Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Global Justice Ecology Project: GlobalJusticeEcology.org , Hinesburg, VT

As they grow trees naturally take in carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their tissue. This ability to “sequester” carbon is now being considered as a means to “offset” the C02 emissions from polluting industries to combat global warming. Industry claims the development of monoculture tree plantations will absorb carbon at a faster rate than natural forests and are now looking to fast-growing GE trees as the latest solution. These claims, however, are unsubstantiated. Research actually shows:

• Native forests overall absorb more carbon than plantations;
• Plantations bring many additional problems, including water and nutrient depletion, increased soil salinity and acidity, increased fire risk and biodiversity loss;
• GE trees (e.g. Bt and reduced lignin trees) may exacerbate these problems and will cause novel ones, including alteration of decomposition, insect and disease patterns.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Money News: - Bank of America and Redwood Forest Foundation Announce Nation's First Private Capital Forest Acquisition by Nonprofit - AOL Money & Finance:

"This transaction will stop the forest's fragmentation while also allowing the property's coastal redwood trees to grow and be managed as a working sustainable forest. The foundation will purchase the acreage from Hawthorne Timber Company using $65 million in flexible long-term financing from Bank of America. This unique structure provides a national model for nonprofit ownership of a forest, and enables local environmentalists and timber companies to implement sustainable timber practices that sustains jobs and tax base while protecting critical ecological areas. The transaction also provides a return on investment for Bank of America. "

Schwarzenegger to defend North Coast redwoods Associated Press SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration pledged to fight any attempt to ease protections for old coastal redwoods that could be threatened by a timber company's bankruptcy filing. Pacific Lumber Co., a subsidiary of Houston-based Maxxam Corp., sought bankruptcy protection in Texas earlier this month, saying it could no longer make a profit because of logging restrictions on its 200,000 acres of timberlands in Humboldt County. The Scotia-based company blamed state water regulations, separate from the logging rules it agreed to in 1999 as part of a "habitat conservation plan" to protect endangered species. Pacific Lumber accepted the 50-year conservation plan as part of an agreement to sell 7,400 acres of old-growth redwoods to the state and federal governments for $480 million. That land is now the Headwaters Forest Reserve. Mike Chrisman, secretary of the state Resources Agency, said the state will fight any legal effort to end or amend the habitat plan. "We intend to be dogged and unyielding in our efforts to protect California's interests and hold (Pacific Lumber) to all of its obligations," Chrisman said Friday in a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. Pacific Lumber spokeswoman Andrea Arnot said the company has not asked the bankruptcy court to change the Headwaters agreement. She wouldn't speculate if the company will make such a request. Former state Sen. Byron Sher, D-Palo Alto, said the redwoods agreement was attached to the deeds of Pacific Lumber's land to make sure that any new owners would be bound to the same rules. "Anyone who owns these 200,000 acres would be subject to it," Sher said. Sierra Club spokesman Paul Mason welcomed the administration's pledge. "Taxpayers made a significant investment in these environmental protections," Mason said, "so it's very welcome to see the state will be taking all possible steps to ensure those commitments are honored." Schwarzenegger to defend North Coast redwoods Associated Press

By Jane Braxton Little - Bee Correspondent

Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, April 7, 2007
Story appeared in METRO section, Page B3
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SUSANVILLE -- Officials in three Northern California counties have postponed action on requests from Sierra Pacific Industries to have nearly 20,000 acres of forests rezoned to designations that eventually could allow residential development.

Land-use planners in Lassen, Plumas and Shasta counties are studying the proposed zoning changes to determine the extent of environmental impacts and what level of review the requests require. No decisions are expected for at least a month.

The delays are disappointing but understandable, said Ed Bond, a spokesman for the timber company based in the Shasta County city of Anderson. "We'd like things to move along, but we want to make sure everybody's satisfied."

Sierra Pacific's 1.6 million acres in California make it one of the largest private landowners in the nation. Most of its acreage is zoned for timber production, which prohibits development and offers property-tax reductions in exchange for a 10-year commitment to grow trees.

