Does logging of the fire-ravaged Bitterroot National Forest pose a threat to the environment

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Does logging of the fire-ravaged Bitterroot National Forest pose a threat to the environment?

Viewpoint: Yes, logging of recently fire-ravaged forests in the Bitterroot Mountains poses numerous threats to the recovery of this land, as well as to the animal and plant populations that reside there.

Viewpoint: No, plans by the United States Forest Service to allow logging of dense forests in the Bitterroot Mountains would not cause lasting damage to the soil and rob the forest of natural systems of recovery; on the contrary, such plans would reverse a century's worth of mismanagement that allowed the national forests to become so dense that raging fires were inevitable.

For almost six weeks during the summer of 2000, a confluence of intense wildfires devastated about 365,000 acres of forests in southwestern Montana. About 20% of the acreage affected was in the Bitterroot National Forest. In addition to the fires in Montana that August, forest fires also occurred Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, South Dakota, and Texas. At the federal level, the cost of fighting the forest fires that burned 8.4 million acres during the summer of 2000 amounted to about $1.4 billion.

When the fires finally ended, the United States Forest Service announced plans to cut and sell trees from about 46,000 acres in the Bitterroot National Forest, including tracts of undeveloped, roadless forest. The proposal called for salvaging 176 million board feet of ponderosa pine and other trees. Many environmental groups, scientists, and concerned citizens vigorously opposed the plan and warned that if it succeeded it would serve as a precedent for the logging of other fire-damaged national forests.

Opponents of the proposed logging plan argued that scientific studies demonstrated that logging of recently burned land inhibits the natural recovery process and causes long term damage to the complex forest environment. To counter opposition by environmentalists, the Forest Service argued that careful logging was an essential aspect of recovery and protection for the fire-ravaged forest. Although the Forest Service is officially charged with overseeing the health of national forests and selling timber, representatives of the Service were also eager to point out that the plan would create thousands of jobs and raise money that could be used to help replant trees. When environmentalists challenged the sale on a procedural issue, a federal judge agreed and stopped the project. However, the Forest Service immediately announced its intention to appeal the decision and asked the judge to allow some sales to proceed on an emergency basis. The case was finally settled in February 2002, when the Forest Service agreed to reduce the logging area to 14,700 acres.

Opponents of logging the Bitterroot Mountain area argue that after a fire, dead trees play a vital role in protecting the forest floor and local waterways from the effects of direct sunlight and erosion caused by wind and water. Removing dead trees exacerbates damage to the soil and causes a further loss of habitat and shelter for plants and animals. Dead trees, whether they are still standing or have fallen to the forest floor, provide shade and help the soil retain moisture. Fallen trees act as natural dams to stop erosion on steep slopes and enrich the soil as they decay. Soil scientists note that logging is detrimental to soil structure and health, particularly to the topsoil layers in which the seeds of pine grass, huckleberry, and beargrass would sprout. Logging scrapes away the essential upper layers of soil and surface litter and compacts the remaining soil. This removes the seeds of plants that normally sprout after a fire and the nutrients needed for plant growth. Forest Service officials said that damage to the soil would be minimized by allowing logging only on frozen and snow-covered ground and by techniques that would restrict the use of heavy equipment in vulnerable areas.

Although advocates of logging believe that thinning the fire-damaged forests would remove the fuel that might promote future wildfires and encourage infestations by insect pests, their critics argue that attempts to demonstrate the value of this procedure have been negative or, at best, inconclusive. Some studies suggest that very intense forest fires and outbreaks of timber diseases are more likely to occur in areas that have been logged than in natural forests. The piles of twigs and debris left behind by loggers may have contributed to fires in forests subjected to thinning.

Nevertheless, advocates of logging argue that the Forest Service plan would actually benefit the forest by reversing misguided management policies that allowed overly dense national forests to become increasingly vulnerable to devastating wildfires. Critics of existing fire suppression policies argue that this approach leads to overly dense forests where pine needles, logs, and debris provide masses of kindling that fuel dangerous infernos. Forest Service officials claim that because of previous mismanagement some national forests now support 700 trees per acre rather than the 100 trees per acre that would occur under more natural conditions. Therefore, thinning and controlled burns would prevent fires and promote healthier forests.

Environmentalists and loggers disagree about the best way to encourage restoration of the fire-damaged Bitterroot Mountain forests, but they do agree that the region faces a high probability of extremely destructive fires in the not-too-distant future. Both sides in this controversy urge further studies in order to develop sound fire-management policies.


