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Forester was wrong

In The Union’s recent article on brush clearance around homes (“Fire inspectors to intensify searches,” from June 22), U.S. Forest Service Deputy Regional Forester James Pena was paraphrased as saying that lawsuits with environmental groups “prevent the Forest Service from clearing brush on federal lands.” This is not even remotely true.

Lawsuits from conservation groups have sought to stop the logging of larger trees on federal lands and have consistently allowed the Forest Service to proceed with brush reduction near homes. The removal of mature trees tends to increase the density of brush following logging, according to scientific studies, by increasing the sun exposure which speeds brush growth. Logging also produces huge amounts of highly combustible “slash debris” (unmerchantable branches and tops left behind by loggers).

When the Forest Service proposes actual brush reduction projects adjacent to communities – projects that don’t also involve removal of mature trees – conservation groups support these projects and do not challenge them in court.



Chad Hanson

Director, John Muir Project




Cedar Ridge


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