AI News, BOOK REVIEW: Small changes in rainforests cause big damage to fish ecosystems

Small changes in rainforests cause big damage to fish ecosystems

Researchers had expected the level of damage would rise depending on the amount of logging and were surprised to discover the impact of removing relatively few trees.

There are many types of logging that occur in rainforests, from 'selective logging' -- only taking certain species -- to complete logging and the transformation of the rainforest to oil-palm plantations.

The team sampled 23 streams in Borneo as part of the SAFE (Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems) Project, which investigates environmental changes across a gradient from primary forest to oil palm plantation.

All logged regions suffered similar levels of losses irrespective of whether only select trees were taken or all of them, or whether the logging was recent or further in the past.

For oil palm plantations to be labelled 'sustainable, they must include a riparian zone -- a buffer of forest land immediately bordering streams -- of at least 30 metres.

However, in none the streams sampled in oil palm areas in this study, did the presence of a 30 metre riparian zone reduce the damage to fish biodiversity.

Small changes in rainforests cause big damage to fish ecosystems

Freshwater fish diversity is harmed as much by selective logging in rainforests as they are by complete deforestation, according to a new study.

Researchers had expected the level of damage would rise depending on the amount of logging and were surprised to discover the impact of removing relatively few trees.

The team sampled 23 streams in Borneo as part of the SAFE (Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems) project, which investigates environmental changes across a gradient from primary forest to oil palm plantation.

They found that fish diversity was decreased in all logged areas compared to within virgin forest, and that the time since logging did not affect the level of change.

All logged regions suffered similar levels of losses irrespective of whether only select trees were taken or all of them, or whether the logging was recent or further in the past.

However, in none the streams sampled in oil palm areas in this study, did the presence of a 30 metre riparian zone reduce the damage to fish biodiversity.

Our study suggests that current protections are not good enough in that they do not prioritise conserving intact forest, and are not sufficient to protect fish in more altered environments.”

Small changes in rainforests cause big damage to fish ecosystems

Researchers had expected the level of damage would rise depending on the amount of logging and were surprised to discover the impact of removing relatively few trees.

There are many types of logging that occur in rainforests, from 'selective logging' – only taking certain species – to complete logging and the transformation of the rainforest to oil-palm plantations.

The team, led by Imperial College London, found a drop in fish biodiversity – the number of different species – across all logging types.

We expected to see a gradient from least affected in the selectively logged areas, to heavily impacted for the streams in oil palm plantations.

The team sampled 23 streams in Borneo as part of the SAFE (Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems) Project, which investigates environmental changes across a gradient from primary forest to oil palm plantation.

They found that fish diversity was decreased in all logged areas compared to within virgin forest, and that the time since logging did not affect the level of change.

All logged regions suffered similar levels of losses irrespective of whether only select trees were taken or all of them, or whether the logging was recent or further in the past.

For oil palm plantations to be labelled 'sustainable, they must include a riparian zone – a buffer of forest land immediately bordering streams – of at least 30 metres.

However, in none the streams sampled in oil palm areas in this study, did the presence of a 30 metre riparian zone reduce the damage to fish biodiversity.

Even selective logging in rainforests hurts biodiversity

Even removing a relatively small number of trees from rainforests has a negative impact on biodiversity, according to scientists.

The team sampled 23 different streams in Borneo using electrofishing to determine what kinds of environmental changes were occurring in areas of differing levels of deforestation.

The team found that compared to forests in which no logging had taken place, all logged areas showed fewer species of freshwater fish.

Oil palm plantations are the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia, and around 90% of the world’s oil palm trees are grown on a few islands in these two countries.

According to the study, oil palm plantations are labelled “sustainable” if they “include a riparian zone – a buffer of forest land immediately bordering streams – of at least 30 metres.” However, researchers found no evidence in the streams they sampled that such a riparian zone in oil palm areas lessened damage to fish biodiversity.

Logging Impacts

Logging operations on the national forests of the Sierra Nevada continue to have a significant detrimental impact on the ecological health of these vital forest systems.

