As of this September 19 writing, the lightning-caused fire - which started September 10, is still burning out of control. Containment is not expected until October 10, which seems like an eternity to me given its small size in relation to the 963,000-acre Dixie Fire or the 219,000-acre Caldor Fire.
There is nothing new, normal, natural, or inevitable about what we are witnessing... What we are witnessing is not “the new normal.” Nor is it a direct result of “climate change.” It is the downstream result of congressional/federal failure to control three decades of uninterrupted tree growth in national forests that hold too many trees for the natural carrying capacity of the land.
A call to action to create forest-to-community health within the WUI/Wildland Urban Interface - and an overview of the current state of the forest, wildfire risk, needed treatment, and landowner and community resources in Lincoln County.
The Agriculture Secretary oversees a $146 billion annual budget. Most of it – 65 percent - is allocated to food and nutrition programs that target the needy. Five percent goes to “forestry,” mainly the U.S. Forest Service and mostly – about 55 percent – to battle forest fires.
McLeod and Douglas recorded their observations in daily journals that describe miles of sparse prairie burned clear of most vegetation, punctuated by scattered groves of trees - mostly oak with some conifer, more so on the eastern slopes of the Coast Range. There was no "sea of old growth" – or even second growth.
Now that Tom Vilsack is back in the driver's seat at the Department of Agriculture, it’s time for him to stroll over to the White House and have a heart-to-heart chat with President Biden about the West’s wildfire pandemic. Here’s how it might go:
sixty years ago today - March 1, 1961 – less than two months after his presidency began, John Fitzgerald Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924, creating the Peace Corps. In the ensuing years, more than 235,000 American volunteers have served in 141 countries around the world.
Why do those who purport to care so much about western Oregon's forests continue to ignore and/or deny such a vast storehouse of history – information that sheds an illuminating light on the past, to say nothing of the future?
Now DeLuca has immersed himself – and the College of Forestry he leads – in an eyebrow-raising proposal that could cost the forestry school dearly. At issue is the political fate of the Elliott State Forest, an enormously valuable natural asset...
Former Forest Chief, Dale Bosworth, and Jerry Williams, the Forest Service's former National Director of Fire Management, have forgotten more about the West’s wildfire pandemic and its underlying causes than most of us will ever know. So when their letter to Robert Bonnie arrived in our email box, we read it – and its accompanying report – with considerable interest.
The Biden Administration lost no time implementing the big pieces of its promised climate change initiative. It's much too early to know what impact these policies will have on the West’s wildfire pandemic but the early news suggests that the anti-forestry crowd has the ear of policy makers who believe that logging is to blame for our pandemic.
Doug MacCleery, a friend and colleague of 30 years has written a thoughtful essay explaining how the western wildfire pandemic came to be and what Congress and the Forest Service must do to reduce the risks associated with killing wildfires.
More than half the nation's federal forest estate – some 100 million acres – is either dying, dead or has already burned. About 73 million acres have burned over the last 10 years – most of it in western national forests. 9.6 million acres this year.
This is Part 2 of our series "It's Time to Declare War on Wildfire." This section begins with Rob Freres describing the impacts of wildfire on private lands due to the incompetence of the Forest Service managing public lands.
On snowy nights back in the Forties my father often took me for sleigh rides after dinner. He seemed ten feet tall back then, trudging out ahead of me in the darkness, his gloved hand reaching back to grip my sled's towrope.
The immediate need is to rebuild the forestry side of the Forest Service. This means that Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress need to find an extra $5 billion in Fiscal 2021. Funds must be specifically allocated for forestry staffing and forest management – not wildfire.
The time has come for society to consider alternatives to fires so large that they escape suppression efforts, often with deadly consequences. If we don't like the fire trajectory we are on – and I don’t - shouldn’t we try something different?
We are featuring an interview with Brett L'Esperance, CEO and one of the owners of Dauntless Air, an aerial firefighting company that recently moved its maintenance facilities to Pappy Boyington Field, in Northern Idaho.
