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Forest Legacies – General Items

Pandemic relief could become next forest policy battleground

By Marc Heller, (E&E News, May 19, 2020)

A future coronavirus aid package in Congress might become the next battleground in a fight over forest policy.

The long-running debate about how best to care for national forests — and what to do with timber that’s taken from them — is quietly brewing again as lawmakers look for ways to promote a more intensive approach to forest management. A spending package for the pandemic offers one opportunity.

Leading the latest effort is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who introduced a broad package he said would give forest communities an economic boost while providing wildfire crews protection from the spreading virus (E&E Daily, May 12).

Sensing that a big appropriations bill could give logging advocates an opportunity, a group of scientists skeptical of the industry wrote to key federal lawmakers last week, urging them to refrain from putting pro-logging measures into any upcoming legislation, including on climate change. Continue reading

Scientists announce importance of the world’s primary forests and large, old trees in climate regulation and biodiversity conservation

primary forestPrimary (unlogged) forests and large, old trees provide high biodiversity and carbon value benefits

Dominick A. DellaSala and William R. Moomaw

Summary: Primary (unlogged) forests and large old, trees (live and dead) provide multiple benefits that forestall biodiversity and climate emergencies. They have high conservation value if allowed to achieve their ecological potential to support superior biodiversity, carbon storage and ecosystem benefits.

Scientists call for protecting half the planet to provide an equitable future for all species and a safe climate

View at Nature Research Sustainability Community. A response to Schleicher et al. “One Billion People to be Directly Affected by Protecting Half.” Nature Sustainability (2019): 1-3.

We are in a planetary recession marked by biodiversity collapse, climatic upheavals, freshwater shortages, global toxification, and unprecedented human and nonhuman displacements (Ripple et al, 2017). The only positive outlook lies in deep solutions and new narratives. Protecting at least half the Earth, terrestrial and marine, offers such an outlook. Safeguarding nature on a vast scale is necessary both to halt the mass extinction underway and to prevent the huge unleashing of carbon that will result from further ecological degradation (Steffen et al., 2018). In addition to affording robust natural solutions to the ecological exigencies that are imperiling all complex life, the Half Earth (or Nature Needs Half) initiative charts a course toward a sustainable and equitable human coexistence alongside the millions of life forms with whom we share the planet (Noss et al., 2012; Wilson, 2016; Dinerstein et al., 2017; Kopnina 2016; Kopnina et al., 2018).

In implementing Half Earth, conservationists, scientists, and policy-makers should work in concert with indigenous people and local populations (Goodall, 2015). Such efforts are aimed at ensuring that, en route to preempting further ecological catastrophes and healing the relationship between humanity and Earth, wide-scale nature protection will not adversely affect people in proximity to these natural areas (Goodall, 2015; Naidoo et al., 2019). The level of protection proposed will also bar corporate ventures, such as mining, logging, and industrial agriculture, from profiteering at the ongoing expense of the natural world and local and indigenous people (Vettese, 2018).

Guest View: Nature’s climate solution

Originally printed in Register Guard on December 14, 2019 by Dominick DellaSala, John Talberth and Ernie Niemi

Every fall, raging hurricanes and urban-wildfires remind us of the inconvenient truth: the climate is getting increasingly weird and dangerous.

Scientists have made it clear that if we hope to avoid escalating climate disruptions, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground while simultaneously drawing down carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere primarily from burning fossil fuels and global forest destruction.

In fact, experts have determined that the most effective strategy to remove carbon from the atmosphere at a meaningful scale is to protect the world’s remaining unlogged forests and replenish what has been lost by replanting trees and letting them grow to maturity. One study estimates that natural carbon solutions can provide more than one-third of the carbon reduction the world needs to meet the Paris Climate Agreements.

Would Trump’s reelection lead to climate catastrophe?

By Maxine Joselow and Adam Aton, E&E News reporters
Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ask environmental experts what would happen to the global climate fight if President Trump were reelected, and the answer is often the same.

“God help us all,” said David Hayes, executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law.

“A second term would be a disaster in general,” said Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute.

“It will not be good,” said Andrew Light, who served as a senior adviser on climate change under former President Obama.

Forest Legacies 2019 Accomplishments

With the support of our funders we have been able to protect primary forests in British Columbia, protect the roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest, and continue advocating for science-based wildfire policy. Full details are available in our end of year report.

More than 11,000 scientists from around the world declare a ‘climate emergency’

Study outlines six major steps that ‘must’ be taken to address the situation.

By Andrew Freedman
Published November 5, 2019 at the Washington Post

A new report by 11,258 scientists in 153 countries from a broad range of disciplines warns that the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency,” and provides six broad policy goals that must be met to address it.

The analysis is a stark departure from recent scientific assessments of global warming, such as those of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in that it does not couch its conclusions in the language of uncertainties, and it does prescribe policies.

The study, called the “World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency,” marks the first time a large group of scientists has formally come out in favor of labeling climate change an “emergency,” which the study notes is caused by many human trends that are together increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Island Press book sale

Save some green & inspire change with a book by our chief scientist, Dominick DellaSala, from the Island Press #simplyeverything sale. All print books are 50% off.

Purchase Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World: Ecology and Conservation, edited by Dominick DellaSala

Greens lash out at plans to speed NEPA reviews

By Marc Heller, Originally published August 27, 2019 at E&E News

Conservation groups and scientists are bashing the Forest Service’s plan to revamp the National Environmental Policy Act. (Photo of The Elliott State Forest. Photo credit: Tony Andersen/Oregon Department of Forestry/Flickr)

A Forest Service proposal to accelerate environmental reviews of forest management projects has generated thousands of public comments, including criticism yesterday from conservation groups.

In comments submitted to the agency, the Western Environmental Law Center and other groups said the proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act’s procedures would diminish public input while opening national forests to “sweeping destruction” through increased logging, mining and other projects.

Scientists Oppose Draft Forest Service Rule

For Immediate Release, August 26, 2019

Contacts: Dominick DellaSala,, (541) 621-7223 | Chris Frissell,, (406) 471-3167

Over 230 scientists oppose Draft Forest Service Rule That Would Block Scientist Voices, Gut Bedrock Environmental Law

Washington, DC― Over 230 scientists submitted comments strongly opposing a draft US Forest Service rule that would overhaul regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one our nation’s landmark environmental laws. The proposed rule is designed to speed up logging and other damaging activities across the 193 million-acre national forest system, while cutting the public and independent scientists out of the vast majority of all national forest decisions.

The letter, signed by scientists with expertise in conservation biology, ecology and hydrology, raised concerns about the proposed changes saying they “would hamstring the agency from making informed decisions in an era complicated by unprecedented climate change and a legacy of land-use impacts to the national forest system.”

“In shutting scientists and the public out from forest planning decisions, the Trump Administration continues its reckless policies that will change the very future of our nations treasured forests and rivers, said Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala, Chief Scientist at the Ashland-Oregon based Geos Institute, and lead scientist on the letter. “The Forest Service is chipping away at public accountability with severe consequences likely to our national forests.”

For nearly half a century NEPA has guaranteed public transparency, federal government accountability and ensures that the best available science is considered in federal decisions on public lands. The current NEPA rules require that the Forest Service to notify the public of pending logging, mining, drilling and other projects on national forests and to require the public, including scientists, to comment on these decisions.

The rule would cut out scientist and other public voices from most extraction and development projects on national forests by ending early notification, called scoping, and by creating a host of new loopholes known as “categorical exclusions.” Among many new loopholes, two would allow logging up to nearly 7 square miles and bulldozing up to 5 miles of new logging roads at a time without any public engagement.

“Logging roads cause permanent, elevated levels of erosion and pollution of waters by sediment and nutrients, said Dr. Chris Frissell, a freshwater ecologist and watershed expert in Fisheries Science with 37 years of experience. “We now know how environmentally devastating these accumulated harms to water quality are around the world. The Forest Service’s irresponsible proposal to build more roads without strict limits on road construction and active restoration of the existing road system will increase harm to wild fish and our rivers and streams.”

Categorical Exclusions are reserved for categories of actions that do not cause significant harm either individually or cumulatively like campground modifications and parking lots. The new rules would now apply to mining and oil and gas drilling as well as pipelines and transmission lines that could permanently cut through national forests without any public engagement.

The Trump administration has ordered the Forest Service to increase timber targets to levels not seen in 20 years. The draft rule also weakens standards for categories of extraordinary circumstances such as threatened species, or the presence of wilderness when a more thorough environmental review is required.

“The national forest system stores massive amounts of atmospheric carbon and provides clean drinking water to millions of citizens in rural and urban communities. These values will be increasingly important in helping society slow and adapt to global heating and are unduly being compromised by the Forest Service,” added DellaSala.

Geos Institute is a science-based organization that works to make communities whole in the face of climate change.

Dr. Chris Frissell (PhD, MS, BA) is an ecologist and fisheries scientist and founder and principal scientist at the firm of Frissell & Raven Hydrobiological and Landscape Sciences. He holds an affiliate professorship at the Flathead Lake Biological Station, University of Montana.

