Shaky policies, unsustainable economies: ignoring the values of pine nut trees
September 10, 2003
Goods From The Woods
14125 Hwy C.
Licking, Mo. 6554
Sierra Nevada Framework 2Discussion Points:
System sickness due to historical land uses,
Bio-diversity, health and restoration values
Relationship "Healthy Forest Agenda" and Quincy Library Group; Background:
I work with pinyon pine nutsharvested in Nevada, species p.monophylla, My company, Goods From The Woods,has first hand familiarity with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest wheremy pine nuts are harvested. Additionally, I have followed QLG for severalyears and am familiar with the Oakridge studies on forest fuel biomass, togetherwith many reports prepared on underutilized woodlands. I familiar with landmanagement policies in the region and can discuss output-oriented science,which is contributing to the derogation of National Forest Lands. Additionally,I live in the Ozark Forest and work with special forest products from thateco-system. Finally, having spent 7 years in the costal rain forests of Alaska,I can see parallels between land use and forest health in each of these systems. Discussion
The top of the forest systems(trees) were indiscriminately extracted; the lands became ill. We developeda restoration value based in timber, and lost the systems that support foresthealth. Forests became unnatural and we have problems. Extraction and manipulationof these environment have created an imbalance, which is giving rise to unhealthyconditions.
While fire suppression may be a contributing factor to forest health, thetrue key to forest health remains unaddressed. I have spent two years lookingfor any major research addressing the relationship between bio-diversityand wild fire. I have found none.. In last two years, I have yet to findserious consideration of the role bio-diversity plays in wildfire.
From 1960 - the mid 70's, over 3,000,000 acres of pinyonwere deforested to create grazing land, under the auspices of "freeing groundwater" in the Southwest. It is important to note, these are trees requiring150 - 200 years to reach seed bearing maturity and represent a major sourceof food for the most of the creatures that reside or migrate through itsrange. Twenty years later, 1998, Dr. David D. Breshears of Los Alamos Laboratorieswrote a paper on the value of pinyon shade and the role of shade in coolingthe earth. In short, it took a rocket scientist to write a dissertation onan issue every third grader knows. Trees make shade and cool the earth. Whathappens when they are removed in massive quanities?
With the pinyonranges there was an invasion by a highly flammable weed. This weeddies out in early May, leaving an explosive, highly ignitable fuel source.The cheatgrass, remnant of pinyon deforestation created a wild fire crises.Yet, applied science fire scientist, looked only at the number of acres burning,without giving much analysis thought beyond that.
Somewhere along the line, the QLG then creatingan industry, ordinated, outcome based solution "too many trees, too closetogether” and “fire suppression fuels build up” rhetoric, evolving simultaneouslywith our projected need for ethanol and bio-mass fuels. OakridgeLaboratories began developing forest fuels set-asides to meet energy needs.Our energy needs had meshed seamlessly into the National Fire ProtectionPlan, and the Forest Health Crises. That is exactly the genesis of the HealthyForest Restoration, another industrialized application of our public lands,stepped in poor, outcome based science, without any true attempt to addressthe real crises in American Forests.
This ever evolving fire criseswas harkened in Nevada through the creation of massive "fuel reductionplans", perpetuating the cheatgrass scenario, removing pinyon,in the hopes of developing further grassland resources. The pinyon happensto be a very fire resistant species of tree, something ignored in the appliedscience justifying the "treatments". In reality, many elk were being importedinto the region, and more grass lands sought. Revenues in excess of $35,000may be attributed to the local communities in a single trophy sized animal.
A BLM plan in Ely Nevada proposes to treat 860,000 acresof pinyon (fuels reduction) without consideration of the age of the treesor the production of pine nuts. Only about 2% of pinyon in Nevada are ofproper seed bearing age at any given time,. These mature seed bearing trees,then cone and produce seed on a 5 year cycle. This huge landscape plan dismissedpine nut production as a matter of climate and beyond its consideration.
Once again, the pinyon is major source offood for all the system’s dependants, as well as migrating birds. Yet, "out-comebased" land use, drives policy and management.
I could continue at length discussing the failures createdby our short sighted solutions. Our pickers tell us, before the pinyon treeswere removed, the mountains made their own rain, and they did not have towait for rain from the oceans. Also, Native Americans pruned the lower branchesof the trees, removing the flash fuels from this highly fire resistant treespecies. Yet, this concept has never been explored in land planing for theregion. Rather, fire management funding has created an onslaught of pinyontreatment plans, which are further perpetuating the crises.
Finally, there exists no commutative record of the landtreatments by land managers. I cannot image trying to restore a system, withoutassessing the scope of what has been done to the land, and the complete roleof landscape alteration through extractive and industrialized uses, includingthe cattle industry. Summary
In as much, I can trace the current proposed"Health Forests"policy/solution to the Sierra Nevada Framework plan, and the work of theQLG, I respectfully ask that the no action alternative be chosen. First andforemost, health requires balance in systems.
Our failure to restore bio divesity to the lands represents output-orientedmanagement. We are changing the Earth's ability to substation life, as welessen the life forms which it supports. If we are going to go forward withcaring for the land, we must look at our mistakes. We must restore systems,rather than perpetuate industry oriented treatments. We need to advert futurecrises, through understanding the shortcomings of applied science drivenby value added policy. We need to care for our bio-diversity as majorvalue, indeed it represents the ability to sustain life.
While I cite primarily from my experience with the pinyon,these same factors exists in each forest system, where I have lived and worked.It is time to truly reconsider the meaning of "Protect The Land and ServeThe People." The road to health is not a quick fix solution. Please chosethe no action alternative. In the event, I can provide further information,please do not hesitate to call upon me. Thank you.
Goods From The Woods
14125 Hwy C
Licking MO. 65542
Wed, 10 Sep 2003 08:51:09 -0500