Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Discussion of general forest ecology concepts and of forest management practices.

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Don
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Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by Don » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:48 pm

WNTS/ENTS-
I've cut and pasted an informative presentation on forest restoration, old-growth protection, and jobs...my question to you? Is this the "same old, same old"?, or is there reaseon for optimism? Please go to [http://www.eforester.org/fp/documents/s ... -10-10.pdf] to access helpful graphs, photographs, and charts.

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF
STEPHEN A. FITZGERALD, M.S.
PROFESSOR AND SILVICULTURE & WILDLAND FIRE SPECIALIST
OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS AND FORESTS
OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
MARCH 10, 2010
CONCERNING
S. 2895, OREGON EASTSIDE FORESTS RESTORATION, OLD GROWTH PROTECTION,
AND JOBS ACT OF 2009

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to testify
on S. 2895, the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009.
My name is Stephen Fitzgerald, and I am a Professor and Silviculture & Wildland Fire Specialist at
Oregon State University. I am here on behalf of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), a
professional organization of over 14,000 forest managers, scientists and educators. There are nearly
1,000 SAF members in Oregon, including hundreds who have been directly involved in federal forest
management. SAF supports and represents the forestry profession in advancing the science, education,
technology, and practice of forestry. SAF has not taken a formal position on S. 2895, but my
comments reflect a professional perspective with our mission and members clearly in mind, including
the input of experienced SAF leaders who have reviewed the bill. In addition, my views are generally
consistent with those expressed in several statements (Oregon SAF 2005, 2007, 2008) developed by
the Oregon Chapter of the SAF that address issues and concerns reflected in S 2895.
My perspective is somewhat unique in that as an Extension Specialist I am immersed in both
the academic arena as an applied researcher and educator as well as in the forest practitioner’s realm,
which allows me the opportunity to evaluate the application of research and silvicultural methods on
the ground. Most of my time is spent in the eastside forests of Oregon and my expertise is in the
ecology and management of ponderosa pine, a species of high ecological, social, and economic
importance to communities in central and eastern Oregon. It is a species that is experiencing
increasing impacts from insects, disease and uncharacteristic wildfire, and, at the same time, it is at the
center of debate how to deal with these threats to manage and improve forest health and sustainability
in the long run.
First, let me say, Senator Wyden, that you deserve tremendous credit for bringing opposing
sides together to compromise and come to agreement on this legislation. I support your goal of
creating a strategy to provide for predictability and sustainability for local economies and
governments, to address the challenges of climate change, and to restore these forests to a healthy and
resilient condition. I am also supportive of your attempts to deal with larger landscapes rather than
continuing an approach of random acts of restoration. And, I am grateful that your proposed
legislation recognizes the importance of biomass as part of the solution to our goal of energy
independence. I hope that this legislation is offered in the spirit of opening a dialogue for further input
and discussion. In that spirit, I offer the following comments for consideration as this bill moves
through the legislative process.
SECTION 4. FOREST MANAGEMENT
Language throughout Section 4 of the bill stresses conservation and restoration. I am in strong
agreement that there is much restoration work to be completed in the "covered area" as defined in the
legislation. However, the restoration focus could be misinterpreted by some to reflect a light entry
everywhere, every time. I would note that some forest types in eastern Oregon, such as lodgepole
pine, naturally regenerate via stand replacement disturbance. Some natural disturbances, or
management to mimic natural disturbance, would not necessarily meet the stated goals in Section
4(a)(2)(B) - increased mean diameter, maintenance of older trees, or retention of old growth as 100-
year old lodge pole pine is typically at a stand replacement age. The legislative language allowing for
“ecologically appropriate spatial complexity (xi) and spatial heterogeneity (xii),” may be attempting to
address this type of situation. I believe the language could be strengthened to make clear that
management intervention may be more aggressive as ecologically appropriate.
I am also concerned that the economics of the scale of restoration activities have not been
adequately addressed in terms of both operational feasibility and compatibility with existing
management mandates. Although forest restoration often emphasizes environmental concerns,
economic and social considerations must also be integrated – contemporary views of sustainability
recognize these three elements as mutually supporting (Oregon SAF 2007). Neither Section 4(a) or (b)
address the economic viability of these restoration treatments, which is a serious concern given the
scale of restoration needs and the projected federal deficits. I believe a Section 4(a) (2) (B) (xvi) could
be added that would address this oversight. Language such as, "Integrate economic viability of
treatments so as to maximize acres treated within the constraints of ecologically appropriate spatial
complexity and heterogeneity," could be helpful. In our reading of Section 4(b) (3) (A) (the Ecological
exception) it is not clear that such economic considerations are part of the decision tree. Additional
language to this section [addition of a subsection (iv) to address economics] would be helpful.
Recognition of economic viability in, (B) Administrative Exception section may be appropriate as
well.
Paragraph (b), PROHIBITIONS ON REMOVAL OF CERTAIN TREES, calls for a diameter
limit of 21 inches above which no trees can be cut. Although I understand the interest in diameter
limits -- it gives direct assurance that large trees won’t be cut – it cannot be stated more clearly:
Permanent, fixed diameter limits are not based on ecology and forest science but rather political
science. These artificial limits remain static while forests, and larger ecosystems, are invariably
dynamic: that is, they grow, compete for resources, and are continually affected by disturbance.
Given this context, I’d like to talk about restoration of old-growth and restoration treatments in
younger stands. But first, there are a couple of ecological truths that I need to explain for background.
First, the amount of resources available to trees on an acre of land – sunlight, water, nutrients, physical
space -- is finite. This defines the carrying capacity of the site. In the dry, interior forests of the west,
water is the most important of these resources because its limited supply directly impacts tree growth
and survival. Second, the amount of resources a tree needs to survive and grow is roughly proportional
to its size. In other words, big trees with big crowns (a lot of needles/leaves), require more resources
to maintain themselves, grow, and reproduce. And, as trees grow, they consume increasingly greater
