Protecting Communities from Wildfire

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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I've been following the fuel reduction plan congress has been working on to protect communities from wildfire. I understand and appreciate the controlled burning plan in New Jersey to clear under growth to help keep fires from spreading. But, as discussed by the Feds and advocated by former Greenpeace member and co-founder Patrick Moore, tree harvesting would help prevent catastrophic forest fires by thinning out the "big stuff". This would also require less controlled burning, which pollutes the air, and would help keep a controlled burn from getting out of control, which was the case on the Los Alamos, NM forest fire. Mechanically thinning the forest may have prevented -- it would at least have minimized, the Los Alamos fire. In this report you have posted, clearing areas of fuel in areas near buildings for controlled was mentioned. I think clearing areas before burning is a good idea. Is any tree harvesting being done on public lands in the New Jersey Pine Barrens?

After I asked this question I read more on the site and found, in the pine barrens management plan that in "protected" areas of the pine barrens, activities compatable with maintaining a "natural" use of the area such as lumbering is permitted. I realize that the pine barrens consists of both public and private lands. I just wonder how much lumbering the forest service is doing. Do they have timber contracts with private parties, whereby, under forest service plans, the woods are thinned out to help prevent catastrophic wildfires and the state gets funds to help maintain the forest and fight forest fires? I did read on this site that the pine barrens commission requires that when trees are cut, replanting must be done to replenish the area with trees.

I occasionally hike the Batona trail in the Pine Barrens and really enjoy the scenery. It seems like the NJ state forests are wisely employing the multi use concept or at least have a good compromise where the forest is accessible and navigable but not overdeveloped.

I hope responsible people will find a good way to continue to protect this treasure.
 

German

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
51
1
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A big part of the problem in the pine barrens is the low value of the timber. The pitch pine has had little use since the days when it was made into charcoal for the iron and glass industry. The oaks here generally don't have a form suitable for saw logs due to the poor soil and internal defects due to past fires. There is some market for the hardwoods for firewood, of course, but that removes only a small portion of the potential fuel. With few commercial incentives, that leaves thinning and disposal by state employees at substantial public expense. With the current economic situation in the state government, I think fuel reduction by burning will be the primary method for a while.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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The poor commercial value of the trees in the pine barrens would not lend itself readily to timber sales, at least not on a large scale. It would seem that in some areas where trees are getting too close together the state forest service could selectively cut some trees and run them through a shredder and use for some of the trails in the system. I realize from hiking the Batona trail that in many areas, especially in the north, the "mulch" would not be needed, as the trails are sandy or covered with pine needles or both. And, of course, this would add to fuel for fires. Maybe mulch could be used on trails and lumbering could be done in wetter areas.

Last summer the guy in the Apple Hill fire tower told me that controlled burning was done in that area in the winter. I noticed some controlled burns as I walked along the Batona trail, especially in the north as well as when I drove by sections of the pine barrens along the highway. I also noticed occasional open areas along the Batona trail as I hiked south from the Apple Hill fire tower. I also saw where alot of underbrush had been burned out. I did notice on a recent hike on the Batona trail south of the Carranza Memorial a few areas where the brush had built up. Perhaps the state forest service will get to that. Evidently, the woods are being managed well to keep the brush from getting too thick and open areas are maintained. Another thing that helps keep fires from spreading are the many roads that run through the pine barrens. They not only act as a firebreak but they allow good access for firefighting equipment and personnel. The guy at the fire tower -- I think he was a fire warden -- said that unlike the crews that fight fires in the west, such as the hotshot crew out of Santa Fe New Mexico I served on many years ago, hand crews are not used to fight fires in the Pine Barrens. Instead, the forest services uses special machinery to cut ditches.

With all the fuel breaks in the Pine Barrens, heavy lumbering may not be necessary to prevent wildfires from getting out of control. It's unfortunate that because of budget contraints, having the forest service mechanically thin the woods may not be an option. This is an example of why the environment and the economy should not be a question of sacrificing one for the other. If the New Jersey state economy were better, thinning trees would be considered.