This is the tenth part of "Felt Necessities: Engines of Forest Policy," a series of essays tracing the history of the conservation movement in the United States, and its influence on the nation's ever-shifting forest policy.
This is the ninth part of "Felt Necessities: Engines of Forest Policy," a series of essays tracing the history of the conservation movement in the United States, and its influence on the nation's ever-shifting forest policy.
This is the eighth part of "Felt Necessities: Engines of Forest Policy," a series of essays tracing the history of the conservation movement in the United States, and its influence on the nation's ever-shifting forest policy.
This is the seventh part of Felt Necessities: Engines of Forest Policy, a series of essays tracing the history of the conservation movement in the United States, and its influence on the nation's ever-shifting forest policy.
NAFSR advocates for a more balanced approach to management of federal forests and grasslands in the western United States. Their Board of Directors includes the five living Chiefs of the Forest Service plus 20 others whose long and distinguished careers add great depth to the organization's institutional knowledge.
I am going to do this by asking all of you a very provocative question - one that I hope you will, in turn, ask each other throughout the course of convention.The question is: Does the logging industry have a future in the New Intermountain West?
The 1937 O&C Act was co-authored by David Mason and Rufus Poole, a legislative attorney in the office of Interior Secretary, Harold Ickes, a Roosevelt Administration insider who, like the President, thought of himself as an ardent conservationist.
Dick asked me if I knew where we might find a map showing all of the timberland ownerships in northern Idaho – not just an ordinary map, but one that had an overlay that shows at risk federal forest lands – these being lands that pose an insect, disease or fire risk to adjacent private and state timberland owners.
Let me assure you I am not a malcontent. In fact, I'm normally a pretty cheery guy, but of late I have begun to fret quietly about a matter of great concern to me. It is the cultural divide – dare I say chasm – that now distances the rural America where I live from the urban America where most of the country lives.
I confess I have struggled mightily with what to say to you this afternoon. Fifteen minutes is not a long time in which to cover 20 years of research, writing and travel; and it is certainly not enough time in which to sort through the underpinnings of an ecological crisis that was 150 years in the making.
For those of you who want to take notes, my title is, “No Mill, No Market, No Forest, No. 2.”I delivered No. 1 at a Forest Service-sponsored conference in Denver in January of 2004. Why I was invited remains a mystery to me, but it was easily the second most hated speech I've ever given. More on that in a moment.
As many of you know, I got my start in our industry in southern Oregon, but not at Evergreen, for which I am best known. More than a decade before its' founding, 1971 to be exact, I went to work for D.R. Johnson. He hired me to do public relations work for the company and for the old Northwest Timber Association. He was president that year.
Your conference seeks to encourage you to become better leaders. That's a good thing because leadership is sorely lacking in the forestry and forest products manufacturing worlds today. Everyone seems to be going their own way. There are no leaders and there is no script. We are all freelancers doing our own thing in a world in which most now get their news through their favorite social media algorithms.
When Mike Albrecht asked me if I'd be willing to spend some time with you this afternoon, he said he was looking for someone who could provide you with a vision for the future that is both optimistic and realistic. Then he added that he wasn’t sure that the words “optimistic” and “realistic” could exist in the same sentence.
I am the founder and president of the nonprofit Evergreen Foundation. Our mission – our goal if you will – is to help advance public understanding and support for science-based forestry and forest policy.
This is the first in a series of in-depth reports exploring the history, contributions and future of FIA – the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program – easily the least known national program housed within the United States Forest Service.
Mr. Rains wrote the President a five-page letter on June 19. We posted it on our site then and it can be read again here. After President Trump's Latest visit to the site of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, Mr. Rains writes to the President once more
The Great 1910 Fire, which leveled some three million acres of virgin timber in northern Idaho and western Montana, most of it in a wind-driven 48-hour firestorm that claimed the lives of 87 firefighters – most of them skid row bums recruited from the streets of Spokane, Washington.
