YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California – Tall Trees of Yosemite National Park has long held a cherished place in American psyche, whether ancient and majestic sequoias, ponderosa pines with their snake-patterned bark or strewn with acorns black oaks, blood of many Indian cultures.
It was with it’s a legacy in Be aware that two high-ranking Yosemite Park officials walked last week through collection of stumps and explained to the visitor why they ordered chainsaw crews to cut down hundreds of of trees.
While she dragged past remainder of felled fragrant cedar, Cicely Muldoon, superintendent of park, admitted that the concept of cutting trees in Yosemite may be hard explain public. “It hurts people’s hearts,” she said. “But we must use every tool at our disposal to save the forests and save the park and restore a healthy ecosystem and preserve people Safely.”
FROM more over 140 million trees died in California from drought and epidemics of beetles over in past decade – 2.4 million of them in Yosemite alone – forestry experts describe the state’s forests as scarred and extremely vulnerable. Now that the state is once again suffering from severe drought, it seems that Yosemite is constantly under siege. fire and smoke.
AT just in past month, oak fire and Washburn fire raged around and in park, causing an evacuation, closing entrances and threatening the biggest stands of sequoias, including the famous Mariposa Grove.
Miss Muldoon says what more aggressive steps need be taken than before to make scaffolding of Yosemite more stable. But she and the park management will first must prevail in court.
This month, a judge temporarily suspended work to remove biomass from the park because the tree cutting was euphemistically known in response to a lawsuit filed by the environmental group based on in Berkeley, California, which claims that the park was not properly review impact. thinning project covers less than 1 percent of Yosemite forests.
Whether or not the lawsuit turns out to be successful, it will find a good response. outside of park boundaries, raising broader questions about how manage forests in Age of changing of the climate.
More often, leading Forestry specialists offer view dissonant with public get used to the idea of conservation of the wild lands of the country: sometimes you have to cut down trees to save the trees. And burn the forests to save the forests, they say.
Polarization during the Trump administration between climate scientists and the president who understated rising temperature and stressed need for better forest management, or “raking” as former President Donald J. Trump once called it passed for currently. It gave way to what, according to many experts, is the consensus among scientists and political leaders on in need thin and burn forests more actively.
“Most of us absolutely convinced that it is not only good thing, but it’s absolutely necessary,” said John Battles, professor of forest ecology at university of California, Berkeley, etc. science advisor to the California Task Force on Wildfires and Forest Resilience.
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This year’s budgetCongress allocated almost 6 billion dollars to wild lands fire management programs, adding to the allocated $5 billion. for reducing the use of harmful fuels and others fire-Related programs in infrastructure law signed last year. Last month, lawmakers introduced the Save Our Redwoods Act, which will speed up environmental reviews. required for thinning projects. Although the bill is bipartisan, it drawn opposition from coalition of ecological groups.
About century back The National Park Service, which manages Yosemite, is effectively made a promise to an american people that it will keep valuable places in search”more or less like they always did,” said Nate Stephenson, scientist deserved in forest ecology for US Geological Survey. Act of Congress that established the National Park Service in 1916 on parks in remain “intact for pleasure of future generations”.
But Dr. Stephenson added“in this era of rapid and intense environmental change, that promise is falling apart.”
Central to thinking of scientists are looking for for ways to protect the forest research shows that the “state of nature” of The wild lands of America were for millennia under the influence of mankind.
decades of research showed that wildlife was valued by early European settlers as well as by the 19th century naturalists like John Muir was often a well-managed landscape. Core samples from under the pond in Yosemite received in in way which scientists could drill deep into the glacier, centuries have shown of layers of pollen and ash. The findings indicated a long-term history of frequent fires in Yosemite and backed up by oral histories of Indian tribes who seen a long time ago fire like a tool.
Other studies have shown how biodiversity thrives after moderately hot fires, how the meadows come alive with dozens of variety of flowers. fire can reduce factory competition increase water flow and kill off destructive insects. Some species, such as the giant sequoia, rely on on in heat of a fire dry out and crack open their cones to release seeds through the forest floor. But experts make a distinction between fires that are good for the landscape and fires that burn so hard they destroy it.
“Not all trees good and not all fire is badsaid Britta Dyer, reforestation specialist at nonprofit American Forests. organization which contributes use of forests to slow climate change.
In the legendary Yosemite Valley with glacier-carved granite walls, dizzying waterfalls and flowering meadows, Garret Dieckman, forest ecologist at the park, leading recovery efforts area how it looked like more how century back when it was fashioned native burning practices.
