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

Enviro-Mich message from Roger Kuhlman <rokuhlman@yahoo.com>

Are you claiming that there are no major, significant
ecological differences  between natural fire and
clearcutting as habitat and ecosytem shaping
processes. That is very unlikely if we consider how
the two different processes operate on the composition
and relationships of animal and insect communities,
plant communities, and soil micro-organism
communities. Fire in many ecosytems is necessary for
many different types of long-term nutrient recycling
to occur. It is also necessary to facilitate certain
normal changes in plant cover or inhibit other plant
changes that would occur if fire was suppressed. Fire
is necessary to create and maintain biodiversity in
many ecosystems which surely includes Jackpine
ecosystems. Natural fires since they burn irregularly
produce rich random arrays of microhabitats of high
diversity. Most of these features of ecosystem health
are missing from clearcuts. Clearcutting simplies
ecoystems with regular patterns. It does not supply
adequate subtitutes for necessary fire-derived
ecological changes. In the long run a clearcut
ecosystem becomes biologically and ecologically
simplied and habitats much more regularized. With
simplification and regularization an ecosytem's
biodiversity and complexity is damaged. It is not for
nothing that many forest ecosystems including
Michigan's Jackpine forests were intensively shaped
and manipulated by natural fire. They did not come
into being through processes of clearcutting or
anything similar. So it is a bit unbelievable to say
there are no major ecological differences between a
clearcut Jackpine forest and a natural fire Jackpine

Even if a clearcut Jackpine forest bore some
resemblance to a natural fire forest and helped with
the breeding of the Kirtland's Warbler, clearcutting
is not a sustainable long term method to 'save' the
Jackpine forest or the Kirtland's Warbler. It works as
long as there is the political will to fund the
clearcutting. Maybe that will continue for 20, 30
years but eventually it will run out. Then the
Jackpine forests will still be subject to fire
suppression and as a result will eventually
deteriorate. Also you can bet that by the time the
funding for clearcutting dissipates there will be even
more exurban development in the area with even greater
habitat fragmentation than exists today. This type of
development is great for Cowbirds a major parasitic
threat to the Kirtland Warbler population. Also
development brings many more invasive plants into easy
contact with the Jackpine forest that will inevitably
do great ecological damage.

Good ecological planning must focus on the long run
and rely on natural disturbance factors for
maintaining ecosystem health. Habitat fragmentation
must be actively combatted. These facts are being
shortchanged today for short term fixes that will not
hold up in the long run.

Roger Kuhlman
Ann Arbor, Michigan

There are plenty of subsidies for the wealthy to build
vacation homes in Jackpine forests. Just take a look
at federal taxation policies, major roads built into
the area, state policing, township building codes and
development policies, etc. It does not make a lot of
ecological sense to have a lot of people living in
Jackpine forests. That people are there and insist on
being protected from fires means that the natural
disturbance factors of fire that are central to the
creation and health of the forest ecosystem must be
suppressed. The result is ecosystem damage.

--- JBull51264@aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 5/1/06 1:09:31 PM,
> rokuhlman@yahoo.com writes:
> << Clearcutting is not problematic for a Jackpine
> ecosystem? Well how is it accomplished? With heavy
> equipment and the building of many unnecesary roads,
> I
> would guess . These don't do ecological damage in
> terms of regularization of habitat structure and
> simplification of the ecosystem? That does not seem
> very believable. I also doubt very much that
> clearcutting does not facilitate the spread of
> non-native invasive plants into the area where it is
> performed. The timber industry in the West is one of
> the top spreaders of non-native plants into western
> forest habitats.
> Putting aside the question whether clearcut Jackpine
> forest ecosystems are a heavily altered ecosystem or
> not, clearcutting is not a sustainable process of
> perpetuating the system since it does not pay for
> itself as you admit. Funding for the clearcutting
> could dry up if the political situation changes.
> That
> makes the whole situation artificial and subjects
> the
> Kirtland Warbler and other rare plants and animals
> to
> a high risk of extinction over the long run. That is
> not good ecological planning. >>
> And you think fire would be cheaper?  There is no
> income from that at all, 
> and huge expenses.   I don't hear any practical
> ideas from you on ecological 
> planning.  You have called me arrogant to think that
> we could duplicate or 
> closely approximate fire regimes with clear cutting,
> yet you are willing to dismiss 
> 30 years of conservation work for the Kirtland's
> Warbler as "not good 
> ecological planning."  Talk about gall.  
> Talk about unfamiliatry with the area, there are
> roads virtually on all sides 
> of each one square mile section of land, and two
> tracks within them that 
> already exist.  I doubt creating unnecessary roads
> is problem.  The roads already 
> exist.  
> Your comparison of clear cutting in the West to
> Jackpine clearcutting is 
> without basis and yet you insist without any data at
> all, that it must be 
> destructive to the Jackpine ecosystem and that it
> must encourage exotics.   "Don't 
> confuse me with the facts," is not an attitude one
> usually associates with sound 
> science or good resource management.
> And just how is the US or the state subsidizing
> second homes in the Jackpine 
> (actually not a very attractive place for homes)?  I
> have never heard of such 
> a subsidy.  Even if there were  a subsidy that could
> be rescinded, and maybe 
> there is, it won't affect the folks who already live
> in the north country, so 
> it would do nothing to make fire more practical as a
> management tool.
> Well we are obviously not going to convince each
> other and I think we both 
> have written enough that the others on this list
> serve understand the 
> differences that we have with respect to
> clearcutting in the Jackpine ecosystem, so I 
> hope to let this be my last response and let you
> have the last word and then let 
> others on the list serve decide where they come down
> on this issue, if at all.
> Jim

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