The link to the scientist letter can be found here – 

Related Coverage

In-the-Blink-of-An Eye We Save Humanity from Itself

“Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘Till it’s gone”
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi (1970)

family hikingI was just 14 when Big Yellow Taxi struck an emotional chord in me. Nearly a half century later, these words matter more to our own survival than any time in human history. This May, carbon emissions hit an all-time high as temperature gauges near the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia recorded the unthinkable: 87 degrees F when it’s supposed to be in the 50s! Perhaps, even worse, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released findings that 1 million species will soon go the way of the dodo, as humanity draws down more of its share of the planet’s life-giving systems. This is a crisis of immense proportions and most of humanity really won’t know what we got till it’s gone.

Every single species on this planet is a freak of the Universe. We were born out of a Cosmic explosion billions of years ago triggering swirling star-dust clouds and Cosmic debris that eventually coalesced into this amazing and highly improbable (unique) blue-ball-of life.

With blatant disregard for the great Mystery in all this, we face an ultimatum.

Scientists sound the alarm on Earth Day

Originally published on April 21, 2019 in the Medford Mail Tribune

south kalmiopsis dellasalaBy Dominick A. DellaSala, William J. Ripple and Franz Baumann

Another Earth Day is here and it’s time to see how the planet’s life-support systems are doing and what it means for Oregonians.

Since clean, renewable energy solutions are becoming increasingly available, we remain hopeful. Given the risk, though, that they might not be deployed at scale, and because the planet is creeping dangerously close to a tipping point, it’s hard not to be alarmed.

For decades, scientists have been monitoring the planet’s systems like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. We scan satellite images of humanity’s growing ecological footprint on the world’s forests, rivers, and oceans that is setting the stage for the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs went extinct. We use thousands of weather stations to track rising global temperatures and super-computers that forecast catastrophic impacts awaiting future generations if we ignore these telltale signs.

Sounding the alarm on Earth Day

originally published April 21, 2019 at OregonLive

By Dominick A. DellaSala, William J. Ripple and Franz Baumann

Another Earth Day is here and it’s time to check on the planet, our climate, and what it means for Oregonians. While we remain hopeful that climate change is solvable if we act now, it’s hard not to be alarmed.

For decades, scientists have been monitoring the planet’s life-support systems like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. We scan satellite images of humanity’s unprecedented ecological footprint on forests, rivers, and oceans. We use thousands of weather stations to track rising temperatures and super-computers to forecast impacts.

In 1992, we joined 1,700 scientists in issuing a warning that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In 2017, more than 21,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a second warning that conditions had worsened and time was running out.

Real vs. Fake Forests

What makes a forest a forest? This simple question becomes much more complicated, depending on who you ask. Thankfully, Dr. Dominick DellaSala, President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute, helps us explore this question and settle the debate in a chapter on “Fake” vs “Real” forests that will be published in The World’s Biomes, scheduled to be released in 2020. Topics that will be explored include:

  • Does planting trees compensate for cutting down a forest?
  • Can we truly see a forest for more than just the trees?

Redwood National Park fog in the forestIf a tree grows in a forest, does that make it a forest? Industry classifies forests as “an area at minimum 120 ft wide, 1 acre minimum wide, with at least 10% forest cover.” Does that sound like a forest to you?

The US Forest Service is an arm of the USDA. The department of agriculture’s focus is growing crops. Stated plainly, that means the Forest Service sees trees as crops. This typically means tree plantations are planted in dense rows like corn to be thinned, sprayed with chemicals, and fertilized for the fastest growing cycle for logging and the highest “return on investment.”

The Green New Deal: Finally climate policy informed by science

The proposal from Democrats is the most comprehensive response yet to the scientists’ warnings, to implement it would be realism, not radicalism

By William J. Ripple, Dominick A. DellaSala and Franz Baumann

green new deal 350dotorgOur nation has a long history of scientific innovation that has produced the computers that run our businesses, new discoveries in medicines that can extend our lives, and the rockets that take us to distant worlds in search of other life. Photo: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and senator Ed Markey present their Green New Deal resolution to reporters (Credit:

In short, science is our best hope to enable informed choices about our future. Big ideas like president Roosevelt’s New Deal also gave our nation hope for reversing the downward economic spiral of the 1930s with government programmes that still benefit us today. However, when it comes to a safe climate, science and policy have operated in a vacuum.

The Green New Deal in Congress provides an opportunity for bringing both science and policy together in shaping a sustainable future for our nation that avoids a pending crisis to the planet’s life support systems if we do not act boldly and promptly.

Don’t Be Fooled by “Fake Forests”

There is no substitute for a real old-growth forestby Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph. D, Chief Scientist, Geos Institute

Originally posted on the Oregon Wild website

If a tree grows in a forest, does that make it a forest? Does planting trees compensate for cutting down a forest? How do we know we are in a forest or an unreasonable facsimile (“fake”) there of?

A new publication “The World’s Biomes” is set for release in libraries globally in 2020. It will feature my chapter on fake vs. real forests. Contact me at for an advanced copy of this chapter.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of what’s inside a real vs. fake forest.

Forest Defense is Climate Defense

Dominick DellaSala’s presentation in Portland at a public event in Portland hosted by Oregon Wild.

Fire Seasons Without End (KBOO Interview)

Aired Monday November 2, 2018

The wildfires in Northern and Southern California this month are a grisly foreshadowing of a world in the fiery grip of climate chaos. It is apparent – unless you’re a climate denier – that climate change is upon us and that fire seasons without end are a stark indication of how much human activity and fossil fuels have intensified wildfire regimes as well as catastrophic weather events.

On this episode of Locus Focus, host Barbara Bernstein talks with fire and forest ecologist Dominick DellaSala, with the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, about what we need to be learning from California’s escalating problems with destructive wildfires, driven by a warming, drying climate, and a massive expansion of housing in the wildland–urban interface.

Get more information or listen to the recording at the KBOO website.

Why California Can’t Chainsaw Its Way Out Of A Raging Inferno

By Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed News Reporter (Posted on November 20, 2018, at 4:36 p.m. ET)

Some of the news photos from the devastation in Paradise, California, show a surprising scene: Green, living trees stand near homes that have been reduced to ashes.

They reveal that wildfire is a capricious enemy, but also indicate that there’s more to preventing catastrophic loss of lives and property than the prescriptions offered by the president of the United States — whose tweets and public statements suggest that what California needs to do is hoard water, cut down trees to prevent fires spreading, and get busy raking.

While thinning forests might work in some areas, studies indicate that it’s unlikely to be an effective remedy for California or the West as a whole — and it would have done little to curb the state’s most destructive recent fires.

As BuzzFeed News reported in July, California’s escalating problems with destructive wildfires have been driven by a warming, drying climate, and a massive expansion of housing in what experts call the wildland–urban interface. This has not only put people in the line of fire but has also increased the chances of a conflagration — because power lines and other human infrastructure and activity are the main sources of ignition.

Keep reading at

Forest Legacies 2018 Year in Review

Enjoy reading about our accomplishments over the past year in our year in review


Trump threatens funding over ‘ridiculous’ wildfires

By Adam Aton, E&E News reporter, originally published by E&E News

President Trump yesterday made inaccurate wildfire and water claims while meeting with local officials from California, and threatened to withhold federal firefighting money from the Golden State.

Moments after Trump accepted a certificate thanking him for the response to this summer’s Carr Fire, the sixth most destructive in state history, he incorrectly asserted that California could avoid forest fires altogether if more trees were cut down.

“We’re tired of giving California hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars all the time for their forest fires, when you wouldn’t have them if they manage their forests properly,” he said. “So California, get on the ball, because we’re not going to hand you any more money; it’s ridiculous.”

Role of primary rainforests – a talk at the California Climate Summit

Chief Scientist, Dr. Dominick DellaSala, addresses the role of primary (unlogged) rainforests at the California Climate Summit. The video below is set to begin about 1 hour and 20 minutes in, at the start of Dr. DellaSala’s presentation.

Roberts preps new draft bill for upcoming conference

Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

Originally Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at E&E News

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts said yesterday he aims to have a new draft farm bill ready by the time a House-Senate conference committee meets on the legislation next week.

The Kansas Republican told reporters the top four lawmakers on the House and Senate agriculture committees discussed the 2018 farm bill on a conference call yesterday, as they try to iron out differences on nutrition, conservation and other aspects of the five-year measure.

The 2014 farm bill expires at the end of September.

“I think that went well,” Roberts said of the discussion with Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

Asked whether he expects to present a draft conference report to the panel at its first meeting Sept. 5, Roberts said: “That’s the goal. We’re not there yet. More meetings and more phone calls.”

With the expiration of the current farm bill looming, and midterm elections weeks later, pressure is growing on the Republican-led Congress to complete a bill before a potential flip of the House to Democratic control.

