Our film Klamath explores the intricate interconnections of this giant ecosystem, from the micro to the macroscopic scale. It wonders at the momentum of unbroken interconnectivity between ‘organs’ within a wildland, evolved over hundreds of millions of years.
An overwhelming majority of local citizens understand and advocate for this interconnection, but the US Forest Service (USFS) is ignoring their voice to execute an industrial scale logging operation as we speak.
What’s more, the Klamath National Forest is using US taxpayer dollars to subsidize prices to private timber companies, selling entire watersheds at the price of 50 cents per thousand board feet – often less than $2.50 per truck load.
Natural fires burn in a mosaic pattern: some areas hot, leaving mostly ‘snags’ and dead or dying trees, while others hardly burn, cleaning the understory of shrubs but leaving the canopy and habitat for many endangered species intact. This healthy mosaic was the case for the region targeted in the ‘Westside Logging Project,’ but this project aims to move ahead disregarding the delicate regenerative nature of wildfire.
Burnt Trees: Natural Carbon Stores
As the ecosystem regenerates over the course of decades, these tree cores fall, restoring carbon biomass into the ground and replenishing the soil of nutrients
Burnt Trees Rarely Burn Again
Studies show that the tree cores left after a fire are only marginally susceptible to burning in future fires.
Dead Trees: Homes for Wildlife
Birds, small mammals, and insects all rely on dead and rotting trees for shelter and nesting grounds.
Wildlife: Keepers of the Forest
We are just beginning to understand the roles these birds, mammals, and insects carry out in the recovery of ecosystems after a fire. Without shelter, wildlife cannot live in harsh post-fire environments and these tasks are unfulfilled.
Dead Trees Generate New Life
Rotting logs provide the foundation of the food chain which plants, insects, micro-organisms, and fungi convert into food for larger organisms. Removal of dead trees and snags removes important carbon/compost reserves from the extremely delicate post-fire ecosystem, setting the forest’s recovery back thousands of years.
Logging Spreads Invasive Species
Equipment used to extract dead trees inadvertantly transports invasive species deep into ecosystems where they could not otherwise get a foothold
Fire creates key habitat for a host of rare and endangered species we are just beginning to learn about
Roads Induce Erosion
Heavy equipment and road building triggers severe erosion in already unstable post-fire landscapes
Trees, Even Dead, Stabilize Soil
Removal of dead trees removes the soil’s key remaining anchors, instigating even more severe erosion
Obstruction of Migration Corridors
Logging operations and introduced invasive species block wildlife and plant migration corridors. The region designated for logging by the Westside Project is a key migration corridor connecting the Marble Mountains and Siskiyous. Destruction of this channel would hurt the resilience of endangered and endemic species in both halves of the greater Klamath wildlands, particularly in the face of rapidly changing climates
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