The company hopes to get restrictions lifted on a total of 23,549 acres in Northern California -- nearly 37 square miles. The zoning requests signal its plan not to renew its 10-year commitment to timber production on those lands and to launch development projects.

New zoning could allow both commercial centers and residential housing on lands historically managed as forests.
The rezoning is part of a long-term process that would give counties more control over their land, said Bond. "This is one segment of a larger project."

Trinity County officials already rezoned 3,620 acres, much of it in the Trinity Lake area. Sierra Pacific originally requested zoning for parcels as small as 1 acre, said county planner Jeanne Bonomini. But planning commissioners changed the zoning from timber production to open space, which does not allow for development.

In Lassen County, the land Sierra Pacific wants rezoned for potential development includes 638 acres at Silver Lake adjoining Caribou Wilderness Area and 1,700 acres next to Mountain Meadows, a wetland that hosts eight threatened or endangered species. Two additional parcels are at the south end of Eagle Lake and west of Susanville near Lake Forest Estates.

At a public hearing last month, company officials told Lassen County supervisors that, for all but the Silver Lake property, the rezoning question is exempt from environmental review. When Lassen County Counsel Craig Settlemire disagreed, the supervisors sent the proposal back to county planners for additional review.

Shasta County officials continued a public hearing to June to get more information about how many residences could result from rezoning 6,443 acres, said associate county planner Lio Salazar. He estimated 55 new residences if the changes are approved.

Plumas County officials are waiting for additional information from Sierra Pacific to determine the effects of rezoning 7,826 acres near Chester and north of Lake Almanor, said Planning Director Jonathan Schnal. They expect to do a full environmental review, he said.

Schnal is concerned about the regional impact of converting 37 square miles of timberland to development. Because forests are a significant resource to California, state regulations may require planners in all affected counties to consider the cumulative effects of rezoning, he said.

Friday, December 15, 2006


December 1, 2006

The Sawfish has been around for a couple years now, but we took notice after spotting it at Greenbuild two weeks ago. The timber provided by this robotic logger received accolades as one of Building Green's Top 10 Green Building Products, which were announced during the conference. The Sawfish is a remotely operated lumberjack vehicle, developed to harvest timber from underwater standing trees. Triton Logging Inc. estimates that there is over 5 billion linear board feet of usable timber submerged in the forests of British Columbia's lakes and reservoirs - and that's less than 5% of the potentially viable timber worldwide!"

read more

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lawsuit still has SPI wood in logjam

Published: December 6, 2006


The Union Democrat

Up to 40 million board-feet of logs ultimately bound for Sierra Pacific Industries' Standard sawmill remains about 90 miles away in the Eldorado National Forest.

Two environmental groups earlier this year successfully halted shipment of the timber from fire-damaged portions of the Eldorado forest to the Tuolumne County mill.

Over the summer, four groups — three based in Tuolumne County — got involved in the lawsuit when they asked a U.S. District Court judge to increase a nominal bond posted by the environmental groups suing the U.S. Forest Service over the timber.

A larger bond could have helped cover the Forest Service's losses as dead timber from the sale rots while the lawsuit makes it way through the legal system, said Mike Albrecht, president of Sierra Resource Management, a Sonora logging company.

But the judge disagreed, and about two weeks ago decided to keep the bond amount at $1,000 — and not to raise it to $200,000, as suggested by SPI.

"There's no need to post an exorbitant bond," said Rachel Fazio, an attorney with the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute, one of the groups that filed suit.

The judge ruled, among other reasons, the environmental groups didn't have enough money to post a larger bond.

"We think that's not true," said Damien Schiff, a lawyer with Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal group representing the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment, Sierra Resource Management, the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce and the California Forest Counties Schools Coalition.

Fazio said it's "somewhat ridiculous" that Tuolumne County groups, not the Forest Service, are spearheading the bond issue.

"We're having to deal with motions from people who shouldn't even be involved in the case," she said.

Melinda Fleming, a consultant with TuCARE, said the groups got involved because the timber provides job security at the Standard mill, which benefits the local economy.