resources. These two ecological truths combine in the fact that a given site can support only so many
trees of a given size. That is, it can support a lot of small trees or fewer large trees.
With that as background, I like to discuss historical old-growth structure. This example is from
central Oregon, but it is likely to be similar to other historic old-growth forests in central and eastern
Oregon. Figure 1 is a graph of trees per acre by diameter class for a virgin old-growth mixed conifer
stand from 1917 in south central Oregon, near Klamath Falls (Munger 1917).
Figure 1 - The diameter distribution of an old-growth mixed conifer stand in Oregon in 1917.
This old-growth stand contains a total of 77 trees per acre ranging from 5 to 42 inches, of
which 40 are ponderosa pine. Approximately 25 trees are above 21 inches in diameter, 19 of which are
ponderosa pine. Note how the number of trees per acre progressively decreases from the smaller
diameter classes to the larger size classes. This multi-aged stand is relatively open as a result of
frequent understory fire, which kept the fir species in check (but didn’t eliminate them) as they have
thin bark and are easily killed by fire. Frequent fire kept stand density and fuels low and favored large
fire-resistant pines; however, sufficient small diameter trees usually escaped or survived fire and will
eventually replace the larger trees over a long period of time (Fitzgerald 2005). The number of trees
per acre by diameter class and the maximum tree size would vary across the landscape according to a
site’s carrying capacity. For example, a less productive site could have a similar shaped bar graph, but
there would be fewer trees in each diameter class and the maximum tree diameter would likely be
smaller. This example represents full stocking or the sustainable tree density for this site. However,
most old growth stands in this region today have an overabundance of understory trees, placing the
large trees at risk to bark beetle attack and wildfire. Reducing stand density can help increase the
health and longevity of large old growth trees on the landscape (McDowell et al. 2003, Kolb et al.
2008).
Because of the wide range of diameters and ages of trees comprising interior old-growth
forests, old-growth cannot be defined by a single age or diameter. For example, Figure 2 shows a
graph of tree diameter by age (courtesy of J.D. Arney (unpublished)). Looking at the 21-inch diameter
line (dashed) on the graph, you can see the large variation around this diameter along with wide
variations in age. Others have shown this poor correlation between diameter and age (Van Pelt 2008).
Figure 2. The poor correlation between age and tree diameter for ponderosa pine and other
species in central Oregon (courtesy of J.D. Arney (unpublished)).
Therefore, old-growth forests, and goals for their restoration, should be defined or based upon
their structural conditions, consistent with the professional definition of old-growth (SAF 1998). For a
given plant association, this includes: a range of tree diameters; multiple age classes; a mix of tree
species likely to occur with disturbance; snags and downed wood; and a range of trees per acre.
Legislation can provide directives to improve health and resiliency, but to be most effective; forest
scientists and mangers need flexibility to develop specific stand structural objectives and metrics based
on plant associations, historical information, current research and local experience. If, after specifying
this “target” structural condition, more trees grow into any one of the specified diameter classes, those
excess trees would be thinned to maintain the health of residual trees and promote the desired oldgrowth
structure. This approach would create a working landscape that provides a suite of benefits:
old-growth aesthetics; resilience to insects, disease, fire and climate change; mature forest habitat for
wildlife; carbon sequestration; and some level of sustainable timber output.
For dense, younger forest stands, it is often unclear what the overall long-term restoration goal
is. In the short run, improving resiliency to insects and fire and improving habitat diversity may be
vital ecological needs and will require a variety of management tools (Busse et al. 2009). But, in the
long run, is the goal to move these forests to an old-growth condition? The 21-inch diameter limit
seems to reflect that intent, but what might be the actual outcome of such a limit? Assuming the
objective is to move younger stands to a larger tree structure -- or some semblance of old-growth –then
the 21-inch limit could become very cumbersome and cause problems in the future. I will illustrate
with an example from a research study I have implemented on the Deschutes National Forest in central
Oregon.
Figure 3a shows a dense 80-year old ponderosa pine stand that I marked for a wide thinning
(leaving the larger trees) to promote stand health and vigor, reduce ladder fuels, and to accelerate large
tree development. The thinning reduced stand density from 148 to 44 trees per acre (Figure 3b).
Because this is National Forest, the trees were marked with the 21-inch diameter limit that is current
Forest Service policy in this region. Because the average tree diameter was 10.7 inches before
thinning, the 21-inch limit did not pose a significant problem for the thinning objective at this time,
and harvest of small- and medium-size sawtimber was possible. Figure 4 depicts a computer
simulation of the thinning and the subsequent stand growth over a 40-year period as the average tree
diameter grows to about 20 inches. At this point, the 120 year-old stand will need another thinning to
reduce competition as the trees will be much larger and consuming more resources (Fitzgerald and
Emmingham 2005). With the likely range of tree diameters shown here (Figure 2), removing trees
both above and below the 21-inch limit will be needed to maintain forest health and vigor of residual
trees and move towards the desired large-tree structure. Although this seems a long way off, there are
stands that are at this stage now. A case in point is shown in Figure 5. This is a 130-year old
ponderosa pine stand that is already at this stage and will require thinning of trees above 21 inches to
maintain the health of this stand and promote even larger trees.
Although S. 2895 allows for exemptions to the 21-inch diameter limit, it appears that this would
require agreement of the collaborative group, the science advisory panel, or both. How difficult
would this process be? Would the two panels need to visit each and every tree? For the previous
example, this might encompass a handful of trees on ten acres; 50 trees or more on a hundred acres;
and tens of thousands of trees on 100,000 acres, far too many for either group to realistically examine.
How will this be accomplished efficiently, both for stands now in this condition and those that grow
into this condition in the future? Fixed diameter limits constrain our ability to adjust stand density as
appropriate for each site and set of management objectives, and may result in slow tree growth, hinder
understory vegetation development, and affect tree regeneration (Abella et al. 2006), and they can have
economic implications (Larson and Mirth 2001). The reduction in treatment effectiveness due to
diameter limits depends on how high or low the diameter limit is set relative to the current average
stand diameter and density. But we have not adequately addressed such questions for future stands in
which a majority of trees begin to exceed the diameter limit and again compete fiercely for site
resources. This could result in yet another forest health crisis down the road – the problem that S.
