Cascadian Forest Service and Cascadia
the following are articles just recently about Cascadia:
January 24, 2005
Cascadian Forest Service
The US National Forest system turns 100 this year, as today's San Francisco Chronicle reports (article posted below this article). (The precise centenial birthday is either February 1 or March 3, depending on your intepretation of events.) The article focuses on policy changes in the Forest Service, which today faces a welter of pressures related to logging, forest fires, off-road vehicle use, grazing, watershed degradation, and invasive species.
National forest issues are critical to Cascadia. In fact, roughly half of the US portions of Cascadia are in national forest. That makes the Forest Service easily the largest land manager in the US Northwest. It also means that the long-term ecological prospects for Cascadia hinge, in large measure, on Forest Service policy.
By the same token, Cascadia is a vital component of the national forest system. Cascadia encompasses 45 percent of all national forest lands. Oregon, Washington, and Idaho collectively boast one-quarter of the nation's total (and Idaho alone has about 1 acre in 9 of all Forest Service land).
A caveat: The figures above are this morning's back of the envelope calculations. They're roughly right, but they're rough.
UPDATE: I made a numerical gaff earlier. Approximately 40 percent of the US Northwest is under Forest Service ownership, not half.
found at http://cascadiascorecard.typepad.com/blog/2005/01/centenial_trees.html
At age 100, U.S. Forest Service reviews its mandate
Agency's focus shifts toward increased use of resources
Glen Martin, Chronicle Environment Writer
Sunday, January 23, 2005
This is the U.S. Forest Service's centennial year, and the agency is pulling out all the stops in observing its milestone.
Earlier this month, a three-day congress was convened in Washington to celebrate the service's history and spin its possible future. Additional events are scheduled for individual national forests throughout the year. Through it all, the agency is emphasizing its motto: Caring for the land and serving people.
Yet it is especially apparent in this centennial year that the focus of the agency -- whose holdings comprise 150 national forests and 20 national grasslands, totaling 192 million acres in 44 states and two territories -- has fluctuated with time and different administrations.
Most recently, the Bush administration has moved decisively away from a Clinton-era policy of preservation; the emphasis at the agency is once again on a more traditional "multiple-use" approach emphasizing increased logging and accelerated oil and gas extraction.
Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth said the service's current direction merely harkens to its roots.
"Gifford Pinchot (the first Forest Service chief) believed you could provide for the needs of people in a scientific way, ensuring healthy national forests for future generations," Bosworth said. "That remains our goal."
Not everyone believes the change is so benign.
"We're seeing a shift back to resource extraction, and an attitude from the agency that environmental laws and public participation are a constraint on its ability to manage public lands," said Michael Francis, the director of the national forests program for the Wilderness Society.
Francis said the Bush administration made its intentions clear on Jan. 20, 2001, when it suspended preservation-oriented roadless-area rules and forest- planning regulations adopted by Clinton.
"That was a steel door slamming shut on reform," Francis said.
When it was founded in 1905 by Theodore Roosevelt, the Forest Service was given authority over the nation's forest "reserves," which were later redesignated national forests. The goal: to preserve watersheds and ensure a sustainable source of timber for the nation.
At the end of World War II, the country's appetite for lumber ballooned, fueled by the demand for new homes to shelter returning GIs intent on starting families. By the late 1960s, the emphasis at the Forest Service was on maximizing timber harvest -- a policy that reached its apogee in the early 1980s when 12 billion to 13 billion board feet of timber came out of the national forests annually.
Under President Clinton, the agency emphasized the conservation portion of its multiple-use mandate. Logging was almost halted in the national forests, and extensive restoration efforts were begun to enhance remaining stands of old-growth trees and their dependent species.
Now, under the Bush administration, Forest Service policy has changed again. Grazing permits are flat, but that's because everything that can be grazed generally is being grazed.
But oil and gas leasing has spiked dramatically on federal lands, including Forest Service holdings. And timber production is up nominally due to new fuel reduction programs.
Bosworth said the amount of timber coming off federal lands -- currently 1 billion to 2 billion board feet a year -- is unlikely to increase significantly. The heavy timber harvests of the 1980s were not sustainable, he said, adding the agency has no intention of returning to those levels.
In the next two to three decades, Bosworth said, the service's emphasis is going to be on forest rehabilitation and recreation.