On February 1, 1905, the day Pinchot was named Chief of the newly minted Forest Service, a letter bearing the signature of Agriculture Secretary, James Wilson, was hand delivered to the Chief's office. Again, I suspect Pinchot wrote this letter to himself for political purposes.
The term “felt necessities” is taken from The Common Law, a book of essays assembled in 1881 by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in which he explains the historic underpinnings of the nation's legal system. President Theodore Roosevelt thought to much of Holmes’ essays that nominated him to the Supreme Court in 1902.
Toward Shared Stewardship across Landscapes: An Outcome-based Investment Strategy is the new U.S, Forest Service/Department of Agriculture attempt to put the brakes on the wildfire crisis that has engulfed the West's federal forest estate. Click on the underlined text above to read it in full.
Improved organizational efficiency – as we have discussed it here -would be one of four top priorities. The other three are: restoring fire to the landscape, landscape scale conservation along a complex rural to urban land gradient, and community stability...
Editor's note: This is the third segment of a five-part interview with Michael T. Rains, who was Director of the Northern Research Station at Newtown Square, Pennsylvania for 15 years and, concurrently, Director of Products Laboratory at Newtown Square for three years. He retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 2016.
We have known of Mr. Rains and his exceptional work for many years, most recently through the National Wildfire Institute, founded by our colleague, Bruce Courtright. When we were preparing questions for Interim Forest Service Chief, Victoria Christiansen, Mr. Rains volunteered to answer the same questions...
This is the first segment of a five-part interview with Michael T. Rains, who was Director of the Northern Research Station at Newtown Square, Pennsylvania for 15 years and, concurrently, Director of the Forest Products Laboratory at Newtown Square for three years. He retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 2016.
Now that Congress has resolved the fire funding mess – at least temporarily - Interim Forest Service Chief, Vicki Christiansen, has had much to say about how she intends to more aggressively attack these fires and their primary underlying cause.
I will miss Ted's genius and his kindness. Julia and I extend our condolences to Diane, their sons, Cameron, Tyler and Kyle, the entire Freres family and the 400-some men and women who work for Freres Lumber, many of them 30 and 40-year employees
Oregon lumberman, Ted Freres, 68, died Sunday morning, June 3, in a Salem hospital following a long battle with cancer. Mr. Freres was the youngest of four sons born to T.G. Freres, founder of the Freres Lumber Company.
Most all of us have rolled the dice in Monopoly a time or two. Buying up properties on the Boardwalk can be tons of fun until you land in Jail. That's when its lovely to have a “Get-out-of-jail-free” card in your hand. It sure beats having to sell properties to bail yourself out of the clink.
The 2018 western wildfire season is already underway, and the news is not good in the Southwest or Utah. Dire predictions have also been issued for Colorado, where mortality in National Forests exceeds annual growth by a wide margin.
In our interview Christiansen addresses some tough questions on harassment, fire borrowing, staffing, fire management, wildfire and safety, forest management, collaboration, the budget, sawmill infrastructure, pace and scale, performance standards and reviews, and more
Because it took us more than 30 years to bridge our chasm, some 90 million National Forest acres – an area nearly as large as Montana – are dying or are already dead. We have no more than 30 years left in which to rescue what can be rescued.
Mr. McBride was a tree farmer, horse lover, gun collector, hunter safety instructor, military historian, World War II veteran and 1952 graduate of the University of Maine School of Forestry. His long-time friend, Bruce Vincent, an Evergreen Foundation board member, delivered the eulogy.
Ms. Christiansen, who was appointed March 9, following the March 7 resignation of Tony Tooke, said all the things you would expect an incoming Chief to say in her first public outing, but she made no mention of the sexual misconduct difficulties that led to Mr. Tooke's resignation.
The bill President Trump signed includes long-sought funding to fix the fire-borrowing mess that has plagued the U.S. Forest Service for years. Heretofore, Congress has forced the beleaguered agency to “borrow” money
The U.S. House of Representatives has belatedly fixed the fire borrowing mess that has for several years forced the Forest Service to borrow taxpayer money from its forest restoration budgets to pay its ever- increasing fire-fighting bills.