"We care about the Eldorado sale because we get a product from them," she said.

On Monday, Schiff filled a request asking the District Court judge to reconsider his Nov. 20 ruling on the bond issue. Schiff said a decision to file a formal appeal has yet to be decided.

"The case is still alive and I think we're going to appeal," Albrecht said Monday.

Albrecht said 30 to 40 million board-feet of timber from the sale remains on the Eldorado forest floor. That amount, he said, is roughly twice what the Standard mill gets from the Stanislaus National Forest in a year.

A board foot is an inch-thick, foot-square piece of lumber.

Albrecht guessed that by springtime, 80 to 90 percent of the wood will be rotten.

"It's very disappointing," he said. "It indicates to me how out of touch the legal system is with what is actually happening on the ground."

The legal challenges came after the Earth Island Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity alleged that the Forest Service used poor science to determine which trees died or are dying because of the Power and Freds fires in the Eldorado forest and failed to compensate for the logging's impact on different species, such as the California spotted owl and the black-backed woodpecker.

From May to September 2005, SPI hauled wood from burned portions of the Eldorado forest to its mill in Standard.

"They basically clear cut Freds and a majority of Power," Fazio said. "I don't know how greedy they have to be."

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March sided with the environmental groups by ruling that allowing logging to continue could cause too much damage to the forest while the lawsuit proceeds.

This ruling overturned a U.S. District Court decision in August 2005, which allowed the logging to go as planned.

Fazio said she's not sure when the case will be resolved. The Forest Service, she said, could try and take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court or they could talk settlement.

"These things don't get resolved quickly, that's for sure," she said.

Contact Mike Morris at mmorris@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4537.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005

Progress towards sustainable forest management
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome, 2005

FRA 2005 - Main Report

The total forest area in 2005 is just under 4 billion hectares, corresponding to an average of 0.62 ha per capita. But the area of forest is unevenly distributed. For example, 64 countries with a combined population of 2 billion have less than 0.1 ha of forest per capita. The ten most forest-rich countries account for two-thirds of the total forest area. Seven countries or territories have no forest at all, and an additional 57 have forest on less than 10 percent of their total land area.

Total forest area continues to decrease - but the rate of net loss is slowing

Deforestation, mainly conversion of forests to agricultural land, continues at an alarmingly high rate - about 13 million hectares per year. At the same time, forest planting, landscape restoration and natural expansion of forests have significantly reduced the net loss of forest area. The net change in forest area in the period 2000-2005 is estimated at -7.3 million hectares per year (an area about the size of Sierra Leone or Panama), down from -8.9 million hectares per year in the period 1990-2000.

Africa and South America continued to have the largest net loss of forests. Oceania and North and Central America also had a net loss of forests. The forest area in Europe continued to expand, although at a slower rate. Asia, which had a net loss in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forests in the period 2000-2005, primarily due to large-scale afforestation reported by China. to read more of the key findings:

FRA 2005 - Key findings

Environment | Seeing the wood | Economist.com

Environment | Seeing the wood | Economist.com

Seeing the wood
Nov 16th 2006

From The Economist print edition

A new way of counting trees finds more of them than was thought

THE clearing of forests for agriculture or logging is progressing at a worrisome rate around the world. But that is not the whole story. A new study shows that, in richer countries at least, many more trees are springing up than are being felled.

Researchers led by Pekka Kauppi of the University of Helsinki in Finland sought to identify exactly how much carbon is stored in the world's forests. They analysed reports on the state of forests in 50 countries in 1990 and 2005 compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. They also used information contained in national databases dating back hundreds of years.

Instead of merely estimating the area of forest in each part of the world (the traditional way of measuring forest cover), they took into account the volume of timber, the weight of the organic matter and the density of trees to calculate what they dubbed the "forest identity", a measure of the carbon-capturing capacity of forests. The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that in all the countries that have a GDP per head of $4,600 or more-making them richer than, say, Chile, forests are recovering. Some countries that are poorer than this but which have policies to promote tree growth also showed an overall increase in their capacity to sequester carbon dioxide.

