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forest defense | save the biscuit

Help respond to Rep. Brian Baird (D)'s pro-salvage logging article in the O

Yesterday, Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) wrote an opinion piece in the Oregonian (copied below) with the intention of defending his indefensible logging bill, H.R. 4200. We need your help in sending letters to the editor pointing out that Baird's post-disturbance logging legislation is harmful to fish, wildlife, and overall forest recovery. At the bottom of this alert is a press release about 169 scientists from across the country who have come out against this legislation.
Please find below talking points for your letter to the editor. Please remember to keep your letters short and concise, no more than 150 words. Also, keep the letter simple and stick to the facts, avoid personal attacks. You must also include your full address and daytime phone number with submission for verification of authenticity.

You can send your letters to: The Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, Or., 97201, or  letters@news.oregonian.com via electronic mail. They may also be faxed to (503)294-4193. Here's the number to call to confirm the Oregonian received your letter: 503-221-8150.


Talking Points for Letters to the Editor on Baird's Post Fire Logging Opinion:

1. Rep. Baird's logging legislation allows logging in ancient forest reserves, roadless areas, drinking watersheds, and provides no protections for salmon spawning streams.

2. It also limits application of important environmental laws, such as the Endangered Species Act.

3. Contrary to Rep. Baird's assurances, there is no credible, substantive science showing that post-fire logging contributes to forest recovery. Rather, the weight of scientific research shows that post-fire logging harms fish, wildlife, and overall forest recovery.

4. There are truly sustainable ways to manage our forests that can promote both forest health and local economies without supporting this destructive legislation, such as thinning young dense timber plantations.


Attack on forest bill made false assertions
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Les Aucoin ("Another harsh lesson in political science," Feb. 28) and the Oregon Natural Resources Council have it all wrong. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and I have no reason to suppress the science regarding post-fire logging.

In fact, we wish more people would carefully read both our legislation and Oregon State graduate student Daniel Donato's recent study, which Aucoin referenced. If they did, they would discover that comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. From a scientific perspective, Donato's data analysis is deeply flawed and profoundly misleading. (Details of this are available on my Web site, and I invite people to read it themselves.)

If there is any conclusion at all that is justified from Donato's research, it is the common sense and well-known fact that delaying harvest following a fire can cause more environmental damage and produce less economic or environmental benefit than would result from more expedient action. That, of course, is precisely what is addressed in the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act -- HR 4200 -- the bill that Walden and I have introduced.

Aucoin makes several other false assertions. The Medford hearing was called at the request of Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., not me or Greg Walden. Aucoin cites a logging study by John Sessions, a professor at the OSU School of Forestry, as if it were the primary genesis or justification for our legislation, then accuses us of not being sufficiently critical of the Sessions study as we were of the Donato study. In fact, our legislation neither derives from nor depends upon Session's findings, and we fully acknowledge the limitations of the Sessions report. Aucoin's assertion proves that while salmon may be endangered, red herring are alive and well in the Northwest.

Contrary to Aucoin and the ONRC, there are -- as demonstrated by testimony at Medford and several prior hearings -- well-respected scientific studies and abundant real-world examples throughout our region that demonstrate the merits of post-fire harvest and replanting as well as the consequences of doing nothing. The former, if done properly, can demonstrably lead to rapid and healthy forest regeneration, while the latter can result in destructive secondary burns or brush fields that suppress forest recovery for many decades.

All of us use wood -- lots of it -- and that wood has to come from somewhere. The key question is, what are the land allocation decisions society has chosen and how best can we address those decisions in ways that are environmentally and economically sound?

HR 4200 recognizes that, as a society, we make decisions to harvest some lands and leave others for habitat and other values. In the Biscuit fire, for example, less than 10 percent of the burned land was designated to be harvested. The rest of the more than 200,000 hectares was to be left untouched.

HR 4200 makes no requirement for harvest and leaves areas such as wilderness, national parks and other sensitive environments protected. It includes protections, outlined in existing forest management plans, for riparian zones and watersheds. It prohibits "plantation" type replanting, and it requires, for the first time in federal statute, immediate removal of any roads at the expense of the harvester.

Contrary to the hyperbole of opponents, HR 4200 puts scientific knowledge at the forefront of the decision-making process.

Brian Baird is a Democrat representing Southwest Washington in the House of Representatives.