However, irresponsible and misguided logging prescriptions are not only bad public policy but are also likely to degrade the ecosystem functions of our national forests, increasing the likelihood of future severe fires, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and impacting other resource values.

The increased traffic and activity on these logging roads allows for the introduction of invasive species which can quickly overrun native species and thus greatly altering the natural balance of the forest ecosystem.

The end result of logged landscapes is a highly altered forest system which creates significant problems related to erosion, sedimentation and altered stream flow patterns.

Logging removes large trees that normally fall into streams and provide shelter and thermal cover, raises water temperatures and pH, and degrades the chemical and ecological conditions and food webs that fish need to survive.

Logging and the roads created to facilitate logging also significantly degrade stream ecosystems by introducing high volumes of sediment into streams, changing natural streamflow patterns, and altering stream channel morphology.

The deposition of fine sediment on the stream bed degrades spawning areas, reduces pool refuge habitat, decreases winter refuge areas for juveniles, and impedes feeding visibility.

As a result of this damage to vital soil resources, trees suffer from moisture stress, reduced growth rates, inability to establish seedlings, and reduced resilience in the long term.

Runoff and increase surface flow will persist in areas that have been logged for years, ensuring that increased sediment loads reach local streams and rivers, greatly impacting aquatic systems and species.

Biologically vital and threatened habitats such as old-growth forests are still targeted by logging operations even though these habitats offer a haven where many old-growth dependent species reach their highest population levels.

While insect infestation within a forest is for the most part a natural aspect of forest ecology, the spread of certain infestations can have a serious impact on the health of an individual tree species and a forest as a whole.

Biologists predict that logging and the subsequent habitat destruction will increase the severity of a variety of insect outbreaks because the loss of habitat diversity and old-growth forest has meant a decrease in the diversity of natural pest predators.

Not only can vehicles transport the seeds of non-native plants to these areas but the reduction of canopy cover along with disturbed soils allow these species a chance to take root and begin competing with native species for limited resources.

As mentioned above in the section dealing with roads, logging operations can greatly impact the connectivity of habitat and lead to a fragmented forest which leaves many species on an island and unable to migrate from an ideal feeding ground to their denning locations for example.

Logging operations greatly alter the natural structure of a forest by changing the amount of downed woody material, the incidence of snags or standing dead trees with cavities that provide wildlife habitat, and reducing the canopy cover of the immediate area, with the result of a homogenized or less diverse forest structure.

Many aspects of forest health are impacted by this including a change in local conditions such as air temperature and wind patterns, and an alteration in the behavior and distribution of wildlife species that require the conditions of a closed canopy forest.

The change in the amount of downed woody material also impacts forest ecology by removing dying and decaying logs and stumps which serve as habitat and help maintain the natural structure of the forest floor.

If not accompanied by adequate reduction of fuels, logging (including salvage of dead and dying trees) increases fire hazard by increasing surface dead fuels and changing the local microclimate.

Research shows that old-growth forests in the Northern Hemisphere sequester large amounts of carbon for many centuries, whereas the disturbance associated with logging and planting conifer monocultures creates net carbon emissions for decades.

When added together, the cumulative impacts of logging in the Sierra Nevada as currently practiced is not sustainable and if allowed to continue, will endanger not only the fish and wildlife, plants and ecology of the region, but will harm human health and welfare as well.

Protecting streams on public lands in eastern Oregon: threats fromlogging

We are opposed to commercial logging in RHCAs because of the well-documented and inherent degradation of water quality and riparian habitats, and the negative effects associated with the removal of larger, commercial-sized trees.

Contents of summary below: General water quality summary Stream temperature Excess fine sediments Roads  Wildlife habitat, forest density, and related issues Climate change More on fire and forest density In perspective Benefits of high intensity wildfire Efficacy Historical documents and pictures (You can also link to a more in-depth discussion on historical documents with citations HERE.) Precedent Inclusion of science Citations ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   ****   **** A

(2001) noted that: “…vulnerable aquatic species could be impacted in the short term in ways from which they could not easily recover, even if long-term benefits eventually became evident in later years” (also cited in the USFS proposed Forest Plan Revision (2014)).

