Forum Index > Public Lands Stewardship > Trump Opens Spotted Owl Habitat in the PNW to Timber Harvesting
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brineal
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PostFri Jan 15, 2021 8:19 pm 
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gb wrote:
brineal wrote:
Kim Brown wrote:
brineal wrote:
Chief Joseph wrote:
brineal wrote:
Pretty sure the article admits that owl population is in decline now despite protections.  Also the competition with other owl species.  There is still plenty of forest, no one has seen the timber cutting plan, when a tree is cut down owls do not wither and die, they find a new tree.

No way, that makes way to much sense and does not stir up controversy!

This is the benefit of going just above the brain stem when analyzing such topics.

Northern Spotted Owls require old growth to survive; so you're right that if a tree is cut, they find a new tree. But it needs to be a snag, high up, and in a very large stand of old growth forest.

Some knowledge for ya to pack into that brain stem.

This one believes that owls will give up on life and perish if the real estate doesn't fit their fancy. Wow.

Belief is an entirely different thing than science or knowledge.....

“Science” without evidence is called stupidity
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brineal
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PostFri Jan 15, 2021 8:27 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
I do not recall snags ever being a requirement.  Nice to have, yes, but a must have???

There are examples out there of the owls living in second growth.  I have no time to see if any made it onto the internet, as that was before such a thing was common.

I know of a Forester, who was an experienced birder reporting to wildlife bios about seeing spotted owls in areas where, since it did not meet the perceived notion of what the owls needed for habitat, were ignored.  It's kind of the way it is for  wildlife biologists, if they don't see it, it doesn't exist.

That makes it worthless to report seeing wildlife, so it isn't done.  You figure out what that means.
=
Anyway, no harvest of the legendary "Last of the Ancient Old Growth" is going to happen.  For the umpteenth millionth time, I will point out that the majority of lumber mills cannot take large diameter logs and will not retool for it because there is a more reliable supply of second and third growth timber.

shocking how quickly some mention "science" without the corresponding evidence and reference.
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 2:21 am 
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Last time I checked there were two mills around here that could handle really large stuff: one up near Marysville and one down on the Columbia River. That information was gleaned from several phone calls I made years ago - they may or may not be in business now. One of them was owned by a guy who bought logs from my late step-father. Just a wild guess, but if they were acquainted, odds are he's not even around any more.

Thanks Ian for a comment that makes sense, particularly the part about "it isn't just about two birds". I cited a paper the other day in the "what are you reading" thread, but based on some of the content here, it's probably way over the heads of some.
For those who are actually interested in facts and reality, here's two URLs where you can find it:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168192304000176
https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/journals/pnw_2004_link001.pdf

Kim, not sure why you mentioned snags, but they are required to leave large (snag) specimens on some harvest units for large cavity dwellers - pileated woodpeckers and such.  The murrelets, as Ian notes, require large enough platforms for nesting, which means fairly big wood.

Of note is treeswarper's comment above, which I've run into my self: spotted owls in second-growth habitat. But that may or may not be an indicator that they were nesting or foraging in those locales - it's quite possible they were "just passing through". But trying to apply anecdotal observations in this context isn't very productive if the intention is to have a fact-based discussion.

As to the "evidence and reference": UCLIU

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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 8:21 am 
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From Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times today:

People have been expecting some more pardons as President Trump barrels noisily off the stage. But this one feels, at least to local biologists, more like the surprise handing down of a death sentence.

This past week, as people and politicians alike were consumed with the fallout of the Capitol riot, the Trump administration put out a “midnight regulation” — a sweeping rule change on your way out the door — that slams the Northwest’s signature, struggling northern spotted owl.

“It’s likely to be the elimination of northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest,” says Dave Werntz, a forest ecologist with the local environmental group Conservation Northwest. “It came out of the blue.”

What happened is the Interior Department had proposed, last summer, a relatively mild rollback in what’s called “critical habitat” for the owl, which is on the endangered species list. These protections bar most, though not all, logging of old-growth forest — those classic cathedrals of moss-covered, hundred-plus-year-old trees.

The proposal was to reopen to logging about 200,000 acres solely in Oregon. This drew little attention — the federal government’s record notes that “we notified the States of Washington, Oregon, and California of the proposed critical habitat designation. We did not receive comments from any State or State agency.”

But then this week, the feds shocked just about everyone by removing from protected status not just the 200,000 acres in Oregon, but 3.4 million acres across three states — more than a third of the land set aside for the owl. This includes more than half a million acres of protected lands in the Cascades here in Washington, in three national forests — the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie forest just east of Seattle, the Okanogan-Wenatchee forest on the east side of the mountains, and the Gifford Pinchot forest to the south.

