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Re: E-M:/ Clearcut Smearcut! Kirtland Warbler??

Enviro-Mich message from Frank Ambrose <fambrose@bloomington.in.us>

I would like to add my two cents on this issue about clearcutting for the
Kirtlands Warrbler and whether or not a commercial timber sale is needed.

I will not pretend to be a scholar on the KW. If there is cutting needed
now to save the bird from extinction, then this cutting could possibly
take place with out a commercial timber sale. The Forest Service could cut
trees, and leave them lay in the place they land, then do a prescribe fire
over the area to reduce fuel loads.

The Forest Service loses close to a billion dollars a year cutting timber
from all of our National Forests, Michigan included. This money could be
spent on true ecological restoration. There need not be any commercial
interest in the management of our forests whatsoever. The corporations
must go. 

It is hard to believe an agency that has so long been in bed with the
timber industry when ever they claim to be managing for an endangered
species or for anything. On the Hiawatha, there was recently a notice for
comment on a project to improve the visual characteristics of the Indian
River. The tool - Logging. they plan to log some 2-300 acres of forest. I
can not say I have ever been to a logging operation anywhere that looked
good. In fact, they all have looked awful.

Back to the KW. The equipment that is needed to remove the trees in a
harvest may not compact the sandy soil, but it will definently disturb it,
cause severe erosion and will destroy the nutrient layer for years to
come. Once again, if the cutting of some trees is really the correct thing
to do, which I am not convinced it is after talking to several bird
experts, then they can be cut and left to rot in place.

About fire risk. I am pretty sick of hearing about how logging a blowdown
will decrease the risk of a fire. It will increase the risk of a fire. It
will increase the amount of dead fine fuels by removing all the trees and
leaving tops. The fine fuels are what starts fires, not the heavy fuels.
As I have heard quoted before, every good girl scout knows that to start a
camp fire, you dont flick your bic next to a two foot in diameter tree,
you use the needles and twigs.

Logging will also increase the access to the forest for the slob hunters
and weekend warriors. Humans cause many more fires than nature does. A
blowdown is incredibly in-accessable. There is little chance that
a fire will start because no one can get into the area. The increaseed
access of a logged out forest and the accumulation of fine fuels provides
great opportunities for a strong fire. Contact Tim Ingalsbee of the
Western Fire Ecology Center for backup on what I say here.

It is time we ended our commercial extraction from our National Forests.
The Industry has been at the reigns to long, and we must take that power