When aquatic species such as Bull trout have already fragmented populations, low numbers, and are currently limited by high stream temperatures, creating widespread situations in which their populations cannot easily recover from management effects in miles of streams is extremely risky at best.

pg 60: “Redband trout and bull trout have been shown to recolonize severely burned drainages within two years, provided the drainages were physically accessible (i.e., no culvert barriers, and provided that other fish in unburned areas were close enough to discover and move back into the recently burned habitat” Some studies have found selective logging may be associated with increases of instream fine sediments (Kreutzweiser et al.

While these studies did not take place in eastern Oregon, they strongly suggest that alterations caused by logging within riparian buffer zones may result in significant changes in water quality parameters and stream biota in many areas;

Stream temperature Over 464 miles of streams within the Malheur National Forest are listed as not meeting water quality criteria, largely as a result of past and current land management practices (logging, grazing, and roads).

Even if temperature increases aren’t detected at larger watershed scales, localized increases at the subwatershed or reach scale can be very important for already Threatened fish stocks—especially if the problem is repeated in multiple stream reaches across the landscape.

There is little reason to conclude that removing some trees from the RHCAs will not have an intermediate negative affect on stream temperatures—likely resulting in an increase in stream temperatures, though not as great as the increases seen in clear cut scenarios.

Allowing for commercial-sized removal of logs is extremely likely to shift baseline conditions in a harmful direction (loss of shade, increase in stream temperature and sediment, loss of biomass, loss of wildlife habitat).

48): “Timber harvest can influence aquatic ecological condition via such activities as removal of trees in the riparian zone, removal of upslope trees, and associated understory or slash burning (Hicks et al.

Hemstad and Newman (2006) found few effects of harvest at the site or reach scale, but found that harvest five to eight years earlier resulted in losses of habitat quality and species diversity at the scale of a stream segment (larger than a reach) or at the subwatershed level.

The cumulative effects of widespread harvest within a single drainage in a short period of time resulted in deterioration of the aquatic and riparian habitats, but evidence of effects lagged harvest by several years and different evidences of deterioration showed up at different spatial scales within the watershed”.

The Fish and Wildlife Service Final Rule for Bull trout (Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR part 17 2010) states that: “Special management considerations or protection that may be needed include the implementation of best management practices specifically designed to reduce these impacts in streams with bull trout, particularly in spawning and rearing habitat.

Such best management practices could require measures to ensure that road stream crossings do not impede fish migration or occur in or near spawning/rearing areas, or increase road surface drainage into streams.” The current status of Bull trout in eastern Oregon and across the region warrants extreme caution, and logging in RHCAs pose clear and serious risks to this species.

The sum of interconnected populations also must exceed 1,000 adults to avoid risk of genetic drift.” The two John Day core areas for Bull trout continue to have “substantial, imminent” and “at risk” threat ranks and final ranks (USFWS 2008).

The USFWS (2008) shows that in the Umatilla, Malheur, and Walla-Walla National Forests, Bull Trout face substantial or imminent threat on six core areas, and widespread, substantial or moderate non- imminent threat on four areas, and low-severity threat on three core areas.

An assessment of the interior Columbia Basin ecosystem revealed that increasing road densities were associated with declines in four nonanadromous salmonid species (bull trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhyncus clarkii bouvieri), westslope cutthroat trout (O.

From NOAA 5-Year Review of Snake River Salmonids: “Information from the [PACFISH Biological Opinion Monitoring Program] PIBO monitoring program indicates that unmanaged or reference reaches (streams in watersheds with little or no impact from road building grazing, timber harvest, and mining) on Federal lands in the Interior Columbia basin (including the Snake River basin) are in better condition than managed streams (Al- Chockhachy et al.

