest landowners make their money on transportation (railroads) and telecommunications (the fiber optic cables and microwave towers are on their land — check out the evolution of Verizon et al).

Timber farming is a losing proposition, even if the trees are not in rows, and they rarely are. Please get off the row paranoia; it’s not happening, it’s not a feature of most tree farming, and it’s not required or definitional.

All that does not negate the need to curtail our forest fire crisis, which emanates from poorly managed public land. The fuels must be reduced. Clearcutting is one way, but that’s politically undesirable. The impacts to other resources are perceived as too great.

The only way to reduce fuels that’s acceptable is restoration to fire-resistant heritage conditions. The authors got the reduction in density part right. They missed the ground fuels and especially the heritage part. We need to respect and learn from history. We’ve had enough palaver with out-dated political illusions. It’s time to move forward using the lessons learned from tradition.

DonM
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 24, 2022 4:19 pm

Mike,

You know better than that.

O & C lands are to be managed for sustained yield. Above all else, sustained yield.

Restoration to ‘heritage conditions’ does not, in any way, come into play.

“Restoration to heritage conditions”, even outside of O & C lands, is just another morphing ephemeral phrase that leads to competing goals, until it is replaced by another undefinable phrase that will better serve those in charge at the time.

RickWill
January 22, 2022 5:49 pm

The northern hemisphere summers started warming 400 years ago. That will result in reduced summer rainfall. The 400 years is but a small proportion of the 10,000 year cycle of summer warming to come. June average insolation over the NH in 9,000 years will be 21W/sq.m more than present.

More CO2 is increasing forrest productivity.

Fire fighting efforts aiming to limit the spread of this year’s fire will lead to a bigger and more intense fire in the years to come.

There are real changes occurring in forests in the northern hemisphere and management practices need to keep up.

Cutting down forests to install wind turbines and solar panels is one way to lower the risk of forrest fires but there are likely to be smarter ways – like thinning as proposed.

What I like about this paper is that it does not mention carbon, CO2, solar panels and wind turbines. It highlights the need for adaption in the face of observations rather than taking a view that “renewables” will make it all better.

Rex Malott
January 22, 2022 6:39 pm

I live in the Santa Monica mountains of Southern California and am familiar with California forest practices, but I also grow timber on some British Columbia Islands. These islands can and do burn with the best of forests notwithstanding more moisture, but what is interesting in this discussion is the stem density. In the old days density was a lot less but the stems were a lot thicker. The crowns were taller and the limbs were bigger and longer.

Competition in these old day forests was terrific, probably more so than in today’s younger forests if one includes the fungal components of trees. thousand year old tree, thousand year old fungal colonies. I can see all of this walking through my woods and marveling at the old stumps.

I am all for productive forest practices, but one must recognize that a return to Eden is impossible. How does one reproduce small stem density giant diameter stems with its complicated underground fungal system? You can’t unless assuming a 1,000 year protected evolution of the forest soil ecosystem. We can’t and should stop pretending this is practical or possible.

That said, I worry about long term multiple timber harvests, and I get the CO2 fertilizer thing. What I don’t know is what happens underground, with repeated insults of logging, replanting (the contamination of rootstock and planter vectors bothers me).

Back to California. Forget the trees, they are the symptom. What is happening in the soil?

Rex Malott
Reply to  Rex Malott
January 22, 2022 9:50 pm

To clarify, don’t manage the forest, manage the soil. The old giants and the trained burnt over forests did this naturally. We screw this up by replanting too tight after harvest and not paying any attention to fungal impacts caused by the disruption from big stemmed older growth to new re-planted stems. The under ground transformation and nutrient exchange is far more consequential than what we see on the surface. Long term sustainable multi-harvest management plans have to start with understanding the dirt, the fungus and insuring that it well-managed.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rex Malott
January 23, 2022 3:18 am

“replanting too tight after harvest”- after most logging, no planting was done- the forests have a tendency to over-plant themselves- then self thin

in the west, the forests grew back too dense and should have been thinned soon after and with controlled burns, would have avoided the large wild fire problem

LKMiller
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 7:34 am

Joseph – As I’m sure you know, even planted forests west of the Cascade Crest quickly have a density problem because of ingrowth. I’ve worked on industrial forests in the Coast Range that, 10 or fewer years after clearcutting and planting to 400 tpa, grow to have 1500-2000 stems/a. So, pre-commercial thinning (PCT) is required. Obviously, this comes at a cost – no product produced. That companies recognize they must do PCT in this region is one of the reasons why wildland fires rarely get started on these ownerships. But, it isn’t free.

