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“FOREST BIOMASS EXTRACTION”: LOGGING BY ANOTHER NAME

"Forest biomass extraction" threatens our remaining 5% of native forests in the U.S.
The aftermath of
The aftermath of "forest biomass extraction"
A runaway train is heading our way, threatening to steamroll nearly every acre of our public forests, and its name is "forest biomass extraction." Fanning the flames of the current fire hysteria, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, colluding politicians and even some environmental groups, are setting the stage for a timber industry feeding frenzy in our forests.

The corrupted and/or misguided proponents of this most recent attempt by the timber industry to cheat Americans out of their forests, insist that the only response to rejuvenative wildfire should be to aggressively "thin" out every acre of healthy, native forest they can lay their hands on. The end result is unrestricted logging of young trees and stripping away of the vital understory layer, leaving the forest floor sterile and bare as a golf course fairway.

Not surprisingly, there is a conspicuous lack of science (not to mention common sense) backing up these claims. In fact, science suggests that these so-called "fuels reduction treatments" have—at best—negligible effects on preventing wildfire, and—at worst—actually INCREASE the risk of fire by opening the forest to sunlight and wind, which dries forests and causes winds to carry fires further and hotter.

Ecologically speaking, "forest biomass extraction" removes essential organic matter from the forest; compacts and erodes fertile carbon-storing soil; destroys wildlife habitat; and generally devastates native forest ecosystems.

The costs for such "treatments" would be astronomical and would be paid for with taxpayers' money and by cutting large, financially valuable trees.

Logistically speaking, "fuels reduction treatments" could never truly be effective as the stripped understory would simply regrow within 10 years of "treatments." That's like digging a hole only to fill it in again.

How could the American people ever allow such widespread destruction of their forests? The answer is they wouldn't. Which is why timber interests have greenwashed the "fuels reduction" fallacy by combining its dubious claims with the concept of "forest biomass": building biomass energy plants, to be fed by the products of forest destruction.

As it is essential to stop our nation's dependence on fossil fuels, some elements of NON-forest biomass should be supported, such as the use of crop residues, manure biogas, solid wastes and landfill gas. But once a "forest biomass" plant is built—like an old-growth sawmill—it will be driven by an insatiable hunger to devour ever more of our forests. Shredding any of our remaining 5% of native forests for an insignificant energy source is NOT the answer.

Native Forest Council (www.forestcouncil.org), Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates and allies are building a coalition of citizen groups, elected officials and other concerned individuals to stop "forest biomass extraction" in its tracks.

Please take a moment to contact Governor Ted Kulongoski and Senator Ron Wyden and urge them to oppose any projects based on fire hysteria and industry's greenwashed energy production, as well as any other form of extraction from our life-giving public forests.

Governor Ted Kulongoski
160 State Capital, 900 Court St.
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 378-4582


Senator Ron Wyden
405 E. 8th Ave. Suite 2020
Eugene, OR 97401
(541) 431-0229

For more information or to find out how to get involved, contact Native Forest Council at 541-688-2600 or  info@forestcouncil.org.

homepage: homepage: http://www.forestcouncil.org
phone: phone: 541-688-2600
address: address: PO Box 2190, Eugene, OR 97402


Forest biomass: neither green nor renewable energy 24.Jan.2007 14:32

Logos

The timber industry is ruthless and relentless and will stop at nothing to bleed us of our forests. Forest Biomass is neither green nor renewable energy. Get the chainsaws off of public lands!

Environmental groups supporting forest biomass? 24.Jan.2007 14:43

Pliny the Younger

Which environmental groups are pushing this? I heard Nature Conservancy is one of them? Who else?

Sell out green groups 24.Jan.2007 15:04

Grendela

Why would an environmental group support this? That's treason.

Sierra Club opposes forest biomass off public lands 24.Jan.2007 16:01

anon

Here is their National Policy word for word.
You'd think if they could oppose it, all enviros would oppose it.
We'll see.

8. Forest Biomass

The Sierra Club opposes the unsustainable exploitation of forest ecosystems. Typical practices use waste wood from harvest operations to run semi-portable milling equipment, undermining efforts to restrict forest cutting in remote, pristine and fragile areas. The use of forest residues from logging or forest fires is widely proposed as a source of renewable energy with limited or no net greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is little likelihood that the current energy resource provided by forest biomass can be increased sustainably. The Sierra Club opposes biomass energy projects that use federal lands as a source of supply.

The Sierra Club supports efforts to protect communities from wildfires and restore natural fire cycles. Removal of small-diameter hazardous fuels around forested communities where the natural fire cycle has been suppressed may contribute to restoration, and some local biomass-to-energy projects may be acceptable under strictly controlled conditions. But generally, the use of this material as biomass for commercial energy production creates demand for the byproducts of poor forest management and logging practices, and increases the pressure to disturb wild forest ecosystems. Sierra Club entities may support small-scale forest biomass-to-energy projects on non-federal lands where they are carefully monitored and designed as part of a sustainable system similar to that required for Forest Stewardship Council certification.

Bio"mess" 24.Jan.2007 17:27

Gloria Z.

Yes, unfortunately the Nature Conservancy is advocating biomassing our forests - even though there is absolutely no science to support doing so. Their "White Paper" (which I have attached here) does nothing to support any sound reasons for biomassing, and in fact on pages 10,12,13 & 14 mentions all the lack of testing and / or science behind it, as well as all the potential problems. I would encourage all who are willing to read their White Paper and then contact the Nature Conservancy and let them know what you think, and help "correct the error of their ways".