It seems that the Pine Barrens Commission is doing the best with what it has to work with. They need to stick to their guns, especialy when it comes to the restrictions on development it lays out in the management plan as well as not kowtowing to other special interests, such as groups that would want to halt lumbering in areas where it would be ecologically sound and where the wood would be marketable.
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
67
0
6
Jeff,

Why are you so gung-ho on thinning the trees or lumbering in order to prevent wildfires? Do you work for a lumber company? The pines are the way they are because of wildfires. The more you try to tame the pines, the less they will look like the pines, and you will lose them forever.

Imagine trying to thin the trees in the plains area. What a waste of manpower. We need to keep the pines wild. The mark of man is their worst enemy.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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No, Bob, I don't work for a lumber company. But I believe that in some cases, lumbering, done responsibly, helps the forest. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, who left the group in the mid-80's because the extremists took over, advocates lumbering as a means to keep forests healthy. I realize that the pine barrens is a unique situation, as all areas are unique. I am just exploring whether lumbering in the Pine Barrens would help prevent catastrophic wildfires, while bringing revenues to the forest service to help maintain the Pine Barrens and cut down on the pollution caused by controlled burning. Yes, I think controlled burning is a good idea -- to burn the underbrush, improve the soil and help germinate pine seeds. But it is not the only tool. As I said in my earlier post, one reason the controlled burn got out of hand at Los Alamos is that the woods were too thick (they also burned in May, which is often windy, hot and dry). If the woods were thinned mechanically first, the fire would not have spread the way it did.

The guy at the fire tower I mentioned said that some people object to some thinning of cedars in what some say is an old growth forest. The guy pointed out that trees don't live forever and reinforced my view that the forest is dynamic, not static. Trees die and are replaced by new ones. There is a method to manage these older woods to maintain the woods.

See, Bob, there is a difference is views about how to "manage" the forest. Some, which you sound like, are strick preservationists. Others, like myself, see the forest as dynamic and humans must care for the forest.

An official from the Pennsylvania State Forestry department once told me that there are three different ways of viewing what we do with our forests. First, is the "cut and get out" philosophy, which was practiced during the late 19th century by the lumber barons. This destroyed forests and fostered flooding, landslides, unemployment, etc. The second philosophy is the "leave it alone" philosophy, which was advocated by Henry David Thor Oh (had to spell it phonetically). He wanted nature to take it's course and not have any human intervention. This I call management by neglect. Today, this philosophy is advocated by the Sierra Club, which doesn't want ANY trees cut on public lands, although its founder, John Muir, believe in responsible tree harvesting to help the forest. The third view is a compromise of the two. It is "wisely manage," which was advocated by Giffort Pinchot. This is the philosophy of using human knowledge and tools to be a good steward of the forest, as one would tend a garden. This is my view.

Again, the Pine Barrens is a unique situation. But I wouldn't rule out timber harvesting. I found in the Pine Barrens Commission's management plan that lumbering is legitimate practice which is in harmony with the plan to care for the Pine Barrens. One must distinquish between deforestation and maintaining a forest. Deforestation occurs when the land is put to a different use, such as farming or if it is developed. Development is something I believe needs to be curtailed in the Pine Barrens, and the commission needs to stick to its guns to keep developers from ruining the Pine Barrens.

Maybe sometime in the future I'll post a link from Patrick Morre's homepage, called GREENSPIRIT.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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I don't mean to start a trend to answer my own posts, but I went directly to the Pine Barrens Commission website and found that tree harvesting is being done in the Pine Barrens:

Standards Which Apply To Specific Types Of Activities

Forestry - The growing and harvesting of timber is an economically valuable industry in the Pinelands. If done properly, timber harvesting can avoid substantial environmental harm while promoting the regeneration of commercially valuable trees.
Anyone who wishes to cut timber for commercial purposes in the Pinelands Area must obtain a forestry permit. This forestry permit must be obtained directly from the Pinelands Commission if the municipality has not yet received Commission approval of its revised land use ordinances. In municipalities which have already been "certified" by the Pinelands Commission, forestry approvals are issued by the township. Adjacent property owners must be notified of the forestry operation before harvesting begins.

