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
Senator Ron Wyden
405 E. 8th Ave. Suite 2020
Eugene, OR 97401
For more information or to find out how to get involved, contact Native Forest Council at 541-688-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.