Indeed, all of forest management isn’t free, and costs must be carried for 20 (southeast US), 40 (coastal D-fir), 60 (conifers in the Lake States, or more years. Depending on the cost of money, carrying these costs isn’t trivial, and must be recovered at harvest, with a margin for profit.

January 22, 2022 6:49 pm

Looks like the next generation of foresters are hopelessly lost. They’ve swallowed too much kool-aid.

More than a century ago, Sierra Nevada forests faced almost no competition from neighboring trees for resources. The tree densities of the late 1800s would astonish most Californians today. Because of fire suppression, trees in current forests live alongside six to seven times as many trees as their ancestors did — competing for less water amid drier and hotter conditions.”

When the giants of the forests are harvested or fall during storms, they open up forest canopies that allow greater levels of light to reach the forest floor.

That greater amount of light causes seeds to sprout. Then begins the real competition as every seedling grows as fast as it can manage, until it can shade out it’s competitors.

This happens in every forest, worldwide.

Students sift and aggregate data until they find something that they think proves their confirmation biases.

Their elders should laugh at them, long and hard, in public every chance they get.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  ATheoK
January 22, 2022 7:17 pm

The giants of the forest (250+yo) have survived numerous low intensity fires. The frequent underburning is why old trees are there at all. Anthropogenic fire was practiced across the hemisphere including CA and BC, and without which the giants of the forest would never have grown so old.

The popular theories of forest development (aka the virgin forest having a climax) are called Clementsian after Frederic Clements (1874-1945), who pioneered the idea. He was wrong, as are the popular theories. The Historical Human Influences Theory is the new paradigm.

Without fuels management over the last 150 years our open, park-like, heritage forests of 5 trees/ac have seeded in 500+ young trees/ac. Fires in those stands produce 100% mortality; the old trees burn to snags.

The No Touch Let It Burn for Ma Nature Approach is hugely destructive to forests, watersheds, wildlife, and adjacent communities. It’s not working. It’s a crisis of repetitive failure. The old theories are bunkum. Restoration to heritage conditions is the only way to end the fire crisis and save our forests.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 23, 2022 3:24 am

“Restoration to heritage conditions is the only way to end the fire crisis and save our forests.” That’s fine on some land- on other land modern forestry is better- and that ranges from managing with a light touch to intense mgt. It all depends on many factors which policy is best on which land. There is no one solution to ANY problem.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ATheoK
January 23, 2022 3:22 am

not sure what your point is- but, one of the problems is that the forests were clear cut- instead of careful periodic thinning- and this wasn’t about foresters- because there were no foresters in America until the turn of the 20th century- they came from Germany and to this day there still is a certain Teutonic mentality in the profession, but I’ve been fighting that since Nixon was in the White House

LKMiller
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 7:47 am

Joseph – No. And as a practicing forester, I’m surprised you’re swallowing the “clearcutting bogeyman” as fact. In the west, much of the forested land is steep, required cable systems for logging. I’m sure you can see that thinning such stands would be difficult = expensive to the point of being non-profitable. I guess that’s fine, but then we need to have a population willing to accept the tradeoff – mega dollars for thinning in exchange for reduced fire risk sometime down the road. You’re old enough to remember the “below cost timber sale” kerfuffle…

In 2017 not far from where I live, the Caribou Fire got started in early August from a lightning strike. I’ll cut to the chase (after the fire blew out and burned a portion of the small Amish community of West Kootenai): Aerial imagery of the fire area showed quite clearly that the fire mostly burned in older, decadent natural stands, skipping around recent clearcuts.