Proper cutting and reforestation practices must be used, and a forestry management plan must be prepared. This plan must also be reviewed by the New Jersey Bureau of Forest Management. To ensure that the area is properly restored, a performance guarantee in the form of a financial surety must be posted by the property owner.

###


I emailed the commission to ask them if it would encourage tree harvesting as a way to protect communities from wildfire. In the 1998 report posted on this website (PBE), officials talked about relieving homeowners from insurance liability for doing controlled burns and discussed the pollution from controlled burns. The reasoning was that by doing a controlled burn, a wildfire, which does more damage and pollutes more, would be prevented. The commission referred to studies done by the federal government. Since that meeting there has been a growing movement to include mechanical harvesting in the plan to protect communities from wildfire.
 

Teegate

Administrator
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Sep 17, 2002
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I will be 45 years old this year and spent every weekend and many evenings traveling the pines for 10 years starting in 1973. I put 100,000 miles on two vehicles doing it. Logging and controlled burning was in full operation then, and recent visits to some of those areas show no signs that it even occurred. You can't tell me that many homes have been saved over the years because of burning operations. There are only a few days a year that they can even perform the burns, making it only a small part of the pines that are effected. The rest thrive until a natural or unnatural wildfire cuts them back.

The pines have been burned, cut, and used by man for ages. We are only looking at them in our time frame. A far greater threat to the pines is uncontrolled building. Fire is the least of the problems.


Here is a photo from the early 70's of a logging truck in the pines.

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/teegate/Vehicle.jpg


Here is one of the cedar logging near Martha that was cut before 1973.

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/teegate/CedarTrees.jpg


Guy
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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Thanks for the history lesson, Guy. My experience in the Pine Barrens has been much more limited than yours. I guess logging in the Pine Barrens hasn't been publicized to much. I haven't heard about it.

Building in the Pines Barrens certainly threatens it.

I thought it was interesting in the Pine Barrens Commission report that only 1 percent of the fires are caused by lightning; 99 percent is caused by humans. People who play with fire and start forest fires deliberately or thought neglect need to be prosecuted.

In the early 70's (that dates me), the summer after I got out of the Navy two friends and I camped in the Pine Barrens. We started a campfire that almost got out of control. Fortunately, we left a buffer zone and were somewhat prepared, although I was surprised how fast the campfire got started. It was almost as if gasoline was poured on it. Puff, it flared right up.

It's good to know that at least fire is not a big threat to the Pine Barrens. We, as Pine Barrens enthusiasts need to keep the developers from ruining this natural treasure.
 

westyvw

New Member
Dec 31, 1969
27
0
1
Yes, wildland firefighting in the Pine Barrens is unique. The special machinery used to cut ditches, aka plow lines, are small dozers w/fire plows pulled behind. Almost all of the plow lines in the Pine Barrens are 'installed' and maintained prior to forest fires as a prevention, not when fires are trying to be suppressed. Quite a few years back, I was a District Forest Fire Warden with NJFFS (North Jersey). I did get my Firing Boss certification at classes which were given at Div. 'B' Hqts. in Lebanon St. Forest. Most of our field work was prescribed burning in Wharton St. Forest. Before anyone lit a drip torch, a detailed fire plan was submitted and approved. Smoke management, fuel types, fuel load, fuel moisture and a dozen other things were checked prior to any burning. Every possible safety precaution is taken. Sure, things could go wrong, but seldom ever do. Prescribed burning is not only a tool, but a science in itself. When a forest fire does occur in the Pine Barrens, one of the most used methods of suppression is 'Back Firing'. Basicly doing a controlled burn in advance of a approaching fire to starve it of fuel. If you fought fires out west, you know the best line is a black line. The best method for fire prevention in the Pine Barrens is controlled burning. Fight fire with fire.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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Oh yes, I know about backburning. The crew I was on, the Santa Fe Hotshots, used in on a fire that started behind an army base in Southeastern Arizona. Backburning can be misused. Some people say that it burns up too much "real estate" unnecessarily. My crew boss on a fire in Southern California said that the California crews tend to overuse backburning -- doing it when they didn't need to. The former forester in the Valley Forge Pennsylvania area echoed this sediment while back in THE WOODLAND NEWS.