"We're going to stabilize watersheds. We're going to restore fire- dependent ecosystems and protect rural communities by reducing fuels. We plan to implement rules soon for off-road vehicles. We're going to address invasive species, which are a huge threat to native ecosystems," he said. "And we're going to collaborate with private parties to preserve open space."
That approach sits well with John Mechem, the spokesman for the American Forest and Paper Association, a trade group representing forest product interests.
"We're generally pleased with the way the Forest Service is moving these days," Mechem said. "They're really trying to get more work done. ... Excessive process has always been the biggest problem with the service -- it always took years to get anything approved, while the health of the forests steadily deteriorated. Contractors would just throw up their hands and walk away."
Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said the Forest Service has made "tremendous if uneven" progress since the 1960s, but added the agency is not putting its money where its rhetoric is, especially in regard to resource and community protections.
In particular, Pope said, top-level officials at the Department of Agriculture -- which oversees the service -- have stymied adequate funding for fireproofing rural communities, despite the fact that such protections were a centerpiece of the Bush administration's Healthy Forests Initiative, a program drafted to reduce wildfire risk.
Deborah Gangloff, the executive director of American Forests, a group founded in 1875 to promote citizen involvement in national forestry issues, said that she is encouraged that there have been few major on-the-ground reversals of Clinton-era programs, despite significant agency policy shifts --
such as those affecting roadless areas -- by the Bush administration.
"I'm heartened by that," Gangloff said. "I think Forest Service managers are genuinely trying to pursue the best possible science. I just don't see them returning to an emphasis on getting out the cut at all costs."
But some Bush administration policies have alarmed environmentalists, she said, including the acceleration of tree thinning -- with minimal review -- under the Healthy Forests Initiative.
And Gangloff said she was disturbed by some recent decisions by forest supervisors to end run community-based forest management programs. Foremost among these, she noted, was a Sierra Nevada management plan amendment drafted by Jack Blackwell, the service's regional forester for California.
The original plan, implemented after much public input and debate, greatly reduced logging in the Sierra's 11 national forests and one special management area. The amendment developed by Blackwell will triple the harvest as a fuel-control measure, and will allow the taking of some trees up to 30 inches in diameter to help pay for the program.
"When you override the public process like that, you destroy the public's trust in the agency," Gangloff said.
Blackwell said he stands by his decision.
"When I came here, I immersed myself in California's (forestry) issues," Blackwell said. "I insisted we review things on the ground, talking to as many people as we could. We did what we did because it was the right thing to do for California."
E-mail Glen Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Place: Cascadia
Northwest Environment Watch monitors key trends shaping the future of Cascadia--and the most important solutions for the region to implement. But what is Cascadia?
Cascadia is another name for the Pacific Northwest, a region defined by the watersheds that flow into the Pacific Ocean through North America's temperate rainforest zone that includes British Columbia, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and adjoining parts of Alaska, Montana, and California.
The Northwest is home to more than 15 million people, along with diminished but still impressive numbers of salmon, eagles, grizzly bears, killer whales, and wolves. It boasts an economy that generates more than $450 billion worth of goods and services each year.
Long united by similar indigenous cultures, Cascadia was once briefly a single political unit—the Oregon Territory—shared by several nations. The region has since been divided into different political jurisdictions, but this place has a dawning sense of itself: a place bound by salmon and rivers, snowcapped mountains and towering forests, and a people who share geography, history, and aspirations.
Cascadia has traditions of innovation in the public and private sectors, a well-educated populace, and a reputation for a commitment to the environment and quality of life that continues to draw migrants even when unemployment rises.
This is no accident: the Northwest retains a larger share of its ecosystems intact than perhaps any other part of the industrial world and has helped set the conservation agenda for the continent—with the first bottle bills and urban growth management laws in the 1970s, trend-setting energy conservation and curbside recycling efforts in the 1980s, old-growth forest protection in the 1990s, and the first endangered species listings to affect major cities.
But there is a broader challenge to which the Northwest is just beginning to rise: gradually but fundamentally realigning the human enterprise so that the region's economies and their supporting ecosystems both can thrive. Daunting, complex, systemic, seemingly quixotic, this goal—harmonizing people and place—is nonetheless more attainable here than anywhere else on this continent. If northwesterners can reconcile themselves with their landscapes, they can set an example for the world.
Map of Cascadia defined by watershed http://www.northwestwatch.org/images/photos/bioregion2004.jpg
Pdf of Cascadia Scorecard
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