Re: Open Statement to the Trump Administration

Date: August 16, 2018

At the Geos Institute, we take seriously the statements made by Secretary Ryan Zinke that Americans concerned about timber harvesting on public lands are “environmental terrorists.”

Like so many of our fellow Americans, we explore, fish, hike, recreate, and enjoy our public lands. We are parents, homeowners, scientists, and everyday people working to advance social and ecological causes using the public processes our democracy was founded upon.

People advocating on behalf of the environment have cleaned up our air and water and prevented irreparable harm to ecosystems across our nation. Public lands are a key part of our children’s inheritance and we are proud to defend them against ill-conceived management and resource extraction.

We do not employ violence or the threat of violence in our efforts to protect the public lands that provide essential services to our communities. We deplore the use of violence because it is immoral to harm, or threaten to harm, others in the course of advocating for a particular action.

Unfounded verbal attacks like those from the Trump Administration violate the fundamental basis of our democracy – the idea that we can passionately debate issues in the public sphere freely without fear of harm. They impede our ability to work proactively in our communities on fire preparation – the very activities that protect homes, lives, and livelihoods.

The comments made by Secretary Zinke create a wedge where there is no need to have one and put Americans at risk of violence and misdirected retaliatory actions. Addressing climate change and its effects on wildfires is a complex endeavor, one that requires people with level heads to work together. Rhetoric like this gets in the way of real solutions and moves us backward. We expect and deserve better from our leaders.

As always, we stand ready to work with the Administration on proactive community protection from wildfires and we ask that administration officials refrain from statements that could lead to violence in our communities.

Better Dead than Gone: Rep. Walden pushes for dead tree removal and replanting

By Henry Houston, originally published by Eugene Weekly, August 9, 2018

The state of Oregon currently faces 14 fires, affecting nearly 180,000 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. When the fire season is over, some of what’s left is dead, burned trees.

But what happens to those burned trees?

Eastern Oregon Rep. Greg Walden is urging the U.S. Senate to adopt the House’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill, which would remove burned, dead trees from public lands “while they still have value and replant” forest — just like private timberlands do.

It’s common sense, Walden says, in an email newsletter to constituents.

That’s a problematic strategy, according to Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist at Geos Institute in Ashland.

An Interview with Dr. Dominick DellaSala

In this interview by Kristen Hirsh-Pearson, Ex-Situ Board Member of the Montreal Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and M.Sc. Candidate in the Venter Lab at the University of Northern British Columbia, Dr. Dominick DellaSala speaks about his work, the state of global biodiversity conservation, and has words of wisdom for the next generation of conservation biologists.

Scientists’ warning to humanity has Earth Day meaning

By Dominick A. DellaSala, posted April 22, 2018 at Medford Mail Tribune

In 1992, I was one of 1,700 scientists, including Nobel laureates, who issued the “Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” because of damage humans were inflicting on the Earth. This March, I joined 20,000 scientists in sounding a second alarm as humanity is on an even faster collision with Earth’s life-giving systems.

This is not Chicken Little or “fake news.” Scientists read the planet’s life signs like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. We use satellites, global weather stations and polar ice measurements to document how humans are altering the global climate and destroying the planet’s ecosystems in unprecedented ways. In the years since the first warning, Earth’s dashboard lights are signaling a pending system-wide failure that threatens life on Earth on a scale soon to rival the epic demise of the dinosaurs.

Consider these alarming trends:

Half of all species on Earth could be extinguished by mid- to late century, mainly from habitat destruction and global warming as more and more people consume finite natural resources and our ecological footprint reaches dangerous levels. For the Rogue Valley, summer temperatures will heat up by 7 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Coastal towns will experience unprecedented sea-level rise from melting glaciers. Health ailments such as Lyme disease, asthma and heat exhaustion, exacerbated by climate change, will increasingly hurt children, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged. Category 5 hurricanes will become the new norm for east coast residents and Alaska Native villages will be displaced by floods and permafrost melting. It’s hard to put a smiley face on Earth Day celebrations after forecasting such alarming trends. But I am an eternal optimist and a parent, so I have to believe there is still time to act for a better future.

Negotiators aim to settle policy fights, post omnibus tonight

George Cahlink and Geof Koss, E&E News reporters

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Congressional leaders hope to have massive omnibus spending legislation on the House floor by Thursday, assuming they can resolve a few dozen outstanding policy fights.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this morning he’s “hoping” to file the $1.3 trillion spending bill late tonight, paving the way for the House Rules Committee to consider the bill tomorrow and then floor action Thursday.

He said he does not expect to need to pass an interim stopgap spending bill to avert a federal shutdown when current funding runs out Friday.

Geos scientist testifies in congress on climate change and forest fires

On Wednesday September 27, 2017 the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on wildfire policy. Geos Institute’s President and Chief Scientist Dr. Dominick DellaSala testified. You can read his full testimony here, read his Questions for the Record statement, watch a video of the hearing, and read coverage by E&E Daily below. 

Facts trump alternative facts

Letter to the Editor, Medford Mail Tribune

Published September 2, 2017

David Schott’s guest opinion criticizing let-burn fire policies in the Aug. 25 Mail Tribune smacks of alternative facts that would probably land him a job with the Trump administration.

First, the Chetco fire was a “suppress” fire from the get-go. Firefighters had to rappel into steep, remote terrain. The fire in July burned in a healthy pattern, increasing in intensity as the summer heated up and Chetco high winds kicked in. Putting more firefighters into that situation would have been a disaster. No amount of logging can slow down a weather-driven fire, as we learned from the Biscuit fire.

Second, his “sensible forest projects” have turned hillsides into flammable tree plantations that include mounds of slash as high as three-story buildings. Both the Douglas Complex and Oregon Gulch fires burned hottest when fire hit densely packed tree plantations just like thousands of other fires that have blown up when encountering plantations.

And finally, no one likes smoke. But the best way to deal with fire in general is to clear vegetation from the home outward, stop clearcutting native forests, and thin the existing plantations to reduce fire hazards. When it comes to fire preparation, facts trump hyperbole.

Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., chief scientist, Geos Institute

Conservationists guardedly optimistic about funding to restore forests, coasts, and flood-prone areas

Bipartisan. Unanimous. Two words not heard often in contemporary politics describe a pair of bills passed by a divided Washington Legislature to revitalize forests in the face of climate change and megafires that have killed firefighters and cost the state many millions of dollars.

Now comes the real test: Will the Legislature provide the money needed to carry out these plans? The same can be said for two other young but high-profile efforts to restore Washington ecosystems in coastal and flood-prone areas. Most at risk is the restoration program for flood-prone regions, which could lose more than half of its funding under the Senate’s budget plan.

Continue reading at Investigate West

Guest Opinion: An appeal for a safe climate from a scientist and loving father

By Dominick DellaSala

family hikingThis Earth Day, I am giving thanks for the lingering effects of our cold-wet winter and the beautiful snow-capped mountains. Reservoirs are filling up, fisher-people are casting away in streams with hopes of bountiful catches, and kayakers are bucking the rapids again. We should all enjoy this wet winter that used to be the “norm,” while remembering that we have much work to do to make the climate safe for our children.

I would like to share my family’s story because it concerns all parents, hikers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts in the region.

Earth Day 2017 Public Talk: Keeping Science Cool on a Warming Planet

Join us for a free public talk on the importance of science in combating climate change.

When: Saturday April 22, 2017 at 1pm (right after the Science March)

Where: Science Works Museum (1500 E. Main St, Ashland, OR)

Speaker: Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute and Director of the Forest Legacies Initiative

Trump budget bad news for nature

Although President Trump’s budget is still taking shape, it appears that it would significantly reduce regulations, impact air and water quality and degrade the health of humans, the natural environment and Southern Oregon’s tourism industry, according to local environmental groups.

Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, said during a working trip to Washington, D.C., that there are many potential negative impacts, ranging from air and water pollution to an increase in disease-bearing insects moving north and west from the tropics.

“Cutting science and climate-change funding via the Trump budget proposal means increased human suffering, especially to vulnerable populations — the young, elderly and poor,” said DellaSala, whose daughter has had Lyme disease for five years, caught from a tick in their Talent backyard.

“In D.C., anything to do with science, especially climate change, is in the cross-hairs,” DellaSala said. “If there’s no viable EPA, there’s going to be more air and water pollution and less regulation, but here in Washington, they all say the budget is DOA (dead on arrival).”

Keep reading the full article in the Mail Tribune

Trump appointees a threat to national forest and climate refugia

Dominick DellaSala was interviewed in a recent Climate Central article “Food Security, Forests At Risk Under Trump’s USDA“. 

The wildfire threat will not be reduced by efforts in Congress or in the Trump administration to increase logging, said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute, a climate change think tank.

“As climate change results in more extreme fire weather in places, throwing more money at the problem won’t result in a fire-fix as climate increasingly becomes the top-down driver of fire behavior,” he said.

DellaSala said it’s also important that the USDA manage and preserve forests — especially Alaska’s rain forests — as carbon sinks in order for the U.S. to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement. The pact calls for countries to cut climate pollution to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F), a level considered dangerous by the United Nations.

