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Page 7 of 11
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Tree and Forest Restoration - Pros and Cons to Salvage Logging

Pros to salvage logging:

Severe fires create enough ash to plug soil pores and thereby signifi- cantly reduce water infiltration rates. Snow-melt and rainstorms result in more water than the soil can rapidly absorb. A high probabil- ity of massive soil surface erosion and sediment deposits in streams results. Management practices that result in an increase of surface organic debris in close contact with the mineral soil underneath the ash layer can impede surface water runoff. This allows greater water absorption by the soil and reduces erosion.

Contour felling of trees is one of the most effective restoration processes used to achieve this objective, but is labor intensive and expensive. Salvage logging can achieve the same objective if logging debris is used in the same way as contour felling.

2) Ash layers create an environment that can be hostile to rapid recolonization by tree seedlings and other potentially desirable plant species. The black surface of burned areas can reach tempera- tures in excess of 170° F, which is lethal for many plant species. Disturbance of these black surfaces (logging activities) increases the albedo and reduces surface temperatures. In addition, woody debris creates shaded microsites that enhances tree seedling and native flora survival.

3) Amount of dead and dry fuel loading is reduced. Future risk of “reburns” is reduced.

Cons to salvage logging:

1) Logging increases surface erosion by further disturbing soils. The more a soil’s structure is disrupted, the greater the potential for surface erosion.

2) Logging vectors noxious weed seeds. Severely burned soils are very susceptible to noxious and exotic plant invasion. Existing data indicates that noxious weed abundance can increase threefold following fires.

3) Logging removes standing trees that provide shade for microsites.

4) Logging removes biomass needed for soil nutrient recycling.

5) Removal of standing dead trees reduces habitat for cavity nesting birds and their potential food source (beetle larvae that feed on dead trees).