The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

GR:  This CNN Photo/Video/Data essay has high-quality images and interviews.  Recommended.

“Frogs, coral, elephants — all are on the brink. Three quarters of species could disappear. Why is this happening? CNN explores an unprecedented global crisis.” –CNN (Continue:  The extinction crisis is far worse than you think)

Horse Creek Project: Losing Taxpayer Money to Harm Spotted Owls

GR:  Relentlessly, the U. S. Forest Service sacrifices forest ecosystems so timber companies can make profits.  Personally, I would like to see the Forest Service protect the forests, not sell them out. Isn’t that what we expect them to do?

Low severity fire in upper Buckhorn Creek. Small snag patches such as this one in upper Buckhorn Creek are being targeted for logging by the KNF. The damage to soils, forest regeneration, and habitat complexity will degrade some of the watershed’s only remaining old-growth forest. Photo courtesy of Luke Ruediger http://www.siskiyoucrest.blogspot.com.

“Meet the Horse Creek Project, the Klamath’s new boondoggle that will log sensitive areas while losing taxpayer money. (There’s something in it for everyone to hate!)

“The Klamath National Forest cannot let a fire go to “waste.” Following the 2016 Gap Fire, the Klamath National Forest is trying to log areas that should be off-limits: Late Successional Reserves, forests set aside from commercial timber harvest so that they can develop into old-growth forests; Riparian Reserves, areas around streams that are supposed to be off-limits to logging to prevent water pollution; and northern spotted owl habitat. The Klamath National Forest argues that logging large diameter snags, (which will stand for decades until new forests grow up around them all the while providing critical wildlife habitat) is good for the forests and for wildlife—paradoxical logic that has been rejected by both science and the courts.

“If history is any guide, the Klamath National Forest will lose money in logging owl habitat—what’s known in Forest Service parlance as a “deficit sale.” Burned forests are worth more to owls and fishers than they are to timber mills. To make a profit, timber companies need to purchase trees from the Klamath National Forest for next to nothing. In several timber sales from earlier this year, the Klamath National Forest sold a logging truck’s worth of timber for about $2.50—less than the price of a cup of coffee. The Klamath will lose untold thousands or millions of dollars on this timber sale, money that could go to protecting local communities or improving wildlife habitat.” –Tom Wheeler (Continue reading:  Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) » Horse Creek Project: Losing Taxpayer Money to Harm Spotted Owls).

Climate Change Will Stir ‘Unimaginable’ Refugee Crisis

GR:  Climate change will destroy human civilization as it delivers the final blow to Earth’s biosphere. Already we have lost half our wild plant and animal life and extinction rates are rising. In earlier mass extinctions, the planet lost near ninety percent of its species. This time could be worse. With continued human population growth, development, environmental destruction, and global warming, our species will join all the others and undergo massive turmoil and decline as our resource, the Earth’s biosphere declines. Though some have forgotten it, our species is dependent on a steady, healthy biosphere.

“Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale,” according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”.

“The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.

“Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.” –Danian Carrington (More:  Climate Change Will Stir ‘Unimaginable’ Refugee Crisis | Climate Central).

Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas

GR: Theodore Roosevelt formed the U. S. Forest Service to protect the forests from abusive logging and grazing practices.  Clearcutting was a major cause of problems caused by erosion and sedimentation of streams and lakes. The first head of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, fought to regulate the abuse, but he failed.  The timber and cattle industries succeeded in limiting reforms that would slow their profits.  The Forest Service routinely uses income-tax revenues to fund operations that benefit timber and cattle companies. So, for more than a century now, U. S. forests have steadily declined in both productivity and biodiversity.  The mismanagement by the nation’s foresters is typical of the other branches of public land and resource management including the largest land manager, the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

Map:  Location of fires >1,000 acres in pine and mixed-conifer forests with relatively frequent fire regimes in ecoregions of western United States from 1984 to 2014.

“TUCSON, Ariz.— A new study published in the scientific journal Ecosphere finds that public forests that are protected from logging burn less severely than logged forests. The study is the most comprehensive investigation of its kind, spanning more than 23 million acres and examining three decades’ of forest fire data in the West. Among the major findings were that areas undisturbed by logging experienced significantly less intensive fire compared with areas that have been logged.

“The findings come as many federal land managers and members of Congress claim that more logging will reduce wildfires. Several bills have been introduced in Congress to increase logging on vast areas of public land; these have typically been presented under the guise of addressing forest fire concerns, but eliminate most analysis of environmental impacts and reduce environmental protections.

“We were surprised to see how significant the differences were between protected areas managed for biodiversity and unprotected areas, which our data show burned more severely,” said lead author Curtis Bradley, with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“For this study scientists set out to determine whether reduced forest protections and increased logging are associated with lower fire severity. They analyzed fires that burned in pine and mixed-conifer forests starting about 30 years ago, at the earliest point for which comprehensive data were available, to compare where and how fires burned using satellite imagery and maps from the U.S. Geological Survey’s “protected areas database.” The results demonstrated that fires burned relatively cooler in areas managed for biodiversity (Gap 1 in figure below), including national parks and wilderness areas where fires are generally allowed to proceed naturally versus areas managed for multiple use (Gap 3) and areas with little to no mandate for protection (Gap 4) such as private forest lands managed for timber production.

“The study focused on forests with relatively frequent fire regimes, ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forest types; used multiple statistical models; and accounted for effects of climate, topography and regional differences to ensure the findings were robust.

“The belief that restrictions on logging have increased fire severity did not bear out in the study,” said Dr. Chad Hanson, an ecologist with the John Muir Project. “In fact, the findings suggest the opposite. The most intense fires are occurring on private forest lands, while lands with little to no logging experience fires with relatively lower intensity.”

Chart:  Forests with the highest level of protection (GAP 1 and 2) had the lowest levels of high severity fire — results are shown for 3 statistical models examined.

“Our findings demonstrate that increased logging may actually increase fire severity,” said Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, chief scientist of Geos Institute. “Instead, decision-makers concerned about fire should target proven fire-risk reduction measures nearest homes and keep firefighters out of harm’s way by focusing fire suppression actions near towns, not in the back country.”

“The authors noted that even in protected forests they found an appropriate mix of low, moderate and high-intensity fire, which is ecologically beneficial since many wildlife species depend on post-fire habitat, especially “snag forest habitat” created by patches of high-intensity fire. Many studies indicate that significant damage to wildlife habitat can result from logging of both unburned mature forests and snag-forest habitat.”

–Curtis Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 345-5710, cbradley@biologicaldiversity.org

–Dr. Chad Hanson, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute, (530) 273-9290, cthanson1@gmail.com

–Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, Geos Institute, (541) 482-4459 x 302 or (541) 621-7223 cell, dominick@geosinstitute.org

Source: Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas