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9 CONC US/ONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS No single phrase, concept, or picture can capture the breadth of forest management in the Pacific Northwest or the environmental issues that are involvecE in it. The region is large and geographically varied. its forests are complex. Although the public policy debates over forest management have focused on federal forests, ownership is varied. There are large and more or less contiguous blocks of state, Tnctian, ancL forest industry forests throughout the region. Privately owned forests other than those in forest industry ownership, and often in relatively small tracts, are mingled among the larger ownerships. The conclusions and recommendations that follow in this chapter must necessarily be cirawn in terms that give full recognition to the complexities of the region's forests and its forest ownerships. Management of federal forests in the region has changed c3 ramatically over the past two decades. The Northwest Forest Plan for federal forests in the range of the northern spotted owl west of the Cascades Crest brought the most dramatic and immediate changes. But even it was the continuation of a process of change that has affected management of federal forests throughout the region and, indeed, in other parts of the country as well. Although change in forestry practices has also occurred on other forests, public and private, it has been more gradual. It is clear, however, that what happens on any of the major categories of forest ownership in the region affects practices on the others. 799
200 FORESTRY PRACTICES IN THE PAC/F/C NORTHWEST Pacific Northwest Forests Protected reserves: The chief role of federal forests in the region has shifted from one of providing timber and other forest products to one of sustaining and restoring forest ecosystem integrity. Reserves have been established for various purposes: as elements of the National Wilderness Areas Preservation System, as protected natural areas, and most recently on the Westside to protect the northern spotted owl and other threat- ened species. Some have been selected because they contain old growth and others because they provide amenities not necessarily associated with old growth. The common characteristic is their relatively natural conditions. Management of the matrix of federal forests that encom- passes the reserves has shifted from an emphasis on timber production to an emphasis on sustaining ecological conditions. intermingled with the federal forests are nonfederal forests managed by a diverse set of owners with a wide range of goals. Most forest industry land is managed intensively for timber. The rest of the nonfederal forests is managed at various intensities to meet goals that range from timber production to full protection of natural values. This not wholly coherent amalgam of more-or-less natural reserves scattered across a forested landscape of tracts, large and small, managed for various purposes reflects the shifting policies for federal forests as wed as the changing management practices on nonfederal forests. To suggest Mat there should be a single coherent policy framework for all Pacific Northwest forests is probably futile. To suggest that even the policy framework for the region's federal forests should be stable and the same across the entire region is probably unwarranted. But the committee believes some elements of such a policy framework can be defined. The committee believes that forest-management goals should include conservation and protection from harvest of the vast majority of iate- successional and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. The long- term values of conserving remaining late-successional and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest are great. Further cutting of the remaining late-successional and old-growth forests will accelerate threats to the biological diversity of the Pacific Northwest and threaten our ability to sustain important ecosystem processes. Protected reserves
202 Pacific Northwest Forests ing at the level of the stand, the spatial patterns of stand structures at the landscape level, and the temporal dynamics of both stand and landscape structure that result from disturbances. The effects on ecological processes and biological diversity of natural disturbances and those caused by human activities are highly variable. Variations in the scale at which disturbances occur are poorly under- stood, but they are known to be significant. The inevitability of catastrophic disturbances that may reset successional processes should be acknowledged in the design and extent of late-successional and old- growth preserves. For managed forests, silvicutural treatments intencled to simulate the effects of disturbances must be designed with attention to specific goals. These include effects on fuel loads, structural features, or legacies important to postdisturbance regeneration, biodiversity, patterns of postharvest recovery, and landscape flammability. Natural disturbances such as fire and severe wind are an integral part of Pacific Northwest forests, although the spatial and temporal patterns of such disturbances vary among ecosystem types. Alteration of natural disturbance cycles has had adverse effects on the condition and diversity of some forested landscapes in the region. Extensive accumu- lations of fuel have put Eastside forests and landscapes at risk from intense and extensive wildfires. In many Westside forests, losses of tree diversity and structural complexity that normally result from snags and downed logs have altered ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling and water movement and might have increased risk from epidemics of insects and disease. The legacies of disturbanceresidual woody debris, ash accumula- tions, seed banks, advanced regeneration, and surviving organ- ismsgreatly influence change after disturbance (Franklin 1993b). The legacies vary among fire regimes and between natural disturbances and managementinterventions. Managers cannot control these phenomena, but they can and should protect and, where necessary, restore the natural mechanisms by which ecosystems are buffered from such change. Recommendation: The important roles of natural disturbances and legacies in sustaining ecological processes must be recognized in forest-management practices for both federal and nonfederal forests in the Pacific Northwest.
