[MCN] Insect-killed forest at less, not more, risk of fire

Matthew Koehler mattykoehler at gmail.com
Fri Apr 29 12:11:31 EDT 2016

Hi: For those who love and appreciate science-based managed of America's
public lands (as opposed to politically-based management) I'd highly
encourage you to share this most recent scientific study showing that
insect and disease outbreaks in our forests actually reduce wildfire
severity with Montana's elected officials.

As you are no doubt aware, both Republican and Democratic politicians in
Montana are spreading false information and hysteria concerning insects,
disease and wildfire. Furthermore, Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Rep
Zinke are looking to dramatically increase public lands logging through a
rider that would limit public input and limit environmental analysis of
National Forest logging project.

And don't forget that in 2014 Gov Steve Bullock used "beetle mania" to
nominate 5 million acres of National Forests in Montana for 'fast-track'
logging 'categorically excluded from the requirements of NEPA' through a
secret, no public notice, no public input process in which he hand-picked 7
people that meet on the phone a few times to come up with 5 million acres
available for fast-track logging.

Thanks for those who care enough about our National Forests to TAKE ACTION.

- Matthew Koehler, WildWest Institute


Sen Tester: https://www.tester.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

Sen Daines: https://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve

Rep Zinke: https://zinke.house.gov/contact/email

Governor Bullock: https://governor.mt.gov/Home/Contact

On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 8:21 AM, Lance Olsen via Missoula-Community-News <
missoula-community-news at bigskynet.org> wrote:

> Insect outbreaks reduce wildfire severity
> *Pine beetle, budworm outbreaks dampen forest fire impacts*
> Forest scientists have found an unexpected 'silver lining' to the insect
> outbreaks that have ravaged millions of trees across western North America.
> While insect outbreaks leave trees looking like matchsticks, a new
> University of Vermont-led study finds these hungry critters significantly
> reduce wildfire severity.
> The findings contrast sharply with popular attitudes - and some U.S.
> forest policies - which connect tree-eating insects with increased wildfire
> activity.
> "This is surprising," says UVM forest scientist Garrett Meigs, lead author
> of the study. "Forest fires and insect outbreaks have increased in recent
> decades, causing some people to link the two in their minds."
> "Our findings clearly show that insect outbreaks can reduce burn
> severity," says Meigs, a researcher at UVM's Gund Institute and Rubenstein
> School of Environment and Natural Resources. "So there is a connection, but
> just not the way most people thought."
> The study, by scientists at UVM and Oregon State University, is published
> in the journal* Environmental Research Letters*.* OPEN ACCESS*
> *<<http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/045
> <http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/045>008>>*
> Analyzing 81 fires over 25 years, the study is the largest to date on
> forest fire severity following insect outbreaks. Researchers focused on
> sites in Oregon and Washington State with past outbreaks by the mountain
> pine beetle or western spruce budworm, two of North America's most
> destructive insects.
> Wildfires in areas that experienced greater insect damage in the past
> burned with significantly less severity, regardless of fire size, season or
> drought conditions. The researchers measured burn severity - or vegetation
> loss - using satellite imagery taken before and after each fire.
> "There is huge concern that insect outbreaks and forest fires will
> continue to increase with climate change," says UVM forest ecology
> professor Bill Keeton, a study co-author. "These threats remain
> significant, but our study suggests that major insect outbreaks, contrary
> to current thinking, can dampen future fire impacts - and we can use that
> knowledge to improve forest management."
> The researchers say the findings can be explained by "forest thinning,"
> which occurs when insects kill some trees and leave others to survive. This
> lowers forest density, which reduces the amount of fuel available for
> subsequent fires.
> The study builds on previous research by Meigs and colleagues, which found
> that insect outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest did not increase the
> likelihood of wildfires.
> The results give new insights to communities and forest agencies dealing
> with the effects of insect outbreaks on forestry, tourism and recreation.
> For example, the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill included fuel reduction provisions
> for forests with insects and diseases. The study suggests that forest
> managers may be able to factor in the natural "thinning effects" of insects
> into these efforts.
> And while both insects reduced fire severity, each critter exhibited
> unique patterns that require different approaches by forest agencies.
> "These findings will help forest managers to better prioritize restoration
> efforts designed to reduce fire risks," says Keeton, chair of UVM's
> Forestry Program.

> While previous studies explored a handful of fires for shorter periods,
> recently released satellite imagery and data enabled the researchers to
> analyze a much greater number of fires over longer periods. The team used
> advanced spatial statistical analyses to decipher insect-fire interactions
> in areas with past outbreaks of these two key insects.
> "Together, these studies tell us that not only can insects reduce forest
> fire likelihood - they also reduce potential forest fire impacts," says
> Meigs, summarizing his two recent papers on fire risk and severity.
> ###
> --
> ********************************************************************
> *************************************
> "We can reduce our risks by disincentivizing housing development in
> fire-prone areas, better managing public land and rethinking the
> effectiveness of our current firefighting approach."
> *Incorporating Anthropogenic Influences into Fire Probability Models:
> Effects of Human Activity and Climate Change on Fire Activity in California*
> Michael L. Mann, Enric Batllori, Max A. Moritz, Eric K. Waller, Peter
> Berck, Alan L. Flint, Lorraine E. Flint, Emmalee Dolfi
> Research Article | published 28 Apr 2016 | PLOS ONE* (open access)*
> http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153589
> -----------------
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