And to add a major point that is near and dear to my heart: clearcutting, of all the harvest systems, is at worst genetically neutral. The resulting natural forest will be essentially the same genetically as the parent forest. Thinning, if not done carefully, can result in dsysgenic selection, and a poorer forest down the road. As well, it depends on what species are involved. Light thinnings can, over time, move the forest from being dominated by shade intolerant (and most valuable from a timber standpoint) to more shade tolerant (usually less valuable) species. The USDA Forest Service, before they found “religion,” even held a 3 day conference in the early 90’s on the genetic consequences of different harvest systems. My summary above comes from that conference.

Pat from kerbob
January 22, 2022 6:57 pm

Everything I’ve read shows that recent droughts were and are mild compared to historical records.
Trees will probably do fine if we just let them be, let the forest burn regularly

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 22, 2022 7:48 pm

“Letting the forests burn” when they catch fire is what we do today. It leads to megafires that burn a million acres at a crack and engulf cities. It’s a braindead tragedy of armchair forestry by know nothings who don’t really care because it wasn’t their watershed and/or town that got incinerated.

Please do not shut down fire suppression. Your life or somebody else’s depends on fire suppression. A better strategy is to control the fuels by mechanical means, and then the fires are easier to control, too.

SAMURAI
January 22, 2022 7:31 pm

California’s Leftist eco-warriors don’t follow science and logic, they follow dogma and propaganda..

These crazy Leftist eco-warriors have destroyed California’s forests through criminal forest mismanagement which has led to: the annihilation of their once huge and vibrant lumber industry, massively increased US lumber costs, catastrophic loss of 100’s of millions of trees through disease and wildfires, and the deaths of 1,000’s of people and countless animals.

Of course Leftists know best, and as long was they remain in power in California, nothing will change and forests and lives will be in a miserable state.

CAGW doesn’t exist and isn’t causing any of Californian’s forestry problems, rather it’s Leftists’ CAGW mitigation policies which are destroying California’s forest, society, business and standard of living.

I love Leftist irony…

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  SAMURAI
January 22, 2022 8:40 pm

Politics have buggered things up, that’s for sure. But the essential problem of the proper approach to forest management remains regardless of which party is in power. The Right, in the persons of Regan, Bush, and Trump, did not achieve good stewardship of our public lands.

Politics cannot solve politics. Perhaps if we set aside the political rancor momentarily, we could delve into the best way to save our forests from catastrophic incineration no matter which group of numbskulls is in charge.

But I agree with you that CAGW alarmism is not part of the solution set.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 23, 2022 3:30 am

“save our forests from catastrophic incineration”

The solution: 1) controled burns 2) thin the forest of the low value wood and send to a biomass power plant or make pellets for home or commercial use

LKMiller
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 23, 2022 7:51 am

Joseph – This approach may work in the Northeast, but isn’t appropriate in the vast expanses of federally “managed” forests in the West.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  LKMiller
January 23, 2022 9:46 am

OK, I’ll admit I’ve only worked in the Northeast forests- so I bow to your expertise.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  SAMURAI
January 23, 2022 3:28 am

We’ve got the same problem with lunatic leftist tree huggers in Massachusetts who are now trying to lock of ALL forests- beginning with state owned forest- they have bills filed in the legislature- and if they win those, they’ll come after private forests too- because they say locking up the forests will SAVE THE EARTH. All of the, of course, live in fine wood homes with fine wood furniture and tons of paper products. They all, also, believe that we should buy all our food from local farmers- but it’s OK to buy wood from thousands of miles away. They’re hypocrites. One of these tree huggers is a retired professor of piano- she owns several antique pianos all made from rare tropical hardwoods.

Jim
January 22, 2022 8:11 pm

Liberals are constantly driving correlation to causation. They are poorly educated yet well indoctrinated.

