With wildfire costs soaring, agency takes funds from other programs
U.S. Forest Service officials said they were able to step up the pace of restoration projects in 2015 despite facing tough budget challenges during a record wildfire season.
Despite the gains, at least 65 million National Forest System acres are still in need of restoration, agency leaders said, explaining that the rising cost of wildfire suppression has taken funding away from restoration, watershed and wildlife programs, limiting the Forest Service’s ability to do the work that would prevent fires in the first place. Continue reading “Forest Service steps up restoration efforts in 2015”→
Tropical forests in poor countries still taking the biggest hit
Global forest conservation efforts are improving, but the world is still losing trees at an unsustainable rate — especially in the tropics, according to the UN’s latest Global Forest Resources Assessment.
Since 1990, total forest area has decreased by about 3 percent, an area about the size of South Africa. The report shows that, while the pace of forest loss has slowed, the damage over the past 25 years has been considerable.
National Forest Foundation awards $650,000 for stewardship work
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Thanks to voluntary contributions from ski resort visitors, the the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will partner to invest about $650,000 in forest restoration and recreation projects. The donations are collected in a voluntary add-on to ticket and lodging sales, a dollar or two at a time.
Intensive research shows vigorous regrowth in beetle-killed tracts
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — After years of uncertainty over the future of Colorado’s forest landscapes, a new study by U.S. Forest Service scientists puts the recent pine epidemic into perspective.
The insect outbreak ultimately will result in more diverse and resilient forests in the long run, adding structural complexity and species diversity, researchers with the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station concluded after carefully monitoring regrowth in beetle-killed stands.
New growth is surging under the dying lodgepole canopy with the vertical growth rate of lodgepole and fir doubling in beetle-killed areas that were left untreated after the epidemic. Harvested stands also showed strong lodgepole regrowth, with aspen gaining ground in some places.
“Forests come and go … It’s not a crisis, but this was an amazing synchronism,” Forest Service biogeochemist Chuck Rhoades said of the massive pine beetle outbreak that will alter the forest landscape of the Southern Rockies for generations to come.
The bugs swarmed across vast swaths of the Canadian Rockies; they’ve invaded the Front Range and moved east to the Dakotas, especially the forests of the Black Hills.
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to score political points in the aftermath of a large and destructive wildfire.
But that’s exactly what happened as the massive Wallow Fire in Arizona waned, when several members of Arizona’s congressional delegation tried to blame damage caused by the Wallow fire on lawsuits filed by environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity.
Trying to place the blame externally is a typical, and in some cases understandable reaction in many situations, as it’s easier to quickly point fingers instead trying to understand somewhat complex topics like fire ecology, forest restoration and global warming science. But when it’s done cynically to win votes, it’s inexcusable.
It’s even more sad that some of the same politicians seeking to blame environmental groups are the same ones who refuse to acknowledge global climate change, and the same ones who repeatedly seek to slash public land agency budgets, further hampering efforts to restore national forests. Continue reading “Op-Ed: Don’t blame enviros for large fires”→
June 30 meeting will address emerging impacts to Colorado’s mountain forests
SUMMIT COUNTY — This week’s luncheon meeting (June 30) of the Summit County Forest Health Task Force will focus on how to optimize future forest conditions with the limited resources available to land managers.
A panel of forest experts and ecologists will discuss what kind of forest management practices are under discussion to address emerging human and climate impacts on high-altitude forests in Colorado.
Work day will focus on building erosion control structures
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Greenlands Reserve Land Trust and the Forest Health Task Force are looking for volunteers for a June 18 water quality project in the Straight Creek watershed. The project is to build erosion control structures in areas where timber cutting has been completed.