To the Editor:
I believe your editorial in September 2nd’s paper was right on, and I think Jon Rombach’s piece, in the same paper, was making the identical point.
It is my understanding that the following write-up by David Powell was an op-ed in the East Oregonian Pendleton newspaper recently. I think this piece supports the case for active Forest Management. You may not want to print the entire piece, but use portions of it to continue the discussion of the role of active forest management vis-à-vis forest fires.
From that Powell op-ed: “It now seems as if the entire Northwest is on fire, with homes being destroyed and air quality at unhealthy levels. Although there are many reasons for fires, warm weather and drought are certainly important ones...
“...Obviously we can’t control the weather. But we can take actions to better prepare our forests for increasing levels of wildfire, insects, and diseases, all of which are related to changing climate conditions. It is important to take these actions soon because fires are predicted to burn up to six times more area, each year, in the Blue Mountains by the middle of this century than was burned annually between 1950 and 2003...
“...What can be done to prepare our forests for more wildfire in the future? Perhaps our best hope lies with thinning; it can be used to mimic presettlement fire by removing the small trees that fire would have killed. This avoids severe fires by eliminating ‘ladder fuel’ — small understory trees that act like a ladder by carrying fire from the ground up to the tree tops, where it then races from one tree to another as a crown fire.
“After thinning an area, it could then be treated with prescribed fire. It is important to apply prescribed fire, in a safe and controlled manner, because it recycles nutrients and removes the fine fuels (needles, twigs, etc.) that contribute to severe wildfires. Many of our forests now contain so much fuel that a late-summer wildfire is not a safe experience, either for the forest or the firefighters tasked with suppressing it...”
David C. Powell, a member of the Umatilla County climate change focus group, presented a discussion about climate change and forestry at an EO Forum held Feb. 10 at Blue Mountain Community College.