2895 seeks to solve.
Figure 3a – Second-growth ponderosa pine stand before thinning. Trees marked with orange
paint are marked to leave.
Figure 3b – After thinning.
Age 80, before thinning 2002 After thinning 2005 2042--Age 120, 40 years after thinning
Figure 4 – Simulated thinning of an 80 year-old ponderosa
pine stand in central Oregon, and conditions 40 years after
treatment. (adapted from Fitzgerald et al. 2005)
Figure 5 – Thinning needed in this 130-year old ponderosa pine stand where most of the trees are
at or above 21 inches.
Wide Thin
YEAR Trees/Ac. Avg. Diam.
2002 148 10.7
2005 44 15.4
2012 43 16.3
2032 41 18.7
2042 40 19.8
Although such conditions would take time to develop, forestry professionals have a long-term
perspective and our experience shows that treatment prescriptions must change (sometimes
dramatically) as forests change.
I would like to add a few final comments that, while less detailed than the previous discussion,
I believe are also very important to consider:
First, my sense is that this legislation is prescriptive and narrowly defines forest management
on federal lands. The legislation seemingly redefines the purpose of federal lands by reframing forest
management to a “restoration-centric” emphasis with timber as a by-product (e.g., Section
9(c)(5)(A)(ii)). Moreover, it is unclear how this bill meshes with existing federal law and mandates
such as those under the Organic Act, the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental
Policy Act, and others. The legislation is vague in this regard. Perhaps your staff could develop a flow
chart to help illustrate how this legislation dovetails, overlaps, or is in conflict with these other laws.
Second, the forest management and other issues that S. 2895 seeks to address do not stop at the
Oregon border. This bill, and other state-specific federal forest legislation (e.g., Montana Senator
Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act), are a symptom of a much larger problem—the lack of a clear
and consistent national or regional policy for our National Forests, with specific management goals
that effectively integrate the diverse mandates of existing laws. Clearly, federal forest management
today is not working and our forests and communities suffer and show the consequences. A piecemeal
approach to federal forest policy may provide some local, short-term relief, but over time it is likely to
create more problems than it solves. In contrast, a comprehensive approach could leave an enduring
legacy, perhaps not unlike the laws that established our National Forests over a century ago. I know
that the forestry profession would welcome such a legislative effort and SAF would be ready to assist
in any possible way. We need to have a national dialogue to develop a shared vision of what we want
our national forests to be and, more broadly, what goods and services we want them to provide society
in perpetuity.
Third, in SECTION 15 AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS, the appropriation of
$50,000,000 is extremely important and necessary to implement this legislation. I am concerned that if
funds are not authorized by Congress, that some groups will get their objectives met while others
won’t get what was promised, and the Forest Service and taxpayers are left with unfunded mandates
and additional regulation. In the end, forests and communities will lose out if this does not happen.
Lastly, S. 2895 seems process heavy and would add to an already substantial array of
regulatory requirements, require much assessment and analysis, and runs the risk of achieving less onthe-
ground results. Perhaps your staff could map out all the meetings, reports, assessments, interim
periods, etc., directed by S. 2895 alongside the existing procedural requirements for the Forest Service,
to clarify the additional process burden it would place on the agency.
In closing, I hope that these comments about S. 2895, Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old
Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009 are useful to the Committee. Thank you for your time and
attention, and for the opportunity to provide a perspective from the forestry profession on this
legislation.
Literature Cited
Abella, Scott, R., Peter Z. Fulé, and W.Wallace Covingtion. 2006. Diameter caps for thinning
southwestern ponderosa pine forests: viewpoints, effects, and tradeoffs. Journal of Forestry
Volume 104, No. 8: 407-414.
Busse, Matt D., P.H. Cochran, William E. Hopkins, William H. Johnson, Gregg M. Riegel, Gary O.
Fiddler, Alice W. Ratcliff, and Carol J. Shestak. 2009. Developing resilient ponderosa pine
forests with mechanical thinning and prescribed fire in central Oregon’s pumice region.
Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39: 1171-1185.
Fitzgerald, S.A. 2005. Fire ecology of ponderosa pine and the rebuilding fire-resilient ponderosa
pine ecosystems. Pages 197-225 In R. Martin, D.A. Maguire, A. Youngblood (Tech. eds.)
Proceedings of the Symposium on Ponderosa Pine: Issues, Trends, and Management. 2004
October 18-21, Klamath Falls, OR. General Technical Report PSW-GTR-198. USDA Forest
Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany CA. 281 p.
Fitzgerald, Stephen, Douglas A. Maguire, and Ryan Singleton. 2005. Simulating structural
development and fire resistance of second-growth ponderosa pine stands for two contrasting
stand treatments. Page 191-198. In C.E. Peterson, D.A. Maguire (eds.), Balancing ecosystem
values: innovative experiments for sustainable forestry: Proceedings of a Conference. General
Technical Report PNW-GTR-635. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station,
Portland, OR. 389 p.
Fitzgerald, Stephen, A. and William H. Emmingham. 2005. Managing ponderosa pine. Pages 41-63.
In W.H. Emmingham, P.T. Oester, S.A. Fitzgerald, G.M Filip, and W.D. Edge (eds.) Ecology
and Management of eastern Oregon Forests. Manual 12. Oregon State University Extension
Service, Corvallis, OR. 208 p.
Larson, Debra, and Richard Mirth. 2001. Projected economic impacts of a 16-inch tree cutting cap for
ponderosa pine forests within the greater Flagstaff urban-wildlands. Pages 154-160. In, R.K
Vance, C.B. Edminister, W.W. Covington, JA. Blake (comps.) Ponderosa pine ecosystems
restoration and conservation: steps toward sustainability. Proceedings RMRS-P-22. USDA
Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 188 p.
McDowell, N., J.R. Brooks, S.A. Fitzgerald, B.J. Bond. 2003. Carbon isotope discrimination and
growth response of old Pinus ponderosa to stand density reductions. Plant, Cell and
Environment 26:631-644.
Kolb, T.E., J.K. Agee, P.Z. Fulé, N.G. McDowell, K. Pearson, A. Sala, and R.H. Waring. 2007.
Perpetuating old ponderosa pine. Forest Ecology and Management 249:141-157.
Munger, T.T. 1917. Western yellow pine in Oregon. Bulletin 418. Department of Agriculture,
Washington D.C. 48 p.
Oregon SAF. 2005. Managing mature and old-growth forests. Position statement of the Oregon
Society of American Foresters. Available at: http://www.forestry.org
Oregon SAF. 2007. Commercial timber harvest on public lands in Oregon. Position statement of the
Oregon Society of American Foresters. Available at: http://www.forestry.org
Oregon SAF. 2008. Active management to achieve and maintain healthy forests. Position statement
of the Oregon Society of American Foresters. Available at: http://www.forestry.org
SAF. 1998. The dictionary of forestry. Helms, J.A., editor. The Society of American Foresters.
Bethesda, MD
Van Pelt, R. 2008. Identifying old trees and forests in eastern Washington. Washington Department
of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA. 166 p.


I'm very interested in everyone's take on this, one of my favorite topics!
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
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User avatar
edfrank
Posts: 4217
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by edfrank » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:51 pm

Don,

The key in the statement is the part that says: Therefore, old-growth forests, and goals for their restoration, should be defined or based upon their structural conditions, consistent with the professional definition of old-growth (SAF 1998)." Much of the rest of the paper is just puffery. Sounds good but doesn't seem to mean much. Well, that brings up the question of what does the SAF 1998 old growth position say. Here is the text from the cited website:


Position Statements: Management of Mature and Old-growth Forests

The Oregon Society of American Foresters recognizes the unique characteristics and values that mature and old-growth forests provide. Although there are many definitions for old-growth and none are exact, we describe old-growth as forests having: large snags and downed logs; some patchiness (openings, sometimes brushy and caused partly by loss of large, dead and dying trees); one or more canopy layers; and trees of various size and ages, with some relatively large, old trees. Not all forestlands had or will ever achieve this kind of condition. Exact amounts, tree sizes, and ages for development of each of these forest attributes vary depending on forest type, and some are naturally more uniform or younger (e.g., lodgepole pine and aspen forests) due to frequent natural disturbances such as fire and wind. Mature forests, the stage of stand development preceding old-growth forests, contain some attributes of old-growth forests (e.g., some large diameter trees) but lack other key old-growth characteristics. However, not all mature forests will become old-growth because of natural disturbance (e.g., fire).

A common perception is that actively managing old-growth is inappropriate or incompatible with other values, resulting in proposals to set aside mature and old-growth forests and prohibiting any form of management. However, even where non-timber values are primary, active management of mature and old-growth forests may be necessary to promote and/or sustain ecological values over time. This is especially true of forests in dry fire-prone landscapes. Old-growth management may include everything from preservation to some level of prescribed burning, thinning trees of various sizes (to reduce competition and preserve big trees from the effects of drought and climate change, insects or disease), salvaging, and planting. Such treatments would not be needed every year; in fact, there may be many decades of inactivity between periods when management actions are most effective.

Therefore, a "one-size-fits-all" management approach to every mature or old-growth forest will not address the range of unique and dynamic forest conditions that occur. Rather, site-specific plans will be much more effective in achieving and maintaining old-growth characteristics. These plans should carefully consider local ecological conditions and objectives, social concerns, and policy constraints of the owners or managers.

Issues

Concerns about mature and old-growth forests raise many management issues and challenges, which highlight important differences in perceptions, values and philosophies. A common issue is the invocation of a single, simple solution for a diverse and complex situation. This complexity is shown by the range of questions that must be addressed to effectively manage mature and old-growth forests on a site-specific basis, including: 1) the definition of an old-growth forest; 2) the potential uses and values of mature and old-growth forests; and 3) the detailed objectives and policy constraints for management. Similarly, disagreements have stemmed from widely varying public perceptions and preferences, including: 1) the idea that nearly all pre-European settlement forests in Oregon were old-growth; 2) the perception that mature and old-growth forests are permanent and unchanging over both time and space; and 3) contrasting views about the preferred approach or philosophy for managing mature and old-growth forests, e.g., from preservation to active management.

Current examples of old-growth management issues include policy directives or advocacy for specific tree diameter (e.g., 21 inches) and age limits (e.g., 80 years), at or above which no trees can be harvested. This approach greatly simplifies the definition of old-growth to a set of relatively arbitrary diameter or age criteria, and does not address the complexity and dynamics of old-growth forests, their development, or compatible management objectives.

Background

The definition of an old-growth forest is not exact (Helms 2004). A few large individual trees of old age do not constitute an old-growth forest. Old-growth forests often have a patchy appearance, trees of various sizes and some of very large size, and large snags and downed wood. However, no one single attribute, be it appearance, tree age, tree size, canopy structure (foliage layers), or species composition, can consistently define old-growth. The area or size of an old-growth forest is also important in this discussion. Old-growth stands of small acreage may not be effective habitat for old-growth dependent wildlife species, but may serve as "aesthetic" old-growth for the public and for educational purposes and provide important microsites that increase the ecological diversity of a forest.

