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The U.S. Forest Service is planning to log old-growth forests around Bozeman with the goals of reducing fire danger and slowing the spread of insects and disease. By cutting down these trees, the USFS will be worsening these issues, not alleviating them.

Climate change is the most pressing concern humanity faces. Trees have become the anecdotal hero of climate change, but carry legitimate power to slow the progression of climate change. According to a journal article published in Nature, the old-growth forests of the northern hemisphere sequester 1.3 gigatons of carbon each year, about 3% of the carbon emitted in 2019. Over time, old-growth forests store twice as much carbon as forests managed on a 100-year rotation, and over two-and-a-half times as much as ones managed on a 50-year rotation according to an Oregon Wild report.

Logging these forests would worsen climate change and exacerbate the issues that the USFS seeks to control. Climate change is the driving force behind worsening wildfires as it causes droughts and increases air temperature. The increase in temperature also plays a primary role in the increase in pine bark beetle populations.

Saving one forest may seem inconsequential in the face of climate change, but when Oregon reduced logging, the carbon flow reversed in forests and there is now more carbon being absorbed than is being released by the remaining logging efforts.

These old-growth forests are becoming increasingly scarce. They should be protected, not logged if we wish to stop the effects of climate change.

Meriwether Schroeer-Smith


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