Scientists Warn Against Fast-Track Logging in Forests Recovering from Fire

169 Sign Letter Saying Logging Can Set Back Forest Recovery, Increase Fire Risks

In a letter sent to members of Congress today, 169 scientists called for the defeat of legislative efforts to expedite logging in areas recovering from fires and other natural disturbances. The letter was released a day before the scheduled mark-up in Chairman Richard Pombo's House Resources Committee of the Walden logging bill, H.R. 4200. The bill would fast-track logging by suspending environmental safeguards and reducing the American public's ability to give input on how their forests are managed.

"Proposed post-disturbance legislation (specifically the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act [HR 4200], crafted as a response to recent fires and other disturbances, is misguided because it distorts or ignores recent scientific advances," said Dr. James Karr, Professor of Aquatics Sciences and Biology, University of Washington.

A copy of the scientists' letter is available at  link to www.americanlands.org

"No substantive evidence supports the idea that fire-adapted forests might be improved by logging after a fire. In fact, many carefully conducted studies have concluded just the opposite. Most plants and animals in these forests are adapted to periodic fires and other natural disturbances. They have a remarkable way of recovering¾literally rising from the ashes¾because they have evolved with and even depend upon fire," said Dr. Reed Noss, professor of Conservation Biology for the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Tania Schoennagel, Fire Scientist from the University of Colorado, warned the logging legislation could lead to increased fire risks: "Post-disturbance logging can increase the reburn potential of the site by concentrating flammable slash (small branches) at or near the ground, which can easily ignite and spread fire. The large, less ignitable fuels (tree trunks), which provide important perching, nesting, and feeding sites for wildlife, are removed by logging."

"Science provides the best insight into the real consequences of our policies and actions. Ironically, this legislation is crafted to ignore the science by waiving environmental reviews, reviews that would make use of the scientific knowledge often available only because of expenditures of public funds. Failure to conduct full environmental reviews informed by that science will inevitably lead to ecological and economic harm from post-disturbance logging," said Dr. Jonathan Evans, Director of the University of the South's Landscape Analysis Laboratory.

On Capitol Hill last Friday, six prominent scientists spoke at a Science Forum hosted by New Mexico Representative Tom Udall, on their findings about the negative impacts of logging in forests following natural disturbance events such as fire, and the important role these events play in maintaining wildlife populations and healthy forests. The scientists made clear they didn't oppose all logging, just logging in ecologically sensitive areas.

"We need to change our thinking on salvage logging. There are other values in the forest," said Dr. Richard Hutto Professor and Director of Avian Science Center at the University of Montana. "In fact, a burned area is probably the most ecologically sensitive place one could choose for logging. We talk about forest restoration after a fire, but it just got restored by fire itself. That's what fire does."

The recent Oregon State University study "Post-Wildfire Logging Hinders Regeneration and Increases Fire Risk" by Daniel Donato et al. is the not the first scientific research that shows logging in forests recovering from fires causes environmental harm or increases fire risks. There is abundant scientific evidence that salvage logging can have diverse and significant negative impacts on ecological recovery (e.g., McIvar and Starr 2000, Karr et al. 2004, Beschta et al. 2004, Lindenmayer et al. 2004 and several government reports including the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project and the recommendations of scientists representing the Forest Ecosystem Management Team that assembled the Northwest Forest Plan).

Dr. James Karr, an aquatic and avian ecologist at University of Washington and author of several studies on post-fire logging, had this to say about logging in forests recovering from fires:

"By adding another stressor to burned watersheds, post-fire salvage logging worsens degraded aquatic conditions accumulated from a century of human activity. This additional damage impedes the recovery and restoration of aquatic systems, lowers water quality, shrinks the distribution and abundance of native aquatic species, and compromises the flow of economic benefits to human communities that depend on aquatic resources."

"Proponents of expedited logging can't provide a significant body of evidence that a nationwide program of logging in forests recovering from disturbance is scientifically justified," said Dominick DellaSala, Ph.D., a forest ecologist for the World Wildlife Fund. "Of the more than 30 scientific papers on post-fire logging published to date, not a single one indicates that logging provides benefits to ecosystems regenerating after disturbance."


A copy of the scientists' letter opposing H.R. 4200 is available at  link to www.americanlands.org

Ryan Hunter
Program Director
Gifford Pinchot Task Force
917 SW Oak St., Suite 410
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503-221-2102 ext. 101
Fax: 503-221-2146
Web: www.gptaskforce.org