Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

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treesrock
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Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by treesrock » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:11 pm

American Forests posted this article and it sounds very misguided to me. Interested in feedback.

U.S. Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forests to benefit wildlife
Posted by Administrator on December 22, 2014 at 4:03pm
timber management
Proper timber management is essential to the overall health of many wildlife species that reside in the nation's forests. (Photo courtesy of QDMA)
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Todd Masson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Todd Masson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on December 18, 2014 at 12:34 PM, updated December 18, 2014 at 12:39 PM
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Which is better for wildlife: a yawning tract of land with beautiful, towering, mature trees, or a clear-cut, littered with decaying stumps, freshly planted seedlings and tangles of vines and briars?

According to the Quality Deer Management Association, it's often the latter.

Opening up a forest canopy allows fresh growth within 5 feet of ground level, providing cover and abundant food that wouldn't otherwise exist for a host of wildlife species. Cutting down trees is often unpopular, however, with forest visitors, who view denuded wood lots as a scourge and an eyesore.

So the U.S. Forest Service has, for years, allowed woods to grow and mature. The open understory is great for hikers, but it's a death sentence for many species of fauna.

According to the USFS, the U.S. has gained more than 139 million acres of forestland in the last two decades. That sounds like a good thing, but the woods are entirely too mature, according to Kip Adams, director of education and outreach for QDMA.

"Nationally, only 18 percent of our forestland is in the young stage, and this percentage has declined over the past two decades," he said. "If this trend continues, our habitat will support fewer deer, upland game birds, ground-nesting songbirds and many other wildlife species."

The USFS, however, seems to be recognizing the need for younger forests. The federal agency is revising its management plan for Nantahala and Pisgah national forest land in western North Carolina.

According to USFS data, less than 1 percent of the forests on these 1-million-acre tracts are in the 0- to 10-year age-class. That's down from an already low 3 percent over the last 15 years.

Not coincidentally, USFS data noted that wildlife species that depend on young forests have experienced population declines on Nantahala and Pisgah over the last two decades.

QDMA recommends having 20 to 30 percent of an area's forest in young stands.

As part of the change to the management plan, the USFS has created two management areas totaling 700,000 acres, where personnel will intensively manage the woods to create prime wildlife habitat.

The U.S. Forest Service is currently asking for comments on the change to the plan, and will accept them until Jan. 5, 2015. Anyone interested may email ncplanrevision@fs.fed.us.

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:25 pm

God forbid the species that favor old-growth habitats have a chance to rebound. Even with venison being a pretty common winter dish around here it's hardly as though we need more deer. During the rut this season I had near-collisions with deer on the road while riding my bicycle home from work at night. My bicycle. It gets a little scary. And this is in the middle of the small city of Dunkirk, NY, mind you, not up in the hills. If more old-growth means a reduced deer population, any informed conservationist should see that as a benefit, though I can attest based on snowshoeing in Zoar recently that while they may prefer the field and brush the deer are quite happy to scour the deep forests for browse.

This is a pretty common narrative. No matter how thoroughly and definitely it's put to bed, the combined financial interests of timber and game management zap it back to life in management plan after management plan.

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RayA
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by RayA » Mon Dec 22, 2014 7:57 pm

I agree with Erik's sentiment. I don't think it's young forests we lack; there's more edge and uninteresting young forest habitat here in the northeast than you could ever want. What remnants of old growth forest we have left in these United States should be celebrated, revered, and left alone to do what forests do. The last thing they need is our enlightened management. Urban sprawl, suburban and rural development, are creating more than enough deer habitat in my opinion. We've managed to death enough deep/old forest, and I don't see the wisdom in decreasing it further; quite the opposite is called for. I saw first-hand in the Quabbin Reservoir watershed of Massachusetts (Boston's water supply) what constant forest management can do. Deer numbers exploded due to the continuous creation of more browse. Without sufficient predation, deer browsed literally every bit of tree regeneration over several decades, to the point where they opened the reservation to public hunting to reduce the deer herd, which was as dense as 60 deer per square mile in some areas (about 6 times the "normal" number). Forestry operations continued in spite of the fact that there was no regeneration that survived the deer browsing, and there was a browse line 6' high or more throughout the forest. There was much public outcry against opening the place to hunting (where there had been none since the reservoir's creation in 1939), but "fighting city hall" is difficult, if not impossible.