Federal Court has ordered the United States Congress, the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fishers Service to make this statement about the health effects of secondhand wildfire smoke...
Although it will seem counter-intuitive, our advocacy for science-based forestry has led us to the conclusion that a publicly-granted license to practice forestry is the best defense against criticism that a forest landowner – public or private – can ever hope to attain...
The salvage operation was not without controversy. The smoke had not yet cleared when environmentalists announced that “not one black stick would be harvested because salvaging burnt timber was like mugging a burn victim.”
Our colleague, Bruce Courtright, who chairs the National Wildfire Institute [NWI] at Fort Jones, California, has shared his organization's Vision 2025 document with us in hopes we will share it with you, which we are delighted to do.
Many environmentalists have long insisted that people living in rural areas should have no say in how neighboring National Forests are managed because  they have a “timber bias,” or  they lack the intellectual credentials needed to participate in the decision-making process. We all know this isn't true.
Does anyone know how many outdoor tourism activities were cancelled in August and September in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana? I don't, but it surely runs into the hundreds. This year will be worse.
Rodney Smoldon is the Forest Supervisor on the 1.1 million-acre Colville National Forest in northeast Washington. From his office in Colville, he commands a staff of approximately 135 permanent employees and an additional 100 summer employees. His annual budget is about $12 million.
The Forest Service's abysmal won-loss record at Silver, Biscuit and now Chetco Bar [0-3] is a detriment to every living creature struggling to right itself within our fire-scarred landscape. Is this the best you can do?
The bottom line here is that the War on the West will continue in the halls of Congress for as long as we allow it - and for as long as we allow it to fester, the West's publicly treasured National Forests will continue to die and burn to the ground.
We who own this damned wildfire mess need to start asking Congress some tough questions. I can think of no better place to start than the Forest Service's draft plan for picking up the pieces at Rice Ridge. Of 160,000 acres burned, the agency proposes to salvage some standing dead timber from 5,947 acres.
The American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association both have lots to say about cigarettes and air pollution. And they should. It's their job. Shouldn’t they also be waving red flags about wildfire smoke? They don’t seem to think so.
Do I think the U.S. Senate has declared war on the citizens of the 11 western states? A friend asked me this very question earlier today. After some hesitation, I replied, “Yes, I do, in a manner of speaking.”
Musk's “flamethrower,” which sells for $500 and looks a lot like an assault rifle [probably intentionally] has already attracted the unwanted attention of U.S. Customs officials, prompting Musk to Twitter that a “rebranding” effort may be needed. No kidding.
“The Forest Service's capacity to complete environmental analysis needed to make decisions is at its lowest level in decades, largely due to the increased costs of dealing with longer, more intensive wildfire seasons."
The six living former Chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service have jointly signed a letter to the U.S. House and Senate majority and minority leaders urging them to fix the fire borrowing mess that annually sabotages the agency's ability to treat diseased and dying National Forests before catastrophic wildfires destroy them.
This must be a bitter pill for Seeley Lake residents who last summer endured weeks of smoke so thick that air quality meters could not accurately measure carcinogenic pollutants generated by the fire. The “new normal” we're told.
Just when I thought I'd said all that need be said for now about the cancerous risks of wildfire smoke, a friend sent me a copy of the “Montana/Idaho Wildfire Carbon Emissions Inventory for 2013-2017."
I've been trying for more than 20 years to interest the nation’s health care industry - including the American Lung Association - in this story. “Too controversial,” I was told, again and again. Such is the murderous influence of the “Don’t worry, it’s natural” crowd.
We can learn much from our nation's forest priorities, policies and practices, which have always tracked with our country’s ever-shifting felt necessities. But the blame game is a useless and unhelpful exercise. What would be helpful is a more constructive rural-urban dialogue about the losses we are all suffering, and what we can do collectively [politically] to mitigate them.