Globally, the total number of trees and associated organic matter has fallen year on year, in some places for as long as records have existed. Poor management in Brazil and Indonesia has been a particular problem: both countries lost greater volumes of timber than America and China even though America and China harvested more wood.

But elsewhere the picture was less gloomy. Tree cover in tropical areas such as El Salvador and the Dominican Republic has grown in recent years. Russia and Scandinavia are gaining trees. In fact all major temperate and boreal forests are expanding. The researchers calculated that the "forest identity" had increased over the past 15 years in 22 of the world's 50 most forested countries.

Forests are also gaining ground in the world's two most populous countries, India and China. Although it is still a poor country, India's forests are no longer shrinking. In China the density of forest has fallen since 1949 in many parts of the country but the area of its forested land has steadily risen. The net result is an increase in the volume of China's standing timber. Other Asian countries that have gone from deforestation to afforestation include South Korea and Vietnam.

The researchers argue that the trend is partly the result of social changes that occur as countries develop and become wealthier, such as the movement of rural dwellers to cities. Urbanisation decreases the likelihood of trees being felled for heating and building. As the world becomes more prosperous, it also becomes woodier. News of the death of forests appears to have been greatly exaggerated."

Genetically modified arboriculture | Down in the forest, something stirs | Economist.com

Genetically modified arboriculture | Down in the forest, something stirs | Economist.com: "Scientists from around the world announced that they had deciphered yet another genome. By and large, the world shrugged and ignored them. The organism in question was neither cuddly and furry, nor edible, nor dangerous, so no one cared. It was, in fact, the black cottonwood, a species of poplar tree, and its was the first arboreal genome to be unravelled. But perhaps the world should have paid attention, because unravelling a genome is a step towards tinkering with it. And that, in the end, could lead to genetically modified forests."
The black cottonwood was given the honour of being first tree because it and its relatives are fast-growing and therefore important in forestry. For some people, though, they do not grow fast enough. As America's Department of Energy, which sponsored and led the cottonwood genome project, puts it, the objective of the research was to provide insights that will lead to “faster growing trees, trees that produce more biomass for conversion to fuels, while also sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.” It might also lead to trees with “phytoremediation traits that can be used to clean up hazardous waste sites.”

It is also pretty sure to lead to a lot of environmental protest—hence, perhaps, the environmental emphasis of the energy department's mission statement. Given the argument about genetically modified field-crops that has taken place in some parts of the world, genetically modified forests are likely to provoke an incandescent response. Soya, maize, cotton and the like were already heavily modified for human use before biotechnologists got their hands on them. One result is that they do not do very well in the big, bad, competitive world outside the farmer's field. But trees, even the sorts favoured by foresters, are wild organisms. GM trees really might do well against their natural conspecifics.

The wood and the trees
Lofty mission statements aside, the principal commercial goals of arboreal genome research are faster growth and more useful wood. The advantage of the former is obvious: more timber more quickly. More useful wood, in this context, mainly means wood that is more useful to the paper industry, an enormous consumer of trees. In particular, this industry wants to reduce the amount of lignin in the wood it uses.

Lignin is one of the structural elements in the walls of the cells of which wood is composed. Paper is made from another of those elements, cellulose. The lignin acts as a glue, binding the cellulose fibres together, so an enormous amount of chemical and mechanical effort has to be expended on removing it. The hope is that trees can be modified to make less lignin, and more cellulose.

In a lucky break, it looks as though it might be possible to achieve both goals simultaneously. A few years ago a group of researchers at Michigan Technological University, led by Vincent Chiang, started the ball rolling. They produced aspens, another species of poplar, that have 45% less lignin and 15% more cellulose than their wild brethren, and grow almost twice as fast, as well. The mixture the team achieved leaves the combined mass of lignin and cellulose in the trunk more or less unchanged and, contrary to the expectations of many critics, the resulting trees are as strong as unmodified ones.

The trick Dr Chiang and his colleagues used was to suppress the activity of one of the genes in the biochemical pathway that trees employ to make lignin. They did this using so-called “antisense” technology.

