Commercial logging and wildfire risk |

Commercial logging and wildfire risk

Concerning logging /wildfire disagreements (“Eco-blunders, babble on forests,” Other Voices, Feb. 20): I think citizens should trust forest scientists before land managers, particularly concerning public safety.

The assertion that fire danger is high because of “too many trees” and that tripling national forest logging would only “bring the harvest rate up to about one-third of the annual growth” is disingenuous. Yes, on average, nearly 90 percent of all Tahoe National Forest trees are less than 16 inches in diameter, essentially because of past logging and fire suppression. But the timber industry does not purchase trees less than 14 inches. Thus, obviously, commercial logging provides no beneficial reduction in wildfire risk.

To the extent logging causes even more new growth – that risk is increased. Wood up to 4 inches in diameter fuels fast-moving wildfires. Larger wood, 4 to 15 inches in diameter, contributes along a decreasing gradient.

When someone clear-cuts, perhaps, 40 old-growth trees per acre and then gets 2,000 to 6,000 saplings on every acre come spring, growth rates can be misrepresented. However, soil and space only allow for the same 40 large trees per acre. In the transition, fire danger will be extremely high as the small diameter (worthless) trees die.

James Woods

Penn Valley

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