U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

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edfrank
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U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by edfrank » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:21 pm

U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees
http://www.azdailysun.com/business/arti ... 29894.html
KAKE, Alaska -- A few years ago, the U.S. Forest Service was getting ready to open up several large stands of old-growth trees here on Kupreanof Island in an attempt to sustain southeast Alaska's beleaguered timber industry.


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The target was up to 70 million board feet of timber. Much of it would be plucked from remote, roadless forests. Even getting to the trees was going to mean building 25 miles of roads at a cost of more than $6 million.

The three tiny sawmills in nearby Kake, where the unemployment rate is 80 percent, couldn't hope to bid on such a massive and expensive logging operation. What happened next marked a crucial turnaround for the Forest Service, which traditionally works mainly with large mills in Alaska and has encountered endless lawsuits by environmental groups. The local Forest Service ranger, Chris Savage, set up meetings with Kake's 500-some residents to ask -- they say they had never been asked before -- what they wanted to happen in the remaining uncut forests around their village. Jobs, people said first. Check. A few timber sales small enough that our own mills can bid on them. Check. Stay out of roadless areas so the blacktailed deer we hunt can have a chance to flourish. Check. The result is a new plan that will cut only 26 million board feet of timber, requiring just 1.8 miles of permanent new roads. Much of the harvest will be offered in "micro-sales" that will almost certainly go to mill owners in Kake. Community residents will be offered contracts to maintain old forest roads, repair culverts and thin newly growing forests to ready them for logging later.
The Forest Service last year announced that it was abandoning its long-standing approach of big old-growth timber sales in the Tongass National Forest in favor of more modest harvests in previously logged lands, which could then be cycled in perpetuity. (continued)
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Joe

Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by Joe » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:09 am

I've always heard that the USFS is a paramilitary organization- so like the military, they like "big victories" and for foresters that means huge timber sales- maybe they get medals to pin on their chests for each huge sale. It's amazing that they didn't realize from the beginning that they could do small sales, forever, and make everyone happy, instead of selling 70 million board feet all at once then have no sales for several decades. The big sale would certainly draw opposition, the small sales hardly ever do.
Joe

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James Parton
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Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by James Parton » Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:14 am

I never agree on the cuting of old growth. There is just so little of it left compared to what it used to be. And besides, this is just a short term solution to their unemployment problem, What will they do when the trees are cut and sold? It will probably be back to unemployment. The trees will take centuries to re-grow.
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AndrewJoslin
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Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by AndrewJoslin » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:00 pm

If true and followed through (until the next administration swings a different direction) it's a huge paradigm shift. Cutting limited old-growth for local mills and the local economy (in that particular area) has a chance to be sustainable if done right. I doubt that multi-national paper/lumber corporate interests will ever give up on trying to get back in.
-AJ

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Don
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Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by Don » Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:02 pm

Sorry folks to have let this thread lapse until now.
It's not because I don't have anything to say...there's plenty to say! But it's a complex real world scenario, in many ways, and certainly in a state of flux.
It is a new paradigm shift for the USFS, and one that I welcome. The era of 50 year guaranteed supply is over. I am enough of a pessimist to suggest that public involvement is certainly warranted, and encouraged by the NEPA process. As a USFS employee, then NPS employee, I found the NEPA process wearing, tedious at times, but would NEVER want our public lands to be managed without it, as it is at the NEPA interface that public input is registered.
To have the input of the local populace/economy listened to so closely is the biggest most positive sign of the significance of the paradigm shift.
There is another side to this story...Southeast Alaska is mostly islands, and those sections of mainland are ONLY accessed by air or sea...only Haines/Skagway at the very north end of SE Ak have roaded access. And they have to go through Canada before returning to Alaska.
The point? There are a few locations throughout SE Alaska, like Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan that major airlines serve, but travel from there is by boat. I should say, ferries and cruise ships...the Inland Passage is not a small boat haven, as there are tides and currents, sections of passages known as Dire Straights and other such prophetic names that even larger craft must attend to.
The likelihood of anyone reading this BBS actually visiting Kupreanof Island is rather slim. I spent a large portion of a 108 day contract where we (Anchorage Forestry Science Lab) completed an intensive Integrated Resource Inventory across Southeast Alaska on a 4.8 Kilometer grid. We saw much of SE Alaska that summer, but would go days without seeing 'civilization'. It's remote and costly to travel in, to visit. I'm not asking the question, that if a tree falls in SE Alaska, if nobody hears it, did it happen? But it is VERY different from the population density of the Eastern Seaboard.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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Bart Bouricius
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Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by Bart Bouricius » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:31 am

Don,

Does the US Forest service ever consider old growth forests in respect to their significance in storing carbon, and as an important carbon sink, or are such considerations off the table.

Joe

Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by Joe » Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:04 am

Regarding Alaska islands and the USFS- a local industrial forester (not famous for being upset over rough logging) told me that in his early days, he worked with the USFS on one of those islands- where a timber sale occured- he said that the logging job was horrific, with massive erosion- but being out in the middle of nowhere, nobody complained. This was probably 25 years ago and I'm sure today people would notice.

Joe

Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by Joe » Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:06 am

Bart Bouricius wrote:Don,

Does the US Forest service ever consider old growth forests in respect to their significance in storing carbon, and as an important carbon sink, or are such considerations off the table.
Though old growth forests may be valuable as a carbon sink- they're far more valuable for scientific and aesthetic reasons. If the carbon is removed in a harvest, it will grow back- but the scientific and aesthetic value is lost forever.
Joe

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Don
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Re: U.S. Forest Service tries new stand on old-growth trees

Post by Don » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:37 am

Joe wrote:
Bart Bouricius wrote:Don,

Does the US Forest service ever consider old growth forests in respect to their significance in storing carbon, and as an important carbon sink, or are such considerations off the table.
Though old growth forests may be valuable as a carbon sink- they're far more valuable for scientific and aesthetic reasons. If the carbon is removed in a harvest, it will grow back- but the scientific and aesthetic value is lost forever.
Joe
Joe/Bart-
Re carbon sink, I know there are those in the USFS that make decisions based in part, in those terms (the big picture), but I'm not sure if they're a part of the local decision making process.
Joe-
I had a chance to visit much of SE Alaska in the late 1990's during a resource inventory, which involved visiting plots on a 4.3 kilometer grid. Water bodies, glaciers, barren land was tossed out, but if there was vegetation at those plots we visited them. We did not run across any recent logging, but certainly those in the ten to forty year old logging sites. They were rapidly growing back in, and with some not insignificant amount of berries and other foraged vegetation. Along with the berries, were bears. We saw lots of bears that summer, had a number of encounters, and a few close calls. Most of those incidents were in and around old timber sales. Signs of erosion? I have no doubt there was erosion, but in the time since those sales, vegetation has taken over.
But it will be centuries before old-growth forest ecosystems develop out of cut areas. Good second growth is returning. They remain high productivity sites from what I saw.

A quick aside...about twenty years ago, a timber sale was proposed on Kuiu Island...USFS engineers were running a P-line out (preliminary line of survey) and it plotted out very near a large hemlock...the engineers (plus one watershed hydrologist) took measurements due to its size. When they returned to their office, they redesigned the road to avoid the immediate area, then sent a report up the chain of command with recorded measurements of the "Kuiu Island Hemlock". I have that report, and will be updating the Alaska Big Tree List this winter, to include it the Kuiu Island Hemlock...

Kuiu Island Hemlock
Kuiu Island Hemlock
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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