Conclusions and Recommendations 203 Given the spatial and temporal variability of disturbance processes, collaborations across boundaries of ownership and jurisdiction will be necessary. Natural disturbances occur at spatial scales that transcend ownership and political boundaries. Fires can burn across vast areas, influenced by regionwide variations in fuels and climate; population processes that ensure viability of species, especially wide-ranging vertebrates, have little to do with the borders of jurisdictions; and the functioning of aquatic ecosystems depends on the continuity and integrity of entire hydrologic systems well beyond the reach of an individual stream. A formalized approach to adaptive management is needed to evaluate effects of new forestry practices on key ecosystem properties and to adjust management practices in a timely fashion to changes in forest condition across all spatial scales. The approach should include elements such as acknowledgment of ignorance, identification of key ecosystem processes, mode} development, monitoring that focuses on management objectives, standards for data evaluation and data quality, and timely feedback. For example, the role of pathogens and insects in sustaining Pacific Northwest forests is clearly important, but is poorly understood. At the same time, outbreaks of both are becoming increasingly severe and widespread. The place of various methods for controlling outbreaks and their potential effect on sustaining ecological processes are also poorly understood. Adaptive management approaches for dealing with such outbreaks could be used to recognize that decisions must be made in the absence of solid information. Recommendation: A formalized approach for adaptive management should be developed and applied in evaluating the effects of forest management practices on key ecosystem properties and to guide changes in these practices that reflect forest conditions at all spatial scales. Our understanding of the fuB costs of using forest resources is also changing as pressure on these resources to meet human demands mounts and as scientific knowledge grows. in some cases, recognition of the full costs comes only after use has occurred. Examples include decreases in the ability of forest land to sustain long-term timber
204 Pacific Northwest Forests production as a result of practices that significantly lower the productiv- ity of the forest or that cause offsite impacts and the loss of species that are dependent on old-growth forests. Management strategies to restore ecosystem features win be impor- tant in a long-term conservation plan. Such management might include reduction of flammable fuels in Eastside forests or enhancement of structural complexity in Westside forests. Forest managers will need to develop and implement a combination of protocols using of prescribed fire, as well as silvicultural and harvest techniques, to reduce accumu- lated fuels where such accumulations increase risk of catastrophic wildfire. Those protocols should be sensitive to protection of streams, soils, and other vulnerable components of the forest environment. Economic consequences: The impacts of changing forestry practices on federal lands on overall employment and regional income in the Pacific Northwest have been relatively small. Even the establishment of old- growth reserves on a substantial part of the Westside federal forests has had only minor effects on the reg~on's economy as a whole. At the same time, some communities that had been heavily dependent on federal timber harvests have had a difficult time. Even there, the impacts have been ameliorated by growth of the overall region's economy, as well as by assistance provided by the federal government as part of the Northwest Forest Plan (Tuchmann et al. 1996~. Over the past 20 years in the Pacific Northwest, rural communities have generally become much less dependent on timber, mining, fishing, or agriculture (Anderson and Olson 1991~. The region's local economies increasingly benefit from a mix of extractive industries, light manufac- turing, retirement, residential, service, and recreation sectors. In Oregon, for example, the lumber and wood products industry now represents only 5% of total employment. Mills have been closed and more jobs have been lost to increases in efficiency and productivity than to reductions in timber harvests. National end world economic forces have had a more direct bearing on employment than has timber supply (Waggener 1990~. Before adoption of the Northwest Forests Plan, disputes over likely economic effects of reductions in federal timber harvests were heated. The range of employment losses projected by opposing interest groups was broad in large part because estimating the regional economic effect