Read the full article at Climate Central

Forest Legacies 2016 Year End Report

What We Accomplished and What’s Needed Next

FL 2016 YearEndReportForests are the nation’s first line of climate change defense. This is because forests are nature’s “cooling towers,” absorbing vast quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and helping to cool down run away climate change. Forests also are nature’s “water towers,” storing and gradually releasing clean water especially during dry summer months when water is most precious. And, where they are intact (free of roads and logging), forests are a refuge for countless plants and wildlife seeking a safe haven in a changing climate.

Download the full report to learn more about our progress towards

  • Protecting millions of acres of older intact forests in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska for their climate, clean water, and wildlife values.
  • Protecting a climate refuge in southwest Oregon from destructive mining.
  • Promoting responsible wildfire management in fire-dependent forests.


Study shows roads have fragmented the planet’s wilderness areas

“A global map of roadless areas and their conservation status”, published by Science, is the most comprehensive inventory of roads and roadless areas in the world and shows just how fast we are losing wild places across the planet. Geos Institute’s Dr. Dominick DellaSala is one of the co-authors. You can listen to him talk about the study in a Jefferson Exchange interview

Roads have done much to help humanity spread across the planet and maintain global movement and trade. However, roads also damage wild areas and rapidly contribute to habitat degradation and species loss. Ibisch et al. cataloged the world’s roads. Though most of the world is not covered by roads, it is fragmented by them, with only 7% of land patches created by roads being greater than 100 km2. Furthermore, environmental protection of roadless areas is insufficient, which could lead to further degradation of the world’s remaining wildernesses.

Study: A global map of roadless areas and their conservation status

For Immediate Release December 15, 2016 at 2:00pm EST

Author Contacts: Pierre L. Ibisch (Germany) – (+49-3334-65 7178) – English, German and Spanish | Nuria Selva (Poland) – (+48-600135676)- English, Spanish and Polish | Stefan Kreft (Germany) – (+49-3334-65 7296) – English, German and Spanish

Further co-authors: Monika Hoffmann (Germany) | Vassiliki Kati (Greece) | Dominick DellaSala (USA) | Mariana M. Vale (Brazil) | Peter R. Hobson (UK) | Lisa Biber-Freudenberger (Germany) | Guy Pe’er (Germany)

A new global map of roadless areas shows that the Earth’s surface is shattered by roads into more than 600,000 fragments. More than half of them are smaller than 1 km2. Roads have made it possible for humans to access almost every region but this comes at a very high cost ecologically to the planet’s natural world. Roads severely reduce the ability of ecosystems to function effectively and to provide us with vital services for our survival. Despite substantial efforts to conserve the world’s natural heritage, large tracts of valuable roadless areas remain unprotected. The study shows that the United Nations’ sustainability agenda fails to recognize the relevance of roadless areas in meetings its goals. 

Trump Reportedly Pivots to Zinke for Interior Post

President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate first-term U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., a former Navy SEAL who is champion of the coal industry and a climate science denialist, as Interior secretary, according to multiple news reports.

Trump had reportedly considered U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., for the job last week, but has offered the job to Zinke, instead, according to the Associated Press and Reuters.

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Ore. said that while Zinke supports keeping federal public lands under federal control, he would emphasize coal development during his tenure as Interior secretary.

“He has been supportive of oil and gas drilling, the Keystone pipeline, and believes climate change has not be scientifically proven,” DellaSala said.

Keep reading the article by Bobby Magill at Climate Central

Trump pick on Interior Secretary is Fox in the Henhouse of Public Lands

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a sixth-term Republican from Washington State who is a climate change denier and an ardent opponent of regulations for greenhouse gas emissions, has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump for Secretary of Interior.

If McMorris Rodgers is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would govern the management of more than 500 million acres of federal public lands, including more than 400 national parks.

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Ore., said McMorris Rodgers is no fan of the National Environmental Policy Act, the law that requires environmental review of new development and land management changes on federally owned land.

Keep reading the article by Bobby Magill at Climate Central

Protection of Public Lands Cast in Doubt

“The majority of Americans love their public lands and will not stand for giving them to the states or private sector as that would be catastrophic ecologically and economically.”     -Dominick DellaSala

Geos Institute’s Dominick DellaSala is featured in a Climate Central article, published November 28, 2016. He discusses the the deregulation or disposal of public lands, to which he says the opposition will be fierce from both environmental groups and the public.

Read the Climate Central article

Also reprinted in Raw Story

The Oregonian: Wood-fired electricity sparks ambitious plans, controversy in Oregon

Portland General Electric is considering a swtich at its Boardman plant from coal to biomass. Geos Institute’s Dominick DellaSala was interviewed by the Oregonian for this October 23 article. Read the full article here.

East Oregonian: Groups seek to ax biomass ‘loophole’

“You want to keep coal in the ground. Similarly, you want to keep carbon in the forests” – Dominick DellaSala

Geos Institute’s Dominick DelsaSala is featured in an East Oregonian article, published October 21, 2016, discussing the labeling of biomass as ‘carbon neutral’.

Read the article online

Geos Institute publishes new report on an All Lands and All Waters Conservation Approach for the incoming administration

Executive Summary

AllLandsWatersCover 201608

Scientific integrity—the use of quality science in decision making—is the hallmark of credible, effective policies for the conservation of biological diversity. This document includes big picture ideas for strengthening scientific, ecological, and economic underpinnings of federal lands and waters conservation as well as for engaging nonfederal owners in an all lands and waters conservation approach.

Fully one-third of the nation’s lands are held in the public trust as federally administered public lands. National parks, wilderness areas, national recreation areas, wild and scenic rivers, wildlife refuges, national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, and national monuments are among the nation’s crown jewels. Together, public lands are wellsprings of biodiversity and support a burgeoning recreation and tourism economy, jobs in restoration and land stewardship, clean water, and climate regulation. The rest of the nation’s open spaces are administered by the states and private landowners and have important conservation values as well.

The United States also has 50,000 rivers totaling some 3.5 million river miles, 123,439 lakes, and 95,471 miles of coastline with additional ecosystem benefits. The Federal government is also responsible for how the oceans are utilized economically out to 200 hundred nautical miles and has greater regulatory authority over air space, waters and seabed out 12 miles.

America has an ever-increasing love affair with the great outdoors as record numbers turn out each year. Building on this support, the incoming administration has a unique opportunity to make conservation a top priority for all lands and waters conservation by:

  • Strengthening scientific integrity in federal agencies decisions by supporting agency scientists and appointing leaders with an established scientific pedigree.
  • Re-starting the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) with an infusion of youth employment in public lands restoration.
  • Making climate change mitigation and adaptation core public lands objectives, including keeping carbon in the ground and in ecosystems.
  • Strengthening implementation of and defending the Endangered Species Act from any Congressional rollbacks.
  • Adding at least 40 million acres of new protected areas to better represent conservation priorities.
  • Creating a national forest carbon trust where carbon is sequestered and stored long-term in some 33 million acres nationwide. A comparable carbon trust is needed for native grasslands as well.
  • Making freshwater conservation a priority for federal agencies broadly, including protection of intact watersheds for their extraordinary benefits to people and fish.
  • Enacting policies that result in large-landscape conservation by reconnecting habitat for migrating fish and wildlife.
  • Developing fiscally responsible and ecologically appropriate fire management policies.
  • Protecting at least 30% of the oceans by 2030.
  • Supporting and creating innovative incentives on nonfederal lands.

Download the full report: Low-resolution (7.39 MB) or Print quality (29.4 MB)

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Campaign to Establish a Forest and Climate Legacy for President Obama Heating Up

In this summer edition of the Forest Legacies newsletter:

The Tongass as Alaska’s First Line of Climate Change Defense

fl enews 201608 tongass1

At nearly 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska is the nation’s largest national forest and a carbon champion, absorbing some 8% of our annual carbon dioxide pollution in its productive old-growth rainforests. Unfortunately, the Forest Service proposes to clearcut 43,000 acres of this old growth, mostly in the next 16 years, releasing the equivalent emissions of some 4 million vehicles annually. The agency’s logging plan is an embarrassment to President Obama’s global leadership on climate change and contradicts his visit to Alaska last September when he announced, while in route to the Paris Climate Change Summit, that the state is the nation’s “sign post” on climate change.

For the past three years, Geos Institute, and our partners, Natural Resources Defense Council, Mater Engineering (board member), and retired Deputy Forest Service Chief Jim Furnish (board member), have been conducting ground-breaking research on the amount of young forests available to shift timber production out of controversial old-growth logging. Thousands of acres of young plantation forests originally logged in the 1950s have since regrown and will soon (by 2020) be ready offset the need to log old growth.

fl enews 201608 tongass2We also teamed with a local Alaska mill to propose a study that would determine the feasibility of processing young trees from the Tongass, using new milling technologies that get more material from small logs with much less wood waste. Collectively, this work is uniquely solving for economic uncertainties of a rapid transition. And while we have demonstrated to the Forest Service how transition can swiftly occur, they remain dug in on clearcutting vast areas of old-growth rainforests, the only national forest that is still doing this on a large scale.

