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 March 11,  2014

 

Dear Friends,

 

On Friday, February 28, we sent you a press release discussing the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Health Authority's joint report to Oregon legislative committees on the impact of forest wildfires on public health and the environment. The report was requested by House Bill 3109 A from the 2013 session and chief sponsored by Rep. Whisnant and Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), the chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The report is based on the 26,000 acre Pole Creek Fire that occurred near Sisters and on U.S. Forest Service land in the late summer and fall of 2012.

 

The report's objective is to increase the public's awareness of the effects of forest wildfires on public health and the environment and hopefully will result in improved forest management practices.

 

We received several comments about the report. Thus, we are submitting the following article by Bill Kluting, Oregon's 2013 Forest Fire Emissions, which appeared in "The Rebel" by the Association of Western Pulp and Paper in January 24, 2014.  Bill is a longtime Legislative Affairs Representative for Carpenters Industrial Council in Oregon. Bill is a friend and works for the goal of proper forestry health and management issues. The article discussed emissions, which can cause health issues, and the Forest Service response to forest wildfires in a timely manner.

 

I hope Bill's article and the report will help you want to learn more about the impacts of forest wildfires on public health and the environment.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Gene Whisnant

 

 

 

 

Oregon's 2013 Forest Fire Emissions
by Bill Kluting

 

  
  
Forest 
  

Oregon 2013 forest fires totaled 1,175 fires burning over 105,000 acres. Using Forest Carbon and Emissions Model and other science models estimates these fires released six million tons of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2 from combustion into the atmosphere. Also 30,000 pounds of "particulate matter", small enough to enter the human lung causes health disorders. Combustion is only part of the story because dead trees also gradually release CO2 as they decay. CO2 emissions from decay are generally three times greater than emissions from combustion. Combining combustion and decay emissions studies show that a staggering 26 million tons of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere over the next few decades, comparable to adding another four million cars running around the clock for a full year. Many other compounds are part of these emissions from forest fires, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonium, formaldehyde, methanol and air borne lead and mercury are a few.

 

How can we reduce these greenhouse gases? By removing some of the burnt dead trees quickly and making lumber products, which stores carbon, would reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent. Replanting these burnt National Forest and Wilderness areas immediately after wildfires could raise the reduction of CO2 emissions to over forty percent.

Congress needs to pass laws that the burnt National Forest and Wilderness lands needed to be treated and replanted as soon as the soils cool.  

 

The U.S. Forest Service moves slowly but carefully when planning for healthier forests resulting in less wildfires as they tried around the Crater Lake area. Oregon Wild and the Cascadia Wildlands groups immediately appealed this. This area is full of diseased, overcrowded and dead trees that once a fire starts there will be no stopping it and it could and will spread into Crater Lake National Park.

 

The Forest Service and BLM have problems responding to wildfires due to all the federal government regulations and the different agencies involved. Delays in stopping any fires in these areas could spread into and destroy 10's of thousands of acres in the Park itself where there are limited capabilities to fight and control fires. What I don't want to see is a beautiful blue lake covered with ash and surrounded by a black charred forest. If these fires take place and burns 100,000 acres green house gas emissions would be 60 million tons, 200,000 acres would be 120 million tons released in the air we breath. Don't forget the millions of pounds of particulate matter that can enter our lungs. Once these charred materials start to decay future CO2 emissions would total three times the figures listed above. You are also looking at total destruction of wildlife habitat and watersheds that we depend on.

 

I'm asking you to urge the Federal Courts to ignore these appeals by Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands and other groups that files these appeals. Just a reminder, most all these group's legal fees are paid with our U.S.tax dollars so as their attorneys get rich the health of our National Forest suffer. Urge the U.S. Forest Service to continue and carry out planning to keep our National Forests in a healthy condition.

 

Bill J. Kluting

 

  

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Salem, OR 97301

 

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State Representative Gene Whisnant | 900 Court St NE | Salem | OR | 97301