Front Porch Blog

Action on Walden. Not the Pond, the Firey Hell. HR 4200

The effects of logging are vastly underrated by most of the general public. They still do not connect the increasing contamination of their water with the logging of watershed. Anybody who needs water to live should be concerned.

The Walden Logging Bill, HR 4200, is scheduled for a vote on the House floor this week. The vote is expected on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. American Lands Alliance is scheduling a national call in day on Tuesday, May 16th. You can read about it here.

They are shouting FIRE! in a crowded theater. It is the same tactic used again and again. And they offer us a dream of temporary safety, a myth, if we will just give up what few protections for the environment that are left.
HR 4900 is an indirect assault on the National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA, which I wrote about in my first dKos diary.

The cost of this bill will be tremendous, both financially for taxpayers, and ecologically for the state of sustainability of our homeland. Check out the
taxpayer costs of the Biscuit Fire “Recovery” project as an example.

Salvage logging, one of the most ecologically dangerous practices in modern forestry, employs an overriding short-term economic rational as an excuse to summarily ignore all current ecological knowledge about the long- term biological sustainability of forests. The sole objective of salvage logging is to convert trees into money, thus replacing the art of forestry with the technology and economics of cutting trees.

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Jump this muddy ditch with me, for a closer look.

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Jeffery St. Claire’s excellent article on Chainsaw George explains some of the history of fire, and the beginnings of Corporate theft of our forest resources.

Forest fires became stigmatized only when forests began to be viewed as a commercial resource rather than an obstacle to settlement. Fire suppression became an obsession only after the big timber giants laid claim to the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest. Companies like Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific were loath to see their holdings go up in flames, so they arm-twisted Congress into pour millions of dollars into Forest Service fire-fighting programs. The Forest Service was only too happy to oblige because fire suppression was a sure way to pad their budget: along with the lobbying might of the timber companies they could literally scare Congress into handing over a blank check. [For an excellent history of the political economy of forest fires I highly recommend Stephen Pyne’s Fire in America.]

Ah, fear again.

Well, I fear HR 4200 a lot more than I do fire, and I have been up close and personal with one at my home. Anyone who has tried to walk through where the forest used to be after a timbering operation can tell you that the fuel load is increased, not lessened. And the firefighters agree with me! Or perhaps better put, I agree with them.

Wildland firefighters’ group seeks defeat of salvage logging bill

[Washington, DC] A group representing wildland firefighters Tuesday called on Congress to defeat a bill aimed at speeding up logging dead timber and planting new trees after storms and wildfires. The bipartisan bill demands that areas hit by disasters greater than 1,000 acres be restored quickly, before the commercial value of fire-killed timber diminishes, and insects and rot set in. But Oregon-based Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology said the bill could increase fire risks and undermine efforts to reduce hazardous fire conditions near communities. “Post-fire logging and planting does not ‘recover’ a burned forest, but rather, sets it up for future high-severity burning,” said Timothy Ingalsbee, the group’s executive director and a former firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. Young, densely stocked timber plantations are prone to sudden “blowups” of extreme fire, and can start crown fires in nearby old-growth stands, said Ingalsbee, whose group includes about 80 professional firefighters from Alaska to Virginia. The bill awaiting action in the House “not only will create more hazardous fire conditions, but it will divert financial resources away from one of the most urgent needs of society: community wildfire protection,”

The best available science shows that logging in forests after natural disturbances can be extremely damaging and can actually increase fire risk by leaving piles of limbs and branches on the ground. Letting trees regenerate naturally works better than logging and replanting. Bulldozers destroy naturally regenerating fragile seedlings. Logs left in place following fires or other disturbances are crucial building blocks, providing nutrients for the reemerging forest. In a recent letter, 169 scientists including some of the most prominent forest ecologists in the nation wrote to warn Congress that HR 4200 “…is misguided because it distorts or ignores recent scientific advances.” American Lands Alliance has a fine bunch of economists working on sustainability issues.

Paul Hawken

A spider can spin silk as strong as kevlar, without using high temperatures or sulphuric acid. Trees use sunlight and water to make cellulose, a sugar with greater bending strength than steel. In his acclaimed book Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawken (with co-authors Amory and Hunter Lovins) proposes an industrial system where natural resources are treated as capital, and “smart designers apprentice themselves to nature” to learn the secrets of efficient production.

HR 4200, same old same old. Profit for Corporations at cost to taxpayers.

The Walden Logging Bill sacrifices accountability and transparency in federal decision making by casting aside the most important law the public has to provide meaningful and informed input on federal projects – the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). All projects authorized under the bill would be exempt from NEPA, which requires that federal projects undergo a “look before they leap” review that takes into account sound science, a reasonable range of alternatives, and lets the public know about a project and its environmental impacts before moving forward.

Please make the call. Click on your rep to find phone number.

Cross posted at the Daily Kos





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