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E-M:/ Fw: Letter-to-the-Editor re: "catastrophic" July storms

Enviro-Mich message from "David Zaber" <dzaber@chorus.net>


Here is a letter from the Green Onion Resource Center in Ashland, WI.  I
thought you may be interested in it since it is a perfect, and I mean
perfect example of the media's bias when it comes to logging on National
Forests.  In this case, the Chequamegon-Nicolet NF in Wisconsin.  The
Nicolet unit of the NF is directly adjacent to Michigan's Ottawa NF in the
UP, so what happens there affects Michigan.

Either way, I have yet to see such a great example of the distorations that
many northwoods media outlets portray as news be so resoundingly obliterated
with logic.  The Green Onion Resource Center has been doing a bang-up job
when it comes to protecting the northwoods so we all benefit (even those of
you who would log every acre while creating more atv trails and gutting the
laws that stop pollution from further damaging the environment).  Yes, even
you will benefit.

David J. Zaber
----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Spotts <spotts@ncis.net>
To: Ashland Daily Press <ashpress@win.bright.net>
Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 1999 12:51 PM
Subject: Letter-to-the-Editor re: "catastrophic" July storms


Dear Claire:

The Green Onion Resource Center wishes to respond to the Daily Press' Sept.
8th front-page "July storms 'catastrophic' for forest" article.

It is ironic that the terms 'catastrophic' and 'devastating' are used to
describe the July 4th and 30th storm damage.  According to this article, the
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest's spokesperson said that this level of
damage represents about 55 percent of an average year's cut.  Logic would
dictate that this is an admission.  That each year's normal timber harvest
is nearly DOUBLY 'catastrophic' and 'devastating.'

Think about it.  A crisis when high winds knock down about 65 million board
feet of commercial grade timber.  A typical year when 110 to 115 million
board feet are cut and removed from the national forest.  The wind-throw
trees rest where they fall, provide forest structure and habitat, and
decompose to enrich the soil.  Whereas the logged trees are removed from the
site, and the logging process may cause road building, soil erosion, and
other adverse impacts.

Characterizing these wind thrown trees as a disaster may advance the desires
of those who want to enter the forest and remove them.  But it does not
advance the understanding of natural disturbance events for what they are:
foreseeable, necessary, and beneficial ecological processes.   Our culture
teaches that very high winds, as well as fires, floods, droughts, and 'pest'
outbreaks are 'bad.'  And they can be from a human perspective.  But,
ecologically, these events have occurred for many thousands of years.
Northern Wisconsin's natural communities of species and ecological systems
have adapted to and depend upon them.

One classic example is the history of effective fire suppression in many
areas.  When the frequency of natural fires is reduced, the intensity of the
eventual, inevitable fires gets worse.  This is because the natural forest
debris that burned off during more frequent lightning-caused fires is
retained and keeps accumulating until the day arrives when a fire starts
that cannot be stopped.  Forests where slight 'ground fires' were relatively
frequent and common are now fuel-heavy 'tinderboxes' waiting for a truly
catastrophic crown fire.  Crown fires that become so hot that burning trees
can explode and the intense heat can even kill soil organisms.  Sadly,
well-intentioned people trying to 'protect' forests from natural fire cycles
have actually made these forests much more vulnerable to unnatural levels of
genuine fire damage.

When it comes to forest ecology, nature does not cause 'catastrophies'.
Only uneducated people can do that.


Richard Spotts, Director
Green Onion Resource Center
719 Orchard Lane
Ashland, WI 54806
(715) 682-9309

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