A little bit about guest speaker, David Schott. David graduated High School in 1965 with Sandy Darland, Ron McUne and Dick Fosbury. He used to manage a “pack station” at Lake of the Woods. He was Ex. Director of the Southern Oregon Timber Assoc. and he has is an advocate for putting out forest fires.
David states that we now can say our forests are the sickest they have been in last 70 years he has been here. Fire ravaged areas, beetle infestations, and brushy ground cover all hinder the health of our forests. To have a healthy forest, we should have 75 trees per acre, but instead we have 500-700 trees. It cost USFS $900M this year to fight forest fires; it costs Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) about $40M, and ODF put the fire out; USFS let them burn out (maybe, if the wind doesn’t kick up). Most fires start on USFS lands and then spread to other lands.
Burned forests don’t produce trees. So what is the solution? Thinning our forests is not possible; the project is now too large. Could we harvest more timber? Yes, but what would we do with it. We do not have the infrastructure to handle increased harvests. Could we salvage burned trees? Yes, but only if we can do that quickly. If we wait 2-3 months, the bugs will attack the trees and they lose their value. The timber industry began its decline in the early 1980s with the Spotted Owl and today, lawsuits continue to plague timber sales. (Note: if there is any modification to the lawsuit, the suing environmental agency gets paid attorney fees). The result of decreased timber sales is fewer passable roads through the forests, overgrowth of brush, overgrowth of trees, beetle infestations and fire!
In the future, FEMA will takeover funding fire fighting.
Dave’s ideas include.
- USFS need to stop letting fires burn out (put them out)
- Defensible space needs to be created
- Clear roads
- Maybe use herbicides to curb dangerous vegetation growth
- Clear brush
- Ridgetops need to be cleared (more difficult for a fire to jump over top of ridge if the ridge is clear)
- ODF fights right 24 hours a day (USFS only fights during daylight hours)
- In about 20 years, we will start to notice that the fires of 2018 are impacting our health. Tiny particles from breathing smoke carry carcinogens, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Write or call your Congressman. Emails don’t work. Now is the time to speak up.