Viewpoint: Yes, logging of recently fire-ravaged forests in the Bitterroot Mountains poses numerous threats to the recovery of this land, as well as to the animal and plant populations that reside there.

The one-two punch of wildfire and logging can cause long-term harm by removing the dead trees that shield direct sunlight from the forest floor, streams, and other shallow waterways, help disrupt wind and water erosion, and protect the soil from the drying effects of the sun. This combination can affect the growth of replacement trees and make the forest susceptible to future wildfires. It can also have a devastating impact on both the terrestrial and aquatic animals.

The controversy over whether to log the Bitterroot Mountains began in the summer of 2000 when wildfire swept through approximately 300,000 acres of dense forests. By fall, the U.S. Forest Service had proposed logging more than 40,000 acres—about 14%—of the burned area, including 16,800 undeveloped, roadless acres. American Wildlands described the proposed harvest of 176 million board feet as "over 2.5 times the amount of timber sold from Bitterroot National Forest between 1988 and 1999—enough to fill 56,000 log trucks lined up end to end for 475 miles." Concerned citizens and numerous environmental groups fought the proposal, eventually filing legal appeals. A February 8, 2002, settlement reduced the logging area to 14,700 acres.

Those opposed to the Forest Service proposal pointed to opinions from forestry experts, biologists, and others, as well as numerous scientific studies demonstrating that the logging of recently burned land disrupts the natural recovery process and has lasting negative effects on forests.

Soil's Part in Recovery

Soil, particularly its uppermost layers, plays a vital role in forest recovery following a fire. These layers provide the microhabitat that allows the rejuvenative greening of the charred forest floor. The uppermost surface litter includes newly fallen organic matter that not only will eventually decompose into life-supporting nutrients for sprouting plants, but also will provide a blanket of sorts to protect tender shoots from exposure to harsh winds and help maintain the moisture content within the topsoil and subsoil. The topsoil, which is where seeds initially sprout, must retain sufficient moisture, contain proper nutrients, and provide sufficient porosity (spaces between soil particles) for the movement of air, water movement, and growing roots.

Logging has been shown to impair soil health. According to Forest Service soil scientist Ken McBride, who is a specialist on the Bitterroot Mountains, logging on this site would damage the soil and sidetrack the forest's recovery, regardless of the logging methods used. He argued against the forest service proposal as a private citizen rather than as an employee, stating that even the most careful logging procedures would cause harm by: 1) scraping off any remaining surface litter and the underlying top-soil; and 2) compacting the soil. The scraping of surface litter and topsoil would remove the nutrients plants require, as well as the seeds for plants that normally begin post-fire forest rejuvenation. It would also make the upper soil vulnerable to the drying effects of the wind and direct sunlight, potentially generating unsuitable conditions for seed germination and seedling growth. Soil compaction would decrease soil porosity and make it much more difficult for any existing or newly transported seeds to sprout successfully.

Role of Dead, Standing Trees

Removal of dead, charred trees can likewise hinder a forest's recovery. Standing dead trees continue to provide cover for animals still living in the forest. They also provide homes as well as food for burrowing and other insects. Pine bark beetles, for example, will converge on burned ponderosa pine forests. The presence of insects, in turn, draws insectivorous birds back into the forests. Returning birds can have a major impact on forest rejuvenation by eating seeds from surrounding areas, flying into the burned area and dispersing them. The dead, standing trees also provide homes for many of the cavity-dwelling birds, as well as nesting areas, hunting perches, and resting sites.

A team of researchers from the Pacific Northwest Research Station's Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory in La Grande, Oregon, conducted an expansive study of a forest ecosystem's overall health. The three researchers—an entomologist, a wildlife biologist, and a plant physiologist—found that standing and fallen dead trees, which they call snags and logs, respectively, are critical components of the ecosystem. Snags, particularly those that had become hollow, were significant bird roosts. Although ornithologists already knew that woodpeckers used dead trees for roosts, the research team learned that woodpeckers actually may use several roosts in different snags during the year. Woodpeckers also create their own holes in trees by pounding through the bark in search of insects. For instance, the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), a foot-and-a-half-long, red, black, and white bird, uses its chisel-like beak to make holes large enough to serve as nests and homes for bats, flying squirrels, and other birds.