The term "late-successional"1 is sometimes used as an ecologically based descriptor of old-growth forests. Ecological definitions have value in that they are based on forest processes (e.g., succession and disturbance) and resulting forest structure. However, old-growth is often perceived by many as a qualitative forest condition; a condition that can invoke awe, wonder, inspiration or even veneration. Evidence of the range of popular definitions is shown in the simple descriptors placed on old-growth forests, such as cathedral, heritage, or ancient. These labels also carry preconceived or value-based notions of the attributes of an old-growth forest, although some old-growth forests may not be consistently viewed as "cathedrals" and some may not be "ancient" yet contain old-growth attributes. Lodgepole pine and aspen trees, for example, are not long-lived species and thus these forests may contain "old-growth" attributes that are unique to them and far different from old-growth species with longer life spans (Spies 2004). A forest type and site-specific understanding of a particular forest and its associated values is more useful than an inexact label.

Historically, old-growth forests had great commercial value when harvested for timber products, and they supported the development of many Oregon communities. Although still valuable and prized for certain uses, large trees from old-growth forests currently are used less for timber because changes in log supply have forced most mills to retool to manufacture forest products from younger and smaller trees. Old-growth forests now are recognized for much broader values, including wildlife habitat, recreation, genetic reservoirs, watershed functions, carbon storage, scientific research, sites that preserve our North American heritage, and simply their awe-inspiring character.

Forests with older trees can be found in different ownerships, each managed under unique objectives and legal requirements including, in the case of federal lands in Oregon, specific mandates for old-growth management. Not all of these older forests contain all of the features of a fully developed old-growth forest, but many of them contain old-growth elements such as large live and dead trees. Private landowners have greater leeway in setting their own management objectives and related actions. Although little fully developed old-growth remains in private ownership, forest landowners in Oregon must leave some level of snags and downed logs in harvest areas. In general, as long as applicable regulations concerning fish and wildlife habitat protection are met, private landowners in Oregon may harvest trees in these older forests, some of which may meet an ecological definition of old-growth.

Old-growth forests have important and diverse values that may not conflict as much as often believed. It is notable that large areas of state lands in Oregon with mandated timber production goals now are being actively managed with longer harvest rotations to create valuable old-growth-like habitat features for fish and wildlife, while also generating economic benefits for local communities. This approach has not satisfied all interests and significant pressure to produce forests with mature and old-growth features persists. For example, recent attempts have been made to further restrict management practices on private and state lands through regulatory changes and ballot initiatives to maintain or promote mature or old-growth forests for non-timber values. However, it is the mix of forests ownerships managed for a range of forest conditions (young to old) that together produce a forest landscape with very high overall ecological and socioeconomic value.

As a collection of living, dying and dead organisms with many natural influences, old-growth forests are constantly changing and some have a finite "lifespan." This would be true even in the absence of human influences. The common perception is that before pre-European settlement, nearly all forests in Oregon were old-growth. Although direct evidence is limited, studies have concluded that the amount of old-growth before European settlement varied over the centuries from about 30 to 70 percent across forested landscapes in northwest Oregon (Teensma et al. 1991, Wimberly et al. 2000, Wells and Anzinger 2001, USDA Forest Service 2003). Today, approximately 6.5 million acres of mature and old-growth forests exist in western Oregon and Washington (USDA Forest Service 2003). All forests, including old-growth forests, will eventually succumb to natural, destructive disturbances (e.g., wildfires, windstorms, insect infestations) and then regenerate over time. Although we may be able to protect old-growth forests from some disturbances, it is not possible to protect them from all disturbances, and values for which old-growth is desired may not be adequately maintained without planning for growing old-growth forests of the future.

The management strategy used for old-growth values depends on the mix of ecological goals and the environment in which the forest occurs. Where biodiversity is the primary goal, conservation of old-growth is based on a range of management strategies ranging from passive to active management. In many cases mature and old-growth forests and associated values can benefit from active management as a substitute for natural disturbances (e.g., wildfire) and processes that have been reduced or altered by human needs or activities. In some situations it can be effective to mimic natural processes like fire and insect outbreaks with silvicultural techniques (e.g., thinning and prescribed fire). This is particularly true in fire prone forest types or in uniform plantations once intended primarily for timber production. These actions may reduce or avoid the undesirable impacts of catastrophic natural events to both the site being managed and the surrounding area. There can even be instances where substantial tree harvesting may serve as an effective surrogate for natural disturbances that promote desirable old-growth characteristics, particularly if some dead wood and large trees are left on site. With a blend of ecological, social and economic objectives, landowners can use active management strategies to produce some key old-growth features in stands managed also for timber production, including long rotations and the retention of large live and dead trees.

Importantly, reduction of old-growth stand density by thinning understory trees has been shown to improve tree health and vigor (Stone et al. 1999, Latham and Tappeiner 2002, McDowell et al. 2003), in turn improving their resistance to bark beetles while also reducing the risk of stand-replacing wildfire; this is particularly important in dry forest ecosystems. Such actions can be especially valuable for extending the life of existing old-growth trees and forests while other younger forests develop into an old-growth condition. Thinning in mature forests may hasten the development of old-growth structural characteristics (Bailey and Tappeiner 1997; Acker et al. 1998). Similarly, Newton and Cole (1987) reported substantial successes in achieving large trees and old-growth character in westside Douglas-fir after extended periods after heavy thinning, and that long rotations with such management could combine old-growth features on large parts of the landscape while producing some high quality timber. Where stand-replacement fire has destroyed existing old-growth forests, active restoration can effectively re-establish conifers to help ensure the potential and timely progression towards future old-growth conditions. Without reforestation and vegetation management, re-establishment of conifer forests in some areas may take centuries, particularly on sites that burned uncharacteristically hot and face severe competition from plants that limit conifer establishment.

Conclusions

Oregon's forest owners and managers have different goals that lead to a range of management approaches that promote diverse old and young forests with high ecological and social values. The overall pattern and distribution of forests is an important consideration in sustaining a broad range of values from our forests, and in providing for old-growth features and functions as forests change over time.

Misunderstandings and disagreements about the management of old-growth can be reduced by addressing key questions and considerations raised in this discussion, including careful attention to local conditions and concerns. Like the management of other forests, success of old-growth forest management will be greatly enhanced by current knowledge and experience-tempered, site-specific plans prepared by professional foresters and other specialists; that is, plans that carefully account for site-specific conditions, detailed management objectives, and applicable legal mandates and social concerns.

Selected References

Acker, S.A., T.E. Sabin, L.M. Ganio, and W.A. McKee. 1998. Development of old-growth structure and timber volume growth trends in maturing Douglas-fir stands. Forest Ecology and Management 104:265-280.

Bailey, J.D., and J.C. Tappeiner. 1998. Effects of thinning on structural development in 40- to 100-year-old Douglas-fir stands in western Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management 108: 99-113.

Franklin, J.F., K. Cromack, Jr., W. Denison, A. McKee, C. Maser, J. Sedell, F. Swanson, and G. Juday. 1981. Ecological characteristics of old-growth Douglas-fir forests. General Technical Report PNW-118. USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland, OR. 48 p.

Helms, J.A. 2004. Old-growth: what is it? Journal of Forestry 102(3):8-12.

Kimmins, H. 1992. Balancing Act: Environmental Issues in Forestry. Univ. British Columbia Press, Vancouver, BC.

Kohm, K.A. and J.F. Franklin (eds). 1997. Creating a forestry for the 21st century. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Latham, P., and J. Tappeiner. 2002. Response of old-growth conifers to reduction in stand density in western Oregon forests. Tree Physiology 22:137-146.

McDowell, N., J.R. Brooks, S.A. Fitzgerald, and B.J. Bond. 2003. Carbon isotope discrimination and growth response of old Pinus ponderosa to stand density reductions. Plant, Cell Environment 26:631-644.

Newton, M., and E.C. Cole. 1987. A sustained-yield scheme for old-growth Douglas-fir. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 2(1):22-25.

Oregon Society of American Foresters. 2003. Active Management to Achieve and Maintain Healthy Forests. Available at: http://www.forestry.org/policy/index.html.

Spies, T.A. 2004. Ecological concepts and diversity of old-growth forests. Journal of Forestry 102(3):14-20.

Stone, J.E., T.E. Kolb, and W.W. Covington. 1999. Effects of restoration thinning on presettlement Pinus ponderosa in Northern Arizona. Restoration Ecology 7:172-182.

Teensma, P.A., J.T. Rienstra, and M.A. Yeiter. 1991. Preliminary reconstruction and analysis of change in forest stand age classes of the Oregon coast range from 1850 to 1940. Technical Note T/N OR-9. USDI Bureau of Land Management, Portland, OR. 9 p.

USDA Forest Service. 2003. New findings about old-growth forests. Science Update. Issue 4. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. Available at: http//:www.fs.fed.us/pnw.

Wells, G. and D. Anzinger. 2001. Lewis and Clark Meet Oregon's Forests: Lessons from Dynamic Nature. Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Portland, OR.

Wimberly, M.C., T.A. Spies, C.J. Long, and C. Whitlock. 2000. Simulating historical variability in the amount of old forests in the Oregon Coast Range. Conservation Biology 14:167-180.

1 Succession is the natural, gradual supplanting of one plant community type over another, with a "late-successional" community often considered as part of a final, long-term stage before a catastrophic event (e.g., wildfire) repeats the process, initiating "secondary" succession.

Position adopted by the Oregon SAF Executive Committee October 31, 2005 and supported with 96% approval in member referendum December 2005. This statement will expire October 31, 2010, unless after thorough review it is renewed by the Committee.



The position expressed is a call for active management of old growth forest. Active harvesting to thin stands and salvaging downed trees in these forest. It seems to be supporting cutting of old growth forests to achieve high ecological and socieconomic value -emphasis on socioeconomic. It opposes any definition of old growth that would in any way limit their ability to harvest these ares. I agree that an arbitrary diameter criteria is a not a good diameter of old growth, but accepting a definition by SAF that promote harvesting of old growth forests surely would be worse. They point out that a forest with a few old trees is not an old growth forest. Well how many is few, and that smaller patches may not be effective habitat for old-growth dependent wildlife species - seems like a prelude to exclude them from even being considered as old growth and there is no explanation of how large these areas may be.

If these concepts were applied in a forthright manner, they would be fine. But there is no constraints on how they would be applied. One example of how these concepts will be applied is that there is opposition to any preservation or wild component at all in their management strategy. Restoration must be economically profitable. I know how that works, the costs for everything and their dog is written of as a cost of reclamation while the harvesting is expanded indefinitely to offset these unrealistic, inflated, to fraudulent expenses. Harvesting, thinning, at a profit of course, would only help the old growth forest, if there actually were any old growth forest in their viewpoint. It has nice words about differences of opinions, a reasonable idea that old growth can not be strictly defined by arbitrary measurement criteria, but when they talk about implementing these ideals it is all about timber production. I may be cynical, but I have no reason to trust that any restraint will be shown without some legislative constraints. Poor legislative restraints are better than nothing in the face of overwhelming greed. The public forests do not belong to the timber companies, but to the public as a whole. I do not want to see my "property" raped to fill the pockets of a timber company executive. If they were truely managing for sustainable forests, they would not need to cut any additonal old growth or old forests on public land, but would be able to sustain themsleves by cuting on private land and harvesting areas previously timbered on public land.

Edward Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by gnmcmartin » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:42 am

Don:

Well, I am not as cynical about this as Ed. I have been an adjunct member of the Society of American Foresters for something like 30 years and don't think that as a whole the organization is devoted to anything but the promotion of good forestry. Of course one goal of forest science is to make forests as productive as possible, and one goal of that "productivity" is timber. But the overall focus of the organization is on understanding the forest, its growth, and its protection.

And I think that a lot of the legislation that well meaning forest preservationists propose and/or support in the long run can do more harm than good. Too many people think that a forest is something static, and not a dynamic living system with an incredible degree of complexity. Some people familiar with my timberland want me to take steps now to have it preserved "for future generations." I would love to do that, but I don't see it as possible. The trees are not going to just continue to grow. Over time they will die, the deer are preventing any reproduction, and without active management, the forest over time will not be a place anyone will want to visit. The idea in the SAF paper that we should plan ahead for new old growth stands to be developed as some of the present stands over time deteriorate and/or are destroyed by one thing or another makes sense. Things are not static, and nothing we can do will make them so. With forests, the more things are allowed to change, the more they will ultimately stay the same. Any attempt to preserve my forest land as it is will only serve to destroy it.

But make no mistake, I am a forest preservationist. I was one of two lobbyists working with the Sierra club in the 1970’s for the Redwood National Park expansion bill. But at the same time, as one who has spent a lot of time in Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, I had no desire to see those great stands of trees taken over and choked by the in-growth of fir trees. There had to be some management in the absence of the natural cycles of fire in the area. The introduction of controlled burns is necessary to preserve the forest. Some forests CAN be preserved without any intervention over very, very long periods of time, and for those forests that are very special, that is what we should do.

I am an optimist. I do think that we can study, learn, and do the right thing with our forestlands, as diverse and as complex as they are. We do have to be realists and see the pressures that come from “the greedy,” and be wise enough and tough enough to defeat them.

--Gaines

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Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by edfrank » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:30 am

Gaines,

Since you addressed me specifically I will respond. I must disagree with many of your positions on this issue. In the east, and likely in the west as well the opportunity for people to visit essentially wild forest is very limited. Private lands are often posted and closed to outsiders. This is often because of fears of the landowner for the liability they might incur if a person injures themselves while exploring their property. Of the forests on private land that is not posted, much of it has been poorly managed. Often the sites have been high-graded or clearcut in the recent past and is in the process of recovering from these and other poor management practices. This is not always the case, but pristine patches of forest on private property almost always have restricted access. So if someone wants to visit a less impacted forest, visiting public forests are their only realistic option for the vast majority of people. The same is likely the case in western forests.

It has been shown by many economic analysis that the economic benefits to the local communities from recreational activities in public forests and parks is almost always greater than the economic benefits of timbering these lands. The logging has a short term influx of money for a few people, but development as a recreational resource creates jobs fro a wide range of people ranging from equipment rentals, restaurants, tourist shops, guides, even sales of gasoline and food in the local stores. These benefits do not always sit well with all of the locals, but overall the economic benefits are widespread and long term. They create jobs for years for many people. The benefits to local communities in terms of taxes and usage fees outweigh the piece of the pie they get from logging of these public forests. In the west the national forests are larger, but still thee is no honest economic reason to log additional areas of old growth forest. The short term gain will not produce as much economic benefit as leaving them untouched. Most of Areas that are currently under timber production likely should be left in timber production, unless they are degrading an area needed for ecosystem values. In areas that have suffered from poor logging practices in the past, might even benefit from being reworked. But still there is no reason economically to log new areas of public lands. If the timber companies are really practicing sustainable logging practices, then they would not need to log new areas.

I must also disagree with the premise that active management is needed to keep the forests healthy. I agree in part I guess, but the difference is how much and what types of active management should be considered. Without human intervention the forest will not die off, but will achieve a steady state on a broad scale - that is the idea of climax and sub-climax forests. There are outside influences to modern forests that were not there in the past. We have many invasive species and overpopulations of deer here in the east. There should be management to as limited a degree as possible to minimize these impacts. These efforts should not include cutting down large swatches of the forest to "protect" them as many of these forest industry based ides include. They should not include cutting down large areas of old forest to "pay" for the cost of reclamation in which every company expense and the CEO's new kitchen sink are considered by creative accounting to be an expense of this reclamation.

Cutting down old forests simply does not make them healthier, no matter what the industry propaganda says. We are not better off with active management of these forests, You wrote:
And I think that a lot of the legislation that well meaning forest preservationists propose and/or support in the long run can do more harm than good.
I could not disagree more strongly. Choosing between the options of doing nothing to an area of old forest, and subjecting that forest to active management under these terms above, the preservationist option is by far the better of the the two options.

Ed Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by gnmcmartin » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:13 pm

Ed:

Reading your response here, I feel that you are making arguments against things I didn’t say, or certainly didn’t intend to say. I was not trying to make an argument for or against opening up new areas of public lands to logging. Maybe I misunderstood the context of what Don was talking about.

I was simply trying to discuss the topic of setting up some strict, and often overly simple, rules about how to manage, or not manage forestlands, in an attempt to “preserve” them, or some aspect of them, in some way. I thought I was simply trying to make the case for making such decisions on the basis of the best forest science.

But if the question is should we forever ban any logging on public forest lands that have not been open to any logging previously, I guess my response would be the same. Look at each area on a case-by-case basis and with the best knowledge available, make decisions. And the same would be true of areas formerly logged. Maybe some of these should be off limits to logging in the future. Maybe those areas can sustain themselves without intervention and become worthy of complete hands-off preservation. The Save-The Redwoods League, which I have been a member of for more than 40 years, has been actively working to take formerly logged redwood lands and add them to the parks. I am sure there are many areas in our public forests--both state and federal, which have been logged in the past, but which should now be off limits to logging.

And, there may be areas not formerly logged, or not managed for “preservation,” if that is not for everyone a contradiction in terms, that perhaps should be. Some areas may have been subject to wrong decisions about their best use in the past, and these decisions should be reversed. Some areas may not yet have gone through any good decision making process about what is the best use in the future. I think every area should be considered individually on its individual characteristics.