Conclusions and Recommendations 205 of shifts in the proportions of wood and nonwood products resulting from changes in timber harvests is difficult (Sample and Le Master 1992~. This suggests the need to improve the analytical and information bases for relating changes in forestry policies at various levels to possible economic consequences. WHATIS OLD-GROWTH? Old-growth forests are defined as those that have accumulated specific characteristics related to tree size, canopy structure, dead snags and woody debris, and an assemblage of particular plant and animal species that inhabit them. These specific attributes of old-growth forests develop through the process of forest succession until the collective properties of an old-growth forest are evident. No simple measure can be used to define an old-growth or late-successional forest. The ecological characteristics and appearance of old-growth forests vary among forest types across the Pacific Northwest. Increasingly, definitions rely on indexes of successional development based on multiple forest characteristics. Current definitions used by the U. S. Forest Service use specific values or states for five criteria - number of large old trees per acre, variation in tree diameters, degree of tree decadence, amounts of large dead wood, and characteristics of the canopy structure. While many of the characteristics that define old-growth forests develop during the second century of stand development, all of the properties of an old-growth forest typically are not present until the forest is at least 200 years old. The committee emphasizes that it is the presence of the assemblage of characteristics that determines whether a forest can be classed as old-growth and not a specific age. The committee also emphasizes that the defining assemblage of characteris- tics will vary in forests across the Pacific Northwest. An old-growth forest in good condition is one that retains its basic structures and processes (Rapport 1989~. Old-growth forests are biotically more complex than forests in earlier successional stages. Compared with younger forests, they have a greater diversity of ecosystem components and specialized organisms and produce more food for some animal species. They have a higher total amount of live
206 Pacific Northwest Forests and dead biomass and a higher amount of woody debris in streams and terrestrial areas. Old-growth forests are also less susceptible to large- scale disturbances and pest outbreaks, and they have a lower incidence of root-rot problems. They have unique microclimates and might have an effect on regional climate as wed. OLD GROWTH MANAGEMENT Management In the form of establishing reserves is clearly an important too} in maintaining existing old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. Other kinds of management interventions in natural processes are also appropriate to some extent in such reserves. For example, protection against destructive wildfires may be advisable, although the role of fire and other disturbances in sustaining natural processes in the reserves must also be recognized. Other kinds of management practices can also have a role within and outside of reserves in encouraging the develop- ment of some of the properties of old-growth forests. In such cases, it must be recognized that the defining characteristic of an old-growth forest is the assemblage of various properties that goes beyond just age of trees and canopy structure. Managed forests can be thinned to produce large trees and structural heterogeneity at a relatively early age, especially in areas of high site quality. But accelerating the development of these two conditions does not by itself result in old-growth forests. Whether this accelerated development successfully mimics processes that can produce other old- growth properties is unclear at the present time. Management ap- proaches such as "green tree retention," which attempt to mimic natural disturbances by preserving decaying logs and soil organic matter, with time ought lead to managed forests with at least some old-growth characteristics (McCo~nb et al. 1993~. The degree to which this will occur can be determined only with extensive testing across a range of forest types and conditions. FOREST PRODUCTS SUBSTITUTION Recent reductions In federal timber harvests in the Pacific Northwest have been met by increased timber harvests in the South and increased
Conclusions and Recommendations 207 softwood lumber imports from Canada. Together, increased production in the South and increased imports from Canada, both in response to ordinary market forces, have offset the reduced softwood harvests on federal forests in the West. Substantial substitution for Pacific North- west wood products from the southern hemisphere or from Europe and temperate parts of Asia has not occurred so far. Total consumption of softwood wood products ~ the United States does not appear to have beers substantially reduced. The reduction~n federal timber harvests has been accompanied by some increase in the price of softwood lumber to consumers and in the prices paid for timber that is harvested from both federal and nonfederal forests. The expected effects of adopting the Northwest Forest Plan on some biological resources in the Pacific Northwest have been examined at length (FEMAT 1993~. The potential effects on most other nonwood products, such as recreation and special forest products, were not thoroughly evaluated in that report, partly because of the lack of good information. But it is clear that the reductions in federal timber harvests in the Pacific Northwest favor some kinds of both game and nongame species of wildlife over others, affect hunting conditions, improve habitat for fisheries, and maintain opportunities for some kinds of recreation in the region. The extent to which these impacts will affect interregional markets for these and other nonwood forest products is unclear. Most nonwood forest products are sold in local and regional markets, although some, such as wild-grown mushrooms, may end up being used far from their source. Although solid information is lacking, it does