Task force not advocating thinning across landscape | SummitDaily.com

Task force not advocating thinning across landscape

Brad Piehl Breckenridge

Unfortunately, I was out of town for the Task Force meeting this week. As a member of the Mountain Pine Beetle Task Force, I think that it is important for people in Summit County to understand that we are not advocating thinning of lodgepole pine across the landscape. Mr. Shoemaker suggests that we could disturb the forest ecosystem by managing it and therefore make the ecosystem less resilient. The facts are that we have dramatically changed our forest ecosystem over the last 150 years, first through large-scale cutting and burning and since then through fire suppression. Today, those changes have resulted in a large portion of our forests in even-aged, over-mature lodgepole pine. Lodgepole pine have a natural disturbance regime of intense, stand-replacing wildfire. Because we have large, contiguous areas of lodgepole ready to regenerate, we are set for large intense wildfires. The let nature take its course approach also does not account for the fact that we have significant human values, not just houses and businesses, attached to our forests. Large-scale, intense wildfires could impact scenic values, air quality, wildlife habitat, water quality, and local economics. I am not advocating for fire suppression. I do think that we can find places that we could convert mature lodgepole pine to aspen and spruce/fir that would return the diversity and resiliency to our forest ecosystem. Then, when we have those wildfires, our forests will be in better shape to provide us with the values that we expect them to provide.

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