Salvage on


Jodi Peterson’s brief on timber salvaging’s negative impacts mentioned black-backed woodpeckers but omitted some essential facts (“Log on,” HCN, 11/9/15). This woodpecker is neither threatened nor endangered. With the huge acreages of dead timber now available in the Western U.S. and Canada, the bird has an overabundance of foraging opportunities, aka “snag forest habitat.” Current salvage operations are now harvesting an insignificant portion of the available foraging area. For example, U.S. Forest Service data show that in Montana’s national forests, the yearly mortality is about 510 million cubic feet.  Approximately 10 million cubic feet is salvaged, leaving 98 percent of the dead trees for the woodpeckers and as fuel for the next fire.

Salvaging dead timber provides raw material for local industries, feedstock for power production, revenue for local governments and school districts, jobs and community stability. It does all this while reducing fire hazards and visitor safety concerns and, by using best forest practices, minimizes impacts on soil, water and regeneration.  

W.V. (Mac) McConnell
Tallahassee, Florida

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