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Re: E-M:/ Conservation leaders form political action committee

Enviro-Mich message from JBull51264@aol.com

This is a response from Jim Bull to a message from rokuhlman@yahoo.com (Roger 
Kuhlman) dated 4/30/06 5:21:17 PM.   I have copied his message and responded 
after paragraphs for sections to make it easier for others to see what exactly 
in his message I am responding to:

<< Maybe you will tell how 190,000 acres of forest are

artificially clearcut. I am bet the process is very

ecologically destructive and encourages a lot of

non-native plant growth into areas where it is


What is the principle reason for doing this? Follow

the money and we will know what is really going on

with forest management. Its goal is not ecosystem


Did you read anything I wrote?  It is hard to know where to start. No 
clearcutting is not destructive to the jackpine ecosystem and no, it does not 
encourage non-native plant growth--in fact, as I wrote before, it is the only way 
several threatened and endangered wildflowers and other plants survive and thrive 
in the Jackpine ecosytem.

What is the principle reason for doing this?  Again, you didn't read or if 
you did, you didn't absorb or understand what I wrote.  The principle reason for 
this is to perpetuate habitat for the Kirtland's Warbler and to perpetuate 
the Jackpine ecosystem.  You sound like you are madly in search of some evil 
here.  This is not by any stretch of the imagination driven by the timber 
industry.  It is driven by the Endangered Species Act and the Kirtland's Warbler 
Recovery Team which is in charge of the effort to recover the Kirtland's Warbler.  

Harvesting Jackpine thankfully does provide some income for the US Forest 
Service and the Michigan DNR that helps offset the cost of Kirtland's Warbler 
Management--it only covers a portion of the cost, but in these days of dwindling 
wildlife budgets it is becoming more critical.   

If the timber industry were driving what happened to those 190,000 acres, 
believe me they would not be planting or managing for Jackpine.  Red Pine is by 
far the preferred tree for timber in these areas.  However, it has almost no 
value for wildlife and only rarely have Kirtland's Warlbers nested in Red Pine.  
And very few of the native wildlflowers, shrubs, grasses and sedges that are 
characteristic of Jackpine ecosystems grow in Red Pine plantations.  And with 
Red Pine they are almost always plantations (in rows).  

<<Isn't it true that the huge fires of the late 1800's

were the product of poor timber cutting practices.

>From what I have heard Michigan was just devestated by

the timber industry for profit during this time. Fire

was not a continual raging problem in the area before

there was massive clearcutting in the northern


Yes, they were the result of poor timber cutting practices.  They are not 
remotely simliar to what is done today.  My point is that the jackpine ecosystem 
was perpetuated by as much or more by fires caused by humans as by so-called 
natural fires.  If you are arguing for bringing back the natural fires that 
created the jackpine ecosystem, I was pointing out that the fires that did the 
most to create the jackpine ecosystem were caused by man, and arguably those 
poor timber practices.  Of course there were lightning fires, but also Native 
American set fires.  Fires were not a problem before the large-scale timbering 
because the population of Native Americans was so small.  You might desire to go 
back to that time, but it is totally unrealistic.  

<<I would question anything about how our forests should

be managed today that comes from timber industry

sources. They see forests as trees that are

harvestable dollars and basically nothing else.>>

Again you are making a totally wrong assumption.  You might want to find out 
the facts before you jump to conclusions.  I got none of the information or 
comments I shared from the timber industry.  I don't know anybody in the timber 
industry.  I have been working on the Kirtland's Warbler, as a student 
researcher, then a Forest Service naturalist leading Kirtland's Warlber tours and for 
the last 25 years as a passionate volunteer on the Kirtland' Warbler census 
and helping the Recovery Team in various ways including as an advocate for 
adequate funding and supportive policies.  My father worked for the then 
Conservation Department (which was renamed DNR) as a  Conservation Education Consultant 
out of the Roscommon office.   He helped organize the first Kirtland's 
Warbler Census in 1951 and was known around the country as one of THE people to 
contact if you wanted somebody to guide you to see a Kirtland's Warbler.  He took 
me up north to see the Kirtland's many times and for important events like the 
dedication of the first US Forest Service Kirtland's Warbler management area 
in 1964 (Roger Tory Peterson came to help dedicate it).   All of this to say, 
that I have a long history with the Kirtland's Warbler and Kirtland's Warbler 
management, and thus draw on those years of experience and on what I have 
learned from researchers over the years.

Since the timber industry is NOT involved in these decisions, if  you mean to 
lump the dedicated biologists and silvicuturalists who work on Kirtland's 
Warbler management within agencies like the US Forest Service, the Michigan DNR, 
and the US Fish and Wildlife Service into your statement about folks "looking 
at trees and seeing only harvestable dollars," you are way off base.  These 
folks are passionately dedicated to Kirtland's Warbler recovery and to 
perpetuating the Jackpine Ecosystem.   

<<To say we know a lot about how Jackpine forests

ecosystems work in natural settings sounds to me like

a wee bit of human arrogance in pursuit of material

profit. If Jackpine forests were fire-designed and

fire-adapted, there is no way they can not be very

different from forests that are now longer allowed to

burn in random patterns and are instead clearcut. Just

because Jackpines are still there and some of the

other wildlife is still there does not mean that the

ecosystem has not been severely altered. In fact the

claim that they are basically the same flies in the

face of logic and thinking. A good ecologist would not

make such questionable statements.>>

Again it is not just some of the wildlife, but full complement of birds, 
mammals, insects, herptiles and a long list of plants that are characteristic of 
the Jackpine Ecosystem.  You say we don't know much about Jackpine ecosystems. 
The managers do, the researchers do, but clearly you do not.  Your knee-jerk 
assumption that clearcutting jackpine and the justification I put forward for 
it are covering the motive of material profit is just plain wrong.

Your assumption that the Jackpine ecosystem that is thriving with 
clearcutting are inferior, or poor subsitutes for fire-created habitat flies in the face 
of extensive research.  It seems to me that you have a conclusion 
(clearcutting is always bad and that timber industry money drives those decisions) that 
you apply to any situation and the facts be damned.  You do not care to know the 
facts.  It seems to me that a serious ecologist would familiarize him or 
herself with the research that has been done on an ecosystem before making 
sweeping statements codemning the 30 + years of work done by ecologists from several 
universities, federal and state agencies.  This isn't something you can figure 
out in a few minutes "thinking" in front of a computer.  Scientist gather 
data and base their conclusions on the what that data reveals, not on so-called 
"logical" assumptions.  How many times has sound scientific research disproved 
what were "logical" assumptions of the day?   (I hear there is Flat Earth 
Society that still holds to the "logical" assumptions of the middle ages, but no 
scientist with any credentials is counted among their ranks).  A scientist must 
be open to what the data reveal, even it flies in the face of conventional 
wisdom or logic. 

I am not defending clearcutting as management tool or strategy that should be 
used everywhere.  Clearly there are many areas where it is inappropriate, 
where it causes erosion and destroys what little is left of old growth forests.  
I simply wanted to make the point that complete elimination of clearcutting, 
as some advocate, would have a devastating effect on some ecosystems, including 
several threatened and endangered species.   

Jim Bull 

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