Antisense technology depends on the fact that the message carried by a gene is encoded in only one of the two strands of the famous DNA double helix. Because of the precise pairing between the components of the two strands, the other strand carries what can, in essence, be described as an “antimessage”. The message itself is copied into a single-stranded messenger molecule which carries it to the protein-making parts of the cell, where it is translated. But if this messenger meets a single-stranded “antimessenger” before it arrives, the two will pair up. That silences the messenger. Dr Chiang therefore inserted into his aspens a gene that makes antimessengers to the lignin gene in question.

Wood can be improved in other ways, too. When it comes to papermaking, long fibres of cellulose are preferable to short ones. Thomas Moritz, of the Umea Plant Science Centre in Sweden, and his colleagues, have found out how to make hybrid poplars that reflect this industrial preference. In this case they did it by making a gene work overtime, rather than by suppressing its activity. The gene they chose is involved in the synthesis of a hormone called gibberellin and, once again, a side-effect of the alteration was to cause the trees to grow faster.

How such genetically modified trees would fit in with the natural environment is, of course, an important question—and it is important for two reasons. The first is political. The row about GM crops shows that people have to be persuaded that such technology will have no harmful effects before they will permit its introduction. But there is also a scientific reason. Trees have complex interactions with other species, some of which are necessary for their healthy growth.

Claire Halpin, of Dundee University in Scotland, and her colleagues have been looking into the question of environmental interactions using hybrid poplars that contain antisense versions of two other genes for enzymes involved in the production of lignin. The trees were grown for four years at two sites in France and England, in order to see how they fitted in with the local environment.

The trees and the bugs
The answer seems to be that they fitted in reasonably well. They grew normally and had normal diplomatic relations with the local insects and soil microbes. They also produced high-quality pulp.

A tree's interactions with soil microbes are often beneficial to it (the microbes provide nutrients) so this is an important result. But insects are frequently hostile, and some researchers are looking for ways to protect trees from them. Lynette Grace of Forest Research in Rotorua, New Zealand, for example, has taken an approach based on introducing the gene for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, a natural insecticide. This gene is already used to produce versions of crops such as cotton that do not require the application of synthetic insecticides. Dr Grace and her colleagues adapted it to the radiata pine, which is plagued by the caterpillars of the painted apple moth.

Genetic modifications based on Bt are environmentally controversial. On the one hand, they reduce the amount of pesticide needed. On the other, there is a fear that the gene might “escape” from crops into wild plants that form the foodstuffs of benign insects. In the case of trees it might not even be necessary for the gene to jump species. GM trees, with immunity to insect pests and faster growth rates than their unmodified competitors, might simply spread by the normal processes of natural selection. That really would be survival of the fittest.

Green.view | A ransom worth paying | Economist.com

The moral hazard of saving trees

“THE soybean frontier is approaching,” warns Virgilio Viana, the secretary of the environment of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. He is predicting an imminent surge in deforestation in the vast and relatively pristine heart of the Amazonian rainforest. First come roads, then illegal loggers, then pioneering homesteaders, and, finally, full-scale land clearance for soybean farms and cattle ranches. The states closer to Brazil’s Atlantic coast have already suffered this fate, which now threatens the remoter jungles of the interior.

These disappearing trees serve as a huge repository of carbon. When they are cut down, the carbon finds its way into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, the most common of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Deforestation accounts for roughly one-fifth of the greenhouse gases produced each year. If the world does not find a way to make living trees more valuable, Mr Viana fears, the rainforests of Amazonas will vanish within a generation—and the climate of the western hemisphere will become much less pleasant. Read full story:

Green.view | A ransom worth paying | Economist.com

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Seral Stages across Forested Landscapes: Relationships to Biodiversity

Landscapes and the ecosystems that compose them “age” through time. The process of forest aging called “succession” transforms the composition of forested ecosystems as biotic communities respond to and modify their environment. Succession is an important topic in landscape ecology because of its significant effects on landscape diversity and the subsequent biological diversity and viability of various plant and animal populations.

read the full article

Restoration lags in charred forests

Environment - Restoration lags in charred forests - sacbee.com

Reforestation -- the planting and natural regeneration of trees -- is the most critical part of forest management. But across the West, vast parcels of Forest Service land scorched by increasingly catastrophic wildfires have not been replanted. The consequences may linger for centuries.