Joao Martins
January 23, 2022 3:16 am

Discussing the sex (or gender?) of angels, without looking inside their skirts.

First epistemological mistake: propose an empty word to represent some not even vague concept: “resilience”. (i.e., not looking inside the skirts, though claiming that angels have sex).

Second epistemological mistake: having noticed all the confusion created, instead of discarding the empty word and the allied concept, which has no connection whatsoever with reality, pushing forward and trying to “define” the concept that would be referred to by the empty word (empty but good looking and good sounding to the “concerned” non-experts). This leads to the introduction in science of a non-operational concept, representing no real phenomenon, inspite of saying that it “measures” something non-existent (and doing this just to stay in the good graces of the said “concerned” non-experts). (i.e., assuming the claim that angels have sex and further telling what their sex is without looking inside their skirts).

Third epistemological mistake: making such definition so vague, unreliable and… non-“consesual” that anyone will use it as he pleases: first, it is said to measure “adaptability to a range of stresses”; but some lines later, or eventually other person, says: “ ‘Resistance’ is about surviving a particular stress, like fire”. Then, what is “resilience”: adapting to the WHOLE “stresses” or surviving ONE single “stress”? (i.e., anyone is entitled to state what is the sex of the angels, even against the experts consensus, always without looking inside their skirts).

And I shall not to mention the fourth epistemological mistake: “adapting” is not the same as “surviving”, because this is fundamental biology.

Why introduce a vague but sexy word, “resilience”, why trying to define it, why going on discussing that non-existence? The science of forestry reduced enormously the number and extent of fires in the USA sice the 1920s without using such non-sensical “concept”: just using the basic biological “laws”, observing, measuring, and explaing what is the carrying capacity of a stand with minimum fire and best production. Instead of introducing “new” and empty “concepts”, why not comparing current management practices and older management practices using real measurements taken from the real world: number and acreage of fires, amount of wood production, productivity (biological and economical) per decade, etc.?

By the way: I am sorry I used the more general and abstract concept of “carrying capacity” instead of “tree density”; but both refer to the same real biological phenomenon.

Last edited 4 months ago by Joao Martins
Randle Dewees
January 23, 2022 6:34 am

I posted this mid thread in response to Philipp, and Mike and Joseph. but the conversation had already moved on. So, to make sure I secure my position as the one completely without hope or an answer to this dilemma I’m reposting my last comment. I don’t have professional expertise in forestry, so I can’t argue the particulars of any approach. I just see the realities of the politics and attitudes.

“Well, if I could pick one of the two utopias (commercially managed into resilience, or “a miracle happens” and the forest becomes in some way “heritage”), I’ll take the miracle. But either way it’s not going to happen, at least not before essentially all of the forest is burned in huge catastrophic fires. There is a wall of restrictions and regulations, and an army of bureaucrats, NGOs, and courts to “interpret” and enforce them. That will keep anything meaningful from happening.
This discussion is just a lot of hot air.”

randy julander
January 23, 2022 7:29 am

[I strongly recommend you submit this as an article. Add some references and supporting charts. Mod]

