On June 8, the Chronicle reported, “Montana fire managers say they’re ready for season.” On May 21, it featured, “Governor forms panel to assess, plan for forests.”

In a GEOS Institute Open Letter to Decision Makers Concerning Wildfires in the West, 217 scientists from all over the United States wrote, “As scientists with backgrounds in ecological sciences and natural resources management, we are greatly concerned about proposals to speed up and expand logging on public lands in response to recent increases in wildfires in the West.”

On thinning, "Thinning large trees, including over story trees in a stand, can increase the rate of fire spread by opening up the forest to increased wind velocity, damage soils, introduce invasive species that increase flammable understory vegetation, and impact wildlife habitat.”

And, "Post-disturbance Salvage Logging Reduces Forest Resilience and Can Raise Fire Hazards – Commonly practiced after natural disturbances (such as fire or beetle activity), post-disturbance clear-cut logging hinders forest resilience by compacting soils, killing natural regeneration of conifer seedlings and shrubs associated with forest renewal, increases fine fuels from slash left on the ground that aids the spread of fire, removes the most fire-resistant large live and dead trees, and degrades fish and wildlife habitat. Roads, even 'temporary ones,' trigger widespread water quality problems from sediment loading. Forests that have received this type of active management typically burn more severely in forest fires.”

And, "Though it may seem to laypersons that a post-fire landscape is a catastrophe, numerous studies tell us that even in the patches where fires burn most intensely, the resulting wildlife habitats are among the most biologically diverse in the West. For these reasons, we urge you to reject misplaced logging proposals that will damage our environment, hinder climate mitigation goals and will fail to protect communities from wildfire.”

Norman A. Bishop

Bozeman