By Chris Horgan
Stewards of the Sequoia
According to recent statements by
Sierra Club & Sequoia Forest Keepers, the answer to our
overgrown, diseased & high fire risk forests is prescribed
burns. They hail the small prescribed burn projects of the
Sequoia National Park.
Apparently there is absolutely no place in their mind for
selective thinning. Burning & hand trimming are the only
options. Yet prescribed burns can only be done under certain
conditions, otherwise it is more likely that the prescribed burn
will turn into a forest incinerating catastrophic wildfire. A
prescribed burn of an overly dense forest is much like striking
a match to a gasoline can.
Eighty six percent of the Giant Sequoia Monument is categorized
as high to moderate fire susceptibility. The time it will take
to do all the prescribed burns & hand trimming will be far
longer than if some selective logging where done as well. The
longer it takes to reduce fire hazard the more likely the forest
will be incinerated through wildfire.
They fail to mention that prescribed burns will release millions
of tons of so called greenhouse gases that the environmental
movement blames for global warming. Whereas, according to Dr.
Patrick Moore, co founder of Greenpeace, selective thinning
would lock up the carbon & reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The 1985 proceedings of the workshop on Giant Sequoia included a
summary position by Sierra Club that said, "Perhaps the biggest
threat to some of the groves today is fire. Accumulated fuel and
dense stands of fir and pine are a disaster waiting to happen.
The Sierra Club has advocated a one-time timber harvest in some
groves where whitewoods are too dense." Fire threat to the
groves today is even greater. Why has Sierra Club reversed their
How much will it cost to do prescribed burns? Between 1995 &
1999 the cost per acre of prescribed burns almost doubled per
National Interagency Fire Center. The National Park Service,
hailed by Sierra Club, has spent about twice as much per acre
treated as the Forest Service for prescribed burns.
The management plan for the Monument includes treating 64,000
acres in the first ten years. Done by prescribed burning alone,
this would cost over $4,608,000 using the 1999 cost per acre for
the National Park Service prescribed burns. This estimate is
probably low & the true number today would more likely be
double. Add to that the cost of proposed hand trimming. All very
costly at a time when the Forest Service is getting less & less
The Giant Sequoia National Monument Plan is not proposing doing
only timber harvest, but in addition to prescribed burns where
appropriate to protect the Giant Sequoia Groves.
When you add it all up, having less greenhouse gas emissions,
cleaner air, providing a renewable resource, jobs & faster fire
hazard reduction in the forest, it just makes sense to use all
the tools, including chain saws for timber harvest where
Stewards of the
Sequoia (Tree Planting)
Death of a Sawmill