The team also reported that these snag-using animals opted for entrances that were about 33-98 ft (10-30 m) above the ground, again accentuating the importance of leaving standing, dead trees in a forest. One of the researchers noted that the team's data, and other research reports, suggest that forest managers actually increase the number of snags to promote forest vigor.

In addition, these standing trees provide some welcome shade to an area that was likely quite dry even before the wildfire raced through. Like the soil surface litter, the shade helps retain moisture left at ground level, and gives any new rainfall more time to penetrate the soil than if the trees were logged and the expanse was left unshielded from the sunlight.

In riparian areas, dead trees shade streams and other waterways, helping to block direct sunlight and to keep the water at the lower temperatures that fish and other aquatic species demand.

Positive Effect of Fallen Trees

Fallen trees also play a role in a forest's recovery. Just as the ground is moister under a rock or a lying log than in the open, the soil beneath a fallen tree trunk retains moisture better. The trees also protect the soil from wind and water erosion by disturbing, and thus slowing, air and water flow. As a result, they minimize the loss of the organic top layers of the soil. Trees are particularly beneficial in areas with steep inclines, such as stream banks. After a fire, streams need some time to recover from the influx of ash and other post-fire debris, and dead trees along the shores can at least divert or slow some of that surge.

In addition, fallen trees create pockets of more stable soil, perhaps along the trunk or between a web of branches. Here, seeds find less disturbance from wind or water flow, germinate more readily, and encounter greater moisture to promote successful growth.

In its study of the importance of dead and dying trees, the Pacific Northwest Research Station research team also found that undeveloped forests typically had a much greater diversity and number—50 to 140 per acre—of fallen trees than was previously realized. They also documented the use of logs by a variety of animals, including black bear, and other smaller animals, including insects. In particular, the study's entomologist noted that 11 species of ants live in dead wood and eat spruce budworms, one of the organisms that kills trees. The wildlife biologist on the team followed up by examining woodpecker scat and finding ants. In just this one example, they were able to describe a small circle of life in the forest between ants, bud-worms, woodpeckers, logs, and snags. Without the snags or logs, the circle is incomplete.

The team's wildlife biologist, Evelyn Bull, commented in PNW Science Findings, "Our ongoing research brings out the direct conflict between retaining deadwood for wildlife and reducing fuels for wildfire."

Thinning as an Option

In the Bitterroot Mountains and many other northwest U.S. forests, proposals to thin the forests or undertake salvage logging as preventive measures against future wildfire, and timber-disease outbreaks, are common. The idea is that the removal of fuel, including burned trees, will remove the dried, fire-prone understory, and decrease the number of dead or damaged trees that might invite insect disease vectors. Neither prevention method, however, has been shown to have a positive effect on thwarting future wildfires.

For example, several studies have provided evidence that the opposite is true: Forest fires and disease outbreaks are more prevalent in areas that have been logged. Research has repeatedly shown that logging is strongly correlated with the occurrence of intense fires in the Pacific Northwest. Studies of the Sierra Nevada demonstrated that thinned forests are much more susceptible to hot, damaging fires than unmanaged forests. Likewise, research into Oregon and Washington forests indicate that logging begets more intense fires, because logging practices frequently leave behind piles of highly flammable twigs, branches, and other loggers' refuse. The resulting conditions are ripe for an intensely hot fire that even the flame-resilient, thick bark on older-growth trees may not be able to withstand. Other reports indicate that even when flammable brush is removed, the forest remains vulnerable to fire because of the drying effects of the sun and the wind on the forest floor.

Numerous Forest Service reports have associated logging with fire propensity. One study examined the five-year period beginning in 1986, and reported that private lands, which are typically the most heavily logged, experienced a 20% increase in the number of trees that died from fire or disease. During the same time period, those areas with the least logging, such as national parks, experienced a decrease in tree mortality of 9%. Other Forest Service research corroborates those findings, and indicates that salvage logging compounds the effects of the original fire and should not be considered an option, especially in roadless, undeveloped, and previously unlogged areas.

