Music to Calm the Salvage Beast
Salvage-logging operations that extract downed trees from storm-damaged areas may actually wreak more havoc on forests than did the original storm, according to a study conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The research, which was partially funded by the U.S. EPA, focused on Colorado’s Routt National Forest, where a 1997 windstorm blew down 13,000 acres of spruce trees. In spots where salvage logging was conducted after the storm, heavy erosion and reduced shade made it more difficult for new tree seedlings to take root. In contrast, in areas that had been left alone, the forest was growing back more quickly and seedlings were thriving. A University of Georgia scientist found similar results when he studied an area of downed trees in Pennsylvania. The study’s findings come just a week after the Bush administration announced regulations that are expected to make it much easier to approve salvage logging in fire-damaged public forests.