Grab the axe so we People can see the View again! | High Sierra Topix  

Grab the axe so we People can see the View again!

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Postby SSSdave » Thu Nov 09, 2006 9:33 pm

First the issue of minor manipulations around public scenic viewpoints certainly doesn't need to be placed in a communal bucket with large scale forest issues as fires. I'll comment on the fire issues since you've brought it up.

Like with most issues in a complex world, rigid black and white thinking on what ought to and what ought not to be allowed to burn in forest fire are obviously not always going to have the best outcome given hindsight. Accordingly the more wise process will allow the consensus of forest experts to make day to day decisions with oversight from interested groups. I have no doubt since controlled burns are major programs now that have been ongoing for years, that much of what is being done is already well analyzed and sensibly planned out. However there are no doubt some critical elements of the public that likely have little understanding of whatever those plans and policies are that in their ignorance will readily criticize whatever is done simply due to that ignorance. Thus the forest service needs to make an extra effort to readily inform the public so they don't go off the deep end. Unfortunately in the past, as everyone was coming up to speed with what ought to be done, episodes like those huge Yellowstone fires occurred with considerable controversy between opposing ideas that have subsequently left mistrust and doubts on what the policies are. Further there had been turmoil caused by sometimes over eager logging interest to salvage partially burned trees that conjured up considerable potential abuses whether real or not.

dave54, I don't really understand what you are trying to relate with your last sentence about "the public". I'm guessing you are actually referring to those with more radical perspectives that tend to push their agendas via legal monkeywrenching. Of course they are hardly representitive of the general public. ...David



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Postby AldeFarte » Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:01 pm

Interesting discussion. My view on the subject is to stick to the original indig plan. Harvest and burn, baby, burn. Get back to nature. It's the only healthy thing to do. If we are gonna love "yosmite" to death ,at least give us a view.jls
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Postby dave54 » Sun Nov 12, 2006 6:15 pm

SSSdave wrote:dave54, I don't really understand what you are trying to relate with your last sentence about "the public". I'm guessing you are actually referring to those with more radical perspectives that tend to push their agendas via legal monkeywrenching. Of course they are hardly representitive of the general public. ...David


"the public" I was referring to includes all. And is not necessarily a disparaging comment. The media discussion of issues usually gives short shrift to the complexities of natural resource decisionmaking, and is unwilling or unable due to space to discuss in detail the upside as well as the downside of management actions.

For example, control burns make smoke. The public generally understands the need to do more burning, but then complain when smoke drifts down the valley to their homes. Dispersion models are good tools, but not foolproof, and weather forecasts sometimes are in error. So despite the best efforts of fire managers, smoke will impact communities nearby, but the residents are [understandably] unwilling to accept periodic smoke. If managers wait until the conditions are so perfect and bullet-proof to prevent any chance of unwanted smoke drift, only a fraction of the desired burning gets accomplished, generating more complaints about inaction. Attempting to replicate the effects of burning by other means (i.e. mechanical treatment) triggers litigation.

Heaven forbid if a control burn escapes. The media, public, and elected officials all go ballistic wanting heads to roll, when it was their pressure that pushed managers into unwise burning in the first place (Cerro Gordo Fire, NM, for example).

The aforementioned Yellowstone Fires of 1988 are another example. From one viewpoint they were a natural process, as that ecosystem has a catastrophic stand replacing event approximately every 400 years, and the last one was in the 1600's. The public says they want more natural fires. So Yellowstone was a good thing, right? Or was it too much of a good thing? Where do you draw the line?

The public attitude is "I want more wilderness, more wilderness fires let burn, more control burning, less harvesting on public lands, more wildlife, etc, as long as it has no negative impact whatsoever on me. If it does affect me personally, then I am against it."



This thread started out about Yosemite, but has since expanded into general discussion about public land agencies in general. I hope all here understand the differences between National Parks and National Forests and the different management philosophies and legal mandates between them.

...then there are BLM public lands, NW Refuges, COE public lands, state lands, etc. But all face similar problems.
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Postby Kerstin » Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:43 pm

A great book related to this thread is "Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests--A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change since 1849".

The author found old photos of various regions in the Sierra Nevada and attempted to take the exact same picture. It's astonishing how much the forests have changed. Everything looks completely different. The book contains photos of the Sierra Foothills, the higher western slopes, Tahoe, Yosemite, the Kings Canyon and Mineral King high country and the Sierra east side. It's fascinating!

Here are a few links: http://www.historycooperative.org/journ ... br_14.html

http://forestry.about.com/library/weekl ... sierra.htm
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Postby dave54 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:11 pm

That book's author is George Gruell, a retired Forest Service wildlife biologist. He was not a timber beast, but a professional lifetime in the woods taught him wildlife prefer open low density forests and active forest management increases wildlife populations and increases biodiversity.

His photos replicate findings of other researchers. Alan Taylor is a bio-geographer who used tree-ring, fire scar dating, and age cohorts to determine presettlement forest structure and composition. Bonnicksen, a forest ecologist, used computer models, and Robert Olsen, a retired FS fire manager used written records (diaries, journals, and official surveys).

All four, with different professional backgrounds, using different methods and working independently, all arrived at the same conclusion -- presettlement forest structure and composition in the Sierras was vastly different than now. Forests were much more open with about half the area in open meadows, brushfields, or young reproduction, very patchy and fragmented with patch sizes generally less than 5 acres, and much less 'old growth' than the public wants to believe (<25% of the total forest cover, in small non-contiguous patches). In many areas of the Sierras today there is more old growth than ever existed historically. In spite of these well-established and non-disputed facts, many in the environmental industry refuse to accept it, and try to stop any attempt at returning to those conditions.
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