We must admit that old growth forest stands have a much higher potential for catastrophic events due to the health of the vegetation and the build-up on dead material, thereby increasing available fuels. We must also recognize that logging alone does not necessarily reduce the risk of large fires and in fact may result in an increased potential for major fires due to the volume of slash left following a harvesting operation, plus increased access may increase the potential for human caused ignitions. It is essential to point out that using the proper tool to accomplish the management prescription may involve a commercial timber harvest, which can be the most cost effective method of reaching our desired future goal plus providing valuable forest products for public use!
Somehow we have got to focus our discussions on the real problem and quite arguing over processes and techniques required to properly manage our remaining forested lands! The real facts are:
1. We can not bomb-proof our forested lands, but we can reduce the potential for large catastrophic events that destroy massive areas, valuable property and, above all, destroy the natural diversity of our remaining forest communities.
2. Re-orienting current management goals to the need to improve diversity by managing individual communities for heath and vigor, is do-able.
3. Putting all of the tools, silvicultural processes, fire and other techniques, back in the tool box until after prescriptions for the communities have been established with the public interests, is also do-able.
4. "Conservation, Wise Use" and "Preservation" will not provide the desired results!
5. "Natures Way" will necessitate intensive management, with prescriptions for individual communities, and will produce the desired results, and the needed resources from our remaining HEALTHY forested lands.
When I refer to DIVERSITY I am talking about vegetation diversity such as age classes and mix of native species for the individual communities.
Yes, it will take time and effort, but we have to start soon or if we hope to make a difference! LARGE WILDFIRES DESTROY DIVERSITY AND PERPETUATE MORE LARGE CATASTROPHIC EVENTS IN THE FUTURE!