January 07, 2006

Thumbs Down on Salvage Logging

Glen Barry notes to an upcoming article in the journal Science that will offer evidence suggesting that salvage logging after a fire slows forest regeneration. More here:

One of the consequences of logging, the scientists said, is that the use of heavy equipment, log skidding, soil compaction and burial of seedlings by excess woody debris took a heavy toll on naturally regenerated seedlings, which in this case began taking root almost immediately after the fire. The logging of dead, burned trees might add more debris than logging of green trees, researchers said, because without foliage to catch the wind, burned trees often fall more quickly and shatter more readily than living trees.

Up the road, burned trees from the Mason Gulch Fire are beginning to fall from windstorms. This part of Colorado's San Isabel National Forest was never much of a commercial timber-producing area (after they cut the big ponderosa pines in the late 19th-century). We have been spared a squabble over salvage logging here, although a few people have gathered some sooty firewood.

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