While the posted Sierra Club position is indeed correct, even the Sierra Club is not coming out against this in the manner in which they should. We need some large environmental groups, such as the S.C. to get their act together and start getting this info out to the public. This is not a battle that little mom and pop clubs will be able to fight alone.

If the public really knew all the bits and pieces (facts) behind all of this they would shudder and be outraged, but this administration has gone out of their way to dissect this issue into so many puzzle pieces that it is all but impossible for the average citizen to comprehend what is going on here, let alone the long range dire consequences.

Restoring Eden 24.Jan.2007 18:47

Terry Davis terryddavis46@yahoo.com

Restoring Eden



Now that the leaves are gone from the brush and shrubs,
you can see the wonderful tangle of branches and twigs
all going every which way looking like chaos and disorder.
They sure had their colorful days this fall with red and yellow leaves. They must have been proud of themselves, showing off like that. With the leaves gone you can see well into this land of sticks. Birds that have been hidden from view all summer are easily seen. How do they navigate in such a tangle? There is such a density here in the understory it would be hard to tell where the brush ended and where the trees began. What an intricate web of well connected celebrities of the plant world. The birds seem to love life in small places. Lately on walks through the woods, I try to notice more detail and savor the gourmet air we are privileged to breathe. The more I learn of the amazing interconnected sharing that is going on above and below ground, and the mutual dependence of interfamily life, the more I want to learn how to live with nature as my role model. How do the diverse species of plants and animals so naturally care for and support one another? How do they all get their needs met without a business plan?
Some people think of all this diverse life under the canopy as BIOMASS, trash, and a waste of the forest's time. The forest is better off without it. Take it away and sell it! They have a business plan and a life style that can't be compromised. This isn't anything new. Empires have always lived off of their ecosystems. They use them until they collapse. A repeating cycle of turning forests into barren wastelands is so woven into our cultural heritage that it is almost inconceivable that 10,000 years of history could be changed in a few generations. The hillsides of all ancient civilizations have been scoured clean. Most anything burnable or usable in the building of empires disappeared long ago. Oh yes, there are parks--but the wild places are almost gone. However it is the wild places that hold the memories of how all life is mutually sustainable. Only the forest itself knows these things. When it is gone, who will remember?
I was hoping it would be different this time.
They (the ones with a business plan) really do want to hack and chop and cut and burn a very large area of Southern Oregon. They want to kill the plants and fungi that feed the trees hoping the trees will then rush towards creating old growth forests. Actually, I don't think they really believe this, but they are hoping that you do. They are calling it "restoration." They even want to "restore" some ancient forests. I know, it's a job. It's the work of empire.
But could it be different this time? Is there a way to be together without doing this? Some will make money, but we'll all pay for it.
That fat little brown and white bird so content in his little kingdom of twigs would like to stick around amongst us a while longer. He has kids. So do we. What's his job? What do all of the plants and fungi and worms and birds and raccoons and skunks and deer and bear do to make it all work together? What's their"job?" It's the work of nature. They do it well, don't they?
Where do we fit in? Can we fit in? We lived in Eden for a very long time before it needed to be "restored." I hope we can remember how we did that, soon, before we destroy the only real home we've ever known.
Terry Davis

1-541-592-4401
P.O.Box 1874

Call me a skeptic, but ... 25.Jan.2007 02:50

edison

I don't trust TNC. Call it a feeling, a hunch, whatever ... And this is kinda interesting:  http://www.newswithviews.com/Morrison/joyce31.htm

Forest Biomass Extraction 14.Feb.2007 19:08

Jumpoff Joe

First of all, I'm a neighbor of the "publisher" of newswithviews. I didn't read the article, as I have read enough of his neocopn drivel over the past two or three years to last for a lifetime. I recommend a large dose of skepticism when reading ANYTHING on that site.

As to "forest biomass extraction", don't jump to conclusions. I'm a rabid, tree-hugging environmentalist (I've bbee labelled as an "ecoterrorist" by our former county commissioner, Harold Haugen, although I am no such thing)

As an enviro, I have a great deal of concern about removing all this woody matrial from the forest, as prefer that timber companies, the Bureau of Mismanagement, and the Forest Circus, utilize a chipper, or a "brush buster" on "overgrown" forests, instead of broadcast burning, or "pile and burn". Mostly, the Blimmers and the Circus use mostly broadcast burning.

It's pretty weird. For those who do not live in timber counties, here's what happens. The DEQ tells us not to use our wood heaters, because they "pollute the air". But, apparently, slash burning by these agencies, and private timber fuckers, is fine and dandy.

Interestingly, a single "unit" (and area that has been clear cut, or "selective cut"-aka 'select a mountain and cut hte shit out of it'), when it is burned, will put out as much smoke as would be burned by thousands of homes in and entire winter. And people burning wood in wood heaters are bypassing the use of fossil fuels to heat their homes.

Burning logging slash and brush species, however, is pure waste, provifing no heating of homes, or any other benefit, other than temporarily reducing fire intensity in the area where it's done.

Burning this material also removes its built-in property of fertilizing the forest trees, as well.

So here's my pitch. Using this wood to generate electricity is better than burning it, with a big caveat: the wood has to produce enough energy to more than offset the fossil fuel used in cutting it, yarding it, hauling it to the biomass plant, and any incidental energy required to process it, including drying it, if that is needed.

My point is, there's a lot more to this than just supporting it, or opposing it. We need more information.

By the way, I'm told (I can't demonstrate the veracity of this info) that the whole process would not even pencil out for the biomass people, due to fossil fuel requirements, without subsidies. Pretty normal, I guess. sort of like ethanol?