The damage of post-fire logging, the Hoax of 'salvage'
Post-Fire “Salvage” Pillaging
A forest after fire is not a tragedy; it’s simply a stage in the life of the forest. Post-fire logging is often framed as focused on fire prevention. In reality, important biological characteristics are removed from post-fire forests. Because of this, salvage logging acts as an unnatural human disturbance to the sensitive post fire landscape.
You may have heard Western forest fires described as devastation, tragedies, and misfortunes by the Trump Administration. While the loss of lives or homes is certainly tragic, fire in Western forests themselves is a natural and necessary process for true forest health. The view that widespread commercial logging of large trees after fires will reduce fuels for future wildfires is repeated often by commercial interests but is not in line with the current science of post-fire logging.
Post-fire “salvage” logging is often justified as a means to fire prevention and resiliency, in which burnt trees just happen to be harvested as merchantable timber. As an unavoidable consequence, a large amount of wildlife habitat for species dependent on post fire forests is removed. Because of these human impacts, salvage logging acts as an unnatural disturbance to the complex post fire landscape.
Long-term ecological injury caused by salvage logging outweighs short term economic benefits.
It’s less efficient and costlier to agencies in terms of potential litigation, rushed comprehensive environmental analysis, and planning, to engage in post-fire “salvage” sales before the merchantable timber is unattractive to buyers. It is less controversial and more ecologically friendly for agencies to focus on pre-fire commercial thinning of existing monoculture plantations to develop late successional forest characteristics for wildlife habitat.
Focusing national forest management on thinning near communities in existing plantations would reduce the risk of fires to our families and communities. Decades of fire suppression, continuous salvage logging in the backcountry, and associated road construction are exacerbating the effect wildfires have on our public lands instead of working to build a diverse fire resilient forest while protecting our communities.