Imagine a Sierra Nevada that yields not gin-clear snowmelt but coffee-colored torrents from eroding canyons. Imagine shrub fields that stretch for miles, so dense that even birds and backpackers avoid them. That is the future Doug Leisz -- a former associate chief for the Forest Service -- envisions unless the agency replants more quickly.

Retired Forest Planner Blasts Secret Forest Service Project

Retired Forest Planner Blasts Secret Forest Service Project

In an open letter to "fellow citizens who enjoy recreating on public land with our families" making the rounds in cyberspace, Artley sharply criticizes the Recreation Site Facility Master Planning (RSFMP) project currently underway within the FS. His criticism follows vocal opposition to the project from green groups like Wild Wilderness and Western Slope No Fee Coalition that claim it will result in the closing or privatizing of thousands of recreation sites.

Logging Proponent's Credentials Questioned - Los Angeles Times

Logging Proponent's Credentials Questioned - Los Angeles Times

In the perennial battle over how the West's vast acreage of federal forests should be managed, science is a favorite weapon. And on the pro-logging side no academic has been as visible as Thomas M. Bonnicksen, particularly in California. The Texas A&M emeritus professor of forest science has testified before Congress 13 times, written numerous op-ed pieces and been widely quoted in Western newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Always he sounds the same theme: Logging is the key to restoring public lands to their former fire-resistant state.

In his writings, Bonnicksen has commonly disclosed that he sits on the advisory board of the Auburn, Calif.-based Forest Foundation. What he hasn't divulged is how lucrative his connection with the pro-logging timber industry-funded foundation has been. According to public tax documents, Bonnicksen collected $109,000 from the foundation in the last two years as an independent contractor.'He's always introduced as the leading expert on forest recovery, and he's just not. There's nothing in his record other than just talking and hand-waving,' said UCLA ecology professor Philip Rundel, one of several academics who issued an open letter to the media this week questioning Bonnicksen's credentials. 'I don't care if people print his stuff or not. But he needs to be identified for what he is: a lobbyist.'

The letter, signed by two other UC faculty members and the founding dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, accused Bonnicksen of having misrepresented scientific facts, and advancing views that 'fall far outside the mainstream of scientific opinion.' The letter also disputed Bonnicksen's claim of an affiliation with the University of California. Although he has identified himself repeatedly as a visiting professor at UC Davis, officials there say that although Bonnicksen was once offered that title, he was never formally named a visiting professor.

Bonnicksen, who lives in Florida but frequently gives talks in California, said the letter writers were acting unethically and trying to silence him.'I am a full professor for life,' he said. 'I have academic freedom. I may speak as I wish, and I've always tried to do that as honestly as possible and using the science I know and have access to.' Cheryl Rubin, vice president of communications for the Forest Foundation and its sister organization, the California Forest Products Commission, said Bonnicksen was paid 'for the work he performed to educate Californians and people nationally: interacting with journalists, policymakers, students, professors. He gives speeches. 'We've always identified him with the Forest Foundation,' she added. 'I don't believe it's a common practice to say paid... How would you expect it to be revealed in an op-ed?'Rubin said the nonprofit foundation gets slightly less than half of its money from the forest products commission, which is funded entirely through timber assessments.

The foundation website lists on its board of directors executives of Sierra Pacific Industries and Sierra Forest Products, both major buyers of federal timber. Bonnicksen, who said his foundation contract pays him $38,000 a year plus travel reimbursements, said the funding posed no conflict. 'It's not the source of the money that's important,' he said. 'It's the integrity and scientific ability of the person. So I don't care where the money comes from because I am not saying anything now that I haven't said for 35 years. It has not tainted anything.

