Debate continues on post-wildfire logging, forest regeneration

Corvallis, Ore. -- In separate comments to be published Friday in the journal Science, two groups of researchers from Oregon State University and the USDA Forest Service will exchange perspectives on the issue of post-wildfire salvage logging, forest regeneration and fire risk that were the source of considerable controversy earlier this year.

In a publication last January by researchers from OSU and the Forest Service, based on a study of areas burned in Oregon's Biscuit Fire in 2002, researchers had concluded that post-fire logging resulted in significant mortality of natural conifer regeneration, and created conditions that could lead to fires of greater intensity in the near-term future.

That paper and its findings were the subject of a significant debate in recent months, including Congressional committee hearings. In particular, a second group of scientists in the OSU College of Forestry and the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station questioned the methodology, interpretations and conclusions of the study as they were reported.

Those issues are being revisited in more depth by both groups in a peer-reviewed commentary and response to it in the upcoming, Aug. 4, issue of Science. A third commentary is also being provided in that publication by Washington Congressman Brian Baird.

The technical commentary was authored by six scientists from the OSU College of Forestry, two scientists from the Pacific Southwest Research Station and the retired lead ecologist from the Siskiyou National Forest where the Biscuit Fire occurred.

It says that the original paper did not adequately report forest management objectives for the sites being studied; did not describe the plant association, site variables, logging methods, weather, distance to seed crops, or extended delay in logging after the fire; made inappropriate assumptions about the survival of seedlings in the face of har


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