Ecological Factsheet


No direct, scientific evidence or clear loss figures have been presented by the managing agencies to convincingly indicate a health emergency in our northwestern forests
--Dr. Arthur Partridge, Professor, Forest Disease and Insect Problems

Lost in the "forest health" debate is the simple fact that forest ecosystems are dependent on dead and dying trees to sustain wildlife, fish, productive soils, and clean water. Remember, timber harvesting, roadbuilding, and fire suppression have degraded and fragmented forest ecosystems. Here is some information on the ecological significance of dead and dying trees and the scientific misinformation perpetuated by the Forest Service and the timber industry.

How the bureaucrats and scientists differ...


When Measuring Volumes of Sediment

Scientific Method
Measures the actual volume of sediment at specific sites (2).

Forest Service Method
Use aerial photographs to make vague estimates about the volume of sediment generated (2).


When Contemplating Disease

Scientific Method
Recognizes the cyclic nature of diseases (2).

Forest Service Method
Recognize each outbreak of a disease as a doomsday event (2).

Scientific Method
Incorporates proper diagnoses of disease outbreaks (2).

Forest Service Method
Lumps all diseases together for administrative purposes (2).

Scientific Method
Notices that the loss of individual trees is offset by the ecological benefits that the trees provide as they decay (2).

Forest Service Method
Focuses on the potential economic loss of decaying trees (8).

Scientific Method
Observes that not all "at risk" trees die of disease-many reach old age (2).

Forest Service Method
Puts trees that are "imminently susceptible" to insects and disease up for sale (4).

Scientific Method
Cautiously recognizes that "further disturbance in the form of "salvage" or other heavy activity is going to stress the remaining trees, further modify soil structure, remove wildlife habitats, add to water-quality problems and reverse recovery trends" (2).

Forest Service Method
Proceeds in hasty ignorance and cause soils to deteriorate, water quality to worsen, fisheries to vanish, reduction of wildlife populations, reduce recreational opportunities, and opportunities for sustainable logging to evaporate (2).

Scientific Method
Draws conclusions about disease from inventories of diseases (2).

Forest Service Method
Draws conclusions about disease from available timber inventories and estimates disease activity from aerial photos (2).

Scientific Method
Uses entomologists and pathologists to diagnose disease and identify insects.

Forest Service Method
Uses seasonal employees with a few day's training to diagnose disease and identify insects (2).


Result of the Forest Service Method


% of misdiagnoses on sales in the Northwest between 1990-95: >80% (2).

Scientific Attitude
Be prepared to accept data which might indicate that previous conclusions need to be updated.

Forest Service Attitude
Revert continually to policy manuals that rely upon old conclusions.


When Contemplating Wildfire

Scientific Method
Recognizes that the variation in weather from year to year determines fire behavior more than the variation in fuel density (9).

Forest Service Method
Insists that fuel variation primarily determines fire behavior.

...and now on to the "Forest Health" and Salvage Index.

Back to the Beginning

©1997 by WIN. Comments? webmaster@wildrockies.org