Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Decades Of Mismanagement Turned US Forests Into ‘Slow-Motion Time Bombs’

  • Wildfire experts say poor management, not global warming, is the major reason behind worsening wildfires.
  • Forester Bob Zybach warned decades ago that environmental regulations and less logging would make fires worse.
  • The Trump administration is doing more active management of lands, but is it enough?
Bob Zybach feels like a broken record. Decades ago he warned government officials allowing Oregon’s forests to grow unchecked by proper management would result in catastrophic wildfires.
While some want to blame global warming for the uptick in catastrophic wildfires, Zybach said a change in forest management policies is the main reason Americans are seeing a return to more intense fires, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and California where millions of acres of protected forests stand.
“We knew exactly what would happen if we just walked away,” Zybach, an experienced forester with a PhD in environmental science, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Zybach spent two decades as a reforestation contractor before heading to graduate school in the 1990s. Then the Clinton administration in 1994 introduced its plan to protect old growth trees and spotted owls by strictly limiting logging.
Less logging also meant government foresters weren’t doing as much active management of forests — thinnings, prescribed burns and other activities to reduce wildfire risk.
Zybach told Evergreen magazine that year the Clinton administration’s plan for “naturally functioning ecosystems” free of human interference ignored history and would fuel “wildfires reminiscent of the Tillamook burn, the 1910 fires and the Yellowstone fire.”
Between 1952 and 1987, western Oregon only one major fire above 10,000 acres. The region’s relatively fire-free streak ended with the Silver Complex Fire of 1987 that burned more than 100,000 acres in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area, torching rare plants and trees the federal government set aside to protect from human activities. The area has burned several more times since the 1980s.
“Mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing,” Zybach said in an interview. “You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs.”
Now, Oregonians are dealing with 13 wildfires engulfing 185,000 acres. California is battling nine fires scorching more than 577,000 acres, mostly in the northern forested parts of the state managed by federal agencies.


Anonymous said...

The decades of environmental meddling, EPA restrictive policies, greenies who believed they could manage the national forests better themselves, just plain stupid government appointed land managers, tons of paperwork, endless hours of meetings which produced nothing, employees spending no time in the field and all their time on the computer, wanabes who never touched a shovel, rode or shod a horse, drove a 4x4 stick shift pickup, pulled a trailer, or know north from south. That is what has causes the mismanagement of the US Forests. Now add the arsonists to the picture and just plain stupid news folks who think global warming is the cause and you have massive fires burning up homes burrowed right into the forest with no defensive space. Go Figure, but blame something else besides mismanagement, blame yourselves!

Dave Skinner said...

Good to see Zybach actually getting some coverage outside of "inside forestry" circles. Yay for Bob. He's right and more people should know his name.

Anonymous said...

There's a pretty good FB comment thread going on Forbes' article penned by Charles
Devore about the fires & mismanagement of forests.

...Even Ramona Morrison chimed in a couple times.

There was one comment from one woman close to the Carr fire who said locals had the fire all but put out.. til Cal Fire took over and wouldn't let local firefighters help... and afterwards the fire exploded.

Another commenter told of a Tuolomne county fire a couple of days ago that was only 1,200 acres and CalFire wasn't as proactive as they should be & now its 13,000 acres & burned some cabins,

Another told about the Humboldt fire, the Frenchglen fire & others fires where to stand down or not staying around for hot spots.

Seems to be a trend here in wildfires...

There were even various comments about the Hammonds, BLM and the motives to get ranchers off the land,

One commenter, who says he sits the Farm Bureau, knows a neighbor of the Hammonds who said that there were assay holes dug near the Hammond's property line.

Lots of urban dwellers read Forbes now they're getting the real story from firsthand accounts rural communities.