Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Forest Thinning

What has long been known by many in the forest industry is slowly becoming understood by public leadership, that if you reduce fuel by thinning forests, you reduce the damage done from the inevitable forest fires, as this article reports.

An excerpt.

“GREENVILLE – A fire lookout spotted the smoke on Labor Day, and air tankers were making drops on the flames within 20 minutes.

“But the September 2007 blaze that came to be known as the Moonlight fire quickly spread through dense, dry timber. Over the next two weeks, it cut a ferocious swath through Plumas County's forests, ultimately destroying more than 65,000 acres.

“In part because the land hadn't been logged in many years, the fire moved faster and burned hotter than most forest fires, quickly moving from tinder-dry underbrush to smaller dead trees and finally to the tops of the most towering pines.

“For years, timber harvesting on public lands has been stymied by concerns about logging's environmental damage. But now more than a few former timber workers who have visited the site wonder whether the fire could have been stopped sooner if they'd been able to thin out some of that wood years ago.

"The Moonlight fire is compelling us to rethink how we manage our forests and how we relate to the forest," said Jonathan Kusel of the Sierra Institute, a natural resource sociologist in Taylorsville who has studied timber-dependent rural communities for more than 20 years.”