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Sustainable Logging in U.S. National Forests

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Weston Hawkins

on 29 April 2014

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Transcript of Sustainable Logging in U.S. National Forests

“One of my major initiatives has been to speed up harvest of slow-growing or decadent, over mature timber stands in the Pacific Northwest, the old growth.”

-- John Crowell, Asst. Secretary at the Department of Agriculture

Responsible Logging in U.S. National Forests
Alexis Grant, Becky Johnson, Jesse Alston, & Weston Hawkins
Rocky Mountain Forests
17 National Forests
Variety of ecosystems: altitudes, rain shadows, etc.
Stand-replacing fires
Pacific Northwest Forests
18 national forests
Wet, coniferous forests
More frequent, less severe fires
Significant timber interests
Eastern Forests
17 National Forests, 12 million acres
Restored following heavy erosion by agriculture, mining, and logging
Appalachian Trail
North Carolina Forests
531,000 acres
contains old growth forest
tourist destination

500,000 acres
oldest in NC
Recreation and extraction of natural resources
shift from clear-cutting to restoration

160,000 acres
site of reforestation experiments
Roots of the U.S. Forest Service
"Caring for the Land and Serving People."

Our mission, as set forth by law, is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people.
Mission Statement
Responsibilities of the National Forest Service
History of Logging
Concerns Today
Logging Objectives
Sustainable timber production is an important aspect of national forest management.

Logging can be used to:
mitigate the risk of large wildfires
increase the amount of early succession habitat
increase access to national forest land

Negative impacts can and should be minimized by careful forest managers.

Climate Change
Sagebrush Rebellion
Early 1980s
Legal battles
Supported by conservative politicians
Ultimately failed
Increasingly popular
64% of Utahns support defederalization
Gov’t shutdown
Legislation in western states
Cliven Bundy

Defederalization Cont'd.
Why are national forests better than state forests?
States favor more extraction
52x more logging in Idaho

States favor looser regulation
Environmental protection
Public information

States have less enforcement capability

National Forest Funds
ensure money set aside for national forests
more than 1 budget cycle
don't acknowledge impact

Trust Issues
Surprise cuts

Equal Access to Justice Act
Pays court expenses for any party that successfully sues the U.S.

USFS covers expenses in national forests

Legal expenses make up significant portion of the USFS budget.
When they win, they still lose.

Wildfires in the US
Wildfires in NC Forests
Legal Reform - EAJA
Hold private sector liable
U.S. Forest Service can monitor practices with appropriate funding & zoning
USFS shouldn't bear all responsibility

Legal accountability
Cohesive Management Policy
Prescribed Burn Practices
Responding to Climate Change
Forests may be altered
Change in growing seasons
Increase success of invasive species
Threat to biodiversity
Increased fungal and insect activity
Increased drought or flood
Soil erosion
Rapid nutrient depletion
Increased natural disasters

Olympic National Forest Response to Climate Change
Potentially destructive

Controlled burns = potential solution
NC forests are fire-adapted ecosystems

Developed areas in NC at particularly high risk

Divide national forests into “vocational” zones
Assign each area a purpose
Manage based on purpose
Large fires OK in remote areas
Small fires in populated areas
Don't log in remote areas
Invasive Species
Early detection and rapid response
Re-generation failures after large disturbances
Develop gene-conservation plan for long-term storage
Maintain tree-seed inventory for as many tree species possible
Increase production of native plant materials for post flood planting
Increased drought
Increased thinning to reduce stress on forests
Prescribed fires
Altered eco-system structure
Prioritize actions that will help maintain ecosystem function
Focus on actions that will help minimize mass die-off and effects of major disturbances
Create structures and processes that are viable over the long term.
Reduce the risk of wildfires
Clear underbrush
National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Policy
Managing fuels
Protecting people
Managing ignition
Effective response
Better monitoring
Selective logging
thinning over clear-cutting
Slow spread of fungal and insect activity
Southern Pine Beetle
Control wildfire

- George Perkins Marsh'
Man and Nature
- President Harrison authorizes forest reserves (13 million acres). Logging prohibited.
- Organic Act passed
- U.S. Forest Service created
- Secretary of Agriculture authorizes selling of national forests; paradigm shift for USFS
- USFS works to establish mills in the West
- Endangered Species Act passes
- Logging roads exceed 350,000 miles
- Less than 10% of old growth left
Climate Change Continued
Irresponsible logging potentially increases these problems
Success rate of invasive species
Threat to biodiversity
Soil nutrient depletion
Spread of fungal and insect activity
Increased flooding and drought
Exposure to natural disasters

USDA - U.S. Forest Service has jurisdiction over national forests.
Auction System
Competing Interests
Local Communities
Environmental Groups
40-70 million acres of national forest are dead or dying
109,000 sq mi
232x the size of Los Angeles


Coherent national policies with respect to:
Climate Change

Funding reform
More funding
Less for legal expense
Full transcript