Does Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Want to Log America’s National Parks?

Does Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Want to Log America’s National Parks?

It sure sort of, kind of, sounds that way.

Check out this piece from Outdoor Life:

The Sprague Fire that burned the [Sperry] chalet was part of a wider trend last summer that saw the worst fire season in Montana in 30 years. As we walk, Zinke points to the dense stand of Douglas fir on the slopes above [Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald]. It’s an uninviting desert of same-aged trees, too thick to hike through, a monoculture unbroken by a larch or an aspen.

“Those trees are a fire waiting to happen. We spent $2 billion on fire suppression this year. We can’t afford to keep doing that. The first step in fire management has got to be prevention. The reality is that our climate is changing. We are having longer fire seasons, and fires are bigger and burn hotter. So we need to reduce the fuel load. We need proactive timber management, including using prescribed burns in times of the year when it makes sense.”

“Are you recommending that we log our national parks?” I ask Zinke. National parks are among the most restrictive of the many designations of land use in the Department of Interior’s 500-million-acre real-estate portfolio, a fifth of the nation’s land mass. You can’t hunt in national parks, there’s no resource development, and many other activities are categorically prohibited, including commercial logging.

His answer — I think — is contained in a looping, obtuse answer that characterizes much of our day-long conversation. The Secretary of the Interior tells me that in his meeting with Glacier’s administrators, he raised the question of timber management inside the park. Zinke wants to see more cutting and thinning, both to reduce the intensity of wildfire and to boost biodiversity in critical ecosystems.

“I had a parks administrator tell me that timber management wasn’t his priority, that his priority was managing visitors. I told him, ‘Then what do I need you for? If managing visitors is your only job, then all I need is a ticket-taker at the entrance gate.’ So many people get into park management because they’re preservationists. I’m a conservationist, and that means actually managing what we’re stewards of.”


via A New Century of Forest Planning

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