HIS VIEW: 'Mother Nature' is not the best forest steward
By John Krebs
It is doubtful professor Chuck Pezeshki (Opinion, June 19) ever saw a commercial timber sale he could support on federal lands.
Trees are a very renewable resource and one need not go far from Moscow to witness some excellent examples of forest management. Yes, it takes roads to access, manage and protect the forest resources. These same roads provide access for all kinds of recreational activities and are used by many thousands of forest visitors throughout the year.
The jobs and industries associated with timber harvest are tremendously important to the local economy, to say nothing of the many industries dependent upon the products made from those trees.
When it comes to clearcuts, "The Butcher of the Targhee" (John Burns) and his successor, Jim Caswell, were pikers compared to Pezeshki's preferred manager - "Mother Nature." That sweet, gentle "woman" prefers treating a mountain of pine beetle infestation by indiscriminately burning millions of acres in a "stand replacement" conflagration. A "stand replacement" fire is Mother Nature's clearcut.
My knowledge concerning the clearcuts on the Targhee National Forest did not come from flying in a jet some 30,000 feet above the earth and viewing this ungodly, devastating mess created by the "butcher" and his successor.
Allow me to digress a bit. In 1995, I retired from a 36-year career with the U.S. Forest Service. For 22 of those years, I was privileged to serve as a fire behavior analyst on one of Region One's National Incident Management teams. Most of the summer of 1988 was spent on fire assignments in Yellowstone National Park. Had it not been for the clearcuts (a response to the mountain pine beetle outbreak), the North Fork fire would have been much larger than 900,000 acres.
I ask you, Chuck, was it a better decision to harvest those trees than to see them go up in smoke and introduce more green house gas into an already overloaded system? How much more responsive is it to actually store the carbon in something useful to mankind like the lumber in our houses, schools, churches and stores? (Didn't you write a book - presumably written and published on something other than papyrus?)
That harvest on the Targee, which you and other environmental "nonactivist" groups stopped, would have contributed 25 percent of the gross timber sale receipts back to the state to be used for schools and road maintenance. Now that you have succeeded in virtually stopping all national forest timber sales, these dollars have dried up. I hope you are as successful in persuading your "roadless advocating" buddies in Congress to cough up the payment in lieu of tax dollars that were to replace the 25 percent funds.
The effect of a few miles of roads on the Clearwater National Forest being washed out by the "storm season of 1994-1995," pales in comparison to the mass erosion that has occurred in thousands of acres burned by wildfire. I'm sure you must be acquainted with Jim Mital (forest ecologist for the Clearwater National Forest). Ask him about the tremendous soil loss resulting from the 2003 Pleasant Fire in the Powell Ranger District.
Jim Caswell is not responsible for the Clinton Roadless Initiative. It is the so-called environmental activists, such as yourself, who prefer to have mindless Mother Nature "manage" our natural resources. Here is a proposal for you, Chuck. Take those areas in Idaho that were already designated "wilderness" (and roadless) prior to Clinton's edict, and develop an environmental impact statement for a management plan consistent on the whims of Mother Nature. You will have to consider removing all trails, bridges, public and private structures, outfitter and guide permits, white-water pursuits, wolf and other predator controls, invasion of noxious weeds, smoke pollution, CO2 emission from forest fires, riparian and old- growth protection, massive erosion (remember, no measurable increases in sediment due to your proposal), etc.
While you write this EIS, turn the rest of the forest and rangeland over to the U.S. Forest Service, that was doing a darn good job of management in the 1950s through the '80s without the benefit of the "let nature do it" crowd.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Another slap down of Chcuk "Mr. Civil Discourse" Pezeshki in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News: