HomeHealthMedicineBlack Ram Vegetation Management-Another Example of Chainsaw Medicine

Black Ram Vegetation Management-Another Example of Chainsaw Medicine

Clearcuts below Grizzly Creek in the Upper Yaak Drainage. Photo George Wurthner

The Kootenai National Forest is proposing a massive logging project in Northwestern Montana known as the Black Ram “Vegetation” treatment.

The Black Aries The project area includes northwestern Yaak from the Canadian border west to the Idaho border, south to the ridge line between Pete Creek, and east to the Yaak River. The Yaak drainage is one of the most remote regions of Montana.

The Yaak Drainage is one of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana. Photo George Wurthner

The 95,000 acre Black Ram project would commercially clear 4,000 acres, including the clearing of 1,800 acres and 400 acres of mature old-growth forest.

Note the use of the word euphemism treatment. The agency always considers the forest to be sick and in need of a healthy dose of chainsaw medicine.

They state that they want to improve resilience and resistance to insects, diseases and fire. Despite insects, disease and fires sustaining healthy forest ecosystems, the Forest Service Industrial Forestry paradigm views these natural agents as something to be eliminated or reduced.

Chainsaw medicine on the Yaak. Thinning opens the forest up to more warming, drying out vegetation and increasing wind penetration – all factors that increase the spread of fire. Photo George Wurthner

Chainsaw medicine is like the magic elixir that the old snake oil salesman promoted. Chainsaw medicine cures everything and many things that don’t need repair.

So let me straighten this out. The agency claims that if they don’t cut down the forest, trees could “die” from insects, disease or fire. So the way to avoid this death is to kill the trees with chainsaws. Does anyone other than me see a disconnect in the logic here?

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The Yaak grizzly bear population is one of the most endangered in the United States with no more than 20-30 bears by some estimates. Photo George Wurthner

Other motivations for Black Ram are just as ridiculous. The FS claims that Black Ram timber sales will help, among other things, help the grizzly bear recovery. The Cabinet Jaak grizzly population survival is one of the most weak in the country.

So the FS wants to apply chainsaw drug to the grizzly habitat to, it claims, increase blueberries.

Logging roads increase access, reducing habitat safety for grizzly bears. Photo George Wurthner

There are undoubtedly more blueberries, but blueberries are not limiting grizzly bear recovery in the area. The biggest problem for bears is road access and the high human morals associated with it.

The Black Ram project will create nearly one hundred miles of open roads. This handling behavior is what will harm both grizzly bears and other wildlife such as moose. What they all need more than anything is safety coverage. Chainsaw medicine offers none.

The Yaak Valley has been fragmented by logging in the past. Cutting down the Black Ram area will further fragment the landscape and destroy the few remaining natural corridors.

The FS claims that the Black Ram logging project will reduce global warming. Yet, logging and wood products A huge amount of carbon is released during production. In OregonFor example, logging is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions statewide, exceeding all car, airplane, and truck emissions.

Cutting back old vegetation will reduce the area’s carbon storage. Investigate through Bev Law of Oregon State University has shown that large trees continue to store carbon throughout their lives. So cutting down the forest doesn’t help warming the climate – it makes it worse.

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Dense forests characterize the Yaak Drainage. Photo George Wurthner

The Yaak drainage is an example of Inland Rainforest, characterized by spruce, western red cedar and western larch. Photo George Wurthner

Even when trees die from beetles or fire, they remain in place and store carbon. Carbon is stored in the soil, snags and wood.

The idea that cutting down the forest will somehow protect homes from wildfires is yet another myth perpetuated by the Forest Service and lumber companies. What causes all the big wildfires is climate and weather, no fuels. There is no need to move fuels more than thirty feet from home. And house paving is much more effective at protecting houses than cutting down the forest.

Many researchers, including a retired forest ranger, Jack Cohensuggest that removing fuel more than 100 feet from a structure does not provide additional protection.

The Yaak drainage is an example of Inland Rainforest, characterized by spruce, western red cedar and western larch. Photo George Wurthner

The forests of the Yaak Valley are a rare inland rainforest mostly represented by species from the Pacific Northwest that burn infrequently. Some of the larger tree species at the site include Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Subalpine Spruce, Engelmann Spruce, and Western Larch, characterized by long firing rotations between fires. Some larches are estimated to be 600 years old. The proposed logging will remove older wildfire-resistant trees and replace them with invasive weeds and small trees. It is these fine fuels that cause wildfires to spread quickly.

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It is a piece of classic old-growth forest with large diameter trees, an abundance of downwood and decaying trees.

dr. Dominick DellaSala, a leading authority on old-growth forests, made a field visit to the Black Ram logging project area. He says: “I can say unequivocally that this site is old growth, is critical to the environment, has important climate and refugia properties, including the potential for large amounts of above and below ground carbon to accumulate over centuries. keep accumulating.” In addition, the US Forest Service claims [Black Ram] is for climate resilience, while my observations show that it would have the opposite effect.”

If you were to visit a doctor who prescribes the same treatment for everything from a broken leg to a heart attack and nothing works, would you trust them to treat you over and over again? Yet this is exactly what Staatsbosbeheer asks the public to accept.

The drainage of the Yaak River is characterized by heavily forested rolling mountains. Photo George Wurthner

To make matters worse, The Forest Service estimates that taxpayers will lose $3.2 million by subsidizing this deforestation.

A lawsuit filed by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies discontinued the project in February 2020. After receiving a biological advisory from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruling that the Forest Service’s plan was “unlikely to endanger the survival of the grizzly bear,” officials reopened the project for comment in September 2020.

The Kootenai Tribe supports the Black Ram logging project.

The Black Ram project is an example of the agency’s commitment to deforestation and ecosystem degradation. We can expect and need better policy from the agency.



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