USA– Over 260 scientists sent a letter to the U.S. Senate and President Obama urging them to oppose two public lands logging bills, being promoted by the timber industry and their supporters in Congress, which the scientists say would be very destructive to forest ecosystems and wildlife on National Forests and other federal public forestlands. The bills, HR 2647 and S 1691, will not improve forest health, reduce fire risks or protect communities by promoting widespread logging of ecologically rich post-fire snag forest and older forest in mostly remote areas of federal public forestlands.
Instead they would degrade or destroy tens of thousands of acres of forest habitat, eliminate most environmental analysis associated with this logging, prevent enforcement of environmental laws by the courts, and markedly reduce public participation in forest management decisions on public forests. The role of the timber industry in federal forest management would also unfairly increase under the deceptive guise of promoting decision-making by collaborative groups.
The scientists urged Congress and the Administration to oppose the misguided bills, which misrepresent scientific evidence, and instead focus on ways for the public to co-exist with fires burning safely in the backcountry. They urged Senators and the President to consider what the science is telling us: that post-fire habitats created by fire, including patches of severe fire, are ecological treasures rather than ecological catastrophes, and that post-fire logging does far more harm than good to public forests.
Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, Chief Scientist of Geos Institute and co-leader of the letter, stated, Federal fire policy needs an overhaul to reign in the out-of-control Forest Service fire fighting budget and focus it on saving fire-fighter lives and homes. This misguided legislation would throw gasoline on fires by promoting back-country logging that most often leaves behind logging slash as kindling for the next fire.
Fire is not destroying our forests, rather, it is restoring these ecosystems and is creating outstanding wildlife habitat that is as biodiverse as old-growth forest, and even rarer, said Dr. Chad Hanson, another lead author of the scientist letter. This is why over 260 scientists from across the nation are urging Senators and the President to follow the science and oppose these logging bills, he added.
Both DellaSala and Hanson are co-editors of a new book: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Natures Phoenix (Elsevier, Inc.). The book includes the latest science on the ecological benefits of large and intense fires and ways to coexist with fire.