Guest Opinion: We need responsible forest fire policies, not more logging

By Dominick DellaSala

Many people view large wildfires as only destructive. But fires in Oregon’s forests are exactly what these ecosystems need to thrive.

After wildfire, the forest is transformed into the earliest stage of forest growth that allows a completely new fire-adapted community of plants and animals to get their time in the sun. A hike up Grizzly Peak near Ashland or the Biscuit burn area near Cave Junction reveals a young forest remarkably being repopulated by a rich web-of-life that not only thrives in severely burned areas but also requires them to survive. Dead trees anchor the soils preventing erosion, provide habitat for scores of insect-eating bats and birds that keep destructive forest pests in check, and shade new seedlings from intense sunlight. Soil nutrients are recycled as the forest rejuvenates quickly.

Attempting to put out every wildfire in the backcountry disrupts these natural cycles, is unsafe for firefighters and, most importantly, diverts limited funding from protecting homes and communities. Logging to stop forest fires also does not work because large fires are not like campfires — they are mainly driven by extreme weather conditions, not fuels.

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'Global pandemic' possible as Lyme disease creeps north

Umair Irfan, E&E News reporter
Published: Friday, July 28, 2017

The eight-legged bloodsuckers that spread Lyme disease are crawling farther north and infecting more people due to climate change, scientists report.

Rising average temperatures are making more parts of North America hospitable to the Ixodesticks that carry Lyme disease.

The infection's range is expected to move northward into Canada by 250 to 500 kilometers (155 to 310 miles) by 2050, and the season for the disease may start up to two weeks earlier than it does now. Health officials report similar patterns in Europe.

And human-caused climate change is a major contributing factor, scientists say.

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In defense of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument expansion

cnsm viewInterior Secretary Ryan ZInke has begun a controversial and scientifically incredulous review of 25 national monuments for possible reductions in protections, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southwest Oregon and northern California. Geos Institute played a supportive science role in designation of the monument (as well as other national monuments) in 2000. We are now defending this monument from possible rollbacks of the Trump administration.

Read the letterRead the letter we sent to Mr. James Cason, Special Assistant, Delegated the Functions, Duties, and Responsibilities of the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. (photo: D. DellaSala)

Conservationists guardedly optimistic about funding to restore forests, coasts, and flood-prone areas

Bipartisan. Unanimous. Two words not heard often in contemporary politics describe a pair of bills passed by a divided Washington Legislature to revitalize forests in the face of climate change and megafires that have killed firefighters and cost the state many millions of dollars.

Now comes the real test: Will the Legislature provide the money needed to carry out these plans? The same can be said for two other young but high-profile efforts to restore Washington ecosystems in coastal and flood-prone areas. Most at risk is the restoration program for flood-prone regions, which could lose more than half of its funding under the Senate’s budget plan.

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