In the coming months, we will be making a compelling case to the Obama Administration to direct the Forest Service to speed up its transition by taking advantage of this new opportunity we have demonstrated, and help save Alaska’s rainforests and climate. Only with bold direction from the President can we save the Tongass from rampant old-growth and climate-dirty logging.

Read more about what we are doing to protect one of the world’s last relatively intact temperate rainforests.

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Race to Save the South Kalmiopsis and Oregon Redwoods in Full Gear

fl enews 201608 kalmiopsisEmerald green rivers, rare carnivorous plants, and massive Oregon redwoods make up a landscape unmatched in biodiversity across the American West. For the past 4 years, Geos Institute has partnered with local and national conservation groups to seek protection from mining of these waterways and for Oregon’s redwoods. Legislation has been introduced in Congress by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio (OR) and Jared Huffman (CA) to protect at-risk watersheds that, although has yet to receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled Congress, did trigger a temporary withdrawal of new mining claims until Congress can act. Geos Institute is pushing for permanent protections of this area in the coming months that we hope to achieve before President Obama leaves office in January.

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Defending the Northwest Forest Plan: A Global Example of Large-Landscape Conservation

fl enews 201608 nwfpThe Northwest Forest Plan is a global model for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation on over 24 million acres of federal lands from California to Washington. This landmark plan is scheduled for renewal in 2017 under the incoming Administration. The Forest Service is currently conducting a science synthesis in its preparation for future plan revisions. Geos Institute has been instrumental in providing sound science to the agency. Recently, we published a peer-reviewed paper on the 20-year anniversary of the 100-year Northwest Forest Plan in the journal Forests. That paper, along with hundreds of related publications by scientists, was sent to the agency in support of increased protections for Northwest forests.

This June, 13 leading scientists called on the Forest Service to expand protections afforded for forests and imperiled species as a means of preparing for unprecedented climate impacts and ongoing land-use disturbances mainly on nonfederal lands. We intend to brief the incoming Administration on the importance of building on the Northwest Forest Plan’s two decades of accomplishments.

Read the full comments here.

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The Wildfire Conundrum

Chief Scientist, Dr. Dominick DellaSala, was recently interviewed in a Jefferson Journal article, “The Wildfire Conundrum,” based on a three-part radio series on the Jefferson Public Radio.

“If fuels were contributing to more forest fires and more severe fires, that’s what we would be seeing in the West.” Instead, [DellaSala] says, “We are actually in a deficit of fire severity and fire acres in most of the West compared to historical times.”

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Geos Institute continues to be a national leader on advocating for the biodiversity importance of wildland fires and ways to co-exist with them without logging in the backcountry. Check out our book – “The ecological importance of mixed-severity fires: nature’s phoenix (link to the book goes here). In the coming months, we will be meeting with decision makers in Washington D.C. to make our case to Congress that responsible fire management can be achieved by first and foremost protecting homes and fire fighters so that more fires can burn safely in the backcountry performing a vital ecological role.

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Looking Ahead

fl enews 201608 whitehouseConservation always involves anticipation. And despite uncertainties in who the next president will be in November, Geos Institute is already preparing to brief the incoming Administration. We are in the process of working on a bold conservation vision for public lands that we hope to present to the incoming Administration during its first 100 days – stay tuned as we wrap up existing campaigns and keep our periscope up for emerging opportunities.

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April Newsletter: Forest Legacies springs into action!

In this issue:

  • Tongass Logging Transition Not Moving Fast Enough
  • On the steps of the nation’s capital for permanent protection of the world-class Kalmiopsis area, southwest Oregon
  • Celebrating Earth Week by Recognizing Conservation Gains in Northwest Forests

Guest Opinion: We need a moon-shot for the environment more than ever

By Dominick DellaSala

(Originally published in the Medford Mail Tribune, April 17, 2016)

This week, more than 193 nations will celebrate Earth Day. The annual event is a marker for the environmental movement begun on April 22, 1970, when Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson organized a peaceful teach-in. At the time, rivers were on fire, oil spills fouled Santa Barbara’s coastline, spaceships were headed to the moon, and the nation was at war.

Rachael Carson warned in the 1960s of a “Silent Spring” caused by toxic pesticides that were bad for songbirds and people. Hydro-fluorocarbons, a byproduct of refrigerants and other uses, were ripping holes in the ozone, triggering skin cancers.

Forests in the Pacific Northwest were being clearcut at an alarming rate of 2 square miles every week, which nearly wiped out the spotted owl and salmon.

Clearly, something had to be done. And, thankfully, millions of Americans demanded that Congress pass new laws to give us a healthy environment.

Over the past four decades, political activism has led to hard-fought gains in civil rights, gender rights, social justice, and environmental policies, from the Clean Air Act to the Northwest Forest Plan.

So, why do we need Earth Day even more now?

Primary (unlogged) forests hold keys to lessening global warming impacts

Only about one-third of the world’s forests remain as intact primary forests with no roads or logging having taken place. Scientists have long recognized the unique values these forests provide including unmatched biodiversity, clean water, and, more recently, climate benefits. Geos Institute was part of an international team of scientists and conservation groups calling on countries, including the USA, to protect their dwindling primary forests as part of the historic climate change agreements negotiated this December in Paris.

Read the full article.

 tongass rainforest dds  tropical rainforest LamingtonNP Australia dds
Tongass rainforest – primary temperate rainforests on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska sequester (absorb) the equivalent of about 8% of the annual US greenhouse gas emissions. No other forest in the nation sequesters and stores more carbon. Geos Institute works to preserve these rainforests for their climate and biodiversity benefits. Tropical rainforest, Australia – tropical rainforests are a global carbon “sink,” absorbing atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis and storing it in long-lived trees, dense foliage, and soils. Geos Institute is a member of the steering committee of “IntAct,” an international effort to protect the world’s primary forests. Photo credit: Dominick DellaSala

World’s primary forests on the brink, study concludes

Science Daily

Summary: The precarious state of the world’s primary forests has been outlined in new research by an international team of conservationist scientists and practitioners. Primary forests — largely ignored by policy makers and under increasing land use threats — are forests where there are no visible indications of human activities, especially industrial-scale land use, and ecological processes have not been significantly disrupted. The analysis reveals that only five percent of the world’s pre-agricultural primary forest cover is now found in protected areas.

Continue Reading>>

New Global Analysis Reveals Extreme Vulnerability of Primary Forests

Contact: Stephen Sautner, Wildlife Conservation Society, 1-718-220-3682;

  • Authors say just 22 percent of primary forests are located in protected areas and that less than 5 percent of original primary forest is left on Earth
  • Half the world’s remaining primary forests located in U.S., Canada, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Analysis provides clear policy recommendations to safeguard primary forests into the future
  • Full Report

New York  – A team of conservationists has published a new global analysis and map showing the extremely precarious state of the world’s primary forests. The analysis is featured in a paper appearing in the early online edition of the journal Conservation Letters.

The analysis reveals that only 5 percent of the world’s pre-agricultural primary forest cover is now found in protected areas.

Primary forests – largely ignored by policy makers and under increasing land use threats – are forests where there are no visible indications of human activities, especially industrial-scale land use, and ecological processes have not been significantly disrupted. These forests are home to an extraordinary richness of biodiversity; up to 57 percent of all tropical forest species are dependent on primary forest habitat and the ecological processes they provide for their survival.

Forest health crisis ends with a whimper

by Bob Berwyn in the Colorado Independent

‘We may be cutting down the very trees we need to save the forest’

FRISCO — Even here, in a cool forest hollow near Tenmile Creek, you can feel the tom-toms. It’s a distant beat, born in the marbled halls of Congress, where political forces blow an ill wind across Colorado’s forests. Nearly every Western elected official with a clump of shrubby cottonwoods in his or her jurisdiction claims to be a forest expert. And when senators and congress members make forest policy, rhetoric usually trumps science — as is the case with laws requiring new logging projects that may wipe out some of the very trees needed to replenish forests in the global warming era.

Continue reading>>

U.S. Forests Are Pivotal in Efforts to Slow Climate Change

For Immediate Release on June 18, 2014

Contacts: Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Geos Institute (541-482-4459 x 302; 541-621-7223); Dr. Olga Krankina, Oregon State University (541-737-1780) 

Ashland, OR – Scientists today called on the Obama Administration to do more to protect the nation’s mature “high-biomass” forests because of their unique climate change benefits. While the President has taken bold steps to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from coal and other fossil fuels, he has sidestepped efforts to protect productive older forests that store massive amounts of carbon and are key to helping stabilize runaway climate change. The study of high-biomass forests was published in the July 2014 issue of Environmental Management

Older forests (mature and old growth) are a critical part of the global biological carbon cycle that contribute to climate stabilization by uptake and storage of atmospheric carbon in live and dead trees, foliage and soils. The oldest and most productive forests are where the trees are providing a long-term “sink” for atmospheric carbon, absorbing and holding on to it like a sponge for centuries.  Those forests are the primary target for logging and when they are cut down up to half of their stored carbon is released into the atmosphere as a carbon dioxide pollutant within just a few years. This loss is not made up for by planting trees or storing carbon in wood products as forest products have a short “shelf life” compared to mature forest that sequesters (absorbs) and stores carbon for centuries.