Forest Restoration Alternatives

If salvage logging is not the answer, can anything be done to assist the restoration of the Bitterroot Mountain forests? Environmentalists, scientists, and loggers agree that the potential for future, highly destructive wildfires is enormous. The current situation in the drier forests of Montana and the Northwest has its primary root in the fire-suppression policies of the twentieth century. With the support of politicians and public opinion, the United States spent decades keeping fires to a minimum. Before the policy, a Northwest forest would commonly go up in a blaze every decade—and occasionally every year. The fire proceeded quickly and with little strength, effectively eliminating the understory, yet leaving the larger trees virtually unscathed. The forest did not accumulate excess, flammable fuel at ground level. The incinerated understory yielded nutrients for the soil. The forests thrived. After the fire-suppression policy, the undergrowth had time to take hold. Twigs, limbs, and dry brush collected for decades. In these conditions, a spark can trigger a massive inferno that can burn hot and long enough to ignite flame-resistant bark and climb older growth trees. These so-called "crown fires" move through the forest as tall walls of fire, and roar through thousands of acres.

More studies are needed on the best fire-management policy. The bulk of existing evidence, however, clearly reveals that salvage logging is incompatible with forest recovery or fire/disease prevention, and salvage logging on public lands should not be an option, especially in national parks. Even the most cautiously applied logging techniques cause damage to the forest. Logging can cause:

  • removal and compaction of vital soil layers
  • wind and water erosion to the forest floor
  • wind-and sun-caused drying of the soil
  • the removal of dead trees that would have provided shelter and food for innumerable animal species
  • a significant increase in soil erosion
  • an elimination of snags and logs that would have assisted moisture retention at ground level, and shielded direct sunlight from the forest floor, streams, and other shallow waterways

Says Evan Frost in a report for the World Wildlife Fund, "Although thinning within the context of intensive forestry is not new, its efficacy as a tool for fire hazard reduction at the landscape scale is controversial, largely unsubstantiated and fundamentally experimental in nature."

Rob Smith, director of the Sierra Club's southwest office, remarked in Sierra, "Wilderness is the last place—not the first place—you mess around with forestry experiments."


Viewpoint: No, plans by the United States Forest Service to allow logging of dense forests in the Bitterroot Mountains would not cause lasting damage to the soil and rob the forest of natural systems of recovery; on the contrary, such plans would reverse a century's worth of mismanagement that allowed the national forests to become so dense that raging fires were inevitable.

For many who lived through the fires that ravaged the western United States in the summer of 2000, the USA Today headline from August 28 of that year most likely calls back powerful, painful memories: "Montana Fires Merge, Creating Mega-Inferno." The Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula in the southwestern corner of Montana, had erupted with wild-fire that ultimately destroyed 365,000 acres, approximately 20% of it in the Bitterroot National Forest. More than 1,500 people had to be evacuated, though fortunately no one was killed, and some 70 homes were destroyed. Only after approximately six weeks did the smoke, hanging heavy throughout the valley, finally lift, letting in the sunlight.

But as the headline suggested, the Bitterroot inferno was not an isolated instance. Fire had broken out along the Continental Divide, and by August the fires had merged; nor were the Montana conflagrations the extent of the destruction that raged throughout the western United States during the summer of 2000. In all, more than 79 fires were burning across 1.6 million acres (647,500 hectares) in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Texas, and South Dakota during just one weekend in August. By the time the summer was over, fire had claimed 8.4 million acres nationwide, and the federal government had spent $1.4 billion fighting it.

Searching for Causes and Solutions

Even as the fires burned, Montana's governor, Marc Racicot, blamed the administration of President Bill Clinton for the fires. "The conditions of our forests," Racicot told USA Today, "are such that each administration that is charged with dealing with them has to, on their watch, make absolutely certain that they do all they can to maintain forest health. They [the Clinton administration] have not done that." In response, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman blamed the forces of nature, combined with past mismanagement. In particular, they cited a government policy, in effect for about a century, that prevented the clearing of the trees and underbrush. As a result, with the summer heat and dry weather as a spark, the heavy undergrowth of the forests provided fuel for the fires.

While the fires and the politicians raged (Babbitt claimed that complaints from Racicot, a Republican and supporter of then-presidential candidate George W. Bush, were politically motivated), people searched for ways to prevent another such fire from happening. Thus was commenced a broad public discussion that included not only scientists and government officials but the populace as a whole. Groups concerned with the forests, across a wide spectrum of interests that ranged from those of environmental activists to those of logging companies, each sought a solution. As Scott Baldauf reported in the Christian Science Monitor, "more than a decade of increasingly dangerous and devastating fires out West appears to be giving activists on both sides a common goal—healthy forests—and a growing belief that fire is a natural process that is here to stay."

