Pearce talks forestry bill in Cloudcroft (10:15 a.m.)
Join the discussion below, or Read more at Las Cruces Sun-News.
#1 Mar 23, 2011
I have wondered before if the timber industry can actually save the forest from fires. If forestry workers cut into the forest in grids I would imagine any fire started would stay in that grid. the trees that would be removed by forestry would be smaller than the number that would burn down in an out of control fire. Not to mention the lower danger it would pose to human and animal life. Just a thought though as I am no expert in the field but just a New Mexican who would like to see jobs created and forests saved at the same time.
#2 Mar 23, 2011
When ever Pearce speaks, I get nervous. Though I agree with responsible stewardship and managed timber industry-Pearce is the same guys who agreed with the whole "smash the watermelons" craziness from Silver City. How can this guy be trusted to do the right things for the people of New Mexico, when we already know big oil/GOP own him?!?
#3 Mar 23, 2011
These are thoughtful comments by SUre and writer. There is no doubt that more people can be put to work in New Mexico's forests thinning them, reducing fire risk, restoring forest health, and removing wood. The trick is that the forests are so overstocked that the wood that is in needing of removal is of small diameter. The money in removing these materials is limited but there is some money to be made. But it needs to be done carefully and with ecological monitoring of what we are leaving behind regarding forest structure. But we know more now that 25 years ago about how to do this right.
The thing that Rep. Pearce was wrong is blaming the decline of NM's timber industry on the spotted owl. He does a disservice to New Mexico by demonizing the Endangered Species Act. The real drivers in that decline were (1) a century of a policy of aggresive fire suppression on our national forests which has resulted in a densly packed forests full of small diameter trees, and (2) harvesting of most of the larger available trees, thus eliminating the supply of trees for the mills set up to process only larger logs.
Saving the last few trees for the owls and other species dependent on them did not kill NM's timber industry; that would have happened on it's own anyway after those last large trees were cut. We should be thankful the breaks were applied when they were or else we'd have no large trees left.
So what's needed now -- and is actually happening in many places in New Mexico but more of it is needed -- is removal of the small diameter trees in an ecologically sound way (which includes burning part of the fuel load to generate the soils with new nutrients) that restores a healthy forest structure. We also need to accept that ponderosa pine forests need to burn frequently with LOW INTENSITY fires that stay out of the forest crown, leave the larger trees behind, and open up the forest more (which is how a healthy ponderosa pine forest should be).
By allowing and facilitating this, the remaining big trees have more space, sun, and water (more resources) and grow more quickly. We also avoid fuel build up that results in HIGH INTENSITY fires that climb into the crown and burn the larger trees. That's bad for the forest, the critters, water quality, and wood production.
THE BIG CHALLENGE IN ALL OF THIS is that doing this type of restorative work in the forest and removing the small diameter trees is not very rewarding economically. Rep. Pearce's efforts would best be put into working with the NM forestry community to solve that riddle, namely helping to create markets for the forest products that are produced by cutting the small diameter trees. The easiest products to produce from small diameter trees are fire wood and fuel pellets for wood stoves.
Thanks for reading this and I look forward to constructive comments.
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