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As feds propose logging in Los Padres National Forest for first time in decades, we debate thinning as a wildfire prevention tactic




A firefighter clears debris from the side of the road in the Los Padres National Forest on December 8, 2017 near Ojai, California as the Thomas Fire burns.
A firefighter clears debris from the side of the road in the Los Padres National Forest on December 8, 2017 near Ojai, California as the Thomas Fire burns.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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As wildland fires continue to burn across the state of California, the Trump administration is proposing commercial logging for the first time in decades in the Los Padres National Forest north of Los Angeles as a way to prevent future fires from starting.

The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. Forest Service wants to get rid of sagebrush as well as cut down Jeffrey and Ponderosa pines across nearly 3,000 acres. In addition, the plan reportedly includes a 12 mile long firebreak along Tecuya Ridge and removal of trees. The proposal does not include any planned environmental impact reviews of the potential effects on wildlife.

Advocates for forest thinning like the timber industry argue better access to these more valuable live trees gets rid of the flammable deadwood that often fuels wildland fires and would also help stem the spread of invasive insects like the bark beetle to more trees, thereby killing them and making them more conducive to burning.

Critics argue the logging industry is using the fire prevention argument as an excuse to cut down marketable timber on public lands and leave only the unmarketable timber.

Today on AirTalk, we talk with forest management experts about the arguments for and against logging to thin out forests as a fire prevention method.

Guests:

John D. Bailey, professor of silviculture and fire management at Oregon State University

Jason Sibold, associate professor of geography and faculty member in the graduate degree program in ecology at Colorado State University