Proposed mine by wild Smith River roils Del Norte County folks

The clear, flowing Smith River is a life force in the northern corner of California, where the locals keep a sharp eye out for threats to the pristine water and thriving fish. That would explain why the folk who live along the river in Del Norte County nearly jumped out of their britches when they learned about a proposed nickel mine along a major tributary of the Smith, the last major river without a dam left in the state.

A London mining company has applied to the U.S. Forest Service to begin exploratory drilling over thousands of acres of forest lands, including Baldface Creek, in Curry County, Ore., which flows into the Smith and helps maintain one of the most abundant natural salmon runs in California. <read more>

Celebrating Earth Day, an intergenerational guide to the future

Guest Opinion in the Medford Mail Tribune

by Dominick A. DellaSala, Camila Thorndike, and Jim Furnish

One of us is a scientist, the next a young climate activist, and the third the former Siuslaw National Forest supervisor and Evangelical Environmental Network board member. What do we share in common?

Across three generations, we deeply respect nature, love our families, and are gravely concerned by the dramatic impact of carbon dioxide pollution that is triggering climate disruptions. We have each committed our lives to common-sense solutions for climate stability. 

Our lives are enriched by the natural world. Yet no matter where we go, from the magnificent temperate rainforests of Oregon’s coast to the distant reaches of the polar ice caps, we see the world changing dangerously fast. We read the chaotic signature of deforestation in Amazonia and the view above our own Rogue Valley, where clearcuts greatly outnumber the remaining mature forests.

Call To Keep Intact Forests Free Of Roads


Kriton Arsenis, Member of the European Parliament, RoadFree Initiative, +32 22833537,

William Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Australia,

Dr. Dominick DellaSala, President and Chief Scientist, Geos Institute, United States, +541-482-4459 ext. 302,

Dr. Sean Foley, Fellow & Chairman of the Board, The Samdhana Institute, Indonesia, +62 811 199-7560, +856 20 5872-0379,

Dr. Barbara Zimmerman, Director, Kayapo Project, International Conservation Fund of Canada, +1 416 487 0879,

BRUSSELS – On the eve of the 2nd International Day of Forests on Friday, March 21st, scientists join MEP Kriton Arsenis in calling for an urgent response to the threats from road development to the world’s last intact primary forests.

Less than a third of Earth’s forests remain undisturbed by human activities. Road building, often driven by industrial activities, is one of the main causes of intact forest loss. RoadFree, an initiative by Member of the European Parliament Kriton Arsenis, was specially created to address this issue.

“95% of forest loss occurs within 50 km of a road. Scientific reports and satellite imagery have demonstrated road building is a major driver of deforestation from the Amazon to Indonesian and Congo Basin forests. Keeping our last intact forests free of roads is a cost-efficient way to protect the climate, halt biodiversity loss and keep illegal traffickers at bay”, says Kriton Arsenis. <read more>


Hundreds of Scientists Back EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

In under two weeks, 360 individuals added their name to the letter to support of the science-based approach the EPA has taken to assess the risks and consequences of proposed large-scale mining in Bristol Bay and encourage the EPA to pursue protective action.

The final letter was handed to the Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran on February 4th during his visit to Anchorage, Alaska. He and his colleagues were eager to read it. The letter has also been mailed and emailed to other relevant regional and national EPA officials and caught some attention in the media covering the debate around the proposed Pebble mine and the assessment.

Scientists oppose two logging bills in Congress

by Scott Sonner, Associated Press

More than 200 biologists, ecologists and other scientists are urging Congress to defeat legislation they say would destroy critical wildlife habitat by setting aside U.S. environmental laws to speed logging of burned trees at Yosemite National Park and other national forests and wilderness areas across the West. 

Click here for the full text of the scientists’ letter to Congress.

The experts say two measures pushed by pro-logging interests ignore a growing scientific consensus that the burned landscape plays a critical role in forest regeneration and is home to many birds, bats and other species found nowhere else.   Read More>

A Scientist Who Cares – an interview with Dominick DellaSala

Sometimes there’s no more passionate form of advocacy than sound and rigorous science. Dominick Dellasala explains to Matt Kettman why.

Though he got his start working on the ground with some of the most headline-grabbing endangered species battles of the past quarter-century, Dominick Dellasala admits that today he is an “armchair biologist,” having been out of field work for years. The chief scientist of the climate change-focused Geos Institute grew up in Brooklyn, where he admits there weren’t many trees. Trips to the Catskills with his parents sparked his passion for the outdoors.

“My whole background is very improbable in terms of where I wound up,” Dellasala told me over the phone from his office in Ashland. “I wasn’t raised in an outdoor environment, but it became my passion because, once I got out there, I knew how special it was.” Teachers in high school and college recognized that passion early on, and pushed him to study nature while at Adelphi University on Long Island and then Wayne State in Detroit, where he got his Masters. He then went to University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for his Ph.D.

Once a professional, he ran headfirst into the northern spotted owl, the most challenging species he’s ever had the opportunity to study and, eventually, protect. “It’s just become the symbol for the battles over the forests of the Pacific Northwest,” said Dellasala. “That species has shouldered all of the conservation burdens, and you either hate it or you love it, depending on your approach to the issue.”

Many scientists try to straddle the divide between strict observation and passionate activism, but Dellasala has set a strong mold for how to do both without undermining one’s career and respect. 

Read the entire interview

Why Biodiversity is Important to Solving Climate Chaos: Top 10 Reasons

By Dominick DellaSala

Originally published in Island Press Notes: an Island Press blog on September 13, 2013.

Having jump-started my career as a conservation biologist riding the 1980s explosion of scientific and public interest in biodiversity, I have progressively witnessed how biophilia has given way to climate change concerns with the public, decision makers, scientists, and philanthropists (who have increasingly moved funding out of biodiversity and into climate change). In the meantime, we have lost sight of why biodiversity is critical to solving climate chaos. In fact, our biodiversity roots are indeed needed to solve climate chaos as the natural world holds the keys for reaching both a safe climate and living planet. After all, the planet’s life-given atmosphere is a byproduct of billions of years of atmospheric and biological forces in synch with one another and balanced by life on earth. We are poised to change that balance through unprecedented human-caused extinctions interacting with greenhouse gas pollutants, both byproducts of runaway population growth and unsustainable consumption levels.

Simply put, the path we are on today – some call it the “Great Acceleration” – or “Anthropocene” (Age of Humanity) – is triggering the sixth great extinction spasm (aka E.O. Wilson) through unprecedented species losses and a build up of heat-trapping gasses. The path ahead must recognize that we need nature to survive and overcome these dangerous times, lest we live in a world where wild things are pushed to the brink and climate disruptions worsen loses to both nature and people. Here are my top 10 reasons for why reinvigorating biodiversity conservation is critical to both a stable climate and a living planet.

Kauri tree
Massive trees like New Zealand’s Kauri (Agathis australis) not only support unique temperate rainforest communities but are vital in the effort to find a solution to global warming. Bio-diverse temperate rainforests globally absorb the equivalent of over 60 times the world’s annual greenhouse gas pollutants. 

  1. Areas of high ecological integrity (generally intact systems) with full complement of species and processes (biodiverse) are more resilient (capable of rebounding from disturbance) and resistant (capable of withstanding disturbance) to climate change and human disturbances.
  2. High levels of biodiversity are associated with productive ecosystem services, including pollination (in major decline in agriculturally simplified systems), carbon sequestration and long-term storage (highest in old-growth biodiverse forests), nutrient cycling, soil formation, predator-prey dynamics (complex food webs), and provisioning services such as clean air and water, food, timber, and fiber. All of these services are at risk in a changing climate and from their exploitation.
  3. High levels of biodiversity tend to be associated with human-well being (quality of life) and human health, which are at risk from increased air pollution, reduced quality and quantity of clean water, respiratory ailments, and natural disasters exacerbated by climate change. Natural systems and their inherent biodiversity can ameliorate at least some of these ailments as nearly 1 of every 4 medicines was originally synthesized from the world’s tropical rainforests that we also desperately need for a stable climate.
  4. A diverse coastal environment with intact and functional wetlands is best at absorbing increasing storm surges and sea-level rise caused by global warming.
  5. A diverse streamside channel with fully functional and intact riparian areas and wetlands are more capable of ameliorating flood damages and storing water especially if keystone species such as beaver are present.
  6. Biodiversity is a kind of climate change insurance – we humans know very little about how natural systems work and how tipping points can trigger cascading ecological effects. Examples from marine fisheries abound where entire systems have collapsed due to over-fishing of a few commercially valuable fish that limit options for climate change adaptation.
  7. There is magic in wild places; climate change removes that magic as a product of an ever-increasing human footprint – a dangerous feedback loop is being set up where biodiversity is hammered, resulting in diminished ecosystem services, concomitant impacts to humans that then put more pressure on those systems until they are extinguished. Numerous studies have linked poverty to decline in natural capital and this will only worsen as the poor feel climate impacts disproportionately.
  8. Diversity in nature allows for more adaptation options in the future –biodiverse prairies with their full complement of wildflowers, for instance, are more capable of rebounding after disturbance than mega-farms.
  9. Intact and connected landscapes are better able to provide refugia for climate-forced wildlife migrations than fragmented areas with low levels of diversity and artificial barriers to migration.
  10. High levels of genetic diversity allow for greater phenotypic plasticity (i.e., more adaptive responses) than low levels of genetic diversity. Similarly, genetically modified organisms may be maladaptive in a changing climate due to their simplified genetic structure.