When we leave forests to Nature, as so many people today seem to want to do, we get whatever Nature serves up, which can be pretty devastating at times. But with forestry we have options, and a degree of predictability not found in Nature.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that 90 million acres of the nation's federal forest estate are in Condition Class 3 or 2 – a fire ecologists’ rating system that attempts to account for the ecological damage a wildfire might do to a forest. Class 3 forests are said to be “ready to burn,” while Class 2 forests soon will be.
Speech delivered at the 2017 Family Forest Landowners and Managers Conference, by Jim Petersen, Founder and directory of Evergreen. “Idaho's Working Forests: Are they working for you?” University Inn, Moscow, Idaho Monday, March 27, 2017
Bruce Ward is the Founder and President of Choose Outdoors, a Colorado-based coalition of outdoor recreation enthusiasts who work to increase public support for all forms of outdoor recreation, especially activities that frequently occur in National Forests
In this interview, Groeschl answers questions concerning Good Neighbor Authority [GNA], implementing legislation embedded in the 2014 Farm Bill that permits the Forest Service and the Idaho Department of Lands to partner with one another on high priority forest restoration projects on National Forests in Idaho.
Mitch Friedman is the Founder and Executive Director of Conservation Northwest, a Seattle-based conservation group...In this interview, Friedman discusses Conservation Northwest's collaborative successes, still bothersome regrets from his Earth First years and his belief that collaboration offers the best hope for resolving still contentious issues concerning the management of the West’s National Forests.
20.4 million acres of beautiful Idaho – fully 40 percent of the state's entire land mass and 75 percent of its total forest land base – are owned by the United States Government and cared for by the U.S. Forest Service. Here, I will stipulate that the phrase “cared for” should be used advisedly, and should generally appear in quotes.
If we choose wisely, relying on the mechanical thinning, prescribed fire and managed fire, we can still protect most of our remaining forest assets, including the soil and water. But over much of the Intermountain West, the forests in our future are not going to look much like the forests we've been enjoying for the last 60 or 70 years.
Change. In this exclusive and quite timely Evergreen interview, Governor Otter offers his thoughts on the significance of President-elect Trump's improbable victory and the millions of acres of federal forest and rangeland that is in environmental crisis. Somewhere between 80 and 90 million acres of federal forest land in the West are on the brink of ecological collapse. These lands are vital to our entire nation’s social, economic and environmental health. We have a lot of work to do and not much time left in which to get it done.
There is something unethical about allowing a person or a group that refused to participate in the collaborative planning of the project to file an appeal on the project. The essence of collaboration means that you work through the issues within a project and help solve the problems. Bring a solution, not litigation.
McGee discusses collaborative success. "As a direct result of all their hard work we have a pathway forward. We also have the science, tools, technologies and skill sets needed to move forward with the restoration work necessary to protect forests that are the cornerstones and building blocks of both our rural and urban lifestyles."
In forests that have traditionally supported timber economies, we can use ecological restoration strategies that rely on mechanical thinning and prescribed fire. Elsewhere, we advocate for managing wildfires at the right place and time – when conditions are right. Just as there is no simple answer to the good-fire bad-fire question, there is also no single approach to conserving the forested landscapes we all treasure.”
CLT is an engineered wood product. By that, I mean that it is a product assembled from pieces of lumber, usually two-by-sixes, eight feet wide, 40' feet long, layered at right angles to one another, like the layering of thinly sliced veneer used to make sheets of plywood. Picture a laminated wood beam, with the layers all running one direction. Now remind yourself that, in CLT, the layers run at right angles to one another, like plywood. The product is incredibly strong for its weight, which is about one-third that of steel. Some refer to CLT “plywood on steroids.” It’s a very apt description.
“It was downright scary in the beginning,” Schwartz says of what it was like the first time he navigated 80,000 pounds up and down winding, one-lane roads with turnouts that allowed loaded and empty trucks to pass within a whisker of one another. “You're in mud or slush or snow or dust all of the time. You keep an open mind and learn everything you can from more experienced drivers, or you won’t make it.”
