It's Not Too Late
“The time has come for science to busy itself with the earth itself. The first step is to reconstruct a sample of what we had to begin with.”
- Aldo Leopold, 1934
Reconstructing what we had will take active management. But with less than 5 percent of historic old-growth forests remaining, we must act soon.
Simply declaring what’s left off-limits to logging will not save these forests. In many cases, their long-term sustainability will depend on thinning some trees, removing underbrush and reducing ground fuels to help lower the intensity of wildfires. This sort of active management will also cut down on the competition, allowing the remaining trees to thrive and better fight off insects and disease.
In second-growth Ponderosa forests, selective logging can help recreate the open conditions of presettlement forests. Future cuttings at the right intervals can help maintain enough multi-aged trees to assure stands perpetuate themselves.
Other active management efforts include thinning and prescribed burning, restoring stream functions and controlling soil erosion, removing invasive plants and decommissioning unneeded roads. These projects can all help reconstruct what we once had – not simply because Ponderosa pine forests were magnificent but because they were sustainable.