Carnefix and Frissell (2009) discussed impacts from roads, and show that significant negative impacts to sensitive aquatic species are present at road densities greater than one mile per square mile: “Multiple, convergent lines of empirical evidence summarized herein support two robust conclusions: 1) no truly “safe” threshold for road density exists, but rather negative impacts begin to accrue and be expressed with incursion of the very first road segment;

and 2) highly significant impacts (e.g., threats of extirpation of sensitive species) are already apparent at road densities on the order of 0.6 km per square km (1 mile per square mile) or less.

Therefore, restoration strategies prioritized to reduce road densities in areas of high aquatic resource value from low-to-moderately-low levels to zero-to-low densities (e.g., 1 mile per square mile, lower if attainable) are likely to be most efficient and effective in terms of both economic cost and ecological benefit.

By strong inference from these empirical studies of systems and species sensitive to humans’ environmental impact, with limited exceptions, investments that only reduce high road density to moderate road density are unlikely to produce any but small incremental improvements in abundance, and will not result in robust populations of sensitive species.” The existing road density on the Malheur NF is well above the 2-miles/square mile NOAA (1996) threshold for watersheds to be considered “properly functioning”.

For example, Northern goshawk and other accipiter hawks, American marten, Great gray owls, Black-backed woodpeckers, Three-toed woodpeckers, Pileated woodpeckers, Olive-sided flycatchers, and other species that rely on denser forests, mature or old growth mixed conifer forests, and/or will be negatively affected by logging in RHCAs.

Olive-sided Fly- catcher density and nestling provisioning rates were greater in the selectively harvested landscape, whereas estimated nest success in selectively harvested forest was roughly half that found in naturally burned forest.

For example, we are concerned about possible losses of snags and dead wood (both in direct response to the project and decreased future recruitment), negative effects on density-and closed canopy-dependent species, negative effects on alpha and beta biodiversity, declines in mammal populations, and other unintended negative effects on the flora and fauna and habitats in the project area.

Highlights from their study include: “Large-scale prescribed fires and thinning are still experimental tools in ecological restoration (box 1), and unanticipated effects on biodiversity, wildlife and invertebrate populations, and ecosystem function may yet be discovered (Allen and others 2002;

The loss of large-diameter snags and down wood, which are important habitat elements for many wildlife and invertebrate species, may take decades to recover….” “Wildlife and invertebrate species that depend on down wood, snags, dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.) brooms, dense forests with abundant saplings and small poles, and closed-canopy forests for survival and reproduction are likely to be detrimentally affected by fuel treatments that alter these habitat elements” “Implementation of any thinning or prescribed burning is likely to result in loss of snags, future snags, and down wood that are important stand attributes of healthy forests and critical components of wildlife and invertebrate habitat”   Loss of large-diameter snags and down wood can take years to decades to recover, as indicated by wildland fire research (Passovoy and Fule 2006).” “There is a great need for long-term observational and preferably experimental studies on the effects of a range of fuel reduction treatments at multiple spatial scales (stand or larger).” Numerous studies have found negative impacts on wildlife habitats from thinning in riparian areas, even when snags removal is not intended.

Pollock and Beechie (2014) study found that: “Because far more vertebrate species utilize large deadwood rather than large live trees, allowing riparian forests to naturally develop may result in the most rapid and sustained development of structural features important to most terrestrial and aquatic species”.

The following quotes are from August 2017 “Science Findings” from the PNW Research Station: “Currently, the best solution we can recommend is to provide large numbers of snags for the birds, which can be difficult without fire,” According to the researchers’ calculations, if one of every 20 snags (approximately 4 percent) has suitable wood, and there are five to seven species of woodpeckers nesting in a given patch, approximately 100 snags may be needed each year for nesting sites alone.

Lorenz and her colleagues stress that providing snags that woodpeckers can excavate is crucial for forest ecosystem health in the Pacific Northwest, where more than 50 wildlife species use woodpecker-excavated cavities for nesting or roosting.” The Forest Service claims that Grand firs and other less fire-resistant trees are present in larger numbers and higher densities across the landscape than they were historically, as a consequence of fire suppression.

