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DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke's Logging Plan As Outlined Might Make Catastrophic Wildfire And Smoke Worse


DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke's Logging Plan As Outlined Might Make Catastrophic Wildfire And Smoke Worse

Depletion of Ameican megafauna has resulted in the evolution of catastrophic wildfire and toxic smoke

PR Newswire

REDDING, Calif., Aug. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- In an August 8, 2018 USA Today OP-ED article Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke posited his solution for catastrophic wildfires and smoke. He mentions 'pine needles' as the source kindling but failed to highlight the major and leading roll played by grass and brush as both kindling and fuel for the massive fires that have and continue to burn and produce deadly toxic smoke in western United States.

Former logger, author and naturalist William E. Simpson II disagrees with Sec. Ryan's plan.

"Back in the 1960's-1970's, deer populations in the westen landscapes of California and Oregon had over 2-million more deer than today. So even when we thinned and logged trees opening-up the forest canopy and allowing more light to support the growth of even more grass and brush, we had plenty of deer and elk to keep it all grazed-down to nominal conditions year-round. And generally back then wildfires were infrequent, relatively small with low intensity and short-lived; nothing like the fires we are experiencing today."

"That is no longer the case: Our combined deer herd in California and Oregon is down 2.2 million animals that were previously abating 2.7-million tons of annual grass and brush (just in CA & OR). This is the same grass and brush that has kindled and is the primary fuel for the massive smoke-producing mega-fires plaguing California and Oregon (Mendocino Complex, Carr Fire, Sonoma Fire, Thomas Fire, Kalmiopsis Chetco Bar Fire, etc.)."

"And now the fatal and highly contagious Chronic Wasting Disease ('CWD') is spreading to our relatively few remaining cervids (deer, elk, moose, etc.) fast, already in 27 states." More:

"Logging worked well to control the frequency and intensity of wildfires back in the 1960s and 70s via culling a reasonable percentage of some of the heavier fuel loading (10-hr. & 100-hr. fuels) because of the fuel-removal synergy with the millions of deer (and elk) present in the landscape back then; it won't work now the way it worked then!"

"If we engage in a solo logging and heavy-fuels removal solution for wildfires and smoke in the absence of proper large-bodied herbivore populations, as Secretary Ryan Zinke is positing, that method will fail."

"Prescribed burning have only proven to be a risky and costly enterprise (they can become wildfires), adding even more air pollution (deadly particulates that are already killing Americans) to our breathing air and environment; it's just more tape on a leaking pipe. Obtusely, the trendy meme of 'prescribed burns' is supported as some scientists stupidly assert 'the native Americans did it'.  And in doing so, clearly failing any comprehension of natural history and the many tens of millions of grazing megafauna that created and maintained the fire resilient ecosystems that were present back in the days when fire was used by the native Americans on the North American continent."

More here:

"The landscape in California and Oregon is missing 80% of its natural grass mowers, the large-bodied herbivores; aka 'megafauna' (western deer). It's clear that substitute native grazers are the answer."

"The net result of Zinke's big idea as-is will be that catastrophic wildfires and smoke will be made even worse, not better by logging and prescribed bruning. And I say this even though I love the idea of monetizing our forests once again via a sustainable logging industry as opposed to monetizing it via a fire-suppression business model."

A modernized and ecologically-balanced sustainable logging industry could devolve catastrophic wildfire and toxic smoke while contemporaneously enhancing local economies. But such a vision requires the reestablishment of depleted megafauna in and around our forests.

"It will take many decades of sound wildlife management to rebuild the former deer populations. And in the meantime we desperately need a substitute large-bodied herbivore doing their job."

"American wild horses sitting in BLM & USFS corrals are the only large-bodied herbivores on the North American continent immune to CWD and therefore do not spread the disease like deer, cattle and sheep, which could contract and also re-transmit that fatal prion-based disease from infected deer or each other. And with only 120,000 wild horses left in America today (includes all corralled horses) it seems utterly reckless to send any of them to slaughter as Sec. Zinke seems to also posit."

According to Science: "By altering the quantity and distribution of fuel supplies, large herbivores can shape the frequency, intensity, and spatial distribution of fires across a landscape."

There is a Plan;  Natural Wildfire Abatement And Forest Protection Plan; aka: 'Wild Horse Fire Brigade.'

"And it's not all that complicated: We put CWD immune wild horses back into and around carefully selected remote forest-wilderness areas (out of the way of livestock production), which are the most difficult areas to manage due to little or no access, rugged terrain and remote location. These same areas are also a real problem (costly) for wildfire suppression, so reducing the frequency and intensity of wildfire in these areas via a natural grazing herbivory, as it was in the past, is a very good thing. In these same areas apex predators are the naturally evolved predators of wild horses and burros and are an integral part of a balanced ecosystem and a functioning evolutionary process of natural selection, thereby preserving the vigor of the species in the wild, including wild American horses."

"Given wildfire losses in just California during 2017 wildfire season totaled $180-Billion, if Wild Horse Fire Brigade made even a 2.5% impact, that would save $4.5-Billion annually."

"In other areas that are far more accessible (with less predators = increased livestock production) and manageable with mechanized means, other herbivores can be deployed, such as cattle and sheep. In and around urban areas, goats could ostensibly provide cost-effective grass and brush abatement."

For more information on Wild Horse Fire Brigade, please see:

ABC NEWS coverage on WHFB:
TheDoveTV coverage on WHFB:
New Micro-Documentary:

More articles by William E. Simpson II here:


#WHFB, #WildHorses, #WildFires

Media Contact: Wlliam Simpson, William E. Simpson II, 8582125762,

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SOURCE William E. Simpson II

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