Much has been written and spoken on the subject of western wildfires recently in various press publications. I have been disappointed in much of what I have heard and read mostly because of the gross simplification of the situation. Climate change and forest mismanagement are most often cited – but there are other issues that need to be addressed. Fire needs three things to burn: fuel, oxygen and an ignition source. Focusing on fuel – what has changed over the past years that has led to our current situation of mega fires? You get what you manage for and management has changed. Were there mega fires in the past, of course, the big blow up of 1910 is just one such example. Pre Smokey Bear (who is the cause of the largest landscape scale ecological change in western forests), estimates of acres burned in the western US were 30 million plus per year mostly because there was no organized fire suppression effort and once ignited, fires could burn until they ran out of fuel or were extinguished by rain or snow. This condition promoted forests in which older trees survived and younger ones were burned. There were far fewer trees in the forest and they were more widely spaced. Forest litter was consumed by the fires allowing more grasses, forbs and brush species to flourish. It also promoted trees that were fire adaptive such as aspens which quickly regenerate after a fire and are far more resilient to fire than conifers. This kind of forest was adapted to and more resilient to fires. Not fire proof but more fire resilient. Enter Smokey Bear and organized fire suppression. This management promoted forests that allowed far more trees, a different age structure and composition. It’s no secret that forests today are far different than in the past – see Dr. Charles Kay’s (Utah State University) outstanding repeat photography project for visual evidence, both forest, range and woodlands. As a hydrologist I view every tree as a straw sucking water out of the watershed. In fact, the vast majority of precipitation across a watershed is consumed by evapotranspiration as streamflow is the very last check paid in the water balance. More straws sucking, less water available overall and the faster the watershed dries out which substantially increases fire potential. The analogy here is: 10 men on the edge of a desert with water for 5, if you send all 10 they all die but if you send 4 or 5, most will survive. The Fools Creek research project on the Frasier NF showed this dramatically. Two basins were instrumented, run for years for a baseline comparison and then one was clear cut. Streamflow on the clear cut jumped 50% and lasted for decades. In the intermountain west where water is the limiting factor for survival there are far too many trees for a healthy forest. Even small droughts cause large forest mortality. Where there once was 10 to 20 trees per acre, there are now hundreds. I personally took 120 young (5 to 10 yrs old) white and alpine firs from 1 acre of my property to preserve the aspens and could have taken far more. That many additional trees take water from the soil quickly in the spring and early summer leaving far less water to none later in the season which results in massive forest mortality for all. In Utah, at the last time I checked, we had over 1 million acres of standing dead timber out of about 5 million total forested acres. Much of this forest mortality could have been avoided given a different management strategy. Conifers are the worst offenders here for several reasons. First, they intercept snow as it falls which is then sublimated directly to the atmosphere. There can be upwards of 40% to 50% less snow on the ground in coniferous forests than in open meadows or aspen stands. The greater the forest density, the greater the snow interception and subsequent sublimation loss. Lamalfa and Ryel (USU) comparing aspens and conifers showed a difference of 10 inches of potential water between the two stands on equal soil, slope and precipitation conditions. That is nearly 30% to 40% of the total precipitation for this area and a 42% difference between the conifer and aspen stands. This includes the loss of intercepted snowpack as well as the difference in soil moisture between the two forest stands. Conifers continue to suck water year round whereas aspens, once they have lost leaves in the fall, cease substantial transpiration and soil moisture rebounds quickly whereas soils under conifers continue to decline well into winter months. Having installed, operated, maintained, quality controlled what likely was the worlds larges operational in situ soil moisture data system in Utah, Nevada and portions of the Sierra in California from deserts to the alpine as a component of the SNOTEL and SCAN data collection systems I can authoritatively say that coniferous forests dry the soils far more than aspen stands given equal conditions. Soil moisture is an important factor in the following year’s seasonal runoff as shown by Julander et al in research adding soil moisture as a factor in streamflow prediction.  The drier the soils are going into winter snow accumulation the greater the loss of said snowpack to replenish soil moisture the following runoff season. Soils need saturated conditions during snowmelt to produce substantial streamflow as snowmelt is most often less than soil infiltration rates and the vast majority of snowmelt streamflow passes through the soil as some point in the process. So, forests have changed in tree density – there are many many more trees now than in the past, they have changed in age class with many more young trees and they have changed in composition with conifers steadily replacing aspen stands. Dale Bartos, aspen researcher for the USFS estimated that 2.5 million acres of aspens have been lost over the Colorado River Basin. Using the above difference in potential water loss between aspens and conifers, that correlates to between 2.6% and 26% of the basins potential streamflow using 1 to 10 inches as a range. It’s not just forest land that has changed, meadows and valleys that once were filled with grasses, forbs and shrubs are now sagebrush and pinyon juniper. Vast woodlands of pinyon juniper now exist where once there was none. We know that forests have changed over the past century and we knew that fire was an integral part of good forest management decades ago. In order to replace the effects of fire across 30 million acres annually, (assuming that we want forests similar to those prior to our management) land management agencies such as the BLM and USFS need to mechanically remove trees from the forest via logging and thinning projects. The implication here is that land management agencies have mismanaged forests and woodlands and I am not willing to allow associates and colleagues in these agencies to be characterized in this way. Many of these projects were initiated and completed in the 60’s and 70’s but then were reduced in number, size and scope in later decades. With the advent of legislation (NEPA, ESA and NFMA) that allowed individuals and organization to sue land management agencies these agencies were indeed litigated endlessly over any plans to remove or alter vegetation from the forest. The Forest Service must show that it has met every law and considered every plant, animal, soil, etc in their environmental documents. Analysis is based on recent science, such as what an animal might need for habitat and what effects a particular project would have on that habitat. It doesn’t matter how good the forest plan is – someone can always challenge the plan or portions of it with a simple ‘you didn’t give sufficient consideration to this or that’. Then off to the legal system where a judge or jury with absolutely no ecological or forest training has to render judgement of what is sufficient consideration. With the threat of litigation, land management agencies learned what might result in litigation and what was likely safe or safer from lawsuits. For example in my personal experience working for NRCS we were sued every time a holistic watershed approach was used that included private, state and federal lands and where chaining of woodlands was proposed. Solution – never ever include federal lands leaving a large portion of the watershed untreated but with at least part of the project done. Other alternatives included the abandonment of chaining as a watershed restoration tool, the cheapest and most effective method of ridding pinyon juniper. So, as a result of these litigations, environmental organizations have effectively become land management agencies with the ability to change, reverse, delay or eliminate various land management activities. As such, they bear some responsibility for our current forest conditions. Even now, with catastrophic fires across the west some are threatening litigation against fire breaks that have the potential to save homes, towns and lives. So, in summary: intermountain forests have too many trees, the wrong age class of trees and the wrong composition of trees. They need logging, thinning and the restoration of meadows and aspens. We will get what we manage for.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  randy julander
January 23, 2022 11:29 am