I'm still boning up on fire prevention/management plans for the pine barrens. I plan to talk to someone from the Pine Barrens Commission, but I've been out on business during normal working hours.

There's alot to learn about the Pine Barrens. And education and exchange of ideas is a good way to keep it healthy.

-Jeff
 

Teegate

Administrator
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Sep 17, 2002
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This is off topic, but we have been discussing fires and how backburning prevents them from destroying homes. Here is a photo of the Village of Stoney Run Apartments in Maple Shade that burned down this past week. It wasn't started by a woods fire, but it could have been.

Guy

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/teegate/vsra.jpg
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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That's right, Guy, a forest fire can destroy homes. Since my last post, I talked to a Pine Barrens Commisioner and a NJ State forester. The forester, Dave Edelman, told me that the forest fire devision of state forests has been encouraging people to cut some of the woods close to their houses. But people love the trees near their houses, the forester pointed out, so in this case it's a matter of individual landowners not wanting to cut trees.

Further up this thread it was pointed out that there was lots of lumbering in the 70's. Some pines as well as cedars were harvested. This has tapered off, says Edelman. Some companys, such as one that cuts pines for roofing shingles, thought the environmental regulations would not make lumbering feasible for them, and they decided not to continue harvesting in the Pine Barrens.

Pine Barrens Commisioner Chuck Horner told me that the permits for lumbering in the Pine Barrens were changed to better accomodate foresty. The commissioner said that most of the foresters follow through with the permit. As an example balancing the different interests in the Pine Barrens, he explained that to protect the endangered Pine Snake and to accomodate foresters, timber cutters were allowed to cut more trees if they did so during the winter when the snakes are hibernating.

Wise managment of the forest is encouraged through the Forest Stewardship program, which recognizes and thus encourages private landowners who, though good forestry practices, manage the woods for wildlife, good soil and water quality, and for endangered species.

Limited tree cutting is done in the public forests in the Pine Barrens, Edelman said. Cutting and replanting is being done in problem areas to restore a healthy forest. He also pointed out the need for controlled burning to remove the extremely combustible fuels in the undergrowth. The forester would be for doing more tree harvesting in the woods, which would keep the forest healthy.

Both the commissioner and the forester said that you can't keep everybody happy, and the different interests must be balanced to manage the Pine Barrens.

I found it interesting that it's easier to get the go ahead for a controlled burn than for tree harvesting. Evidently, there was a period of heavier timber harvesting in the Pine Barrens followed but a sharp drop in lumbering. My concern is that claims of endangered species in the Pine Barrens are valid. The Feds are going after federal wildlife biologists for faking reports. This, along with the twisting of endangered species act has served as a tool for tree huggers to curtail responsible lumbering. And of course there's the Spotted Owl fiasco in the Pacific Northwest, which put alot of people out of work.

Right now it seems that basically, the Pine Barrens are being managed in an ecologically sound manner. And, the commisioner assured me that the legislation to protect the Pine Barrens from development is iron clad. Horner told me that developers have not challenged the legislation.

One way to rebutt the developers' argument that we need to provide jobs, provide a tax base, help the economy, etc, is to show that all this is being done in a way that maintains the ecological integrity of the Pine Barrens. I remember reading a U.S. Forest Service phamplet years ago that said THOREAU WAS WRONG; YOU CAN HAVE THE FOREST AND USE IT TOO. I agree. Lumbering, cranberry and blueberry growing is an example of having the woods (or at least woods interperced with cranberry or blueberry farms) and using it. I agree with many of you who say over development is the greatest danger to the Pine Barrens. I think we need to employ the multi-use practice, where recreation, wildlife, soil and watershed management, and lumbering are kept in harmony. Development needs the most restriction to protect the natural treasure of the Pine Barrens.
 