“The people in my life – my family and friends – helped me restore my faith in myself; you surround yourself with good people, so you always know where you stand, and you trust each other to do what you say you will do. Show me your friends and I will show you your future."
I would absolutely encourage anyone to pursue a career in forestry or any other natural resource-based career. The more we can introduce local kids to the career opportunities available in their backyard, the better. There's also a shortage of professional truck drivers. We need young people to bring their families back to their hometowns to fill those jobs, especially in light of recent mill closures that will have serious social and economic impacts on communities.
It is a myth to say Categorical Exclusions will over-ride federal environmental laws and exempt logging from any analysis or disclosure of adverse environmental impacts and eliminate public involvement
Commissioner Goldmark discusses his growing concerns for the rapidly deteriorating condition of national forests east of the Cascades, related economic and environmental impacts, and what might be done to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in Washington's forests.
Our country's National Forests – once viewed as the gold standard by which all other public forest ownerships were judged – are dying and burning by the millions of acres annually. Their precipitous decline signals a forest health crisis unprecedented in American history.
The world's consumers aren’t using less wood, nor should they. Wood is the most environmentally friendly structural building material on earth, and good forestry is key to reducing civilization’s carbon foot print. That’s my story and I intend to keep telling it. Erin Bradetich
Technology does most of what strong backs and keen eyes did for generations. And it does it with more speed and efficiency than can any human. Of course, humans are the still ones invent, install and run this stuff, so the message here is that succeeding generations of mill workers will need to be technologically more knowledgeable than the previous generation. Jesse Short
Strong partnerships are forming between federal and state resource management agencies, county governments, community leaders, conservationists, recreation interests and lumbermen, all in pursuit of a common and cohesive vision that, at the implementation level where we work, is already producing new and very exciting economic, environmental and social benefits.
The National Environmental Policy Act is the legal foundation on which all successful collaborations rest. You cannot saw this branch off the legal tree and expect that diverse forest stakeholder collaboratives built on trust and mutual respect will continue to prosper as citizen, project-based tools for resolving disagreements over how our national forests should be managed.
The Forest Service shares Governor Bullock's concern and his goal. Minus the presence of local, competitive and sustainable larger timber manufacturing infrastructure, the kind of collaborative forest restoration work we all envision is not possible. We are basing this forest’s five-year planning revision on the Governor’s Priority Landscape project on this forest.
We are at a crossroads with forest health, our mills and the future condition of our forests. The aftermath of a years-long mountain pine beetle epidemic, stalled projects on thousands of acres of national forests, and continued threats from wildfires provide a strong basis for increased focus on how we manage forests and how we ensure we have a vibrant wood products industry providing good-paying jobs for Montanans.
f we use insect and disease attacks as indicators of genetic simplicity, and resilience to these pests as indicators of genetic robustness, we can use harvesting to assist natural selection to build a more resilient forest ecosystem with a greater ability to survive climate fluctuations and associated perturbations. This may mean changing certain silvicultural paradigms and not selecting for the fastest growing or tallest trees - but intermediate sized trees that use their energy reserves for defense and water conservation as well as growth.
When cases are litigated misusing the intention of the Equal Access to Justice Act, the losses add up - whether the agency wins, loses, or the case is settled. Collateral damage includes lost local and regional business activity, decline in community health, lost timber sale revenue, foregone and delayed work, and analytical and administrative costs the Forest Service must pay from public funds.
Many young people don't see a future in hauling logs. But the world isn’t using less wood, so these jobs with companies like Olson Trucking will always be here for men and women who enjoy the sense of satisfaction that comes with doing a good day's work.
Litigation is not a management strategy. Without injunctive relief, there can be no certainty in our active forestry management plans and the years of hard work our collaborative's have invested in forest restoration planning will also be lost.
Resolving differences is what collaboration is all about. It's time to move beyond the extremes that have controlled the forest debate since the 1980s and reinvest in the land and in the people who can best care for it.