The Forest Service is using flawed assumptions that lack adequate scientific backing in order to log in streamside corridors and to large trees across many thousands of acres—despite the documented deficit in large trees across the landscape and their importance to wildlife.

Additional logging of commercial sized trees within RHCAs, including those the next size class down from 21” dbh trees, will result in fewer trees available to become mature and large-sized snags, or large living trees.

Other than size, there is little else on white/grand fir that indicates age.” When USFS districts do their own in-house coring of trees to determine age of tree species in a given timber sale, the diameter limits or lack thereof are not adequate to protect trees of the diameters that the USFS deems likely to be 150+years.

While thinning may in some circumstances cause remaining individual trees to ‘grow bigger faster’, it harms other healthy forest processes and functions (large tree recruitment, snag and large wood recruitment, “defective” trees due to disease and insects, water quality, soils, etc).

Logging in RHCAs may have disproportionately negative effects on climate- endangered and climate-threatened birds because RHCAs currently provide some of the best remaining habitat for these birds–many of which breed in eastern Oregon and rely on denser mixed-conifer forests and/or old growth mixed-conifer forests.

Logging in RHCAs is likely to decrease connectivity, especially connectivity in mixed-conifer areas that currently serve as important corridors and are among the last remaining areas that can provide connectivity for species that are associated with LOS, mixed-conifer forests, denser forests, etc.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service notes that: “[g]lobal climate change threatens bull trout throughout its range in the coterminous United States…..With a warming climate, thermally suitable bull trout spawning and rearing areas are predicted to shrink during warm seasons, in some cases very dramatically, becoming even more isolated from one another under moderate climate change scenarios….Climate change will likely interact with other stressors, such as habitat loss and fragmentation;

and flow alteration, rendering some current spawning, rearing, and migratory habitats marginal or wholly unsuitable.” Salmon face serous threats to their continued existence due to climate change, and are predicted to suffer significant habitat loss.

2016 note, in relation to climate change, that increased efforts towards fuels reduction would be an untenable emphasis: “Any perceived problem with future changes in fire behavior cannot be solved by redoubling our effort to treat this particular climate change symptom by installing widespread fuel treatments that do nothing to stop the warming trend, and do little to reduce the extent or severity of weather-driven fires (Gedalof et al.

Therefore, fuel management efforts to reduce undesirable effects of wildfires outside the xeric ponderosa pine forest types could be more strategically directed toward creating fire-safe communities….Fuel treatment efforts more distant from human communities may carry the negative ecological consequences we outlined earlier and do little to stop or mitigate the effects of fires that are increasingly weather driven (Rhodes and Baker 2008, Franklin et al.

2014).” More on fire and forest density We are very concerned that the USFS has and will continue to overly broadly apply flawed assumptions regarding HRV and target “desired conditions” to special habitats, important wildlife habitats and corridors, and forests that have been substantially less-impacted by the negative effects associated with past management.

RHCAs are not appropriate for conducting risky land management experiments due to their importance for wildlife and fish, water quality, cold water refugia, terrestrial and aquatic connectivity corridors, and their sensitivity to risks associated with logging.

In areas where species composition and/or fire regime alteration is posing an ecological threat to a forest stand (especially, for example, in lower elevation Ponderosa pine forests), then the best way to ensure achievement of RMOs is to non-commercially thin and leave all material on the ground.

(2002) note that fire suppression was not effective until recent decades: “…active re suppression by land-management agencies because these efforts were probably not effective until the 1940s–50s when surplus military aircraft became available”.

The authors state: “There is a widespread view among land managers and others that the protected status of many forestlands in the western United States corresponds with higher fire severity levels due to historical restrictions on logging that contribute to greater amounts of biomass and fuel loading in less intensively managed areas, particularly after decades of fire suppression.

