Your comments invited and encouraged.
Because we live in a Mediterranean (winter wet -summer dry) climate, like vegetation occupying such climates around the world, our SW Oregon forests are fire prone, fire adapted, and fire dependent. Although we have been engaged in effective fire suppression for decades (think Smokey Bear), we cannot achieve zero fires. Indeed, if we could, the health of our forests would be compromised. So, our best bet is to learn, and manage our forests, to live with fire. Prior to fire suppression, these forest burned every 8 -10 years or so. This means potential 10 – 12.5 % of the forest burned each year – all other things being equal. In 2017, the local USFS reported 14.5% of there forest burned, not much different to the values before suppression. However, back then, the forests were more open and exhibited a grassy ground cover, so fires probably produced less smoke. If we want healthy resilient forests, we need to return our forests to those conditions.
Tree-huggers, spotted owls, and environmental regulations are not the problem. Meanwhile, logging and replacing forests with plantations only adds to fire risk and does not produce forests but tree farms. Tree plantations are to forests what corn fields are to prairie; they bear little to no resemblance.
In addition, global warming is inducing climate shifts that include reduce snowpack, earlier snowmelt, warmer growing seasons (hence greater evaporation and reduce soil/vegetation moisture) and thus increased wildfire risk.
We can only hope to reduce our smoke and fire risk if we address global warming AND manage our forests for health. This means reducing the dense seedling/saplings that invade when fire suppression occurs, and then imposing controlled fire in the so-called shoulder seasons (i.e. not during the heat of the wildfire season but during spring and late fall when management is easier).
The proposal under consideration would allow this to happen. We should support it.
Comments submitted by SOCAN: SOCAN Board of Forestry Fire Letter
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