Posted on August 3, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Clearing debris interrupts vital ecological cycles
Fungi grow on a fallen tree branch in a Colorado spruce forest. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Traditional forestry practices — primarily the clearing of dead wood — are reducing fungal diversity, thereby potentially affecting as-yet unknown ecological cycles that could be critical to long-term forest sustainability.
Fungi, along with bacteria, are crucial to converting dead wood back into basic organic matter that can be recycled by forests. Researchers with the University of the Basque Country recently set out to quantify the impacts of debris-clearing by sampling fungal communities in 16 test plots in beech forests. The results of the study have been published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.
The main conclusion of the study is that forestry and classical forest management are harming the community of saproxylic fungi. What is more, the researchers have discovered that in the forests being exploited various fungi species are disappearing and in some cases even whole families are affected. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Forest health | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, forests, fungi, Sustainable forest management | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Active forest management needed to protect water supplies
A beetle-kill forest clear cut near Dillon Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.
Colorado State Forester Mike Lester.
By Mike Lester
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior to reduce the risk and impacts of catastrophic Western wildfires was signed last week in Fort Collins. The Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership was good news for anyone who cares about the health of our forests, pays a water bill or worries about wildfires.
The Colorado State Forest Service is proud to be part of a similar local partnership that is being viewed as the first of six WWEP pilot programs in the West to improve forest and watershed health, and help mitigate wildfire risk. The Colorado-Big Thompson Headwaters Partnership focuses on the headwaters of the Colorado and Big Thompson rivers in Northern Colorado. Partners include the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado State Forest Service, Forest health, forests, Mike Lester, United States Forest Service, watersheds, wildfire, wildfire impacts | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Sen. Mark Udall pressing Defense Department to transfer unneeded cargo planes to U.S. Forest Service as soon as possible
A C-27J in flight. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service efforts to modernize its firefighting air tanker fleet aren’t moving fast enough for Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado democrat who has been pushing for more wildfire resources on all fronts.
This week, Udall pressed the U.S. Defense Department to quickly transfer excess military aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service. In a bipartisan letter, spearheaded with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Udall said the Pentagon isn’t using its authority to transfer its excess aircraft at no cost to taxpayers.
According to the letter, the Forest Service was unable to meet about half of the requests for firefighting air support in 2012. The Air Force is nearing completion of a divestiture plan for the C-27J Spartan aircraft, and Udall wants to see at least some of those planes put to work fighting fires. Read the letter here. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, federal government, forest fires, Forest health, public lands, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: Aerial firefighting, airtankers, Alenia C-27J Spartan, Mark Udall, United States Forest Service, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Test sites proposed to learn how drones could improve wildfire monitoring, mitigation, and containment
Images taken from space can provide a lot of information about wildfires, but low-level flights by unmanned aircraft could help make firefighting safer and more efficient, some experts believe. This image of the West Fork Fire Complex in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado was taken June 26 from the International Space Station. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for more information about the image.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A pair of U.S. Senators wants to get a leg up on wildfires by spurring the use of unmanned surveillance aircraft to make firefighting efforts more efficient.
“Extreme wildfires have become an all too common occurrence in Colorado, leaving families without homes and hundreds of thousands of charred acreage in their paths,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). “We need to employ every tool available to help firefighters in their battles. This bipartisan amendment will help us develop UAS technology and teach us more about how they can strengthen our fights against wildfires more quickly and safely.”
Bennet (D-CO) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) this week introduced an amendment to create two additional test sites for unmanned aerial systems, with a focus on how they could be used for firefighting. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, forest fires, Forest health, public lands, wildfires | Tagged: drones, Federal Aviation Administration, Jeff Flake, Michael Bennet, UAS, unmanned aerial systems, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Warming climate increases moisture stress, making it tougher for seedlings to take hold and grow
Global warming is likely to be a factor in forest regeneration after wildfires. This is the East Peak Fire, burning in June, 2013, on the east slopes of the Spanish Peaks above Walsenburg, Colorado. Photo courtesy Don Degman/Inciweb.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A warming climate in the West may slow or, or even stop, conifer forest regeneration in drier, low-elevation areas after big forest fires. In some cases, they may never grow back, instead converting to shrub and grasslands, according a new Oregon State University study.