The rule change, published Friday, will mean “a dramatic increase in logging in the old-growth woods,” says Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center in Oregon.

Werntz, who has been surveying owls and their habitats in the Cascades since the logging wars in the 1980s, said the scale of the decision is huge. In just one local forest — the Okanogan-Wenatchee — the plan opens 40 percent of historic spotted owl nesting sites to logging, he says.

“This is restarting classic old-growth logging in the Cascades for the first time in decades,” Werntz said. “It’s kicking the spotted owl when it’s down.”

The timber industry argues that many of these nesting sites are no longer in use, as the spotted owl has been outcompeted by a rival, the barred owl, and its habitat degraded by wildfires. Environmentalists, and many biologists, countered that these stresses on the owl warrant more protections, not less.

The New York Times reported the decision was the work of outgoing Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who used to be a lobbyist for oil, gas and mining companies. The paper contended the ruling isn’t “backed up by the months of biological analysis previously conducted by the agency.”

Industry hailed it.

“This rule rights a wrong imposed on rural communities and businesses, and gives us a chance to restore balance to federal forest management and species conservation,” a timber industry statement said.

Said Brown: “There was no way for the public to know they were even considering eliminating millions of acres of owl habitat, because they never told us.”

...

This spotted owl decision, like the others cited above, will be challenged in court, and it shouldn’t stand. You can’t just fire sale the legendary woods of the Pacific Northwest, what local writer Bill Dietrich dubbed “The Final Forest,” without telling anyone, can you?
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 8:23 am 
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IanB wrote:
But it really isn't about two birds.  It's about a type of habitat that supports all number of less photogenic species of plants, mammals, and insects.  A habitat that sequesters carbon, and provides clean air and water for salmon, and orcas, and ultimately for us - because we need those things too.

What it is about is agreeing, as a society and as a species, that there is an intrinsic value in retaining habitats that we have not compromised with an insatiable desire for consumption.  If we cannot do that, we choose to live on the precarious edge, supported only by the thinnest of margins.  When a wholly degraded biome has finally been pushed to the breaking point and fails us through disease and famine, we will have only ourselves to blame.

up.gif   Epic!

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brineal
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 8:26 am 
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Ski wrote:
Last time I checked there were two mills around here that could handle really large stuff: one up near Marysville and one down on the Columbia River. That information was gleaned from several phone calls I made years ago - they may or may not be in business now. One of them was owned by a guy who bought logs from my late step-father. Just a wild guess, but if they were acquainted, odds are he's not even around any more.

Thanks Ian for a comment that makes sense, particularly the part about "it isn't just about two birds". I cited a paper the other day in the "what are you reading" thread, but based on some of the content here, it's probably way over the heads of some.
For those who are actually interested in facts and reality, here's two URLs where you can find it:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168192304000176
https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/journals/pnw_2004_link001.pdf

Kim, not sure why you mentioned snags, but they are required to leave large (snag) specimens on some harvest units for large cavity dwellers - pileated woodpeckers and such.  The murrelets, as Ian notes, require large enough platforms for nesting, which means fairly big wood.

Of note is treeswarper's comment above, which I've run into my self: spotted owls in second-growth habitat. But that may or may not be an indicator that they were nesting or foraging in those locales - it's quite possible they were "just passing through". But trying to apply anecdotal observations in this context isn't very productive if the intention is to have a fact-based discussion.

As to the "evidence and reference": UCLIU

Great post, I can’t think of the last time I ran across a recent small, medium or large, scale logging sale which actively targeted old growth only, or even in majority,in Washington state?
Regardless, any action by the feds to actually utilize the resource will likely be met with legal action.
I think the owls will be fine, at least I hope they will be.  Maybe this can be catalyst to address the competing species to help proliferation.  Knee jerk arrival at the foregone conclusion that these forest areas and owl populations are going to be decimated isn’t warranted. Our state doesn’t exactly have a recent track record that would support it; it’s not exactly 1921 timber industry out here.
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 11:32 am 
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brineal wrote:
“Science” without evidence is called stupidity

Not really -- it is called philosophy. Science is based on evidence. It can't exist without evidence any more than a guitar can't exist without strings (otherwise it is just a drum). You can have ideas without evidence, but that's not science, that's philosophy (if the ideas are good enough).
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 12:11 pm 
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altasnob, quoting from the Seattle Times article above wrote:
“It’s likely to be the elimination of northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest,” says Dave Werntz, a forest ecologist with the local environmental group Conservation Northwest.

Of course he did, because hysterical rhetoric like that is the tool used by so-called "environmental" organizations to drum up support (aka dollars) from their membership rolls.
A sense of great urgency is requisite when appealing to the masses for money.

