This West Is OUR West

US FORESTS ARE BURNING UP AMID "EPIDEMIC" OF DEAD TREES. EXPERTS SAY TO CUT MORE DOWN

 

Michael Bastasch, Energy Editor | 02/17/2019

  • Forestry experts say a major reason for massive wildfires is there are too many trees in U.S. forests.
  • The answer to this problem, somewhat paradoxically, is more logging, experts say.
  • “It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but we cut more trees,” one forestry expert said.

Forests are an iconic feature of the western U.S.’s dry, rugged landscape, but the risk of massive wildfires on these lands is growing because of decades of poor management.

It turns out western forests have too many trees. The answer to this problem, somewhat paradoxically, is more logging, according to experts.

“Forests have to be actively managed — logging, road maintenance, tree planting, weeding, animal control, thinning, salvage — in order to avoid these events,” Bob Zybach, a forestry expert, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Logging in government-controlled forests is probably one of the most contentious environmental policy debates. However, one expert recently told Congress that one way we deal with massive wildfires is by harvesting trees.

“It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but we cut more trees,” Elaine Oneil, a forestry management consultant, told the House Committee on Natural Resources in a hearing Wednesday, warning there’s “An Epidemic of Too Many Trees” — a phrase first coined by fire ecologist Paul Hessburg.

“What we are seeing in the western U.S. is an epidemic — of insects and disease and wildfires — brought on in large part by an epidemic of too many trees,” Oneil testified before Congress.