Friday, February 18, 2005
Pacific Biodiversity Institute studied the actual occurrence of fire, in constrast to that reported in hyped-up media and government reports. In an August 31, 2000 press release, Peter Morrison, Director of PBI noted, "Under natural circumstances, fire acted 'like a gardener that determined what grows in the garden.... It [fire] keeps these ecosystems as vibrant, healthy ecosystems.... Without fire, it's like a person who never cleans up their room, never sweeps its, never takes the garbage out, never does any of that.... It's not a very healthy place to live." (Morrison in McClure, 2000).
Pacific Biodiversity Institute studies showed that in states with some of the biggest fires in 2000, less than one tenth of the blazes occurred where tree thinning operations advocated by the timber industry would be practical. Much of the burned land was actually in grasslands or places with few to no trees, rather than not in timber. (McClure, 2000). Using advanced satellite imaging, federal fire data, and computer mapping systems, PBI scientifically analyzed the location, size, land ownership, forest type and management history of five of the largest fires, as well as reviewing regional fire patterns over the last century.
The report by Pacific Biodiversity Institute (Assessment of Summer 2000 Wildfires: Landscape History, Current Condition and Ownership) found that most of the forested area which burned was managed timberland, not pristine old growth. Contrary to timber industry rhetoric about logging to prevent fires, most of the forests which burned this year had already been logged. This is proof that logging doesn't prevent forest fires. The report shows that the arguments for salvage logging are self-serving attempts to exploit emotions and human tragedy for corporate profit. The facts simply don't support the political rhetoric.
Additionally the report found:
-Only 38% of the acres burned in 2000 were in roadless or wilderness areas.
- Most fires neither originated in, nor were confined to roadless area, demonstrating the hollowness of attacks on roadless area protection.
- Analysis of five of the largest fires (Valley/Skalkaho (MT), Kate's Basin (WY), Canyon Ferry (MT), Burgdorf Junction (ID), and Clear Creek (ID)) confirms the west-wide pattern: 36% of area was non-forested, 57% was in naturally high intensity burn forest types, only 8% occurred in naturally cool burning forest types. Most of the acres were in roaded, managed forests.
- The acres burned in 2000 were well below the century's average. The 6.4 million acres burned thus far is much less than the 13.9 million acre average from 1916 to 1999. Over 7 million acres have burned in 1988 and 1963, over 50 million acres burned in 1930 and 1931. Large regional fire years are the norm, not the exception.
"The timber industry and its supporters claim this is an extreme fire season [year 2000], but they are ignoring some very basic facts," said Peter Morrison of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute. "This year is really not all that extreme. In fact it is really well below the average for the last 84 years. This year severe fires have been burning in roaded and heavily managed landscapes near where people live. So this has been an intense year for them, but massive logging programs aren't the solution their problem."
"When the smoke clears, the claims of logging advocates are revealed to be hot air," said Mitch Friedman, Executive Director of Northwest Ecosystem Alliance. "If the American people didn't already know that you can't save a forest by cutting it down, the proof has now emerged from the flames themselves."
"Logging is the problem, not the answer," said Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity. "It is disgusting to see politicians exploit human tragedy to in order to help an industry that has already done so much damage to our forests. We need to base forest policy on facts, not heat of the moment rhetoric."
What Nat'l Park visitors are saying