Teegate

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Jeff,

Well written, well investigated, and well thought out. I am impressed, not to mention jealous of your writing skills. Good job..

Guy
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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Thanks, Guy. I'm sort of jealous of folks who can design web pages, post photos, etc. on the Internet. I have a degree in Humanities (liberal arts) with an emphasis in communications using different media. I struggle to learn electronic skills to use as a tool for content. Graduate assistants, etc. had a lot of patience to teach me how to use editing and other machines when I made videos. I've worked as a reporter, mainly in New Mexico where I lived for awhile. I've been thinking about getting back into it part time.

When I found someone had replied to my post, I thought I might be getting into a debate about some of the views I expressed. On a general bulletin board, I am a controversial person. I've got into some heavy, heated debates with some environmentalists and posters who support them, as well as with other posters over my indictments of politicians, especially local ones. A member of what I call the Bandit Party in Bristol Township, PA, slashed a council member's tires because the Bandits did not like the way he voted.

I'm learning alot about the Pine Barrens on this bulletin board as well as the accompanying web site.

I was also an environmental educator in the PA state park system. Since I left, my views on some environmental issues have changed.

I'm intererested in the ecology and other facets of the Pine Barrens. The Trenton Museum has a good overview of Pine Barrens ecology in a room dedicated to the Pine Barrens.
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
67
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I don't know Jeff, I'm still trying to figure you out. You seem to speak with a forked tongue. First of all, I tend to mistrust anyone who uses the term "tree huggers" with a hint of derision.

In your post, you at first speak of a "concern..(that the)..claims of endangered species in the Pine Barrens are valid. You then go on to report that "the Feds are going after federal wildlife biologists for faking reports". What are you trying to say?

And, if you want to beleive the tale from the commisioner that "the legislation to protect the Pine Barrens from development is iron clad", then you have not been told the rest of the story. What about the clever deals they concocted to allow the new high school in Tabernacle, or their deal with a developer to allow him to construct
homes in a Timber Rattlesnake habitat? It got so bad, the Department of the Interior had to send in the Secretary to tell them to knock it off, and follow the rules.

And of course a controlled burn permit is easier than a timber harvesting permit. That's cause all the fire guys know each other, whereas the harvesters are commercial Joe's.

I don't know what that forester means when he says that controlled harvesting in the forest keeps it healthy. Whats that mean? What is an unhealthy forest? Were the pines unhealthy 10,000 years ago, when no one was "thinning" it with a hair cut every one in a while?
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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In an earlier post on this thread I discussed the three basic philosophies of what to do with the forest, Bob. I believe I also mentioned Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace. Dr. Moore left the organization when the environmental extremists took over. Do you remember the young woman who climbed up a tree because she didn't want it cut? She is what I call a tree hugger. There is a difference between a tree hugger -- someone who worships nature -- a pantheist who doesn't want any human intervention (the Sierra Club, as I mentioned, doesn't want ANY trees cut on public lands), and a nature enthusiast -- one, like myself, who appreciates nature. Moore has an excellent depiction of extremist environmentalists. Let me see if I can post it.

http://www.greenspirit.com/21st_century/?page=4

There it is. You may want to back up a few pages to learn about the history of Greenpeace and Patrick Moore and advance a few pages for Moore's concrete examples of environmental extremism.

I am not saying that endangered species listed in the Pine Barrens is bogus. Just like the healthy scepticism you have with the Pine Barrens Commissioner's statement that the rules to regulate development are ironclad, I just entertain the possibility that the endangered species claims could be used to justify the "leave it alone" philosophy. This is happening in national forests.

Now that you mention the rattlesnake, I ask, do we really want to go out of our way to protect rattlesnakes? I realize that like other species, they have an ecological value, but they are expendible, especially in areas where there is human contact. See, this is the crux of the matter. There are those who put nature above humans. Others say that we have dominion over the earth. The latter is my view. This does not mean exploitation, but good stewardship. We should tend the forests like a garden.

