Sunday, November 18, 2018

Should California have different types of forests due to the future of drought?

When Trump visits California, I hear that he blames the fires on forests that need to be thinned, rather than drought and global warming. Maybe there's a bit of truth in both places.

For sure, it's mostly drought. Even managed pasture lands are too dry. There isn't much one can do if the rain doesn't fall. On the other hand, California's long term prognosis is trending dry according to many of the climate scientists. Does that mean different forest management practices? This may mean we can't hang onto our forests of the past.

Yes, the forests might need more thinning, or different management techniques. Also think about what type of plants are growing there. Should we switch to more drought tolerant species? California oak at higher elevations? Less flammable conifer? More deciduous trees?

As a disclaimer I should say that I know just enough about forestry to make me dangerous. Maybe that isn't knowing quite enough.

Should we be building the new type of forest like we're in charge? Humans in the driver's seat? Sorry mother nature. There's 7.5 billion people on this planet. More and more people in the driver's seat, so to speak. Using fossil fuels at least until solar energy really takes hold. We do really need to push alternative transportation and alternative energy more. Birth control also.

Liberal minded folks, in California, will say that much of the state's forest land is managed by the federal government, not California. I guess that opens the door for Trump to blame Obama for the problems.

A California forest management person was on one of these shows I listen to, I forget which one. KQED Forum, in San Francisco? WBUR, Boston?

Anyway, he mentioned the need to use forests for sequestering carbon. That goal may conflict with the idea of thinning the forests to address the fire hazard. I got to thinking that these conflicting goals can be taken into account in deciding what types of vegetation they use for replanting the forests. Keeping in mind the possibility of a dryer California, are there plants that still sequester the carbon as well as the original forest types in each region?

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