It is telling that the Seattle Times columnist didn't bother to consult with any credentialed professionals working for USFS or BLM and instead chose to quote only a member of an "environmentalist" activist group and an attorney.

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treeswarper
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 6:18 pm 
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Just another factoid.  In FS timber sales, "profits" from the sale are and have been used to create snags.  Contracts are put out for folks to do the work.  Trees are climbed and topped--don't think they still use explosives, but they did in the 1980s.  Girdling is frowned upon as that makes any future entry into the stand dangerous.  Injuries occurred from such a thing in Idaho.

Before clearcutting was halted, wildlife clumps were located in units.  They still are sometimes located in thinnings.

Logs of a certain size must be left on the ground for wildlife.  The number per acre required and size requirements are found in the contract.  These are commonly called rat logs. 

Streams are buffered, sometimes those buffers are even buffered and there can even be a third buffer of the buffer of the buffer. For example, no harvest would be allowed within 50 feet of the high bank water elevation of  a stream.  Then a few trees could be cut in the next 100 feet but no equipment allowed in it, and in the third area, a few more trees per acre could be cut but not as many as in the rest of the unit and equipment would be allowed where agreed.

Timber sales are complicated beasts.  The contracts can be many pages with many fill in the blank pages listing restrictions (such as operating season for spotted own nesting time) equipment restrictions,  etc. etc. etc.  Spotted owl nesting season is the most common restriction for a timber sale on the west side,  and then there are seasons for fish, and marbled murrelet nesting season.  You can have one logger on one side of a road having to shut down in Feb. for owls while a logger on the same road but working on the other side of the road can keep going because of where the lines are drawn on maps.

It takes about two years or more to get a sale ready to go.  If nobody bids on it, which can be likely if too many restrictions, the sale is reanalyzed and maybe repackaged with units thrown out and then reoffered again.

It's very complicated.  Probably more complicated than anybody here wants to know.

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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 6:29 pm 
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There are three sections to a major timber sale contract.

The A section has fill in the blank provisions which cover the rates and deposits to be paid, the minimum size that must be removed, operating season (different from wildlife restrictions) etc.

The B provisions are boiler plate--no fill ins.  If you want to go to sleep, here they are.  This is for a tree measurement sale.  The amount paid for the timber is based on cruised volume and is paid in advance.  The other type is called a scaled sale, where the buyer pays for the amount cut and scaled.

Sleepytime contract link

The C provisions are more localized.  This is where there are many fill in the blanks as discussed previously.  There are many to choose from.

The contract is the last document to be put together and specialists are supposed to review them prior to selling, to make sure all their requirements made it into the contract.

Another part, and very important part is The Sale Area Map and a lot of the written part of the contract will say, as shown on the sale area map.

Sound easy?

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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 7:42 pm 
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brineal wrote:
"...actively targeted old growth only..."

To expound a bit further on that point:

When I made those phone calls I mentioned above - again, several years ago when trying to ascertain if there was actually a viable market for large wood, I ran into a wall. Mill owners were more than reticent about answering any questions until I got connected to the guy up in Marysville. When he figured out who I was, after I mentioned my late step-father's name, his response was "Oh! I used to buy a lot of logs from Jack!" after which he opened up and we had a pretty good conversation and he gave me a quick crash course over the phone.
Notwithstanding the myth about "they're trying to cut all the old growth", the reality is (as treeswarper has noted on this site innumerable times) that almost all of the mills still operating are now geared to handle smaller wood - 15" to 18" diameter being ideal for their purposes.
The large logs one sees in old archival photos from the 1940s require not only equipment that hardly exists in the present day, but highly trained and specialized operators who know how to handle it and get it through a mill without wasting a lot of product or killing somebody, and most of those guys are either retired or dead now.

All of the hysteria being drummed up is, in a nutshell, ill-informed.

While they may well select areas, draw lines on maps, and put sales proposals together, each step of the process gets sifted through a series of reviews which invariably result in units being pulled from the sale proposals for any number of reasons; canopy retention ratios increased at the eleventh hour; leave areas increased in size, ad infinitum.
After all that, the proposals go out for bids, and buyers may or may not even bid on them - something I've seen dozens of times over the last 30+ years.

The reality is that this sort of "fire sale" nonsense during the last days of an outgoing administration which will never recover from the black eye it has given itself is really more about trying to make political points for potential campaign contributors than it is selling timber.
The pencil-pushers in Washington DC don't have a goddam clue about the forests out here, and certainly not the topography - they just see big green areas on maps and figure it's all flat land they can go into with combines and mow down trees.

