How to save a tree
Vail CO, Colorado
In order to save the forest, it has to be thinned out.
This idea, while not exactly new, has taken on a much bigger sense of urgency lately, and well-meaning environmentalists may have shot themselves in the foot with their reluctance to compromise on the issue in the past.
The science behind tree-thinning proposals has always been pretty solid. Modern firefighting efforts have led to an unnatural overgrowth of pine forests and actually increased the chances of catastrophic wildfires. Allowing logging companies into otherwise protected forests would only serve to protect them further.
Part of the problem in the past has been the perception that the science was contrived as an excuse to invade the forests. The seriousness of the situation was lost on some who believed that the logging lobby was simply trying to lead them astray.
If that line of thinking is naïve or paranoid, then there’s still the question of how tree-thinning projects would be monitored sufficiently to ensure that they went no further than necessary. We can’t leave that job to the companies doing the cutting. Nor can we leave it up to a federal agency under the current (and decidedly environmentally unfriendly) administration.
The unforeseen variable in this equation is the current pine-beetle epidemic that is turning all that overgrown timber into exceptional tinder at a startling pace. A standoff bred by fear and mistrust is quickly giving way to a sense of panic shared by everyone.
Whether the forests should be thinned is becoming more and more of a certainty. Who will do that thinning, and who will oversee it, is still a very valid question. But now, under the imminent threat of a single lightning strike wreaking havoc on the valley, who will have the nerve to ask it?
” Evan Gibbard for the Editorial Board