[MCN] Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas

Matthew Koehler mattykoehler at gmail.com
Thu Oct 27 11:06:38 EDT 2016

The findings from this new study directly contradict pretty much all the
political rhetoric from both Montana GOP and Democrat politicians.

The findings also contradict the rhetoric from the timber industry and some
'collaborators' in the conservation community, who are attempting to get
'local control' of America's federal public lands in order to dramatically
increase logging levels, including more industrial logging within important
habitat for species such as Canada lynx, grizzly bears and bull trout.

Please TAKE ACTION and share this new research with Montana's congressional
delegation in order to fend off potential public lands logging riders they
place within unrelated, must-pass bills during the Lame Duck session after
the election. Your action will also help prevent pending legislation being
cooked up by the timber industry and Montana Wilderness Association and
Yaak Valley Forest Council to triple the logging levels on the Kootenai
National Forest in exchange for some small Wilderness designations.

Senator Tester: https://www.tester.senate.gov/?p=email_senator
Senator Daines: https://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve
Rep Zinke: https://zinke.house.gov/contact/email

For Immediate Release, October 26, 2016
Contacts:   Curtis Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 345-5710
, cbradley at biologicaldiversity.org
Dr. Chad Hanson, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute, (530) 273-9290
, cthanson1 at gmail.com
Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, Geos Institute, (541) 482-4459 x 302 or (541)
621-7223 cell, dominick at geosinstitute.org

Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas

TUCSON, *Ariz.*— A new study published in the scientific journal *Ecosphere
<http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.1492/full>* finds that
public forests that are protected from logging burn less severely than
logged forests. The study is the most comprehensive investigation of its
kind, spanning more than 23 million acres and examining three decades’ of
forest fire data in the West. Among the major findings were that areas
undisturbed by logging experienced significantly less intensive fire
compared with areas that have been logged.

The findings come as many federal land managers and members of Congress
claim that more logging will reduce wildfires. Several bills have been
introduced in Congress to increase logging on vast areas of public land;
these have typically been presented under the guise of addressing forest
fire concerns, but eliminate most analysis of environmental impacts and
reduce environmental protections.

“We were surprised to see how significant the differences were between
protected areas managed for biodiversity and unprotected areas, which our
data show burned more severely,” said lead author Curtis Bradley, with the
Center for Biological Diversity.

For this study scientists set out to determine whether reduced forest
protections and increased logging are associated with lower fire severity.
They analyzed fires that burned in pine and mixed-conifer forests starting
about 30 years ago, at the earliest point for which comprehensive data were
available, to compare where and how fires burned using satellite imagery
and maps from the U.S. Geological Survey’s “protected areas database.” The
results demonstrated that fires burned relatively cooler in areas managed
for biodiversity (Gap 1 in figure below), including national parks and
wilderness areas where fires are generally allowed to proceed naturally
versus areas managed for multiple use (Gap 3) and areas with little to no
mandate for protection (Gap 4) such as private forest lands managed for
timber production.

The study focused on forests with relatively frequent fire regimes,
ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forest types; used multiple statistical
models; and accounted for effects of climate, topography and regional
differences to ensure the findings were robust.

“The belief that restrictions on logging have increased fire severity did
not bear out in the study,” said Dr. Chad Hanson, an ecologist with the
John Muir Project. “In fact, the findings suggest the opposite. The most
intense fires are occurring on private forest lands, while lands with
little to no logging experience fires with relatively lower intensity.”

“Our findings demonstrate that increased logging may actually increase fire
severity,” said Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, chief scientist of Geos
Institute. “Instead, decision-makers concerned about fire should target
proven fire-risk reduction measures nearest homes and keep firefighters out
of harm’s way by focusing fire suppression actions near towns, not in the
back country.”

The authors noted that even in protected forests they found an appropriate
mix of low, moderate and high-intensity fire, which is ecologically
beneficial since many wildlife species depend on post-fire habitat,
especially "snag forest habitat" created by patches of high-intensity fire.
Many studies indicate that significant damage to wildlife habitat can
result from logging of both unburned mature forests and snag-forest habitat.
[image: Figure 1]

Location of fires >1,000 acres in pine and mixed-conifer forests with
relatively frequent fire regimes in ecoregions of western United States
from 1984 to 2014.

[image: Figure 2]

Forests with the highest level of protection (GAP 1 and 2) had the lowest
levels of high severity fire — results are shown for 3 statistical models

*The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation
organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists
dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places: *
*biologicaldiversity.org* <http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/>*.*

*The John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute (www.johnmuirproject.org
<http://www.johnmuirproject.org/>) is a nonprofit forest conservation and
research organization focusing on National Forests of the U.S.*

*Geos Institute (www.geosinstitute.org <http://www.geosinstitute.org/>), a
science-based nonprofit in Ashland, Oregon, works on climate change
solutions for forests, water, and people. It’s Forest Legacies program
works internationally on forests and climate change.*
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