Kunst: Not as a clear-cut as the Forest Service says
January 6, 2015
Howard Brown's recent criticism of the U.S. Forest Service's clear cut/slash pile burning of Summit County's beetle kill is spot on. His proposed solution to abandon burning in favor of chipping debris and scattering chips to cut down on noxious weeds and flammable tall grasses is far too practical for U.S. Forest Service consideration. This is a typical government approach to problem solving: devise a plan and stick to it notwithstanding community suggestions for more practical, common sense solutions. It would be appreciated if the forest service would write and explain why it has not or will not consider chipping as an alternate solution to burning slash. Don't hold your breath waiting for an explanation.
I have attended two programs hosted by Summit's Forest Health Task Force to learn why the forest service has adopted clear cutting as the only solution to beetle kill fire mitigation. Granted, the dead lodge poles need to be cleared, but live fir, spruce and aspen need not become victims of the indiscriminate logging machines that can clear an area quickly and cheaply. Sadly, the forest service provided no direct explanation but offered false denials to many questions; i.e., "the contractors don't cut fir and spruce."
History and experts in forest health have taught us that (a) clear cutting promotes dense regeneration of lodge pole pines which are not drought resistant and eventually succumb to pine beetle infestation; (b) diverse timber stands are much healthier and better suited to withstand nature's unpredictable weather and pestilence patterns. So, after clear cutting, why not include diverse seeding/seedlings as a long term solution that will substantially reduce the creation of future, weakened lodge pole stands? Instead, the forest service plans to do nothing after clear cutting which will impose another at-risk stand of lodge pole on future generations?
John M. Kunst, Jr.