I like edge habitat as much as anyone else, and have spent many years enjoying forest/field boundaries; true, it's a wildlife factory, and affords great opportunities to see animal and plant life, and I wouldn't be happy without some of it around. But good gosh, I've got to travel a lot farther to see a tiny amount of old growth. Where's the balance?

There are those who can't bear the thought that a forest isn't buzzing and chirping with lots of obvious wildlife (and producing timber?). Then there are those of us who cherish what nature intended. There's plenty of life (and beauty) in a healthy, old forest left to its own devices; it's just not all running/flying into our field of view.

There. I feel better now.

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Dec 22, 2014 9:14 pm

Sometimes I can't believe the insanity that comes out of the mouths of our so-called forest wardens. Knocking back old growth would, in effect, reduce wilderness and roadless areas. This, in turn, would please those who want to exploit wilderness (timber companies, mining companies, energy corporations, real estate developers). There is always some pernicious game afoot when you read announcements such as "knocking back" old growth.

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Rand
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by Rand » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:12 pm

Erik Danielsen wrote:
This is a pretty common narrative. No matter how thoroughly and definitely it's put to bed, the combined financial interests of timber and game management zap it back to life in management plan after management plan.
So long as the space is still colored green on the map, and there is a strip of mature trees along the main roads, I suspect the game plan works on the general public pretty well.

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Chris
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by Chris » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:17 pm

Sorry, but there is absolutely nothing in the article that says anything about the forest service cutting "old growth" to create more young forest habitat. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that the proposed changes are "good" ideas......
The actual public documents are here..... http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/hom ... RDB5397660

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treesrock
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by treesrock » Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:01 am

I encourage everyone to email ncplanrevision@fs.fed.us. and call this BS out. It is concerning to me when this type of crap is picked up by a major US paper. Sounds like a Timber advertisement. Also missing is the decline in old growth forests. In the same way that trees put on more wood when older, I feel their ecosystem services also grow exponentially in terms of biodiversity as they age. So to remove one old growth forest is the equivalent of removing many younger forests.

Joe

Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by Joe » Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:06 am

I agree with all of you- and I've been a forester for 42 years- but I've been a bit of an outcast in the profession for constantly, relentlessly challenging high grading and unnecessary clear-cutting (there may be some locations where small scale clear-cutting is Ok to me)- and I'm absolutely opposed to cutting ANY old growth ANYWHERE on the planet.
Joe

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Bart Bouricius
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by Bart Bouricius » Thu Dec 25, 2014 8:50 am

I think one way to phrase a response is to point out that what is rare is actual true old growth forest, and that conflating any old forest with old growth, as this "knocking back old growth" description seems to be doing is deceptive and confusing. It seems that, in effect, the timber Industry, speaking through the U.S. Forest Service, is presenting things in a way that will confuse the public about what is actually meant by the term old growth. I would like Joan Maloof, who is working to preserve and allow old growth in each state and county, to weigh in here, and alert any other groups that may be concerned.

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treesrock
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Re: Forest Service considers knocking back old-growth forest

Post by treesrock » Thu Dec 25, 2014 10:48 am

My friend made the following adjustments at the end of each paragraph.
.
Proper timber management is essential to the overall health of many wildlife species that reside in the nation's forests.

(Photo courtesy of QDMA)
Todd Masson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Todd Masson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Email the author | Follow on Twitter on December 18, 2014 at 12:34 PM, updated December 18, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Which is better for wildlife: a yawning tract of land with beautiful, towering, mature trees, or a clear-cut, littered with decaying stumps, freshly planted seedlings and tangles of vines and briars? A great friend and environmentalist once heard a Forest Service official defend clearcutting as good habitat for bears because he knew of of at least one bear that denned in a clearcut area ---- Buzz Williams responded by saying that there are people living in cardboard boxes on the outskirts of Mexico City -- but it's not their first choice.
Bears used to den in the huge hollows of old growth tree and logs - but there are almost zero of these trees left - it will at least 500 years to produce trees the size that used to be the norm throughout the entire Southeast.

According to the Quality Deer Management Association, it's often the latter. The east coast deer herd is way overpopulated already - hunters taking bucks rather than does - and few predators - so many deer that it's adversely effecting biodiveristy of plants in many places - last thing we need in our ecosystem is increasing the deer population.