Field blog picAll species have a right to exist and are a product of eons of evolution at work (many believe a Creator is also at work). We should not have to choose between climate change or biodiversity nor justify biodiversity investments based mainly on Anthropentric views. We owe it to our children to leave both a living planet and a safe climate: the two are woven together like strands in the great web of life and all the strands are important for their own sake as well as ours.  

First Global Assessment of Roadless Areas Presented at International Congress

Contact: Dominick DellaSala, Geos Institute, 541/482-4459 x302

Last July in Baltimore, representatives of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) participated in a Roadless Area Symposium at the biennial International Congress for Conservation Biology 2013. Scientists described their research about global and regional perspectives on conserving roadless areas and shared preliminary results from the first global assessment of roadless areas.

Opinion: BLM lands give us clean water

Medford Mail Tribune Opinion by Dominick A. DellaSala

The July 14 guest opinion “Logging didn’t cause water problems” by retired forester Theodore Lorensen digs deep into my report, featured in the Mail Tribune on June 27, to find any contentious points to discredit my message that unlogged Bureau of Land Management lands are important for clean water. Decades of research, and not just modeling studies or one contentious example from Salem that he cites, provide strong evidence that heavily logged and roaded watersheds, most notably those occurring on state and private lands, contribute to significant water quality problems.

It’s simple, really: When you clearcut the trees and bulldoze the ground, heavy rains wash away the soil, leading to more landslides and muddy water. Heavy erosion events stem directly from road-related slope failures. Clearcutting on steep slopes, logging in streamside areas and culvert failures that cumulatively leak sediments into streams are expensive for public water utilities to treat low-quality water, and they damage salmon runs. There are numerous government reports, field studies and water-quality monitoring reports by the Department of Environmental Quality that back my claims. Lorensen is correct that landslides also can occur in healthy watersheds during heavy rains, like the one in Salem years ago, but the evidence is solid that there are many more in logged and roaded watersheds contributing to Oregon’s water quality problems.

On the other hand, well-protected and well-managed watersheds are much better at reducing flood damage and producing clean water, healthy fish and wildlife populations, more resilient local economies and outdoor recreational benefits as fully detailed in my report. Forest thinning, if done judiciously, can also lower fire risks to watersheds by culling overly dense small trees as in the Ashland watershed.

Other restorative actions can put loggers to work removing failing roads and repairing inappropriately sized road culverts. Communities throughout Oregon are doing this right now through Oregon’s Salmon Plan and the restorative work of watershed councils.

I also cite studies documenting the ecosystem benefits of well-managed (unlogged) watersheds that represent an estimated savings to public water utilities and taxpayers in billions of dollars from road-related sediment avoidance costs nationally. From the forest to the faucet, unlogged watersheds are wellsprings of clean water, which will only become increasingly valuable economically and ecologically as many communities in the West struggle with over-allocation of precious water supplies and climate change triggers more intense droughts.

As a conservation scientist, I am inclined to inform the public of what’s at risk to our public lands by using the tools of my trade — computer modeling, literature reviews, fieldwork and publishing in peer-reviewed journals, the gold standard for scientific publication — which I routinely do. Putting all that aside, you only have to look out the window the next time you fly over Oregon’s intensively managed forests to see the maze of roads and shotgun blast of clearcuts, mostly on private lands. In our region alone (Klamath-Siskiyou) there are enough forest roads to drive to Portland and back 50 times. Clearly, this isn’t good for salmon, clean water or wildlife.

It is also my civic duty and responsibility as a parent to advocate for a healthy planet with vibrant salmon runs and clean water and to warn of the dangers of rampant logging as the science clearly shows. Attempting to discredit a solid body of scientific evidence with one contentious finger-pointing episode is not helping. “Get the cut out” forestry myths from decades ago will not give us clean water, healthy wildlife or vibrant communities. They will lead only to more polarization and a return to failed policies of the past.

Sen. Ron Wyden can create a legacy for Oregonians if he protects our remaining mature forests and watersheds for their drinking water, outstanding fish and wildlife habitat and scenic beauty.

Dominick A. DellaSala is chief scientist for the Geos Institute and author of the award-winning book “Temperate and Boreal Rainforests of the World: Ecology and Conservation.” Read more online at




Timber bill could pollute drinking water, study warns

by Paul Fattig, Medford Mail Tribune

An environmental group warns that a substantial portion of the drinking water for some 1.5 million Oregonians could be at risk if a proposed bill to create a timber trust on federal forestlands in Western Oregon becomes law.  The computerized study by the Ashland-based Geos Institute released Thursday concluded that nearly 80 communities, including Medford, Rogue River and Grants Pass, could have their drinking water sources polluted by logging sediment if the O&C Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act is approved. READ MORE>

To Us, Every Day is Earth Day

Medford Mail Tribune

Guest Opinion by Dominick DellaSala and Ed Begley, Jr. 

One of us is an actor who has devoted much of his life to developing a “low impact” lifestyle and teaching others how to do so. The other is a conservation scientist who works to protect rainforests around the world. The daily work that feeds our passions could hardly be more different — yet we are each responding to the same challenge. What can we do so that Earth Day remains an American legacy to clean air, wild rivers, ancient forests and a stable climate because, after all, aren’t we all in this together?

At the top of our Earth Day agenda is the climate. Nearly a century ago, the downtown Grants Pass sign — “It’s the Climate” — first welcomed tourists to the beauty of our region. But the sign needs a facelift and should read,”The climate is becoming unsafe, so what are you going to do about it?”

Climate change could force grazing cuts in West

Washington Examiner – Associated Press

Significant reductions in grazing on public land — in some places outright elimination of the activity — is justified because of the impacts of a warming climate, scientists say in a new report.   Read more>

Climate change increases stress, need for restoration on grazed public lands

Contact: Robert Beschta: 541-737-4292 or

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Eight researchers in a new report have suggested that climate change is causing additional stress to many western rangelands, and as a result land managers should consider a significant reduction, or in some places elimination of livestock and other large animals from public lands.

Great Bear Rainforest Scientists Letter

For Immediate Release on 14 June 2012

Contacts: Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist and President of Geos Institute, Ashland, Oregon; 541-621-7223 (cell); In Rio: Kyle Gracey, Research Scientist and Science Coordinator, Global Footprint Network



Rainforest scientists from around the world, supported by prominent experts speaking at the Earth Summit in Rio, today sent a letter to the Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, calling on her government to fully implement the agreements to protect the world renowned Great Bear Rainforest – announced more than six years ago.

Protecting Old Growth Forests: Keys to Prepare for Climate Change

Interview by Barbara Bernstein for KBOO Radio

This past winter the Forest Service released its long anticipated final planning rule for the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The plan validates what many scientists have been saying for years: mature and old-growth forests play a critical role in reducing climate change and providing clean drinking water to millions of Americans. On this 44 minute episode of Locus Focus, we talk with Dominick DellaSala about why we need to remain vigilant about protecting our precious forest resources, especially in this current political climate in which amped up logging is being promoted as job creation. 

To listen, click here and scroll down to the “download audio file” link.

Opinion: Is there still time to save spaceship Earth?