Sale after sale after sale that I've looked at - not just on maps, but actually driving down the 23 or the 25 road and walking the ground - might look like a big deal in the initial scoping documents, but after the "survey and manage" people get done identifying habitat areas for spotted frogs and three-toed salamanders, and the hydrologists identify all of the Class I, II, III, IV, an V streams, and the surveyors identify all the slopes where yarding or high-lining is no longer permissible and the wood has to be air lifted out, these deals get trimmed down so much that a lot of them aren't worth the time or trouble to bid on.

Take a deep breath.

Nobody changed anything in the ESA, the Clean Water Act, or any of the other CFRs that are still in effect and have to be complied with.

Relax.

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brineal
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PostSat Jan 16, 2021 11:43 pm 
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rossb wrote:
brineal wrote:
“Science” without evidence is called stupidity

Not really -- it is called philosophy. Science is based on evidence. It can't exist without evidence any more than a guitar can't exist without strings (otherwise it is just a drum). You can have ideas without evidence, but that's not science, that's philosophy (if the ideas are good enough).

Yes, yes and “philosophy” combined with relativism is called activism.
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treeswarper
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PostSun Jan 17, 2021 7:17 am 
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Good point about the equipment needed to get big logs out, Ski.  I have seen some big wood left behind because the logging equipment was not sufficient.  Those were "old growth" trees that had to come down because they were unsafe to work around.  There was no incentive to cut them down--in fact they cost the operator time and money.  The timber fallers do like to cut them down just because it is a challenge and rare these days, but all that has to be approved before they touch a saw to an undesignated tree, with one exception and that is if the tree is extremely hazardous and an imminent danger to folks around it.  The latter is rare.  The hazard trees are left in the unit, unbucked and unlimbed (timber fallers like that too) just like blowdown would be.


The tree in the picture was a hazard.  It had a "shaky" top--the top of the tree was quite dead and unsound and likely to clobber people working on the ground.  The tree was marked, and the falling of it was documented and the tree was left on the ground.  These fallers are grinning, and the guy in the orange hat fell it because....he was the boss of the fallers and it was a treat and a challenge to fall the tree.  The yarder may have been able to pull the tree out, but would have had to be refitted with stouter rigging and then the loader would have been unable to get it on a truck.  The tree is still on the hillside.


This was a commercial thinning sale up in the Green Creek drainage south of Randle.  One of the two big fires in the early 1900s burned through here and the big tree was a survivor of the fire.

Crew is rigging twisters to reinforce the tailhold stump.
Crew is rigging twisters to reinforce the tailhold stump.

Here's another modern problem.  The crew in the picture was working on the same timber sale, up Green Cr.  When a skyline system is used to yard logs, the end of the skyline has to be attached to a strong tree or stump (using blocks).  Such stumps can be hard to find.  The large
old growth stumps are now too rotten to use.  In this case, a smaller diameter stump had to be used and then reinforced with lines tied to other trees and stumps to keep it from pulling out.

On a different sale, a couple of timber fallers wanted to expand their realm and borrowed a vintage yarder that was made for logging in the 1960s.  The lines on it were from that era.  They rigged it up, with the tailblock hung in a normal sized second growth tree and anchored that to a second growth stump. I was watching and when they pulled the skyline up, just the weight of the rigging pulled the tail tree over.  Our second growth trees are not made for the old fashioned equipment, either. 

Lots of things to think about prior to logging a unit.

Post edited to replace offensive term of ancient with vintage. smile.gif

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PostWed Jan 20, 2021 9:29 pm 
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[quote="Ski"]
brineal wrote:
"...actively targeted old growth only..."

To expound a bit further on that point:

Notwithstanding the myth about "they're trying to cut all the old growth", the reality is (as treeswarper has noted on this site innumerable times) that almost all of the mills still operating are now geared to handle smaller wood - 15" to 18" diameter being ideal for their purposes.
The large logs one sees in old archival photos from the 1940s require not only equipment that hardly exists in the present day, but highly trained and specialized operators who know how to handle it and get it through a mill without wasting a lot of product or killing somebody, and most of those guys are either retired or dead now.

All of the hysteria being drummed up is, in a nutshell, ill-informed.

Take a deep breath.

Nobody changed anything in the ESA, the Clean Water Act, or any of the other CFRs that are still in effect and have to be complied with.

Relax.
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Well said, Ski. up.gif  up.gif
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PostThu Jan 21, 2021 12:21 am 
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^ Maybe this is just wild speculation on my part, but considering one of the first moves made by a new incoming administration being the blocking of oil drilling leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, it's quite possible that similar actions may be taken concerning timber harvesting and establishing boundaries around National Monuments.

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