Saturday, October 12, 2013

Salvaging Wildfire Lumber?

The Rim Fire that charred a quarter-million acres of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park over the summer.  The Rim Fire left an estimated one billion board feet of salvageable dead trees—enough to build 63,000 homes. The logging industry and its supporters are racing to get it, saying such work would provide jobs.

Sierra Pacific Industries Inc. has started felling trees on about 10,000 acres of its land that got caught up in the inferno. Now, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district covers the area, has introduced legislation in Congress that would waive environmental regulations so salvage logging can begin quickly on the national forest as well.

But Rep. Peter DeFazio, ranking Democrat on the committee, said Mr. McClintock's bill—which was heard in a committee hearing Oct. 3—"would be a license to clear-cut the entire burn area." Mr. DeFazio said he supports more limited salvage logging, while some environmental groups back almost none at all, saying it hurts forests by removing trees that provide nutrients for soil and habitat for wildlife.
Another limitation of the economic benefit, other industry officials say, is that there are only enough mills to process about half the available timber, or 500 million board feet of lumber.

Salvage logging has long been standard practice following fires in national forests, but it has drawn more scrutiny in recent years, U.S. Forest Service officials say. That is in part because legislation passed in 1995 directed federal land-management agencies to accelerate thinning out of dead trees—from burned and unburned areas—in the West, according to a 2002 report by the forest service's Pacific Northwest Research Station.  (WSJ, 10/11/2013)

No comments: