tree sitters Archives – Wildfire Today

Environmental groups in Oregon say timber companies, brought in by the USFS to help with thinning to prevent wildfires, are also taking old-growth trees that they say are most resistant to fire. A mountain biker near Bend a few years ago spotted some large ponderosa pines that were marked for felling. Environmental groups were alerted and their responders are in trouble, including Erik Fernandez, Oregon Wild’s “wilderness program manager.”

He photographed trees in the Deschutes National Forest, more than a dozen of which were marked with blue paint, meaning “cut.”

TREE SITTERTREE SITTER

As reported by the Oregon Capital Chronicle – an award-winning non-profit professional journalism site — the trees were scheduled to be thinned as part of a USFS fire prevention strategy on the Deschutes. Because the agency no longer has the staff or funding to take on thinning projects itself, it sometimes hires companies to carry out part of the project (for example, thinning or burning). Sometimes the way to make a thinning project viable is to take a single large log to the mill as salable lumber.

Environmentalists like Fernandez say that the big trees are actually the best equipped to survive a fire, and that they are among the best sources for storing climate-warming greenhouse gases.

“If we look to the future,” he says, “if we keep cutting down the big trees, it will be self-destructive.”

・Respond with protest・

The Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups, plans to protest logging on public lands in front of the Forest Service office in Portland. Meg Ward, co-founder of the Eugene-based nonprofit Breach Collective, said it’s part of a growing movement of opposition to mature and old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest.

In southern Oregon, environmentalists calling themselves the Pacific Northwest Forest Defense succeeded in undoing the contract of a forest thinning project near Grants Pass by sitting in an old tree marked for felling. Last week, members began another protest against the BLM’s Rogue Gold project south of Grants Pass.

Demonstrators last fall at the World Forestry Center west of Portland gathered to protest a conference titled “Who Owns the Forest?”  -- Photo by WRENCH/Cascade Forest CollectiveDemonstrators last fall at the World Forestry Center west of Portland gathered to protest a conference titled “Who Owns the Forest?”  -- Photo by WRENCH/Cascade Forest Collective
Demonstrators last fall at the World Forestry Center west of Portland gathered to protest a conference titled “Who Owns the Forest?” — Photo by WRENCH/Cascade Forest Collective

Both the BLM and USFS allow the cutting of large old trees on thinning projects if they are in the way of a road needed for a project or if the old trees are on fire. Federal forest management plans that cover much of the state, including the Northwest Forest Plan and the Eastside Screens, provide flexibility to cut away some old growth during the process of thinning and wildfire prevention.

“The Forest Service claims that the biggest threat to old growth is not logging, but wildfires, which they are trying to prevent through thinning,” said the agency’s Catherine Caruso.