President's Executive Order Might Open National Parks to Logging

©. Terray Sylvester/Getty Images | Forest burns in the Carr Fire on July 30, 2018 west of Redding, California.

It is a brave new world of "reducing vegetation" and "fuel reduction" and a lotta logging.

Apologies to the President of the United States for posting this in the Climate Change category; he doesn't believe his own scientists about it, and certainly doesn't believe that it caused all the forest fires that devastated the west last year. But Americans can rest assured that he is not ignoring the crisis in the forests. He just signed executive order 13855 Promoting Active Management of America's Forests, Rangelands, and Other Federal Lands To Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk.

Apparently nobody has been managing the forests, allowing dense trees and undergrowth to take over. Oh, and wait, there's more: "These conditions, along with insect infestation, invasive species, disease, and drought, have weakened our forests, rangelands, and other Federal lands, and have placed communities and homes at risk of damage from catastrophic wildfires."

Yup, climate change has nothing to do with it. It is all the fault of too much "regulatory analysis and current consultation requirements" and insufficient raking.

In addition, land designations and policies can reduce emergency responder access to Federal land and restrict management practices that can promote wildfire-resistant landscapes. With the same vigor and commitment that characterizes our efforts to fight wildfires, we must actively manage our forests, rangelands, and other Federal lands to improve conditions and reduce wildfire risk.

It has long been known to anyone on Twitter that the President has a way with words, and there are many new ones to learn here. "Reducing vegetation" and "fuel reduction" are wonderful new euphemisms for "logging".

Part of the strategy for "reducing vegetation" includes selling an additional 3.8 million board-feet of timber, (about 10 percent of the current annual harvest) and finding new ways to use wood, such as turning it into fuel:

Consider market conditions as appropriate when preparing timber sales, including biomass and biochar opportunities, and encourage export of these or similar forest-treatment products to the maximum extent permitted by law, in order to promote active forest management, mitigate wildfire risk, and encourage post-fire forest restoration.

Via Tree Frog Forestry news, we learn that some are worried that this will affect National Parks. Kurt Repansheck of National Parks Traveler writes:

While the order does not specifically mention National Park System lands, Erik Molvar, the executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, told the Traveler on Friday that, "I don’t think anyone can afford to be complacent. The Trump administration has already shown its willingness to open up national monuments to drilling and mining."

It is a remarkable document:

  • It blames forest fires on management, bugs and drought while totally avoiding the mention of climate change.
  • It expands logging operations and sets up opportunities for burning biomass.
  • It gives the drone industry a big boost by telling the FAA to "maximize appropriate use of unmanned aerial systems to accelerate forest management."
  • It reviews "land designations and policies that may limit active forest management and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires," which may open them up for all kinds of other uses.
  • It opens up land for development or recreational uses by "Supporting road activities needed to maintain forest, rangeland, and other Federal land health and to mitigate wildfire risk by expanding existing."

Who knows where this will end. One thing we do know is that there won't be many forest fires if there are no forests left to burn, having all been managed into lumber and biomass.