Frank Ambrose

On Tue, 16 Feb 1999, Tim Flynn wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from "Tim Flynn" <tflynn@freeway.net>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Folks,
> This is a long reply to Murray's comment on KW management.   I think the
> facts and the complexity of this living system need correcting, if we are to
> truly understand very tough choice need to manage this unique habitat.
> Reply to Murray's critique of Jack Pine, Kirkland warbler management:
> >Murray:
> > "One of the arguments I have been hearing from those who oppose NCL is the
> > need to "manage" jackpine forests which historically were regenerated by
> > fire.  The exclusion of fire from this ecosystem and the dependency of the
> > Kirkland warbler on trees with branches hitting the ground no more then
> > 12-15 years old has been used as the justification for clearcutting.
> > Unfortunately, clearcutting does not mimic the spatial patterns created by
> > fires.
> I'd be one of those opposed to NCL and jack pine ecosystems are only one of
> the reasons for my opposition.  The justification in KW areas for clearcuts
> is to mimic catastrophic fire disturbance regime native to this system.
> This includes very dense tree stocking, large even-aged patches to reduce
> fragmentation of habitat.  Lately they've also added "vortex" rows of live
> tree to mimic fire behavior seen in the Mack Lake fire.  Management is still
> to intensive with too little retention biological structure and composition,
> so there's a ways to go to make this program of KW habitat management really
> mimic all the important habitat and process formerly present in the Jack
> Pine Plain ecosystem.  But they are moving away from clearcuts, and
> beginning to leave some biological legacies.
> > And even if we accept the ecological damage of clearcutting for the
> > warbler, there is no reason why that management cannot be a non-commercial
> > endeavor.  And there is no reason why fire cannot be returned as the primary
> > management tool on the national forests for the jackpine type.
> There are many reasons why fire cannot be returned in the short run
> (next 100 or so year if we're lucky).  This is not a low intensity ground
> fire situation, like Ponderosa or Red/White Pine disturbance regime.   This
> is a catastrophic 50,000 to 100,000 plus acre fire pattern.  Prescribed
> fires are NEVER allowed to mimic this type of disturbance, although any
> prescribed fires will try, on their own, to mimic catastrophic disturbance
> given the nature of the jack pine plains. Given this type of fire behavior
> the managers are very reluctant to use fire, as they remember the Mack lake
> experience and this dynamic tendency of this landscape.
> Small controlled burns will not, any more than clearcuts, mimic the natural
> disturbance regime.  No agency will prescribe crown fires, today, in this
> area. There are too many homes and too many people.
> Yet that is the fire regime that dominated these plains.   Some form of
> alternative management is needed and if you are to reduce the fire hazard
> removing some fuel is necessary, why not sell it and get some revenue to put
> back into better management?
> > Patch dynamics and patch characteristics in fire-regenerated jackpine are
> > different from those in clearcut landscapes;
> There is no doubt about this, but the Fed's and the DNR are changing the
> cutting patterns and trying to mimic natural patterns.   Revenue from
> "commercial" sales of pine allow more research, monitoring and allow for
> attempts to do better in the future.
> They clearly have along way to go, and funding is needed.
> Given the nature of this system, complete retention of all the tree is not
> going to happen, too dam dangerous, so sale of the wood removed, produces
> revenue for management to protect jack pine ecosystems.
>  It's our job to understand this
> and make sure they are actually protecting and maintaining the system, and
> not just logging for the mill.   A policy that allowed even-aged
> treatments and required better protection of all the systems components and
> function, more retention of biological legacies, while still selling the
> timber removed is doable and to me acceptable.
> >
> > snags and downed woody debris is greatly reduced,
> And along with them many of the endemic invertebrates dependant on snags.
> But management can be changed to provide for lot's of these elements.  Bare
> ground clearcuts aren't the only way to manage this system, in fact the best
> of the new treatments are getting away from no retention bare ground
> cutting.
> > no nutrients are deposited, via ash, to the soil,
> But there may be ways to mimic some of this with post logging fire and
> retention of live and dead trees, but commercial sale of forest products
> harvested is absolutely necessary to fund some of the expenses this entails.
> > soils in fire landscapes are not compacted by heavy equipment
> Most research on glacial outwash soils show no, to very little, compaction
> to soils, from anything done to them.
> Doubt this?  Try creating a driveway from
> sandy soil taken from the outwash plains, it will never become a solid drive
> surface, no matter how many times you compact it.
> The real issue here is the destruction/damage to the thin organic soil layer
> by heavy equipment.  In the Luzerne (sp?) blowdown last year we got the
> Forest Service to leave some areas un-salvaged, and to retain island of
> habitat that would not be salvage.   We argued that they needed to focus on
> public safety as the only reason to salvage trees, and areas not causing a
> threat to safety could be left un-salvaged.  This left much more to the
> areas fragile soils protect from equipment and yet met their legitimate
> safety concerns.
> > clearcutting does not heat the ground in a manner that stimulates vegetative
> > regeneration of fire adapted species,
> But without the likelihood of a native disturbance regime being allow back
> into the outwash plains, how will we mimic this aspect of the system?
> 50,000 acre crown fires will happen by accident, but will not be allowed if
> society can stop them.   Fire suppression is currently very effective.
> A more important issue would be in the rare case of a natural fire, or a
> human start one that gets out of control, we can work to protect the post
> fire stand from salvage.
> > -clearcutting does not respond to microsite moisture gradients that lead to
> > patch differentiation,
> > -fire leaves unburnt patches,
> > -fire creates habitat for northern three-toed woodpeckers,
> > -Fire is natural, clearcutting is NOT!
> > -clearcutting skid trails and access roads are bad for reasons we all
> > know--oils, greases, and other hydrocarbons often contaminate logging sites.
> > Soil erosion, edge species invasion, illegal ORV use, etc.
> > Clearcutting is simply the cheapest way to maximize fiber production from what
> > are often poor soils.
> That is not what is happening in the KW management areas.   The trees are
> planted too close together to be maximizing fiber production, they are
> planted to maximize nesting habitat.  Currently too many trees are being
> taken during harvest, more retention of growing stock and dead wood is
> needed, but management is not aimed at fiber maximization.
> Some harvesting in the JP plains have moved away from pure clearcutting,
> especially on the Huron-Manistee NF.   They do leave uncut patches, take
> into account the landscape position, leave more large trees uncut.   This is
> a move towards variable retention (VR) harvesting, and away form
> clearcutting, it's focusing on what is left and not on what you take.
> It's not yet enough but again the
> commercial sale of forest products makes progress possible without sales all
> the funding for management must come from General funds or the ESA(which is
> already very under funded).  Especially on State Forest lands supplemental
> funding is needed, why not sell logs your going to cut anyway?
> > Clearcutting is the most efficient way to continue the steady loss of
> > biological capital of the northwoods of Michigan.
> That's why we need to work on changing management, get the focus on natural
> disturbance regimes, and get in place a native landscape conservation system
> of millions of acres.  National and State forest are a key part of such a
> strategy, but not all of it.   Banning commercial sale of all timber product
> from just Federal Lands will not stop the loss of Michigan's biological
> capital.
> Clearcuts for commercial sale aren't the only problem, with current
> management.   More older rarer remnant forest patches are effected by
> selection harvest than by clearcutting of already disturbed younger forests.
> It's not the type of harvest as much as it is ignorance of the land and it's
> processes that is likely to cause the most loss of birth.
> Tim Flynn
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