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Post-Fire Logging

Post-fire logging update: research by Dan Donato et al. on seedling survival on the Biscuit fire area in Oregon

Salvaging the truth?

It’s not fair to say that the Bush Administration doesn’t care about the latest scientific research about the environment.

Logging after the Fischer Fire, Wenatchee National Forest.  Conservation Northwest photoWhen it comes to cutting-edge research on critical forestry issues they seem to care plenty—enough to censor the science they don’t like. This year, the Bush Administration tried to suspend funding for Oregon State University research about salvage logging of the Biscuit fire in southern Oregon. That study found that logging at Biscuit killed more than three-quarters of naturally regenerated seedlings and actually increased the chance of future wildfire.

The research directly contradicts the premise of HR 4200, a bill introduced by Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Brian Baird (D-WA)—and strongly backed by the Bush Administration—that would require more Biscuit-style salvage logging nationally in the name of “restoring” post-fire landscapes.

The peer-reviewed OSU study—led by graduate student Dan Donato—has been published in the prestigious journal Science, despite the best efforts of timber-leaning members of the OSU faculty to block publication.

The administration claimed that Donato’s team of researchers were forbidden by the terms of their grant to publish conclusions about legislation.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) joined the firestorm of criticism against the administration’s move, calling for an Inspector General’s report into blatant politicization of forest science. Rep. Inslee has introduced an alternate bill to the Walden bill.

The administration later agreed to re-instate funds, saying that references to legislation in the Science paper were the journal’s fault.

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