We investigated the relationship between protected status and fire severity using the Random Forests algorithm applied to 1500 fires affecting 9.5 million hectares between 1984 and 2014 in pine (Pinus ponderosa, Pinus jeffreyi) and mixed-conifer forests of western United States, accounting for key topographic and climate variables.

Our results suggest a need to reconsider current overly simplistic assumptions about the relationship between forest protection and fire severity in fire management and policy” “Protected forests burn at lower severities: We found no evidence to support the prevailing forest/fire management hypothesis that higher levels of forest protections are associated with more severe fires based on the RF and linear mixed-effects modeling approaches.

On the contrary, using over three decades of fire severity data from relatively frequent-fire pine and mixed-conifer forests throughout the western United States, we found support for the opposite conclusion—burn severity tended to be higher in areas with lower levels of protection status (more intense management), after accounting for topographic and climatic conditions in all three model runs.

(2014) noted, based on extensive literature review of landscape-scale evidence of historical fire severity patters in Ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests: “There is widespread concern that fire exclusion has led to an unprecedented threat of uncharacteristically severe fires in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl.

Biota in these forests are also dependent on the resources made available by higher-severity fire.” “… most forests appear to have been characterized by mixed-severity fire that included ecologically significant amounts of weather-driven, high-severity fire.” “….paleoecological studies also support mixed-severity fire regimes for the ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests.

These studies have found charcoal depositions from major fire episodes in ponderosa pine and interior Douglas-fir forests occurring for millennia in the northern Rockies (central Idaho: [100,101]), Klamath [102], Sierra Nevada [103], eastern Oregon Cascades [104], and southwestern USA [105–107].

For combined moderate- and high-severity fires in the eastern Cascades, rotations were 115–128 years” “The majority of the evidence did not support the low/moderate-severity fire hypothesis, but, instead, supported the alternate hypothesis that mixed-severity fire shaped these forest landscapes.

This finding applies to Pacific states ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, and California mixed-conifer forests, as well as ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests in the eastern Cascades, Rockies and southwestern USA, where low/moderate-severity regimes have often been applied.” “In addition, patch sizes of high severity fire in the central Rockies have not increased [58].

Our assessment of high-severity rotations based upon existing literature also revealed a generally lower incidence of high-severity fire in these forests in recent decades…” “Based on direct observations of fire behavior, high winds (generally 10 m open wind speeds .32–35 kilometers/hr) may subject virtually any conifer forest, regardless of fuel density, to crown fire [108].

The extensive high-severity fires of 1910 (the Big Burn in Idaho and Montana), when large areas of drier forests burned at high severity prior to fire exclusion–much of it in ponderosa pine–illustrate how fire behavior that is rare temporally due to extreme climate and weather can dominate in space [1].

Many fire episodes in the charcoal records that exceed modern fires undoubtedly involve combinations of extreme wind, drought, and mass fire.” “The importance of multiple lines of evidence has been stressed in determining whether mixed-severity fire regimes applied historically [122].

Prior to settlement and fire exclusion, these forests historically exhibited much greater structural and successional diversity than implied by the low/moderate-severity model” “To improve clarity in communication, we propose that ‘‘low/ moderate-severity’’ be applied to those regimes where, as the term implies, high-severity fire is absent.

Therefore, a fire regime with a high-severity component of any amount should not be classified as low/moderate-severity” “Our findings suggest a need to recognize mixed-severity fire regimes (Table 2) as the predominant fire regime for most of the ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests of western North America” Evidence that Mixed-severity fires are still within historic range of variability in the west is also provided by the research of Pierce and Meyer (2008).

Much peer-reviewed scientific research on mixed- conifer forests has suggested that thinning is likely not needed, effective, nor ecologically beneficial in moist mixed-conifer forest to prevent fire, does not mimic the complex natural fire regime (Noss et al, 2006;

2006 noted: “One barrier to better use of ecological science is that individuals involved in developing fire policies and practices have tended to be specialists in fire and fuel management, not ecologists, conservation biologists, or other broadly trained scientists.

