Our forests: Manage them properly or watch them burn

If I hear some individual, agency representative or business use the phrase, “We didn’t make more copies because we don’t want to kill too many trees,” I think I’m going to scream.

Our society has been brainwashed into believing that harvesting a tree is a bad thing by people who want to make money from your donations to help save every tree.

Trying to save all the trees is what has caused the decline in forest health and extreme fire danger we have seen in the last decade or two.

Let’s look at this from a gardener’s point of view; maybe it will be easier to understand.

Basically, growing (or maintaining) a healthy forest is the same as growing a healthy garden.

The only difference is that you grow gardens in terms of weeks/months and you grow forests in terms of years/decades.

In both cases the plants have the same needs; soil (nutrients), water, sunlight and room to grow (lack of competition).

Gardeners have a slight advantage because their plots are smaller and easier to control the nutrients, water, sunlight and spacing for maximum growth.

Forests, on the other hand are dependant on nature when it comes to (good vs. bad) soil and annual rain/snow fall.

Where mankind comes into play is with proper spacing, which in turn creates better sunlight availability and less competition for nutrients.

In the past nature used to take care of the spacing with low intensity, slow burning fires, but mankind came along and decided to suppress those fires for the sake of, you guessed it, mankind.

For many years private land owners and the Forest Service managed to almost keep up with new forest growth by harvesting trees and trying to keep the forests from becoming over stocked until over-regulation stopped those attempts to maintain a healthy forest.

For 10 years I had the privilege to work in the forestry aspect of the California Forest Products Industry.

During that time I spent a significant amount of time studying forest practices that would ensure and increase the health of the properties I was working on.

A well-managed forest is arguably the best renewable resource that this area has to offer.

One good example of that is the Collins Pine Company that owns roughly 94,000 acres of timberland in and around Chester.

In 2000, the company had a celebration for the harvesting of its two billionth board foot (4.7 million cubic meters) of timber from that 94,000-acre Collins Almanor Forest.

When harvesting began in 1941, the forest had approximately 1.5 billion board feet (3.5 million cubic meters) of standing inventory.

When that milestone tree was cut on the same 40-acre parcel and after almost 60 years of logging, there was still 1.5 billion board feet of diverse sizes and ages of standing timber on the Collins properties.

This properly managed forest, in the same time period, also provides habitat for spotted owls, bald eagles, salmon and many other species of animals.

According to U.S. statistics, in 2010, the United States had 751,255,000 acres of forested lands, which is about one-third of the country.

Can you imagine the amount of usable forest products that could be harvested and jobs that could be generated with sustainable management of those areas?

The lack of good forestry practices in our public forests for the last 30 plus years has led to many disasters like the recent Camp Fire.

I recently heard a longtime forester declare, “A spark on the ground will not become a ‘fire-nado’ without an over-abundance of fuel to feed it.”

As I watch the horrendous fires tear through California year after year I can certainly understand why some folks say “cut them or watch them burn” when it comes to our public lands.

May I modify that and say, “Manage them properly or watch them burn”? Maybe not as catchy, but more accurate.

So please, unless you are an Animist that believes trees and other natural objects have souls, let’s encourage the powers that be to start ‘cutting’ more trees for the safety and welfare of mankind and the health of our forests.

For you Animists, take your bonsais and

Pet Rocks on home, care for them and have a great life.