I went to a Forest Service “public meeting” on “forest thinning” last week. There was no speaker, just a staff member; no effort to hear the public. The project had been approved over a year ago, stipulating that they would not do any environmental assessment and that work was to start the next day.
“Clearing budworm” is generally a US Forest Disservice euphemism for clearcutting. Because twisted stems have such minimal root systems, selective logging does not make sense since the remaining trees collapse. But this project aims to thin out the younger twisted stems, the result of a mistaken clearcut 30 years ago, rather than the older twisted stems, naturally thinned and affected by beetles, which they usually target.
The staff member and I discussed/discussed primarily my assertion that it is when the mature tundra begins to thin out naturally from beetle destruction that conditions are right for the tolerant spruce and fir shade—Summit County’s beautiful natural, stable, climax vegetation—to recover and gradually take over, for, unlike sun-loving lodgepoles, their seedlings can sprout in their shade.
The employee said she fully agrees with me about the return of spruce and fir – but only if there are “seed sources” nearby, as if it were an unusual and justified thinning rather than allowing the process of natural succession of spruce and fir.
I do a lot of hiking and notice the saplings and the type of forest they are growing in and I’m quite sure that just like the twisted ones can reach any clear cut space, the spruce and fir trees can reach any twisted stand that clears naturally.
I challenge any Disservice employee or anyone who cares about our forests to take me on a trail through a mix of live and dead twisted poles where they think we don’t see spruce and fir.
Contact me at [email protected].