Medford Mail Tribune

by Dominick DellaSala

“We’re not the center of the universe; we’re way out in left field on a tiny dust mote, but it is our home and we need to take care of it.”  — Apollo 8 Astronaut William Anders, commenting on his December 1968 “Earthrise” photo, the first image ever taken of Earth from the moon

Rivers on fire, toxic chemicals and other environmental calamities awakened America’s environmental consciousness in the 1960s. Back then, Earth Day was born out of the passion of peace activist John McConnell and U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson and first celebrated in San Francisco on March 21, 1970. Comments from the Apollo astronauts helped to inspire changing public perceptions. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in more than 175 countries around the globe.  read more >

Bald eagles rebound from near extinction

Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian

A bald eagle glides low, curving with the meandering sloughs of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Portland.  At the former St. Johns landfill northwest of downtown, workers track a breeding pair that has nested in a black cottonwood tree for the past four years. An estimated 500 to 700 bald eagles winter in southern Oregon’s Klamath Basin, where they feast on waterfowl that have likewise migrated south down the Pacific flyway.  Bald eagles are back, baby.  read more >

Mature & Old-growth Forests Hold Keys to Adapting to Climate Change

Contact: Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Geos Institute, 541-482-4459 x 302; 541-621-7223 (cell); Reed Noss, Ph.D., Prof. of Conservation Biology, Univ. of Central Florida, 407-489-5778

Ashland, Oregon – Scientists released new findings today on the importance of mature and old-growth forests in preparing the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon and northern California for global climate disruptions. Published in the January edition of The Natural Areas Journal (Volume 32: 65-74) by the Natural Areas Association, the study calls on regional land managers to protect mature and old-growth forests as an insurance policy for fish and wildlife facing mounting climate change pressures from rising temperatures, declining snow levels, and reductions in fog along the coast.

New Global Forest Information Center

Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., Chief Scientist & President, Geos Institute, 541-482-4459 x302
James Strittholt, Ph.D., President & Executive Director, Conservation Biology Institute, 541-757-0687 x 1

Ashland, OR – Scientists from the Geos Institute, Ashland and Conservation Biology Institute, Corvallis are building a first of its kind global forest-tracking center designed to monitor and call attention to the world’s alarming deforestation footprint. The Global Forest Information Center will be housed in a state-of-the art and Internet-based conservation data-sharing system developed by the Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) that was publicly launched in 2010. Known as Data Basin (, the system already contains over 8,000 conservation spatial datasets for environmental monitoring.

Water and science strengthened in NFMA Rule, jury still out on enforceability

Contact: Dominick DellaSala, (541) 482-4459
Geos Institute on Obama’s New National Forest Rules

Washington, D.C. – the Forest Service released its long anticipated final planning rule for the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, covering nearly 200 million acres (

According to Randi Spivak, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Geos Institute, a science-based climate change organization in Ashland and Washington D.C., “the Forest Service gets credit for a bold vision for protecting and restoring the nations’ fish and wildlife at a time of unprecedented change and for responding to scientists and public concerns by improvements made in the final rule. Enforceability and accountability still remain a concern.”

Dominick A. DellaSala, Chief Scientist and President, also gave the Forest Service high marks for requiring best science to be used in forest plans. “The Forest Service took a major step forward in preparing the nation for a changing climate by emphasizing the role of the nation’s forests in reducing climate change and providing drinking water to millions of Americans. However, the agency needs to do more to ensure wildlife populations are well-distributed to avoid potential extinctions from ongoing resource extraction and climate change.”

Forest Service set to adopt planning rule governing operations on national forests and grasslands

The Oregonian
By Eric Mortenson

The federal government is about 30 days away from adopting aplanning rule that describes how to manage 193 million acres of forests and grasslands.  Read more…

Letter to the Editor: Geos is not anti-management

Mail Tribune
LTE by Dominick DelaSalla and Dennis Odion 

Dayne Barron’s and Scott Conroy’s Dec. 27 guest opinion in response to our Nov. 20 opinion inappropriately labeled us as anti-management. To the contrary, we advocated for appropriate management to protect communities from fire and for best science in prioritizing fire-risk reduction so that management is ecologically and fiscally responsible. Read more…

New Zealand science event to feature DellaSala speech

Ashland man to make opening address at science symposium

November 14, 2011
By Paul Fattig
Mail Tribune

Ashland-area resident Dominick DellaSala will talk about the forest in his backyard when he gives the opening address during an international science symposium early next month in Auckland, New Zealand.  Read more…

Court Upholds Roadless Rule in Forests

The Associated Press
OCTOBER 21, 2011

DENVER—A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a rule prohibiting roads on nearly 50 million acres of land in national forests across the U.S., a ruling hailed by environmentalists as one of the most significant in decades. Read more…

Back where it belongs

Contractors, including Tom Ratnour, pictured above, work to restore Little Butte Creek to its historic channel through the Denman Wildlife Area

August 22, 2011
By Mark Freeman
Mail Tribune

WHITE CITY — Biologist Jay Doino dodges backhoes and dump trucks as he makes his way toward a nothing patch of dirt and grass deep within the Denman Wildlife Area, a couple hundred yards away from the banks of Little Butte Creek.  Read more…

Comments pour in on proposed Colo. roadless rule
CATHERINE TSAI, Associated Press
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DENVER (AP) — Time is running out for the public to comment on Colorado’s latest proposal for managing roadless forests, with some groups saying former proposals were better.

The latest Colorado proposal carves out exceptions to a federal roadless rule adopted in 2001, just before then-President Bill Clinton left office, that prohibits commercial logging, mining and other development on about 58 million acres of national forest in 38 states and Puerto Rico.  Read more…

Report Slams Colorado Roadless Rule

KUNC Community Radio for Northern Colorado
Fri July 8, 2011
By Kirk Siegler

Conservationists are raising concerns that a proposed “roadless rule” for managing rugged National Forest lands could threaten drinking water supplies in Colorado.  A report released this morning criticizes the Obama Administration’s plan for Colorado’s roadless lands that offers some exceptions for coal mine and ski resort expansions.  Read more…

Editorial: Let’s leave science to the scientists

The Daily Courier (Arizona)
Published: May 16, 2011

Come on, seriously? Political division is now threatening to run aground scientific analysis of our national forests? It appears so.

President Obama was the target for critics on Monday who say his administration is reversing his pledge to let science dictate new guidelines for protecting clean water and wildlife on nearly 200 million acres of U.S. national forests. Naturally, with 1.25 million acres of Prescott National Forest in our backyard, the debate reaches close to home.  Read more…

Top 40 Science Questions From U.S. Conservation Policy Makers

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., April 5 (AScribe Newswire) — A wide-ranging group of experts has published a set of 40 key environmental questions to help align scientific research agendas with the needs of natural resource decision makers.

The cover story of the April issue of BioScience, written by 30 co-authors, contains the results of a process in which 35 participants solicited and synthesized questions about science relevant to natural resource management. Questions were submitted by 375 individuals who are involved with natural resource policy, management, or study.  Read more…

National Forest Planning Rules: Many Good Concepts, But Vulnerable to Flawed Execution and Weakened Wildlife Safeguards

Randi Spivak, Geos Institute, 310-779-4894 (cell)
Dominick DellaSala, Geos Institute, 541‐482‐4459; 541‐621-7223

Click here to download this press release.

Washington D.C. and Ashland, OR – The USDA Forest Service unveiled its proposed National Forest Planning Rule yesterday that is intended to establish a new national framework for land management plans governing 193 million acres of some of the most ecologically valuable lands and waters in the nation. The proposed planning rule provides guidance on what the agency intends to emphasize on the National Forest System; however, it leaves this mostly open to the discretion of local agency officials.

Stick with federal rule for Colorado’s roadless areas eLetters

Colorado Roadless Rule: It’s Scientists Versus Politicians On State Exemption Issue

The Huffington Post

Scientists write to Obama to oppose Colorado roadless-forest proposal

By Mark Harden
Denver Business Journal

Desert Southwest

Scientific publications authored or edited by Geos Institute staff.

Roads and Roadless Areas

Scientific publications authored or edited by Geos Institute staff.

Forest Management

Scientific publications authored or edited by Geos Institute staff.

Climate Change

Scientific publications regarding Climate Change either authored or edited by Geos Institute staff.

Front Range forest areas divided, conquered by beetle

By R. Scott Rappold
Colorado Springs Gazette

When the bark beetles arrived in Breckenridge, the locals thought they could contain the outbreak.  Read more…


What Now? Debate Over Beetle-Kill Pine Burns as Bugs Move to Front Range

By Jefferson Dodge
Boulder Weekly

Obama Hosts Public Lands Summit; Scientists Want CO Roadless Plan Rejected

By Eric Mack
Public News Service

Group urges tougher roadless rules

Coloradoan (Fort Collins, CO)
Bobby Magill
Thursday, April 15, 2010

CSU wildlife ecologist Barry Noon and 10 other Colorado State University scientists joined a chorus of more than 500 university scientists nationwide on Wednesday opposing an effort to exempt Colorado from a federal rule that would protect more than 4 million acres of the state’s national forests as roadless and more than 58 million acres across the country. Read more…

Ruling on roadless areas

By Missy Votel
The Durango Telegraph

After nearly 10 years of twists and turns, Colorado’s Roadless Rule appears to be coming into the homestretch. While the effort is being lauded by state officials, including Gov. Bill Ritter, some conservationists say the rule doesn’t go far enough in protecting the state’s 4.2 million acres of roadless lands.  Read more…

Roadless rule continues to fall short

By Joel Webster

Scientists ask Obama to back national roadless rule

By Bob Berwyn
Summit County Citizens Voice

Groups want Obama to reject Ritter plan

By Joel Hanel
The Durango Herald

Scientists blast Colorado roadless rule even as Udall backs wildfire provisions

By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent

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