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The Non-Connection Between Bark Beetles and Wildfire

Posted by Tommy Hough at Jan 18, 2013 12:05 PM |

George Wuerthner argues the relationship between bark beetles and wildfire is overblown by agencies seeking to log western forests.

The Non-Connection Between Bark Beetles and Wildfire

Dead and "damaged" trees in the proposed D-Bug timber sale also provide benefits to forest health and ecology (photo by Rob Klavins).

Author, environmentalist, and speaker George Wuerthner recently sent out a short NASA video about the alleged relationship and cause-and-effect between western forests killed by Bark Beetle infestation and wildfire, which is the premise upon which logging projects like the proposed D-Bug timber sale have been justified.

But the connection between beetle kill and wildfire, according to Wuerthner, is non-existent.


"In fact, research suggests beetle kill actually reduces the chances for fire," says Wuerthner. "I constantly hear the Forest Service tell people about the 'threat' of wildfire created by beetle kill trees. This is one of the propaganda ideas promoted by the Forest Service to justify logging our forests."

"For instance, in Oregon the Forest Service is advocating a massive timber sale (D-Bug) by Crater Lake rationalized on the assumption dead trees create a larger fire risk, which is absolutely false."

Wuerthner cautions, "The one gripe I have about this video is it's loaded with pejorative language, i.e. green forests are 'healthy' while those with beetle kill are not. Actually beetle kill forests are the healthy ones since forest ecosystems need dead trees. It's like suggesting elk killed by wolves represents an unhealthy ecosystem. Beetles are the wolves that thin our forests, and do a lot better job than loggers and the Forest Service at picking out the trees that should be removed."

You can view the video here.

More information on the renewed D-Bug timber sale, on the doorstep of Crater Lake National Park, can be found here.

D-Bug Unit 126

Rob Klavins in Unit 126 of the proposed D-Bug timber sale, located inside the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area (photo by Francis Eatherington).

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