Patrick Moore, who is a scientist(you can read his resume on his site) believes that tree harvesting helps keep a forest healthy. It's not just a commercial enterprise. And, by the way, some critters benefit when openings are created in forests. The former forester in the Valley Forge area of Pennsylvania once told me that there was an endangered species in a public forest, but cutting, which would have created better habitat for this endangered species, was banned from this area. It was designated wilderness. To me, wilderness is management by neglect, and promoters of pure wilderness, where there are no roads, no cutting, nothing, where vast areas of land are virtually roped off from humans, are members of a cult.

This is not the case in the Pine Barrens. I certainly can appreciate the need for controlled burns, especially after reading the article on my recent post. Litter on the forest floor in the Pine Barrens does not decompose to enrich the soil, and fire recycles the nutrients and enriches the soil. The article points out that periodic fires have weeded out the oaks. But the same could be done by mechanical harvesting of the "big stuff." All you're doing is beating nature to the punch. This is a way to care for the garden. And of course you should harvest trees in an ecologically sound manner. This is what Dr. Moore is doing with timber companies.

I think it's good that you hold the commissioner accountable by questioning and challenging his statement. I agree that development needs to be restricted in the Pine Barrens, and that the commission needs to stick to its guns. As I've already said, lumbering is compatible with maintaining the integrity of the Pine Barrens. You can't just set land aside and not use it for anything, and let nature just take its course. Responsible lumbering is part of a multiple use plan to use the forest and keep it too. Thoreau WAS wrong.

Just one more speech then I'll get off my soapbox. In Dixy Lee Ray's book ENVIRONMENTAL OVERKILL/WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COMMON SENSE, Dr. Ray compairs two similar tracks of forests which were equally damaged by Mount Saint Hellens. One was left alone for nature to take its course. The other was proactively managed (tree thinning, planting, etc.) Years later, the managed forest had matured much more than the one where nature was allowed to take it's course. This forest can be better enjoyed by nature lovers. Patrick Moore explains how active management brings more forests for us to enjoy. You may learn something from Moore. I know I did!
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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Here I go again answering my own post. But I want to answer your question, Bob, about what is an unhealthy forest. Congress has documented millions of acres of national forests, where the "leave it alone" wilderness practice has resulted in overgrown, fire prone, forests with sick, decaying trees.
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
67
0
6
Jeff,

You have a pedantic, condescending way of setting forth an argument that can be grating on ones nerves. You let the teacher in you go way too far. No wonder you got into heated arguments with other boards you posted on. You have your views, I have mine. Nothing will change that. In that respect, I will say my final piece on this subject and leave it go.

According to your views, the forests should be tended like a garden, wilderness promoters are members of a cult, Thoreau had it wrong, you want to thin the forests as soon as the state has the money to undertake it, wildfires should all be suppressed because they damage the forest and pollute the air, the forests will all get sick and die without help from man, and wildlife biologists may be doctoring endangered species reports in order to protect areas from development.

I guess that sums it up and makes it clear to me. You just can't leave a wilderness alone can you? Even in the most densely populated state in the country you insist that an army of forest rangers, tree harvesters, berry growers, and firefighters descend upon the forest and protect it from itself.

Whatever happened to wilderness being there just for the spirit, for the very soul of man to go into and be at peace, to get away from the hustle and bustle and back into a wild area and at least attempt to regress for a moment and just be a member of the earth community, rather than a conqueror?

You like to quote people you admire, to press your views. Well, I guess I can do that to. How bout these?

Wilderness is a necessity ... They will see what I meant in time. There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls. Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual. In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow. -John Muir, conservationist and founder, The Sierra Club.

Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also
know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we
should--not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water. -Senator Clinton P. Anderson, New Mexico in American Forests, July 1963.

The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great
background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite
prodigal from the husks of an artificial life. -Ellen Burns Sherman.