How much land should be off limits to logging so they can offer more opportunities for other uses? I don’t know. Perhaps much more than we now have. But if logging is done on very long rotations, land that is used for timber production can also offer good recreational opportunities.

As for the need for active management to keep forests healthy. I do believe that is often the case, and I simply refer to my example again about the sequoia groves in our national parks and the need for controlled burning. Every time this is done, there is some public outcry, but in the absence of the natural cycle of fire in the region, I think it is necessary. I also think it is necessary to suppress that natural cycle of fire in those areas.

Well, perhaps we could define more carefully the areas where we have disagreement. Would you like to argue the case for the controlled burning in Sequoia National Park?

--Gaines

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Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by edfrank » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:52 pm

Gaines,

Sorry if I misinterpreted what you were saying. I guess we are just not on the same page here.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

Joe

Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by Joe » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:00 am

Regarding the SAF- it has 2 faces. One face is about science and good forest management- that's what you read in the SAF Journal, mostly written by professors. The other face is very different- that's the face that resists any reform in the name of property rights. Many SAF foresters are high grading timber beasts or into large scale clearcutting. So, you can read "fancy forestry" in the journal but the real world of forestry is very different- and that real world is seldom even hinted at by the Journal.

The SAF is the Holy Mother Church of the forestry world- and we know what often goes on behind the scences in all Churches. I don't have time today to discuss this further- but a balanced view of the SAF is really needed. Just don't confuse the nice articles in the SAF Journal with the organization which has more in common with the Mafia.

Joe
gnmcmartin wrote:Don:

Well, I am not as cynical about this as Ed. I have been an adjunct member of the Society of American Foresters for something like 30 years and don't think that as a whole the organization is devoted to anything but the promotion of good forestry. Of course one goal of forest science is to make forests as productive as possible, and one goal of that "productivity" is timber. But the overall focus of the organization is on understanding the forest, its growth, and its protection.

And I think that a lot of the legislation that well meaning forest preservationists propose and/or support in the long run can do more harm than good. Too many people think that a forest is something static, and not a dynamic living system with an incredible degree of complexity. Some people familiar with my timberland want me to take steps now to have it preserved "for future generations." I would love to do that, but I don't see it as possible. The trees are not going to just continue to grow. Over time they will die, the deer are preventing any reproduction, and without active management, the forest over time will not be a place anyone will want to visit. The idea in the SAF paper that we should plan ahead for new old growth stands to be developed as some of the present stands over time deteriorate and/or are destroyed by one thing or another makes sense. Things are not static, and nothing we can do will make them so. With forests, the more things are allowed to change, the more they will ultimately stay the same. Any attempt to preserve my forest land as it is will only serve to destroy it.

But make no mistake, I am a forest preservationist. I was one of two lobbyists working with the Sierra club in the 1970’s for the Redwood National Park expansion bill. But at the same time, as one who has spent a lot of time in Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, I had no desire to see those great stands of trees taken over and choked by the in-growth of fir trees. There had to be some management in the absence of the natural cycles of fire in the area. The introduction of controlled burns is necessary to preserve the forest. Some forests CAN be preserved without any intervention over very, very long periods of time, and for those forests that are very special, that is what we should do.

I am an optimist. I do think that we can study, learn, and do the right thing with our forestlands, as diverse and as complex as they are. We do have to be realists and see the pressures that come from “the greedy,” and be wise enough and tough enough to defeat them.

--Gaines

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Don
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Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by Don » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:22 am

Joe-
I find it interesting that you've addressed two old farts with 60 years between them as SAF members who've probably worked professionally in the woods 80 years between them, one an academic of stature, the other a dirt forester who eventually approached academia, and you have the temerity to suggest that (at least part of) the SAF is akin to Mafia, and relative to Churches, that we're pederasts...
Joe...I find that offensive on a personal level. We've been here before, you're very close to needing moderating.
But I know that your post above is not based on any broad concept of reality, as you're at best provincially an expert in what you do, and what goes on around the woods in Massachusetts, and across New England perhaps.
Joe, there's very little SAF in the area where you have the most experience. I fully respect your role in NIPF practice, and appreciate what it is that you do for the landowners that come to you for consultation.
I wish you the best of fortune in your professional efforts during this difficult time in the national economy...but the view doesn't get any better standing on the shoulders of your colleagues.

Ed-
If I've gone over the top, you've my apologies, and I'll moderate myself...
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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dbhguru
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Re: Forest Restoration, old growth protection, jobs...

Post by dbhguru » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:25 pm

Don,

I've read the testimony, read Ed's insightful commentary, and am now ready to weigh in. My pronouncement regrettably is .... same old, same old. I wish I could be more optimistic, but what we're seeing at various societal and governmental levels is the periodic replay of the Muir versus Pinchot view of the purpose of forests - along with a classic struggle for turf. When the preservationist movement gains steam, the utilitarian/exploitation movement counters, and vice versa.

Here in Massachusetts, I keep hoping for enlightened leadership to steer a course through the competing interests that will do justice to our forests, but it is a long, long way from the trenches to the top of the hill. Those at the top of the hierarchical ladder hold the microphones and call the shots, which with exceptions for a short period, are usually economically motivated rather than ecologically driven until the weight of public opinion forces them to compromise. That is just the way it is, be it at the state or federal level. However, in terms of laudable motives, I'm still hoping that the Forest Futures Visioning Process will be the rare exception.

In a few hours, I will go to hear Commissioner Rick Sullivan and Secretary Ian Bowles brief the FFVP results. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for is a sizable set-aside of reserves. The actively managed portion of DCR lands is turning into one screw-up after another. So my faith in the DCR forest managers is at an all-time low. A far-out dream is the end to all clear-cutting, but I don't object to it on a very small scale.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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