Wednesday, 16 Jan 2019
News

Extensive dead or stressed tree forests encourage a new approach to restoration

Years of beetle infestation have devastated the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming, which is dotted with dead trees. (National Agricultural Imaging Program) Hikers climbing the tree line in Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, come up against a striking landscape: the gray skeletons of millions of dead twisted pines. It is on these slopes of the Rocky Mountains that the US Forest Service would be the pioneer A new approach to rid forests of trash of "epidemic levels" of beetle infestations that wiped out 38,000 square miles of trees – an area larger than that of the state of Maine. What remains feeds the historic forest fires, prevents wildlife and cattle from finding fodder, threatens to tip over the campgrounds and slows down the regeneration of the trees needed to keep the wood industry in crisis. The plan would allow the construction of nearly 600 km of temporary roads to burn, clear up and burn fire on 850,000 hilly acres of the Colorado-Wyoming border to the north, through the Snowy and Sierra Madre ranges. The controversial 15-year project, which marks a break with the agency's historical approach to restoration, continues under the Trump presidency. the blame the deadliest fire in California's history of "blatant forest mismanagement" – a widely disputed claim. "It's a new way of doing business. It's unique for us, not only in terms of size, but also in terms of collaboration, "said Melissa Martin, Planning and Information Program Manager at Medicine Bow. "It's about providing resilience for the future. We will not end up in a situation in 100 years. [like] we are here today. This situation is dark. A multi-generation fire and forest harvest reduction policy has resulted in overcrowded and stressed forests that are unable to withstand the mountain pine beetle and spruce. The two insects cross the bark to lay their eggs, and the hatching larvae spend the winter on the spot and only emerge when they are fully developed to start the cycle again next summer. Their activity seriously disrupts the nutrient system of a tree. Driven by drought and warm winters – both linked to climate change – rice-sized insects have attacked vast areas of the Rockies, Tetons, Cascades and Sierra Nevada since the 1990s. Nearly half of the lands managed by the US Forest Service, 81.3 million acres, need attention. Their poor condition, coupled with an unprecedented succession of deadly and destructive fires, is forcing federal agencies, environmentalists, timber companies, ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts and local communities to count. "Considerable work is needed to reduce fuels and threats from insects and diseases," said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen after Sonny Perdue, secretary of agriculture, said. announced a new management strategy in August. "Poor conditions require treatment on a scale commensurate with the magnitude of the problem," she added. "But we can not do it alone."
Environmentalists, who have often fought the government on this issue, agree that Washington must redouble efforts to eliminate the beetle in forests five times denser than a century ago. Dead powder trees compromise the purity of thirsty cities' water supply, as well as the lives and assets of millions of people living in what is known as the forest-urban interface – areas prone to forest fires. "If we want to have a chance to fight climate change, forests are one of our best mitigation tools because they sequester carbon," said Chris Topik, director of Nature's Restoring America Forests initiative. Conservancy. "It is therefore essential that we help them adapt." The Trump Administration's adoption of decades-wide management plans covering large areas contrasts with the Forest Service's historic practice of managing parcels of land. 3,000 to 10,000 acres in several months. In New Mexico, the agency is preparing an environmental report on the 185,586-acre moon restoration project in the Gila National Forest. Work on the 179,054-acre Garita Hills Restoration Project in the Rio Grande National Forest, Colorado, is underway. The Medicine Bow Project would allow clearcutting up to 95,000 acres, selective logging up to 165,000 acres and other treatments such as prescribed fires and lightening. Manual thinning up to 100,000 additional acres. Martin said funding could come from the federal government and other sources. Everyone does not consider the plan a good idea. Some biologists say that science does not prove the effectiveness of the proposed treatments, especially the prescribed felling and burning that the Forest Service calls to be necessary for lodgepole pine to reproduce and more diverse species to take root. . "They say they're going to reduce the fuel load to limit forest fires, and the literature does not support it," said Daniel B. Tinker, an associate professor at the University of Wyoming, who is studying the region for 23 years. "Last summer, we had fires that ravaged well-defined areas 15 years ago. These groups were not supposed to burn for 100 years. Nature groups also say the Forest Service's truncated scientific journal was in a hurry to respond to congressional demands to increase lumber production on public lands. For the moment, the proposal does not specify which plots would be targeted or where these hundreds of kilometers of road would be built. "They are trying to speed up this process," said Marla Fox, a lawyer at WildEarth Guardians. "This is consistent with the change in direction and approach taken by the Trump administration to" stand out ", which means" let's do logging on behalf of the restoration " Indeed, the 2018 national harvest should be The Christiansen Forest Service, the largest in 20 years, told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in June. Supporting the wood industry is part of the goals of the Medicine Bow plan, added Ms. Martin, but she added, "I would not say that the interest of wood premiums before any other interest." 180 ranches of cattle and sheep use the forest to graze, according to Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, which supports the project.Living trees cost money and time to breeders when they fall and felling Some pushbacks are internal A group of Forest Service employees is skeptical that the agency could carry out a business of this size, citing funding issues and concerns. Infrastructure that has slowed down a massive restoration initiative in Arizona.This 2.4-million-acre partnership leverages ponderosa pine in four national forests.Only 106,000 acres were treated between fiscal years 201 0 and 2017. "It is naïve to think that all the biomass that the Forest Service wants to eliminate, that it is burned, transported or chipped on site, will pay for its routing," said Andy Stahl, director Executive of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. "Certainly, prescribed burning does not pay, it costs around $ 100,000 per acre." The agency must make a decision on the Medicine Bow plan in mid-2019. If approved, it could provide lessons on how to help the invaded forests of the West cope with climate change and fires. "The US Forest Service has been trying to change this direction for a number of years, but it has not been successful yet because of the technical complexity and novelty involved," said Andrew Larson, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. Montana. "If this project is implemented, it will become a case study on how to approach landscape planning and management on a large scale." Read more: Why does Finland manage so well? forest fires? Tip: It's not because of raking. A resort area in Colorado is helping a national forest run out of money Too few "bombers" while western states are burning this summer .

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