Date: 10/9/17 8:06 pm
From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...>
Subject: [obol] Re: [boo] Re: Skinner's Butte "deforestation"
Hi - 

I also appreciate Lars' wit and intellect, but I would like to provide a less-cynical view of "restoration."

There are 2 philosophical approaches to "restoration" currently in play in Oregon and elsewhere (there are probably others, too).

The first approach attempts to return land (or waters) to the conditions it was in at some "pristine" time in the past.

The second is focused on "restoring function,"  meaning creating conditions where "natural processes"can maintain the area as productive habitat.

The first depends a lot on early aerial photography, surveyor's records, journals of early explorers, etc.  The biggest downfalls are a lack of appreciation for natural habitat change through time, and failure to recognize that often too much has changed for the approach to succeed.

The second prefers to use an understanding of ecological processes and of current constraints (climate, boundary conditions, introduced biota) to design a "restored" area that will exhibit a "sustainable trajectory" maintaining a chosen set of habitat parameters stay within a desired range (often defined by the needs of selected target species). Major issues here are too-narrow definitions of desired conditions, and inadequate understanding of the ecological processes at play.

A big problem with both is a tendency to declare success far too soon and too easily.


On 10/9/2017 5:30:04 PM, Joel Geier <joel.geier...> wrote:
I'm cross-posting this to BOO which may be a better place to carry on,
if folks want to.

For starters, I have to say, I generally enjoy Lars' colorful and
erudite way of expressing himself, even when I disagree.

In this case, I agree with his remark that "restoration" has become a
buzzword that can be used to justify almost any anthropogenic

In my book, "anthropogenic disturbance" includes a wide range of
tree-planting projects that were aimed to "restore" riparian forests in
places that were demonstrably unforested (or at most sparsely wooded)
grasslands in the mid-1800s. We lost a small but significant population
of "Oregon" Vesper Sparrows at Luckiamute SNA to one such case of good
intentions in the early 2000s.

The current trend toward canopy thinning is still trivial in comparison
with past and ongoing forestation projects, so I welcome it. There's a
whole lot of room for the pendulum to swing back the other way, toward
maintaining open habitats.

I disagree with Lars on his suggestion that land managers are just doing
this for "brownie points." Also on most recent projects that I'm aware
of, there's been an effort to gather baseline data, though budgets are

Finally it's a bit unfair to poke sticks at public land managers because
many of them are not fully at liberty to defend their actions in this

There are a lot of ways for birders to get involved in the process, for
any patch of habitat on public land that you care about. Oregon's public
meeting laws are strict enough that public employees think twice about
even riding an elevator together, if they didn't publish their plans to
do so in the local newspaper of record, 5 days in advance.

So if you want to stay informed, it's easy to do so. You just need to
pay attention, and consider sacrificing some of your birding time to go
sit in boring meetings. Public lands managers are generally an
accommodating bunch. They will generally listen to you, and if you can
provide them with baseline information, they'll be thrilled.

But in order to have an influence, birders need to stay informed and
show up for meetings. Whether we're willing to talk about it on OBOL or
just push it off to BOO, we need to be a lot more proactive in
communicating about habitat issues at popular birding sites. Otherwise
we'll just be stuck with complaining after the fact when these
developments catch us by surprise -- and honestly, it'll be our own

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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