Bass River Fire Tower proposal

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by lj762, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. GermanG

    GermanG Piney

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    Bob, stances taken after long consideration are usually the most rational ones. I always wince when the term "destruction" is used for tree removal or forest clearing. Nobody does that when a cornfield is harvested. It is only truly destruction when it is followed by development, which you pointed out is not the case here. When it comes to the environment, good individuals with the best of intentions too-often take knee-jerk stances on issues. We've all been taught for a long time that trees and forests are good, just as Smokey has taught generations that fire is bad. While many here have differing opinions on how prescribed burning is implemented by the state, most of us agree that fire in the pine barrens is not a bad thing. That comes from the higher level of knowledge and experience spread across the members of this forum, compared to the average letter to the editor elsewhere, for example

    My feeling is that acceptance of the benefits of limited forest clearing and thinning is just lagging behind that of fire by a few decades. Your knowledge of botany tells you that an open bog is going to have a totally different plant and even animal component of species than a dense cedar stand will. Not better, just different. The same is true of upland forests. A clearing such as suggested around the tower might be too small to establish a wild quail population but would certainly be good habitat for birds such as bluebirds, as well as invertebrates such as butterflies. Many of these species have become rare and listed as T&E species due to a decrease in their preferred habitat.Various grasses and sedges will flourish if the site is maintained as an open habitat, providing food to numerous animal species. If trees are allowed to grow back, a different habitat will result, gradually changing until perhaps needing to be cut again a century from now. Each stage of that habitat will have a slightly different value to plant and animal species as succession progresses.

    If this was being done purely for habitat management reasons, I'd be among the first to suggest choosing a nearby site that was not inhabited by what is now considered a historic and charismatic stand of trees. But it is being done for a more pragmatic reason and rather than not seeing the forest for the trees, I just try to make lemonade when life offers lemons. The acreage of remaining CCC-planted trees will be far larger than the suggested clearing at Bass River. There are far bigger environmental fish to fry elsewhere.
     
    #121 GermanG, Mar 11, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  2. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    Well said German, well said.
     
  3. Wildland937

    Wildland937 New Member

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  4. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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  5. Teegate

    Teegate Administrator
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    I was heading to work very early Friday morning and Bob Williams was in the report on KYW about this. He was predicting a major fire because the state does not manage their land properly.
     
  6. 46er

    46er Piney

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    Dontcha love people that make predictions? :worms:
     
  7. Boyd

    Boyd Super Moderator
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    Remember this? https://forums.njpinebarrens.com/threads/will-americas-worst-wildfire-disaster-happen-in-nj.11182/

    With all the fires elsewhere, I was glad things were so wet here last summer. My ex-father in law lived in Paradise California. Got out of his house with his wife, dogs, one of his cars and just the clothes on their backs. Everything they owned was completely destroyed... he is 90 years old and I was very concerned. But evidently he took it right in stride and two days later - literally - he bought another home in Chico! Stubborn old guy, he always said the fires there were BS and refused to leave during them. The police came to their house this time and made them leave immediately.

    Anyway, it does make you think. Hoping for another wet summer here.
     
  8. GermanG

    GermanG Piney

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    While forest management has its intricacies, most of what's discussed in the article isn't rocket science. If there is less fuel in the forest, there will be less chance of severe fires and those that do occur will be easier to contain. It can't be any simpler than that. There are only two ways of reducing fuel. One is using fire and the other is mechanical removal. But prescribed burns, as practiced in NJ, can only do so much. Burning done against the wind, which removes only the lowest part of the fuel ladder, is done because it is the only way to safely burn when surrounded by so much human development. That leaves mechanical removal, which isn't done that much in NJ for the reasons stated in the article. The expense compared to burning was mentioned as one of the reasons. One way to reduce that expense is commercial use of the materials removed. Part of the resistance to commercial thinning is a suspicion of profit by many. But that attitude is more an ideological and political one and not necessarily one based on knowledge or science. This type of management has long been practiced in other states, particularly southern ones. That is why native pests like the Southern Pine Beetle have not devastated those forests as they have many stands here since the beetle has spread north. While science isn't perfect and its stances and recommendations can change or even reverse as knowledge improves, it a better tool for managing our resources than any of the alternatives. .
     
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  9. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    German, you say "commercial use of the materials used". I'm all for that, as long as it's self-replenishing. However, not all of the current problem can be solved in that fashion. I was in an area last week that is inviting fire in a way that is much more than a couple inches of duff on the floor. This area has been untouched by fire in many, many years. Now you have a Pinus rigida / Red maple / smilax alliance that is hard to even walk in, and has an under-story of at least 12-16" of dead wood, pine needles, and maple and ericaceous shrub leaves. A real tinder box. And, it's on land that is likely to be foreclosed on due to nonpayment of taxes. Maybe sometimes it's okay to let mother nature do her duty. You can't solve everything by selling the wood. But I do see your point, and have no issue with timber sales.
     