not seem likely that changes In the availability of nonwood forest products in the Pacific Northwest will be reflected in markets for these or competitive nonwood products in other forest regions in the United States. Sustaining the increased level of timber harvests in the South, which come mainly from private forests, will require more intensive manage- ment practices. The possible effects on biological resources, such as wetlands and the red cockaded woodpecker, of more intensive practices brought aboutby the decrease in pacific Northwest timber harvests have apparently not been carefully evaluated. Similarly, possible effects on employment and communities in the South have not been carefully evaluated. Pressures on forests for all uses in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the United States will probably continue to rise. The
208 Pacific Northwest Forests specific demands on forests may change, but the basic demands for materials, space, and environmental amenities will almost certainly continue to increase. The increasing production of timber on private forests is leading to lower ages of trees at harvest and more intensive silvicultural operations such as thinning, use of improved genetic stock for single-species planting, fertilization, and the increased use of herbicides and insecticides. Tracking these changes end teeing prepared to take action when the effects are judged to be serious are challenges for public policy. Recommendation: Regional assessments of the impacts of increas- ingly intensive forest management practices, especially on private forests, should be conducted to evaluate the impacts of shifting regional patterns of timber harvesting. In particular, an assessment is needed of the effects on key species and ecosystems in the U.S. South of increased timber harvests and management intensity that has resulted from reduced timber harvests on federal forests in the West. Existing institutional structures do not appear to have been adequate for planning and managing forest management activities over a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Few mechanisms are available to facilitate dialogue and resolve conflicts at large spatial scales involving multiple ownerships and many stakeholders. The committee believes empirically based, comparative evaluations of the effectiveness of alternative strategies are needed. Federal agency and constituency dialogue should be reviewed with particular attention to procedures and policies through which public agencies can communicate with stakeholders. Recommendation: Experience with FEMAT, the Northwest Forest Plan, and other processes used to help resolve disputes over Pacific Northwest forestry practices should be used to explore alternative mechanisms for dispute resolution. RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS Limitations on available knowledge for guiding forest management and
(conclusions and Recommendations 209 resolving issues in the Pacific Northwest have been noted throughout this report. An accelerated program of research is needed to fiD these gaps. Parallel gaps in knowledge exist for other regions of the country as well. The committee's conclusions support in general terms the significant reorientation of forestry research recommended by an NRC panel in 1990 (NRC 1990~. Various institutions and sources of funding play important roles in forest-reiated research in this region and in the country as a whole. The federal role In funding both in-house and extramural research is obviously very important, but the states, forest industry, and nonprofit organizations also provide research support. The committee believes all of these institutions can take part in supporting and conducting the needed research. In particular, the federal government should substan- tially strengthen its support for a competitive research grants program that wouIcl recognize the broad array of scientific specialties and research organizations that are relevant to current issues involving forest management and conservation. Specific areas of research in need of increased funding and attention include the following: · Me relationship of natural disturbances to the sustainability of protected and managed Pacific Northwest forests and the extent to which the effects of these disturbances can be simulated by management practices; · the relative importance of legacies and their role in maintaining forests and regenerating harvested areas, and the extent to which management actions can "create" legacies; · the role of insects and pathogens in sustaining natural processes in Pacific Northwest forests and factors involved in insect and pathogen outbreaks in the region; 0 forest restoration methods and their role in restoring and maintain- ing forest vitality; · the impacts of forest-management practices, including timber harvesting, on the production of nonwood forest products, including recreation and special forest products such as wild-grown mushrooms; · information for making accurate assessments of the impacts of changes in forest practices on regional and local employment and income;
270 Pacific Northwest Forests · the impacts of changes in forest practices in the Pacific Northwest on biological and nonbiolog~cal factors within the region and in other affected regions; · continued basic research on the biological functioning and interactions of the multitude of life forms present in the Pacific North- west forests.