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Pyrites
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PostSun Nov 25, 2018 10:55 am 
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treeswarper wrote:
've worked in an area where our boss who was very fire savvy gave us instructions that if we smelled a whiff of smoke to get the heck out of the area.  It was jack strawed blowdown from beetle kill which had not burned but had lain there long enough for trees to grow up through it.  It was about 3 feet deep.  That stuff will burn.  Note some of the commenters pointing this out. 

Treeswarper

I didn’t see this hill of course. Besides fire behavior such places can be difficult to move through, quickly. I’ve never tried it as part of a group moving at speed of slowest person, while staying together. Put a spot fire across your line/trail and escape choices are quite impeded, even if you drop tools.

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treeswarper
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PostSun Nov 25, 2018 11:52 am 
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Pyrites:  We were marking and cruising timber.  Our legs were all banged up from working in that stuff.   Our boss was being proactive and making sure we were aware of how fast it would burn.

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Pyrites
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PostSun Nov 25, 2018 1:24 pm 
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Oops. Thought you were building line. Bruised and scraped up is right. Staub city often.


The big animal that can often move through that stuff is moose. The rest of us not so much.
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Ski
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PostSun Nov 25, 2018 5:09 pm 
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Sculpin wrote:
There is a rich and fascinating literature on the natural history of the West. 

I was speaking in the context of fire regime history and the impact the pre-Columbian inhabitants had on the landscape, about which the scientific community is only recently beginning to delve into and gaining some understanding.
A few core samples from a few lakes in southwestern British Columbia do not provide a comprehensive view of the larger picture. The landscape of both the north and south American continents was significantly impacted by the practices of the aboriginal inhabitants, most likely more than most can imagine.
While the sort of research you cite does tell us that the climate was much different, and the native flora was made up of entirely different species, we have very little data in the way of fire regime history on a continent-wide basis.
We simply do not have any definitive information in regard to fire regime history that goes back much farther than a few centuries, except in some very isolated cases which provide only a myopic view of the overall picture. Moreover, we are unable to establish with any degree of certainty exactly how long the north and south American continents were populated by humans - that question is still debated in the academic community.
It is, therefore, kind of a stretch to argue that there existed at some fixed point in time a "natural" condition of the landscape that is used as the basis for arguments for or against our own activities.

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Anne Elk
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PostSun Nov 25, 2018 10:18 pm 
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Interesting that Zinke should bring up beetles; although he makes an erroneous connection to wildfires,  the spread of these beetle infestations northward are one indicator of warming in climate fluctuations.  A highly recommended book on the subject is Empire of the Beetle by the excellent Calgary journaist Andrew Nikiforuk.  I think I referenced Nikiforuk some time ago in another discussion, but can't recall.

What's interesting is that forest thinning by itself doesn't reduce fire hazard as much as prescribed burning. The two together are best, but apparently prescribed burning alone has been found to be a much more economical approach:

https://www.opb.org/news/article/west-wildfire-risks-fuels-treatment-thinning-burning/

https://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/guest/guest-opinion-why-thinning-doesn-t-prevent-forest-fires/article_fe3597d9-e5fb-5417-9600-90970f292096.html

Meanwhile, I stumbled on this chuckler from the UK,  kind of making Ski's point about incomplete understanding about aboriginal/medieval era influences on terrain.

Forests in the olden days


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PostSun Nov 25, 2018 11:35 pm 
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^ and he sums it up quite succinctly there at the end:

"Mankind has been manipulating the forest environment for millennia."

Ergo: we have no clue what "natural" is, was, or might have been. "The Natural State" is a stupid thing that otherwise intelligent and educated people say when they're trying to support their argument.

Thanks for posting the link, Anne Elk. Maybe some people here will take the time to listen to it.

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treeswarper
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PostMon Nov 26, 2018 4:43 pm 
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"Bring me a shrubbery."

This article, by its title, shows that the author either wants to create confusion or does not understand the concept of thinning for fuels reduction.
https://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/guest/guest-opinion-why-thinning-doesn-t-prevent-forest-fires/article_fe3597d9-e5fb-5417-9600-90970f292096.html

Thinning for fuels reduction is not intended to prevent fires.  It is intended to slow the fire down and reduce flame intensity.  It may give fire crews more time to build line.  It is not intended to prevent fires. 

Once again, an expert seems to think a one size fits all prescription is the solution.  Whilst thinning should be followed by piling and/or burning on the fire prone eastside of the Cascades, precommercial thinning on the westside is done to increase the growth and health of trees and the slash might be piled and burned along the road to create a fuel break, but the rest will be left to decay, and it will decay.  There will be a higher risk of fire for a while but it will decay and add organics to the soil--on the rainy side of the mtns.

Then we have commercial thinning, where trees are removed and sent to a mill and the limbs, tops and cull material are left behind.   The latter can be yarded into the landing area--whole tree skidding, or piled after the logs are removed and burned later, or chipped, or lopped up and scattered around.   The lop and scatter breaks up concentrations of limbs a bit which again may help to keep the flame heights lower than if left uncut. 


In Western WA and Oregon, whole tree skidding is popular with the loggers as they can do the limbing and bucking with a machine (processor) on the landing which is faster than having a timber faller buck and limb.  It makes for some big landing slash piles, but if there is a market, that can sometimes be hauled off for biofuels.  Whole tree skidding is not popular with soils people as it removes the material that breaks down and enriches the soils.  I would assume the same would work on the eastside too.   