It is not surprising, therefore, that current forest law does not adequately incorporate ecological considerations in its implementation and tends to promote a narrow definition of restoration that focuses almost exclusively on fuels (DellaSala et al.

Process-oriented ecosystem management incorporating variable natural disturbances, including ‘extreme’ events such as SI severe fires, would likely perpetuate a diversity of habitats and successional pathways on the landscape.” Williams and Baker have published several studies suggesting that forests in eastern Oregon were considerably more dense than estimates commonly asserted by agencies (Baker 2012;

Williams and Baker (2014) note: “Government wildland fire policies and restoration programmes in dry western US forests are based on the hypothesis that high- severity fire was rare in historical fire regimes, modern fire severity is unnaturally high and restoration efforts should focus primarily on thinning forests to eliminate high-severity fire.

Using General Land Office (GLO) survey data over large dry-forest landscapes, we showed that the proportion of historical forest affected by high-severity fire was not insignificant, fire severity has not increased as a proportion of total fire area and large areas of dense forest were present historically…..

Refining the historical baseline should help avoid misuse of evidence, false narratives, and misdirected restoration and provide a sound scientific foundation for predicting the effects of climatic change on wildfire and forests.” Mixed-severity fires (including high severity fires) create habitat that is necessary for species within the MNF and eastern Oregon, suggesting that high severity fires are natural and historically present, as well as necessary.

(2008) noted that: “Without embracing an evolutionary perspective, we run the risk of creating restoration targets that do not mimic evolutionarily meaningful historical conditions, and that bear little resemblance to the conditions needed to maintain populations of native species, as mandated by law (e.g., National Forest Management Act of 1976).” “The degree to which the black-backed woodpecker is restricted to burned forest conditions in the intermountain west is truly remarkable.

Although this species has been detected outside burned forest conditions, particularly in unburned, beetle-killed forests, the numbers therein are small, and nest success therein is substantially lower than in burned forests (Saab et al.

blackbacked woodpecker) could become specialized to use a burned forest condition that is ephemeral on a local scale but always present somewhere in the larger landscape.” “…[T]he patterns of distribution and abundance for several other bird species (black-backed woodpecker [Picoides arcticus], buff-breasted flycatcher [Empidonax fulvifrons], Lewis’ woodpecker [Melanerpes lewis], northern hawk owl [Surnia ulula], and Kirtland’s warbler [Dendroica kirtlandii]) suggest that severe fire has been an important component of the fire regimes with which they evolved.

Patterns of habitat use by the latter species indicate that severe fires are important components not only of higher-elevation and high-latitude conifer forest types, which are known to be dominated by such fires, but also of mid-elevation and even low-elevation conifer forest types that are not normally assumed to have had high-severity fire as an integral part of their natural fire regimes.

Because plant and animal adaptations can serve as reliable sources of information about what constitutes a natural fire regime, it might be wise to supplement traditional historical methods with careful consideration of information related to plant and animal adaptations when attempting to restore what are thought to be natural regimes.”

“In addition, two lines of evidence suggest that it is the more severe fires that are needed to create conditions most suitable for this fire specialist: (1) not only is the black-backed woodpecker restricted to burned forests, but its distribution within burned forests is also relatively restricted to the more severely burned conditions (Kotliar et al.

The areas we are most concerned about are those which are clearly mature or LOS forests, are providing important wildlife habitat and corridors, are in steep areas, have had comparatively little management or logging, contain moist plant association groups in abundance (such as Queen’s cup or twinflower), and/or contain evidence of historically supporting a relatively high density of density of Grand fir (north/north east slopes, ash soils, many very large fir trees or stumps, etc.

Benefits of high-intensity wildfire High-severity fire patches, including large patches, create very biodiverse, ecologically important, spatially rare and unique habitat, which often has higher species richness and diversity than unburned old forest;

In ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests of Idaho at 5-10 years post-fire, levels of aquatic insects emerging from streams were two and a half times greater in high-intensity fire areas than in unburned mature/old forest, and bats were nearly 5 times more abundant in riparian areas with high-intensity fire than in unburned mature/old forest (Malison and Baxter 2010).

Bird species richness increased for up to 30 years after high-intensity fires (Schieck and Song 2006) By 30 years after high-intensity fire, bird species richness increased 56% relative to pre-fire mature unburned forest (Haney et al.

The high- intensity re-burn [high-intensity fire occurring 15 years after a previous high-intensity fire] had the highest plant species richness and total plant cover, relative to high-intensity fire alone [no re-burn] and unburned mature/old forest;

Female fishers demonstrated a significant selection in favor of the large, intense fire over adjacent unburned mature/old forest, and the highest frequency of female fisher scat detection was over 250 meters into the interior of the largest higher- intensity fire patch (over 12,000 acres) (Hanson 2015).

For example, Rhodes and Baker (2008) found that: “[u]sing extensive fire records for western US Forest Service lands, we estimate fuel treatments have a mean probability of 2.0-7.9% of encountering moderate-or high-severity fire during an assumed 20-year period of reduced fuels.” Current forest management is unnecessarily putting firefighters at risk by focusing on remote areas, contrary to peer-reviewed science or common sense.

The authors concluded that the current management practice of thinning broad zones in wildland areas hundreds, or thousands, of meters away from homes is ineffective and diverts resources away from actual home protection, which must be focused immediately adjacent to individual structures in order to protect them.

In addition, other studies note that the vast majority of homes burned in wildland fires are burned by slow-moving, low intensity fire, and defensible space within 100-200 feet of individual homes [reducing brush and small trees, and limbing up larger trees, while also reducing the combustibility of the home itself] effectively protects homes from fires, even when they are more intense (Cohen 2000, Cohen and Stratton 2008).

2016 note, in relation to climate change, that increased efforts towards fuels reduction would be an untenable emphasis: “Any perceived problem with future changes in fire behavior cannot be solved by redoubling our effort to treat this particular climate change symptom by installing widespread fuel treatments that do nothing to stop the warming trend, and do little to reduce the extent or severity of weather-driven fires (Gedalof et al.

Therefore, fuel management efforts to reduce undesirable effects of wildfires outside the xeric ponderosa pine forest types could be more strategically directed toward creating fire-safe communities….Fuel treatment efforts more distant from human communities may carry the negative ecological consequences we outlined earlier and do little to stop or mitigate the effects of fires that are increasingly weather driven (Rhodes and Baker 2008, Franklin et al.

Research done “in-house” by the MNF Ranger Districts and USFS staff should have sufficiently robust sample size, clearly defined protocols that follow scientific standards (including how sample sites are selected), be transparent and accessible upon request, and have clear and sound rationales for their conclusions.

Blanket decisions to exclude peer-reviewed science because the research was conducted outside of eastern Oregon or the Blues is 1) not appropriate in many instances 2) does not allow for broad consideration of a large body of science and 3) is inconsistent–

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Aquatic Contracting

Working under our multi-year IDIQ contract with the USFS/BLM, Aquatic Contracting provided specialty tree-tipping, cable and winch services, tree climbing, and ...

Thriving 23-Year-Old Permaculture Food Forest - An Invitation for Wildness

In the small town of Riverton at the bottom of New Zealand's South Island is Robert and Robyn Guyton's amazing 23-year-old food forest. The 2-acre property ...

UK TechDays Online is back!

This summer, we're setting up studio at the Microsoft Reactor in London and broadcasting through London Tech Week, bringing you a mix of deep technical ...

Entering the Forest Service

2001. An overview of the USDA Forest Service for new employees. The program is divided into seven sections covering: the agency's history and organizational ...

Collaboration Leads to Forest Restoration V3

This video highlights the accomplishments of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Program on the Payette National Forest.

A Last Look. Davis Creek, what's it worth?

All video shot in Davis Creek Forest. Old-growth forest and bio-diversity are threatened by Sierra Pacific logging plan.