Mr Dickman uses some of earliest photographs and paintings of in valley lead him in decide if the trees are need be cut down.
Photographs by Carlton Watkins in The 1860s were viewed by Abraham Lincoln and helped convince the President of in need declare Yosemite protected public trust, a prelude to becoming national a park. Mr Dickman uses the same photos Today.
“I will literally take a photo and see where I think view and mark the trees i think need to be removed to restore the view,” said Mr. Dickman.
Live trees over 20 inches thick are never cut, according to Mr. Dickman. He calculated that if he could not wrap his arms around a tree, it was usually too big to qualify for cutting.
On the road that connects community of Wawona to the south entrance of park, crews cleared 9,156 tons of trees and bushes. Mr Dickman calculates that of about 350 trucks carrying logs and bushes, only half a dozen were sent to the sawmill. The rest went to power factories that burn wood to generate electricity.
“Got 60 dollars for 25 tons of materialMr Dickman said. “But this cost us from 1200 to 1400 dollars in trucking for every download.
lawsuit against the park specifically seeks to stop most of wood cutting and thinning. It was presented by the non-profit organization Earth Island Institute. organization based on in Berkeley, who sued to stop another tree cutting projects. The lawsuit alleges that the park management did not follow review laid down procedures out National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
Chad Hanson, director and chief ecologist for John Muir project, subsidiary of Earth Island Institute, said in interview about the National Park Service not telling the truth about tree removals, adding that he was among more more than 200 specialists who signed a letter to President Biden and Congress expressing concern that commercial logging may be “undercover of “thinning”.
Most of the experts involved in debate says it’s not a question of is the forest cut down should be allowed, but how much to be done.
Dr Hanson, who well known among conservationists and loggers for Frequency of his claims, accepts more conservative view.
One of his main The arguments are that a heavily thinned forest more vulnerable to fire, no less, as a cooling tint of canopy reducedas well as wind protection. Other experts say so far cutting down trees can in theory creates drier, windier conditions, forests in West already very dry for a lot of of in fire season. They are also it is said that even if the wind speed does increase, it is rarely enough to overcome the advantages of having reduced in amount of vegetation that can burn.
Dr. Hanson agrees that within 100 feet of homesselective thinning of shoots and seedlings and even removal of lower limbs on mature trees are needed to create “protective space”. But he claims that instead of pruning down big trees, foresters should allow more wild ground fires progress naturally.
“Natural processes should be the main approach,” Dr. Hanson said, “rather than chainsaws, bulldozers and clear cuts.”
Number of environmental groups, however, object that they support meticulous forest thinning, including the Redwood Save League, group which protects for conservation of sequoia and giant sequoia forests, and the non-profit conservation organization Nature Conservancy.
Daniel Swain, climate scientist in university of California, Los Angeles and the conservation organization said it was “tedious” to face Dr. Hanson’s barrage. of disputes and litigation. He added”It’s a waste of time.” Other experts have published critiques of Methodology of Dr. Hanson.
Dr. Hanson latest the lawsuit has also infuriated some local political leaders, including Tom Wheeler, head in County of Madera who presents Yosemite area as well as who a blizzard broke out at a recent city hall meeting of expletives describing Dr. Hanson.
BUT former lumberjack and racing car drivermr wheeler voice was filled with urgency as he pointed to several forests in Sierra Nevada, which were resistant to wildfires because the wood was selectively removed and the brush is clean. Mr. Wheeler against clear cutting forests, but says some have grown so large that they are ready to ignite.
“Look at this and tell me how is about to burn,” said Mr. Wheeler, standing next to a thick rack of coniferous, many of they were stripped of their needles. “It’s going to be so damn hot you won’t be able to stand right here.”
Large forest fires were so common around Yosemite in in recent years, visitors, entering all four entrances, see the charred remains of burned forests. Ms Muldoon, Superintendent of Yosemite, said fires are often so intense that firefighters liken them to fighting hellish storms.
“We do not send people out to fight hurricanes and that’s what it starts to feel like for firefighters,” she said.
this thickening of forest through generations of fire the suppression that now demands cutting and towing of thousands of trees, she said.
What about leaving the park “unscathed” for future generations?
“It’s a difficult word,” she said. In the early years of the maintenance of the park, according to Miss Muldoon, would not be affected would mean “leaving everything as it is”. out Don’t touch anything there.”
“But if we have learned anything, it is that we have always touched these lands… humanity to eat – and to do nothing – is really to do something.