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Study Questions Value of Post-Fire Logging
Letter To The Editor, High Country News
January 25, 2006

Kudos to OSU graduate student Daniel Donato for having the courage to challenge the forestry mafia at Oregon State University (“Study questions value of post-fire logging” HCN, 2/6/06). The problem with foresters and forestry schools is that they do not provide a balanced education. That’s because they were created and are funded by the timber industry. Those whose ideas diverge from a narrow focus on fiber production are rarely allowed to advance to professorships.

On the topic of whether salvage logging increases or reduces future risk of high intensity fire, the evidence is clear that neither “side” of the debate really wants to know the answer. If we did, we would not be looking and arguing over the Biscuit Fire. Instead we would walk or drive a few miles to the North or South. Just over the ridges beyond the Biscuit Fire Area can be found a number of the large fires that burned under similar conditions in 1987 and 1994.

The Silver Fire Area to the North and the Dillon, Grider-Lake and other fire areas to the South - now more than ten years post-fire - are the perfect place to observe and compare the results of natural and industrial post-fire “recovery”. I’d suggest the Grider-Lake fire area which is readily accessible except in winter. The Walker Creek watershed was intensively salvage logged and replanted; the Grider Creek watershed – including the Pacific Crest Trail corridor - was protected from salvage logging as the result of a lawsuit. In most of Grider Creek natural “recovery” has been ongoing. Which watershed is healthier; which watershed has greater fire risk? I challenge Messers Salwasser, Sessions, Donato and DellaSalla to go there to find out. I’d be happy to offer my services as guide.

Felice Pace
Klamath, California

Formerly Conservation Director for the Klamath Forest Alliance, the author has walked and studied all the big fires in the Klamath Mountains since 1987. He was the architect of the lawsuit known as Marble Mountain Audubon v Rice which stopped salvage logging in the Grider Creek Roadless Area after the 1987 Grider-Lake Fire Complex.

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