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Wild Olympic Campaign increases the chance of catastroph​ic fire on the Peninsula

Editorial by Shelly Taylor

Posted 3/6/2013

Olympic Peninsula, WA State – A brief seen in our local paper recently:

“Grants Pass, Oregon: Big changes are in store for U.S. forests as global warming increases wildfires and insect infestations, and generates more floods and droughts, the US Dept of Agriculture warned Tuesday. In a new report, it said the area burned by wildfires is expected to at least double over the next 25 years.”

I remember being told that wildfires are increasing because the forests aren’t being managed properly, i.e. logging to remove forest debris.

Here is the reply I received:

“Each forest region has different problems with forest health issues. The Pacific NW was dramatically impacted by the NW Forest Plan (NWFP) when Clinton decided to lock up (preserve) about twenty four and a half million acres of US Forest Service FS) timberlands in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Most of the Federal Forests contained in the NWFP are prone to Mother Nature’s wind, fire and disease regime. Regulations have crippled the Forest Service management of our federal forests and the same regs have opened the door to endless lawsuits when the FS attempts to do anything.

There is no one solution for fire prevention but generally speaking fires are less destructive in forests that are managed on private lands vs. public lands. A primary reason for this is that the private lands are more actively managed, where regeneration harvest creates openings and pre commercial and commercial thinning reduces the number of trees per acre.

These types of management activities do not happen on Federal Forests. The enviros want to preserve these magnificent forests for future generations even if it burns to the ground because at least they prevented it from being logged, creating jobs, taxes and a healthy habitat for all wildlife. It is true that fires are burning more and more acres, costing more dollars to fight and becoming more difficult to control and then there is the cost to homes and rural communities and human lives. Remember the 2012 Colorado fire! That scenario is happening more often.

Here on the Olympic Peninsula we are growing into more unhealthy, overstocked forest so when the conditions are right, we will have a fire that has the potential to be catastrophic. We will have a very low priority to get fire fighting assets to our area because of our low density population.

The 2002 fires in Oregon were left to burn because they were all small fires and other more populated areas of the west were on fire. Then the fires started to grow together and created the Bisquit Fire which burned 500,000 acres with 85% tree mortality within the fire perimeter. Very little salvage or rehabilitation was done. Much of the land will never restore to the pre fire conditions because of changes in the climate. This fire destroyed almost 100% of a Wilderness and habitat for the spotted owl and once again the enviros stopped restoration efforts with endless lawsuits.

The timber industry is under constant attack from the environmental movement. Obama’s choice for Dept. of Interior will not help. The Wildlands Project is in high gear and the Olympic Peninsula is a big target! People are not paying attention and it is happening right in their face! I wish we could go back to the 60’s here on the Peninsula!”


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