The researchers concluded that moisture stress is a key limitation for conifer regeneration following stand-replacing wildfire. Both wildfires and more dryness are projected for big parts of the West by most climate models. This will make post-fire recovery on dry sites slow and uncertain. If forests are desired in these locations, more aggressive attempts at reforestation may be needed, they said. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate, Forest Ecology and Management, Forest health, forests, global warming, Oregon State University, Western United States | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Trees cleared during wildfire fuel reduction projects can be turned into fuel pellets, Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Grant program has helped pay for forest wildfire fuel reduction projects
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — For all its dead lodgepole pines, Colorado was shut out of the latest round of grants awarded by the U.S. Forest Service for wood-to-energy projects, touted as a way to expand regional economies and create new jobs.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced the $2.5 million funding push last week. “These grants help grow new jobs, support clean energy production and improve our local environments, especially in reducing fire threats,” said Tidwell. “Communities from Massachusetts to Alaska will benefit from the program this year.” (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, Forest health, forests, renewable energy | Tagged: biofuels, renewable energy, renewable energy grants, United States Forest Service, woody biomass, Woody Biomass Utilization Grant | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A logging road along the Frisco Peninsula, Summit County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
New study helps quantify logging as part of the forest carbon cycle
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Scientists and resource managers have long been trying to solve the carbon-balance equation from using wood for energy, but they may have to add a new factor to their calculations.
A research team led by scientists with Dartmouth College found that logging releases large amounts of carbon from the soil. The processes by which that happens aren’t completely understood, but the findings suggest that calls for an increased reliance on forest biomass should be re-evaluated.
Forest carbon analyses are incomplete unless they include deep soil, which stores more than 50 percent of the carbon in forest soils, said Dartmouth Professor Andrew Friedland, one of the co-authors of the paper recently published in the journal Global Change Biology. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming | Tagged: carbon dioxide, climate, Dartmouth College, forest carbon cycle, forests, logging | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A wildfire burns in Keystone Gulch, near the base of Keystone Ski Area, in June, 2011.
Fewer firefighers, less wildfire fuels treatments and less post-fire rehab
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The federal budget crunch means firefighters will have to do more with less this summer, federal officials said this week. Because of the sequester, the Forest Service will not fill 500 firefighting positions and will make do with 50 less engines on the ground.
“We are facing another dangerous wildfire season. We are prepared; we’re not as funded as we might be about 5 years from now, so teamwork is really critical to what we have to do,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, speaking Monday at a briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise Idaho.
In particular, parts of the West are facing another challenging fire season, with greatest potential threats in the Pacific Coast states and into the interior northwest, including Idaho and southwest Montana, according to the center’s predictive services team. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: federal budget sequester, forest fires, National Interagency Fire Center, Tom Vilsack, Wildfires | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Let science, not politics, guide forest management
One man’s healthy forest is another man’s tree farm. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Flying in the face of science, the Western Governors’ Association last week called on the U.S. Forest Service to do more logging in an effort to promote forest health.
The letter, signed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Utah Gov. Gary. R. Herbert, also seems to suggest that privatizing some activities on publicly owned national forest lands could help address what they called a forest health crisis — without a single mention of global warming or the crucial restorative role of wildfires in forest ecosystems. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, commentary, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, writing | Tagged: Forest health, forests, Opinion, Western Governors Association | 4 Comments »
Posted on April 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Proposed Senate bill would require widespread national forest logging
Healthy undergrowth and lodgepole regeneration in an unlogged stand of beetle-killed lodgepole pines near Frisco, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
Salvage logging in a stand of beetle-killed lodgepole pines in Frisco, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
*This story has been corrected to include Sen. Michael Bennet as the primary author of the proposed bill. That information was left out of the previous version due to an editing error.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal land managers could get wider authority for more backcountry logging under a new bill proposed in the U.S. Senate by Michael Bennet (D-CO), along with co-sponsors Mark Udall (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Max Baucus (D-MT).
The National Forest Insect and Disease Treatment Act is being pitched as a way to help Forest Service treat insect and disease epidemics and promote overall forest health. As drafted, it directs the agency to treat threatened watersheds while prioritizing preservation of old-growth and large trees when possible. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, logging, Mark Udall, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »