I recently got a blurb in the e-mail exhorting me to contribute to an environmentalist group claiming that the forest service is caving to the demand of Big Lumber to allow logging in the Los Padres National Forest. They link to this article:

As Trump tweets about California fires, his administration wants to expand logging

So we have another case of the evil capitalists wanting to destroy a natural resource and ruin the environment for mere profit, right?

Well, I’m sure there is profit to be had. Unlike some, I do not have a knee-jerk anti-profit reaction. Profit that is legally and honestly acquired is a good thing.  It means people get jobs and health care coverage, can buy a home or rent a nicer apartment, and take vacations. The load on the social welfare system decreases and tax revenues go up at all levels without increasing taxes. Other businesses get to share a bit of the profit and communities that might have died get a second lease on life.

Alas, this is the LA Times and their reportage sometimes isn’t worth a pile of horse shit. This is one of those times.

Has anyone directly concerned hiked up Tecuya Ridge? If the reporter did, he didn’t notice what is in front of his eyes. Or maybe he ignored it. Let us take a look at the principle photo for the article.

Affectionately patting a tree. There is a bark beetle casualty (maybe 2) right behind him.

Hmm… I see one or two infected and dead trees right behind him. Now, the article said that the intent was to log the larger trees and leave trees that were both small and healthy behind. That is responsible forestry. It is something that can be monitored and enforced.

What do you think will happen when (and not if) a fire gets started and all the dead and stressed trees go up like huge matchsticks? I don’t think many “healthy” trees will still be healthy after that.

From my perspective, I’d much rather have those trees cut and turned into useful products than to have them burned and turned into greenhouse gasses.

See these tunnels? Those are bark beetle tunnels. The woods are full of downed trees killed by them. The trees natural protection is to drown the beetle in sticky sap, and failing that, having woodpeckers going after the beetles under the bark. When you’ve had decades of drought the tree cannot produce enough sap to do this. Woodpeckers cannot keep up. The tunnels effectively girdle the tree and it dies. Evergreens can be completely dead from this and still have all green needles. The needles then turn brown or red, starting from the very top and working its way down.

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Another casualty in the beetle war.

One the beetles get started, this is what a forest soon looks like:

These trees desperately need to be logged off. One spark and this will burn like matches. Taken near Mutau Flats, Los Padres National Forest.

This photo is actually from Tecuya Ridge, the area in question. If you just glance at it, you’ll see a blur of green and you may think, healthy. It isn’t. A closer look shows numerous stressed and dead trees among the healthy. Actually walk thru there and you’ll see the tell-tale signs of stress and beetle infestation. The trees look peppered with holes from woodpeckers going after the beetles. Needles starting to brown out. Tiny piles of sawdust in the bark and on the ground.

Tecuya Ridge (Forest Service)

There are no ways to fight a forest full of bark beetles. When it is this dry, woodpeckers aren’t enough. Within a couple years, most infected trees will die.

Oh, there’s a bunch of objections out there.

One is the aesthetic objection to not having all those old pretty trees anymore. I can’t say anything to that – except wait a few years and the area will be covered with new growth. Different growth, equally beautiful growth – that is if your brain isn’t so ossified it can’t see the beauty or deal with the change. Wildlife will love it.

Then there is the objection that this isn’t natural and nature should take its course. That is pretty much what we’ve been doing. If you are cool with it, I can live with it. But it is far more deadly to endangered species. And to people. Here’s the result.

From Station Fire, Wikipedia.

What really ticked me off wasn’t so much someone objecting to the plan. Debate is good. There are going to be reasoned arguments against the logging. It was the blatant bias of the article. Slanted writing. The lumber company set up as the “big bad greedy” in cahoots with a hapless Forest Service under Trump’s thrall.

It is only 2500 acres. A small step. It sounds like the cut will be long and thin to make a fire break along the ridge. Nobody is planning to denude the national forest. The Thomas fire of 2017 burned 281,893 acres in the same National Forest.  Ah well. At least that is 281,893 acres free of the bark beetle.

No discussion at all of the bark beetle – drought nexus. No alternative options to “either cut or do nothing” presented. And worst of all, to lead the title with Donald Trump’s tweets about the issue.  Trump has nothing to do with it. The Forest Service has been working towards timbering off infected areas as a way to reduce the fire hazard for a decade, yet the article implies that it is a new policy in response to Trump’s desires. They might as well say up front, We want you to hate the idea so we’ll make Trump the issue and not even discuss forestry. For half the article, they did.

This crap is so far off base it barely belongs in the editorial section. Definitely not in the news section. Environmental groups who point to this article in their fundraising will not be getting my support.

A couple of decades ago they published a multi-page, in-depth article about drinking even small amounts of alcohol and pregnancy. The front page headline trumpeted the news saying that “research” has shown even a glass of wine a day harms the fetus. After reading thru a couple thousand words of pure speculation, at the end of the article they quoted the researcher as saying that she had found a statistically insignificant relationship between having one drink a day and adverse fetal effects. It was so insignificant that she wouldn’t even tell her pregnant daughter not to have a drink now and then.

Heavy sigh! Nothing changes.