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do
more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of
reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope. -- Wallace Stegner, the Wilderness Letter

And finally, my favorite of this week from Aldo Leopold;

"I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are 40 freedoms without a blank spot on the map?"

This land is my land too Jeff. Stop trying to manage it to death.
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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Well, Barry, this forum is not being neglected! It seems we have all kinds of people who have an interest in the Pine Barrens.

Interesting you brought up John Muir, Bob. Unlike the extremists who run the Sierra Club now, John Muir believed in responsible timber harvesting.

If you were more open minded, you would have understood that in no way was I promoting development in the Pine Barrens, nor did I say that some scientists doctor reports just to keep development out. I can understand how my exersize of free speech can get on your nerves (as it would on likeminded people), but I'm sorry. I'm sorry but this land is your land this land is my land. It doesn't belong to people who want to rope it off and keep others out. What good is a natural area if you can't visit it? Sounds like a sacred cow mentality to me.

"Even in the most densely populated state in the country you insist that an army of forest rangers, tree harvesters, berry growers, and firefighters descend upon the forest and protect it from itself," you say. So? How melodramatic. I don't understand how tree harvesting, berry growing, and fighting forest fires detracts from finding solitude, etc, in the Pine Barrens. As Patrick Moore wrote, "How much wilderness is enough?" I agree that we do need more open space in this part of the country and we need to keep housing developments, etc, from encroaching. But do we need to neglect the Pine Barrens and let nature just take it's course? No, I say. You're right that you and I have a fundamentally different view of nature and the ecosystem.

As I said, people with different as well as similar interests have something to say about the Pine Barrens. Let them express their views in the marketplace of ideas. This is not condesending nor pedantic. We all have something to learn. Scientific truth means something to some of us.

I did have my original question answered somewhat when I learned that property owners who are at risk for forest fires have decided on their own not to cut some trees down to protect their property from forest fires. That's their business. In a way. The problem is that taxpayers have to foot the bill for the damage, which may have been prevented. It also unneccessarily raises insurance rates.

I also learned that some of the previous commerical uses of the woods ended due to changing markets. The practice of making charcol by slowly burning trees in the Pine Barrens was phased out with modern industrial techniques of charcol production. What concerns me is that at some point timber harvesting was overly restricted, seemingly because of regulations to protect endangered species. Now I wouldn't want to disturb a rattlesnakes home because someone wants to slap up a development in the Pine Barrens. But I would not restrict tree harvesting to protect a poisonous snake! Fortunately, it seems that restrictions on forestry have been easing up, and it is part of the Pine Barrens Commission's management plan.

By the way, timber harvesting plans are made by foresters employed by the state. They use their knowledge of ecology and other science to plan the harvest while maintaining the woods you and Henry David Thoreau, who waxed poetic about nature, enjoy.

Yes, I agree that there are things that are there just for our enjoyment, which have no utilitarian value. In E.B. White's essay COON TREE, White writes about a racoon that lives in a tree just outside his window, which he enjoyed watching. He said that he could shoot the coon anytime, as it eats his corn. But White said the small amount of corn is worth the joy he gets from the racoon living there. This is a good philosophy. I have some wild animals living in craw spaces on the outside of my house. If they start doing any real damage, I'll evict them. If I rewrote E.B. White's story from an extremists environmentalists point of view, the state would evict Mr. White so endangered species could have some habitat.

The nation's bombers are not going to turn into butterflies and we are not going to turn the Pine Barrens into the Garden of Eden. But if we work the garden and keep the developers out we can have a place we all can enjoy.
 

BobM

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
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0
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Jeff,

I could not but help noticing that this guy you often quote, Patrick Moore, receives the bulk of his funding from lumber companies, many of whom do considerable damage by clear cutting up in British Columbia.

There is even a web site set up for the sole purpose of discrediting him. The title of that site is: "Patrick Moore is a big fat liar".

http://www.fanweb.org/patrick-moore/index.shtml

Seems to me you should pick your mentors better.