Whereas the Native Americans who once controlled what is now the Western United States had used fires to clear forests, Baldauf wrote, white settlers "saw fire as an implacable enemy, and began a century of strict fire suppression. With nothing but the saw to threaten them, trees today grow closer together and pine needles pile up like so much kindling." Furthermore, as Baldauf noted, restrictions on the harvesting of timber, imposed for the purpose of protecting endangered species, have helped create a situation of incredibly dense forests. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually about twice as many trees per acre (0.404 hectares) in today's forests than there were in the forests of 1900. Baldauf concluded by noting that "Maintaining the long-term health of forests will clearly take a change of methods, including thinning and, in some cases, controlled burns. The latter will likely face resistance from the growing number of those who are building homes at forest's edge."

Bitter Fight over Bitterroot

Actually, the fiercest opposition involved not the controlled burns but the thinning, and the most outspoken opponents were not local homeowners, but environmentalists. The cause for this opposition came when, in 2001, the Forest Service of the new Bush administration announced plans to allow the commercial salvaging of some 46,000 acres (18,616 hectares) of burned timber in Bitterroot National Forest. Environmentalists, fearful that the policy would set a precedent for the logging of forests damaged by fires, managed to stall action by the government, such that 16 months passed without the cutting of a tree. During this time, natural conditions threatened to erode the commercial viability of the wood, which after 18-24 months would be useless as lumber due to cracking.

By February 2002, the 18-month mark had been reached, and still the only activity that had taken place was in court. On February 8, after three days of legal arguments, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to reduce the planned area of logging to just 14,000 acres (5,666 hectares). Though Rodd Richardson, supervisor of the Bitterroot forest, told the New York Times that "everybody got some of what they wanted," the newspaper report did not indicate any gains made by the Forest Service in the negotiations. As for the environmentalists, their attitude was one of triumph tempered only by a desire for greater victory and a promise that the fight had only begun. Tim Preso, attorney for the environmental organization Earth Justice, told the Times, "This was a test case on the nature of the appropriate response to a large-scale wildfire." Having forced the government to give up plans for logging in areas without roads, he announced that "Roadless areas are off the table as far as we're concerned," and promised that "we will fight for every acre on these wildlands."

A three-year-old child, or a visitor from another planet, might be forgiven for assuming that environmentalist strong-arm groups are purely interested in protecting the environment. The reality, however, is that the organizations (if not their members) are at least as concerned with political power. This must be the case, because otherwise there is no way to make sense of their opposition to a policy that would clean up much of the destruction left by the 2000 Bitterroot fires, prevent future conflagrations, and even pay back some of the money spent on fighting those fires. Judging by the actions of environmentalists in the Bitterroot fight, the danger of a company making a profit from the cleanup is more grave than the danger of future fires.

Is Profit Wrong?

In the aftermath of the fires, David Foster of the Los Angeles Times profiled Bitterroot locals who had profited from the fires. For example, homemaker Jennifer Sain "put her kids in day care and rented her GMC Suburban to the Forest Service for $80 a day, then hired herself out at $11.63 an hour to drive it, ferrying fire officials and reporters around the forest." According to Sain, she made $10,000 for two months' work. However, "Some of her government-wary ranching relatives didn't appreciate her working for the Forest Service, she says. But economics prevailed. 'I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't good money,' Sain says."

Discussing these and other examples of the economics involved in attacking the fires, Foster wrote, "Most people here will tell you the fires were awful. At the same time, however, the government was spending $74 million to fight the Bitterroot fires, and a good portion of that money trickled into the local economy." Regarding the matter of locals profiting, Bitterroot National Forest public information officer Dixie Dies told Foster, "It isn't discussed. There was so much hurt, people don't want to talk about who did well." Yet Arizona State University professor Stephen Pyne, author of 11 books on the subject of wildfires in the West, explained that "Profiting from wildfire is part of Western history." According to Pyne, during the 1930s, residents of the Pacific Northwest set fires to the woods around them, knowing that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs would provide them with jobs putting out those very fires.

Where the fires of the 1930s are concerned, the moral terrain is not clearly mapped, since the people were struggling with the effects of the Great Depression, and they had to suffer the long-term effects of the fires set in their own home areas. On the other hand, it is clearly immoral for people to profit unfairly in the face of tragedy by price-gouging. But people do profit from tragedy, and not all such profits are immoral: few people would say, for instance, that Jennifer Sain should have provided her services for free.