If you are going to manage a forest for anything and have people out working around, sometimes large trees have to come down.  Trees with dead tops are not safe for people to work around.  That tends to upset folks and they will claim that the thinning is nothing but a timber grab.  This picture is of a tree that had to come down for that reason.  It was left on the ground out in the woods for wildlife.  I do not know of people would find that to be upsetting. 

Big tree20001
Big tree20001

Here are some pictures I took of a mostly controlled burn west of Kettle Falls in the Lake Roosevelt NRA.  It looks like it may have gotten a bit too hot in places.



One treatment is not enough on the eastside forests.  Fire by controlled burns needs to run through at intervals or the litter on the forest floor will build up and the doghair stands of trees will come back.  That is a big problem on FS land as the funding varies and there is no way to make sure funding will be available for reburning of treated areas.  That is the elephant in the room.  It's kind of the August Panic.  You've got politicians and people on hiking forums running around and saying Something Must Be Done, but then winter happens and it all dies down.  The Paradise fire may be an exception to that, and it should be. 


We shall see.

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Anne Elk
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PostMon Nov 26, 2018 5:51 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
Thinning for fuels reduction is not intended to prevent fires.

The author of that article makes this fact quite clear, TS, and the point of his article is to point this out to the public at large who think otherwise.  I don't read his article as suggesting "one size fits all"; it's mostly addressing reduction of fire risk.  He also makes it clear that serious big burns, with all the detritus left in place, is good for forests.  So I'm not sure what your objection to the author's POV is.  He has a lot of background studying wildfire ecology.

He makes it clear that the big issue is ongoing "severe fire weather conditions", and as other articles have pointed out, the best prevention for settlements in danger zones is to do a lot of regular terrain maintenance near these residential areas that will slow down an approaching fire and enable fire crews to contain them, and make it possible to prevent loss of homes and lives.

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Ski
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PostMon Nov 26, 2018 8:06 pm 
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George Wuerthner, in the article cited just above by treeswarper wrote:
"...Ecologically speaking, thinning impoverishes our forest ecosystems..."

Sure okay.
His credentials in silviculture and forestry are what again?

lol.gif

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Anne Elk
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 3:52 am 
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His byline says "... an ecologist who has published 38 books, including two dealing with wildfire ecology..."

Am I missing something here, Ski?  The silviculturists and foresters have made their share of mistakes - Nikiforuk's beetle book documents a lot them.

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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 11:40 am 
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George Wuerthner, in the article cited just above by treeswarper wrote wrote:
"...Ecologically speaking, thinning impoverishes our forest ecosystems..."

That statement is simply untrue.

He artfully weaves opinion and fact in the article and makes it sound as though he knows what he's talking about.

If he had the credentials in either silviculture or forestry I'm sure he would have made sure it was noted on all of the websites where his name is featured. His degrees could be in Home Economics or Structural Engineering for all we know.

To say that "thinning forests impoverishes forest ecosystems" is simply a load - a statement made to support an argument against timber harvesting. It's not a credible statement.

People who use language like that lose all credibility with me - I am unable to accept anything he says as valid.

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Pyrites
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 12:29 pm 
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I went on a tour of tx sites on the Cowlitz Valley District summer 2017. Different thinning/fire regimens with one goal being increased huckleberry production. Sounds like diversity to me.

The current early process timber sale in the Wynoochee is intended to leave something like 50% canopy of about fifty plus year old hand plant Doug fir. Goals include structural and specie diversity.

I don’t think someone who says this is the answer doesn’t understand or has simplified to meaninglessness.

There is no one answer. There isn’t even just one question. Wildfire fire across the West is driven by quite a few variables that vary by aspect and slope even around a single hill. Add in human and property exposures and complexity appears.

I do think that almost all discussions will eventually involve some fire and smoke.
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PostTue Nov 27, 2018 1:01 pm 
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^ Salient points. This is not a simple issue. Simplistic answers do not work.

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Anne Elk
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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 1:01 am 
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Ski wrote:
George Wuerthner, in the article cited just above by treeswarper wrote: "...Ecologically speaking, thinning impoverishes our forest ecosystems..."

That statement is simply untrue. He artfully weaves opinion and fact in the article and makes it sound as though he knows what he's talking about ... His degrees could be in Home Economics or Structural Engineering for all we know.  To say that "thinning forests impoverishes forest ecosystems" is ... a statement made to support an argument against timber harvesting. It's not a credible statement.

OK, I get where you're coming from; skepticism due to the "alleged expert" phenomenon. As noted in Treeswarper's comments, there are certaiin factors that support Wuerthner's claims. I agree that he likely is focusing on facts to support an argument against timber harvesting; in the minds of some, "thinning" is as destructive as clear-cutting.  But to bring the discussion back round to where we started, with someone like Zinke at the helm, it's understandable;  he will use these huge fires as an argument to support a harvesting free-for-all for industry, which as Wuerthner rightly points out, isn't necessarily going to stop these fires.

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PostWed Nov 28, 2018 5:34 am 
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Anne Elk wrote:
.... with someone like Zinke at the helm, it's understandable;  he will use these huge fires as an argument to support a harvesting free-for-all for industry,.....

Yes....looks like that is Z’s plan.  Today’s Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/27/wildfires-ryan-zinke-logging-environment-thinning?
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