Salvage logging after fires harms forests, new report claims

The Bush administration has oft trumpeted the benefits of postfire salvage logging — coincidentally, a practice of great financial benefit to timber companies. But a recent report by the American Lands Alliance claims salvage logging is harming national forests. Fire experts and other scientists analyzed historical data and concluded that logging after a fire degrades soils, impairs critter habitat, hurts water quality, and increases the risk of future fires. If left alone, fires revitalize forests, they say, creating mineral-rich ash that enriches the soil, supporting the regrowth of diverse flora and the restoration of wildlife habitat. The timber industry sees it a tad differently, claiming that hauling charred logs out and replanting trees is a way to restore a burned forest and prevent future wildfires and increase profits … oops, did we say increase profits?