Yes, but paragraphs would be useful. One item of note is that Dr. Charles Kay (of the historical/modern photo comparisons) is a leading researcher of historical human influences and anthropogenic fire.

We must understand and acknowledge how our forests arose, the actual forest development pathways, if we are to successfully recreate fire resilient conditions. Heritage matters. It’s not just an old story; it’s an instruction manual for the future.

Matthew R Epp
January 23, 2022 10:04 am

So bottom line.
More logging will save the forest

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Matthew R Epp
January 23, 2022 10:52 am

I see the irony in your statement, but I think because of this:

With the advent of legislation (NEPA, ESA and NFMA) that allowed individuals and organization to sue land management agencies these agencies were indeed litigated endlessly over any plans to remove or alter vegetation from the forest.”.

The bottom line is nothing positive will be done and the forests will be destroyed in catastrophic fires.

Matthew R Epp
Reply to  Randle Dewees
January 23, 2022 1:54 pm

Indeed, you are sadly correct. As with all topics, the screaming voices are but ignorant, useful idiots who don’t even try to learn about and discuss topics.
Until the tree huggers acknowledge “they” are the reason forests are suffering, they will continue to prevent real workable solutions.

January 23, 2022 11:00 am

I saw one the The Lord of the Rings Movie….. but that was fantasy…. forests were good at being resilient before humans

Randle Dewees
January 23, 2022 11:07 am

I’m probably sounding 100% doom and gloom. I’m not, more like 95%. A few months ago, right after the national forests were opened after the Windy Fire was over, I was high up in the Inyo NF, on Beach Ridge, way east of the Western Divide, and I could scan with binoculars a lot of the burned areas of the Windy and Castle fires. What I saw wasn’t complete devastation, just mostly complete. It certainly won’t be anything like it was, but there are vast areas that have live trees remaining. And some untouched areas. So maybe in a couple hundred years it will be pretty nice again.

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