National News

We are rapidly approaching forests' limits: 1975!

If this was the thought in 1975, where does that leave us today? Read the complete archived article.

Air alert: Smoke, ozone on the rise in San Joaquin Valley

Facing the double whammy of ozone and smoke, local air quality leaders have declared a second alert, running Monday through Wednesday, for the eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley. The region is sweltering with temperatures forecast above 100 degrees with only light breezes -- conditions that lead to ozone formation. The sprawling Rim fire in Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park is sending smoke and ozone-making gases into the Valley. Read more here (Fresno Bee, Sept 9)

NASA scientists link climate change with increase in wildfires

The devastating wildfire in Southern California that destroyed 26 homes and threatened hundreds of others in the San Jacinto Mountains before it was mostly contained on Sunday has prompted some scientists to examine whether climate change has impacted on the onset and severity of wildfire season. The so-called Silver Fire is expected to be fully contained by Monday, according to California officials. But on Friday, as the fire moved toward Palm Springs and threatened some 500 homes, NASA hosted a Google Hangout with a panel of scientists and researchers to discuss the factors behind this and other recent blazes. NASA said that ground surveys and its own satellites have shown that fire season in the western part of the country is beginning earlier in the spring than usual....READ MORE (Al Jazeera America, Aug 11)

Yea or Nay? Bolster Conservation/Weaken Environmental Laws?

There's renewed movement in Congress on some legislation that would affect our public lands in a big way. Bills to create wilderness areas, combat bark beetles and streamline mining and grazing will be debated, and despite having "improvement" and "protection" in their names, not all would not encourage sustainable or resilient ecosystems in the West.

Of the handful of land bills that passed in the last Congress, none protected public land or established new wilderness (for first the first time in decades). In this 113th Congress, whether or not they are controversial, the bills will compete for divided attentions and scant dollars. Public support and feedback can make a difference.

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Congress needs to energize itself and protect the national forests

Wildfires have rampaged through much of Arizona's wild lands in recent weeks. They have killed firefighters, destroyed buildings and burned almost a million acres.

That tragic news should contain a lesson, but it's one that should have been learned by now. It's been taught over and over as massive wildfires ravage the West.

Oregon's turn came in 2002 when the Biscuit Fire tore through nearly 500,000 acres of Southwestern Oregon. It started in mid-July and wasn't contained until December.

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Scientists Agree: We Made Climate Change Happen

Huffington Post (10/2/2013) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released the first of four chapters of its Fifth Assessment Report. It shows scientists are more certain now than in 2007 when the Fourth Assessment was released that humans are largely responsible for global warming -- mainly by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests -- and that it's getting worse and poses a serious threat to humanity. It contains hints of optimism, though, and shows addressing the problem creates opportunities....READ MORE

Defining Forest Health

What is forest health? We are bombarded by a variety of natural resources organizations – like the one I am employed for – about the importance of maintaining or improving forest health. However, it seems few take the steps to define what "forest health" actually is. Forest health can be as arbitrary as other terms and words used throughout natural resources jargon: pollution, toxicity, sustainability, natural, wilderness, primitive, pristine, open space, preservation, and conservation, etc. Adirondack wilderness activist Bob Marshall once remarked that "wilderness" was an area that took two weeks to traverse by horseback without crossing a road. Does this fit your definition of wilderness? What about "toxic?" One may ask, "Is substance X toxic?" It depends upon how many parts per million it takes to cause harm, but "harm" must first be defined too. The terms preservation and conservation have been so misused that they have been mostly rendered meaningless. A preservationist fences in a forest and stands proudly beside its caged ecosystem, only to realize that what is inside the fence continues to change behind his back, and often undesirably. Is this what you intended to preserve? In college we were taught that conservation meant "wise use" of natural resources, but being "wise" means different things to different individuals. The lists go on and are beyond the scope of this article, but allow me to fixate on this one, "forest health." READ MORE (Watershed Post, Aug 13)

County commissioner rallies Congress for forest assistanc...

Summit County commissioner Dan Gibbs highlighted forest protection during a congressional hearing on Thursday.

Gibbs, who's taken part in high-level government briefings and fought destructive wildfires during 12-hour "midnight shifts" brought a unique perspective to the caucus.

The commissioner, former state legislator and certified wildland firefighter expressed concern for the health of the forest and urged members of Congress to provide more funding during the hearing, which centered on forest health, wildfires and habitat protection. Continue reading this Summit Daily article!


Pine beetle hearing set for Hill City

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold an oversight field hearing, at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 10, at the Rafter J. Bar Ranch in Hill City.

Participating in the hearing will be Subcommittee Chair-man Rob Bishop of Utah and at-large member S.D. Representative Kristi Noem. Other witnesses may be announced.

Noem described the epidemic as a "slow motion disaster for the Black Hills National Forest and the region's economy."

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Analysis: Wood fuel poised to be next global commodity

(Reuters) - Wood fuel, one of the oldest energy sources on the planet, could become the newest commodity market if it can overcome supply limits and green concerns as demand grows for renewable energy.

Supply constraints are starting to put wood fuel into competition with the paper industry, experts say, in an uneasy reminder of existing tension between the food industry and companies making biofuels from food crops.

In theory burning wood and crop waste emits less carbon than fossil fuels because it simply returns to the air carbon accumulated by plants as they grow, but that balance breaks down if stock is not replanted, or natural forests are logged.

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