Opening up a forest canopy allows fresh growth within 5 feet of ground level, providing cover and abundant food that wouldn't otherwise exist for a host of wildlife species. Cutting down trees is often unpopular, however, with forest visitors, who view denuded wood lots as a scourge and an eyesore. The eyes of the public are correct -- because beauty - or lack thereof - does not lie :)

So the U.S. Forest Service has, for years, allowed woods to grow and mature. The open understory is great for hikers, but it's a death sentence for many species of fauna. Flat out lie - old growth forests are proven to have the highest biodiversity - period.

According to the USFS, the U.S. has gained more than 139 million acres of forestland in the last two decades. That sounds like a good thing, but the woods are entirely too mature, according to Kip Adams, director of education and outreach for QDMA. There is no such thing as a "too mature" forest - too mature is another way of phrasing "life as we know it."

"Nationally, only 18 percent of our forestland is in the young stage, and this percentage has declined over the past two decades," he said. "If this trend continues, our habitat will support fewer deer, upland game birds, ground-nesting songbirds and many other wildlife species." 100% false - furthermore there is no such thing as an "upland game bird" unless they mean ruffed grouse - and these prefer old growth forest.

The USFS, however, seems to be recognizing the need for younger forests. The federal agency is revising its management plan for Nantahala and Pisgah national forest land in western North Carolina. This seems like a stretch from the propaganda people - trying to make it seem as though a federal agency is coming around to their view - I doubt this is true when the science is followed.

According to USFS data, less than 1 percent of the forests on these 1-million-acre tracts are in the 0- to 10-year age-class. That's down from an already low 3 percent over the last 15 years. Thank God, and the foresight of those who created the National Forest system -- our forests are actually beginning to grow back!

Not coincidentally, USFS data noted that wildlife species that depend on young forests have experienced population declines on Nantahala and Pisgah over the last two decades. Interestingly species are not named -- the full report on this will reveal very different conclusions.
There is only one species that may be in decline from less high elevation openings - the golden winged warbler - which actually hybridizes with the blue-winged warbler. Most warblers migrate and are in decline due to habitat loss at migration locations. These are not game birds. The Golden-winger warbler is relentlessly cited to support cutting at high elevations - but realistically - now with the hemlock dieback - there should be plenty of new openings at higher elevations -- absolutely no need to make more. The truth is the vast majority species suffer when the forest is cut and kept in a constant state of "pre-maturity." Many game species, incl. brook trout, who need the cold waters of deep, mature forest, benefit from old growth.
It may be worthy to note that historically natural opening with very high biodiversity we the result of high numbers of beaver-created wetlands. Bringing back the beaver will help create more habitat in a mature forest - especially with added water-rich resource component.

QDMA recommends having 20 to 30 percent of an area's forest in young stands. This sounds like a front for timber company interest ----- fact: the US forest Service spends more $$ on preparing a site, building roads etc, for a timber sale than they receive from the timber company payments - therefore, our forests are being cut, often by foreign companies -- so US taxpayers basically are forced to pay to subsidize the cutting down of their own public forests!
Another fact - hunting is down and falling fast as a national sport - but birdwatching and other recreations in natural areas are way up. In terms of the economy - birdwatching, hiking and other sustainable recreational activities create far more $$ value than hunting. Cutting 1/3 of our forest, threatening thousands of species in order to raise the already too-high deer population, when there is declining population of hunters, seems senseless.

As part of the change to the management plan, the USFS has created two management areas totaling 700,000 acres, where personnel will intensively manage the woods to create prime wildlife habitat. Definitely need more info here:
The Southeastern forest has been growing about 100 years now, after the widespread cutting at the turn of the 20th century, so now the timber companies may want to get their saws back on it -- because, instead of choosing to cut their holdings sustainably, in the Pacific Northwest for instance, they overcut when the markets were high, employing a "slash & run" business model rather than sustainable harvest. A truly sustainable timber harvest would take place while preserving a mature, old growth forest.

The U.S. Forest Service is currently asking for comments on the change to the plan, and will accept them until Jan. 5, 2015. Anyone interested may email ncplanrevision@fs.fed.us. Write the Forest Supervisors today and say you want your forests managed for old growth, old growth restoration, and responsible recreation and enjoyment - for there are very few healthy intact forests left for people to experience.

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