Similarly, there is absolutely no basis, on moral grounds, for opposing fuel-reduction projects—that is, the cutting of trees that would provide fuel to future conflagrations—by logging companies. Only by such cutting can the forests be protected from fires that would destroy the trees and underbrush, thus removing sources of organic material to enrich the soil, and virtually ensuring erosion and permanent deforestation. Perhaps the environmentalists would be more willing to permit such logging if it were done by the government at great expense, and if the wood were not used commercially. It is this same mentality that condemned the United States for profiting, by ensuring cheaper oil supplies, from the Gulf War of 1991. The federal government so rarely manages to do anything profitable; why fault it in those rare instances when it does?

Because of their outspoken opposition to business, capitalism, and profit, environmental-ists in the Bitterroot case seem willing to sacrifice the best interests of the environment for the interests of politics. As a result, much of Bitterroot will remain as poorly managed as it has always been, with densely overgrown forests just waiting for another hot, dry summer. Perhaps the next fires will cause more severe damage, and then the environmentalists will have succeeded: no logging company will be interested in the trees of Bitterroot National Forest.


Further Reading

Baldauf, Scott. "Reviving Forests After the Flames: Even Before the Smoke Clears, Scientists Are Assessing How to Rejuvenate Burned Areas." Christian Science Monitor (August 24, 2000): 2.

Bull, E. L., C. G. Parks, and T. R. Torgersen."Trees and Logs Important to Wildlife in the Interior Columbia River Basin." USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-391, 1997.

"Conservationists and U.S. Forest Service Reach Agreement on Controversial Bitterroot Salvage Project." American Wildlands Website [cited July 16, 2002]. <>.

Duncan, S. "Dead and Dying Trees: Essential for Life in the Forest." PNW Science Findings 20 (November 1999): 1-6.

Foster, David. "In Wildfire's Wake, There'sMoney to Burn: Montana's Bitterroot Valley Is an Example." Los Angeles Times (July 29, 2001): B-1.

Frost, E. "The Scientific Basis for Managing Fire and Fuels in National Forest Roadless Areas." Prepared for World Wildlife Fund as supplementary comments on the Notice of Intent regarding National Forest System Roadless Areas (CFR: 64 No 201, 10/19/99). December 16, 1999 [cited July 16, 2002]. <>.

Gray, Gerry. "Deciphering Bitterroot." American Forests 108, no. 1 (spring 2002): 16.

"In Plan to Help a Forest Heal, A Wider Rift Opens." New York Times (December 9, 2001): A-55.

Kris, Margaret. "Environmentalists Are Howling Again." National Journal 34, no. 1 (January 5, 2002): 50-51.

Paige, Sean. "Fight Rages over Fate of Deadwood and Timber Sales." Insight on the News 18, no. 2 (January 14-21, 2002): 47.

Parker, Laura. "Montana Fires Merge, Creating Mega-Inferno." USA Today (August 28, 2000): 3-A.

Robbins, J. "Is Logging Bane or Balm? Plan Stirs Debate." New York Times (January 29, 2002).

———. "Forest Service and Environmentalists Settle Logging Dispute." New York Times (February 8, 2002): A-14.

USDA Forest Service. "Initial Review of Silvi-cultural Treatments and Fire Effects of Tyee Fire." Appendix A, Environmental Assessment for the Bear-Potato Analysis Area of the Tyee Fire. Wenatchee, WA: Chelanand Entiat Ranger Districts, Wenatchee National Forest, 1995.

Weatherspoon, C. P., and C. N. Skinner. "AnAssessment of Factors Associated with Damage to Tree Crowns from the 1987 Wildfire in Northern California." Forest Science 41 (1995): 430-51.



In forestry, a term for efforts directed toward the cutting of trees and underbrush that might otherwise provide fuel to future wildfires.


A logging practice that involves the removal of dead trees.


Plant roots often extend down to this level of soil, which lies beneath the topsoil layer.


Recently deposited organic matter, such as leaves, dead plants, or small twigs that cover the soil beneath.


The level of soil immediately beneath the surface litter. It is mainly humus (organic matter undergoing decomposition) and is the site of many plant roots.

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Does logging of the fire-ravaged Bitterroot National Forest pose a threat to the environment

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Does logging of the fire-ravaged Bitterroot National Forest pose a threat to the environment