'Bonnicksen said he believed he had been offered an appointment as a visiting professor at Davis, something UC officials don't dispute. They say Bonnicksen was invited in the spring of 2004 to accept a yearlong visiting professorship by UC Davis professor Michael Barbour, who also serves on the Forest Foundation advisory board. But a university official said Barbour never followed up with the formal procedure required to name a visiting professor, which involves approval by the faculty, the dean and the chancellor.'While Bonnicksen thought he had a title, he in fact did not,' said James MacDonald, executive associate dean for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "

Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen - Open Letter to the Media

We are sending you this letter as a concerned group of forest scientists and/or fire resource managers at major research universities. We feel compelled to write to you in response to the many letters, opinion articles, and commentaries that Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen has been sending to newspapers across the United States. Most of us have served on federal and state committees reviewing the fire management policies of the
National Park Service and other agencies, and we all maintain active research programs. We feel very strongly that not only do the views and statements of Dr. Bonnicksen fall far outside the mainstream of scientific opinion, but more importantly that Dr. Bonnicksen has misrepresented himself and his qualifications to speak to these issues.

These misrepresentations include:

University Affiliation: In all of his contacts with the media over the past several years, Dr. Bonnicksen has in part justified his credibility by identifying himself as Visiting Professor at University of California Davis. This is false. Dr. Bonnicksen does not now, nor has he ever had, an appointment at UC Davis. The University of California has now sent Dr. Bonnicksen a "cease and desist" letter demanding that he not use their name.

We find this misrepresentation extremely troubling, particularly to those of us on the faculty of the University of California.

Credibility: Dr. Bonnicksen introduces himself, as do his supporters, as one of the leading national experts on such topics as forest management, fire ecology, and forest history. In fact, there is nothing in his academic record of research or experience to justify such a characterization. By any major university standard of achievement, his academic record is weak, consisting largely of letters to the editor and oped articles. This is not a record that would achieve tenure at a major research university.

Dr. Bonnicksen's unusual theories of forest structure and stability, expressed many years ago were never widely accepted. The state of scientific and empirical knowledge regarding the fire ecology and management of these forests has grown exponentially since Dr. Bonnicksen collected his data three decades ago. Today we have a comprehensive and sophisticated picture of forest structure and fire ecology that has been measured, validated and published by members of the academic community,
the National Park Service, and the United States Geological Survey. In simple terms, there is no serious scientific support for Dr. Bonnicksen's ideas of forest management.

As academic researchers, we welcome increased public understanding of scientific issues and an open discourse representing a diversity of credible views. However, we feel very strongly that Dr. Bonnicksen's views and misrepresentations of factual material, as well as his academic credentials, should be labeled for the political views that they are and not presented as serious science. The opinions he presents are contradicted by all prevailing scientific data. We ask that you consider these issues of credibility before publishing his oped articles and commentaries in the future, but of course these decisions are yours to make.

With all respect,

Philip W. Rundel
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Los Angeles

Michael F. Allen
Director of the Center for Conservation Biology
Professor of Plant Pathology and Biology
University of California, Riverside

Norman L. Christensen, Jr.
Founding Dean and Professor of Ecology
Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Duke University

Jon E. Keeley
Adjunct Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California, Los Angeles

Philip W. Rundel
Professor of Biology
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of California (UCLA)
Los Angeles CA 90095

tel: 310 825-4072, 825-8777
fax: 310 825-9433

Rigs cause rumble on Highway 4 Archives: Story

Residents along upper Highway 4 are questioning the safety of logging trucks that regularly run up and down the hill, and claim some of the drivers are purposely dodging the weigh scales in Murphys.

Read Story

Court Ruling, Herbicides and Biological Assessment Areas

On June 13. 2006, CDF reopened public comment for 10 days after Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) added a lengthy section to their THP regarding herbicide use and their scope of assessment of impacts to animals.

"Windmill" Davis Creek THP 1-03-232 HUM

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

California Resources Agency - Proposition 50 - Proposition 50 Sierra Nevada Cascade Conservation Grants Program

California Resources Agency - Proposition 50 - Proposition 50 Sierra Nevada Cascade Conservation Grants Program