  10. Boyd

    Boyd Super Moderator
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    No forest, no forest fire. :D
     
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  11. GermanG

    GermanG Piney

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    Now, now, is the difference between thinning and clear-cutting really that hard to understand? ;) And you are right Bob, in that thinning or other types of harvesting isn't the answer on every stand, nor did I claim it was. I was recently privy to a management plan put together by a consulting forester for a large tract. The area was broken up into several blocks based on conditions of the stands. The recommendations ranged from prescribed burning, to thinning, to doing absolutely nothing at all. That type of plan is the result of months of intense field work rather than armchair suggestions made with little experience in forest management. Plans then have to be approved by the Pinelands Commisssion, rather than implemented with carte blanche. As I already said, mistakes can be made and lessons can be learned as science advances, but I'll take scientific management over the alternative every time. My experience has been that pleasing everyone when managing public land is impossible, and only seems simple to those who have never had that responsibility.
     
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  12. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    I'm simply suggesting that if you want to duplicate that for the 800,000 to 900,000 acres of pinelands, you have neither the time nor the resources to do it all with scientific management. Oh yes, you'll get some of it done, especially if your customer has money, but human intervention is not a panacea.

    Oh yes, I do like hot fires, and I think they should be part of the plan, but not on my lot please.
     
    #132 bobpbx, Mar 17, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  13. GermanG

    GermanG Piney

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    The problem with doing nothing is that many are under the mistaken belief that this is letting nature take its course. It unfortunately is not. We've interfered with the natural landscape to such a degree, and for so long, that what is natural is hardly known anymore. Those who think we should not manage deer through hunting have no suggestion on how to replace the wolves and mountain lions which once balanced prey populations. The hot fires which once indeed shaped the pine barrens can only be done by burning with the wind, which makes them extremely difficult to control and contain. That is why the large wildfires we've had in the past burned so much acreage until they either ran out of forest to burn or were put out by rainfall. Those fires will certainly have no respect for the boundaries of your lot. And given the risks associated with that type of burn, combined with the criticisms of the armchair experts and Monday morning quarterbacks, the state would not be likely to implement them where they might be needed most, since they answer to politicians who answer to the louder segments of the electorate, knowledgeable on the subject or not. Like I said, the choices are easiest for those not making them, or dealing with the consequences.
     
    #133 GermanG, Mar 17, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  14. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    So, you're saying widening the Basto-Washington turnpike did nothing? What about the 200 yard swath cut from Warren Grove to the Manahawkin dump? Was that another mistake? What do you think of the state's choice to do that? Was that an easy or a hard choice?
     
  15. bobpbx

    bobpbx Piney
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    I don't remember saying you should do nothing. I just wanted to make the point that managing the entire pinelands in the methods you suggest, prescribed burning and thinning by men and commercial outfits, is impractical. Surely you can agree to that.
     
  16. old jersey girl

    old jersey girl Explorer

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    Agree
     
  17. old jersey girl

    old jersey girl Explorer

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    Absolutely agree with German here. "letting nature take its course" is an easy out for those people (unlike most of us on this forum) who don't understand that our species has already meddled with most of the planetary ecosystems. The best ideas usually come from field experience/data, evaluated with some understanding of how an ecosystem works.

    As for "natural": cholera is natural, so is death in childbirth and a limited human lifespan. We are the ultimate, meddlesome primate species, constantly invoking the law of unintended consequences!

    "Trust in God; all others bring data"
     
    #137 old jersey girl, Mar 17, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  18. GermanG

    GermanG Piney

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    Firebreaks are effective for a variety of reasons but they can't solve the problem alone, nor were they ever claimed to. They work much more effectively if the forest upwind of them is not a tinderbox. And fire breaks are not solely barriers to approaching fire. They are also are used as a safe line to set a backfire from in the advent of a larger approaching fire. A narrow line that may suffice for starting fire upwind during prescribed burns in the best conditions will not be a safe place to do so during the much windier conditions that bad wildfires typically occur in.

    But as a naturalist, I look at those clearings the same way I'd look at the proposed clearing around the fire tower. Between the widespread clearing during the iron era, with each furnace needing a thousand acres a year just for charcoal, and the frequent and uncontrolled fire that likely cleared vast areas before that, we've never had so much mature upland forest in the pines than we do now. We didn't loose anything that was in short supply. Adding a little diversity, even if in an unsightly straight line, isn't a bad thing in the bigger picture.

    Also, I interpreted your statement about the tract that might be foreclosed on as a place to "let nature take its course". I apologize if I misunderstood you.
     
    #138 GermanG, Mar 17, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  19. lj762

    lj762 Explorer

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  20. Teegate

    Teegate Administrator
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    I totally agree.