Sunday, September 14, 2008

Salvage Logging!

When all the "Butte Complex Lightning fires" started back in June, I happened to be reading Jeffrey St. Clair's excellent "Born Under a Bad Sky". His essays on fires got my attention. Here's a quote:

"Aside from the notorious uses of 'salvage' to evade regulatory procedures and inhibitions on logging in wildlands or endangered species habitat, the trees that survive fires, standing or downed, are the nutrient capital of the new forest." (page 158)

St.Clair's point: Fires bring on scores of "salvage loggers" who are there, auspiciously, to "salvage" that which was burned. St. Clair claims that forests do better when left alone (witness Yellowstone), and that these fires, such as we experienced, have been a boon to the timber industry. He goes on to assert that fire suppression is big business and accuses the timber companies of capitalizing on disaster.

That's been my experience. Here is a photo of a "salvage logger" from our road. I talked with the guy driving the truck, and he stated this all came from private land that had been logged a few years before. Now they could take down the really big trees. The trees have been burned. Would they have lived anyway?

Another logging truck from our area (taken out the front window as I drove). The numbers of trucks with logs (this started before the fires were even out), illustrates Jeffrey St. Clair's point.

Day after day, these trucks lumber by. There are no rules on salvaging from private land. My spouse did ask the Forest Service about salvaging from National Forest land. They told her that they couldn't salvage anything over 30 inches at breast height. There are rules for regular logging on private land. After a fire, these rules go out the window. We are witnessing that first hand. It looks like the moon in places.

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