Contact: William Sugg, Director, MEPI
Report author: Mitch Lansky
MAINE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY INSTITUTE RELEASES REPORT
ON FOREST PRACTICES IN SALMON WATERSHEDS
Hallowell, Maine (March 30, 2004). The Maine Environmental Policy Institute (MEPI) announced today the release of a report entitled Within the Beauty Strip: Forest Management as if Salmon Mattered. The report was authored by forest policy expert Mitch Lansky.
Mr. Lansky's 1992 book Beyond the Beauty Strip: Saving What's Left of Our Forests is widely considered a ‘must read' for anyone interested in northern forest issues, and has served as the bedrock of the forest protection movement in New England and around the country. His latest book, published by MEPI and distributed by Chelsea Green, is entitled Low-Impact Forestry: Forestry as if the Future Mattered.
In this report, Lansky advocates landscape-scale forestry planning. “Rivers and streams have distinct habitats, patches, and connections that, in the case of salmon, need to be considered if the fish is to be protected.” Among the report’s findings and recommendations:
• Maine's presettlement forest landscape ensured: pure, clean water, with minimal silt; cool water from ground waters sheltered from the direct heat of the sun; and dampening of extremes of waterflow.
• Forest practices in Maine have increased the intensity, size, and frequency of disturbances by adding logging in addition to natural disturbances and by accelerating natural disturbance cycles.
• Management that is based on short rotations falls outside the variability of natural disturbance regimes and loses important wildlife habitat features.
• Increased percentage of heavily disturbed ground can have an impact on extremes of water flow. Extremes in stream flow can affect timing of movement, can affect stream temperatures, and can widen stream banks.
• Heavy cutting can raise water temperatures directly, through lack of shade, and indirectly through warming of soil through which groundwater passes and this can affect salmon survival.
• The most serious impacts from logging are siltation and turbidity. Most of these impacts are from soil disturbance from trails, yards, and roads, rather than the cutting down of trees.
• Herbicides and insecticides can have both direct (toxic) or indirect (changing habitat or harming food supply) impacts.
• The water bodies most sensitive to the forestry impacts are first order streams, not main-stem rivers.
• Current forestry regulations are inadequate for salmon protection. Any improvements in forest management have been in spite of, rather than because of, the regulations.
• Certification schemes in Maine have good goals, but the actions on the ground do not always reflect the rhetoric of the goals.
This report emphasizes having most of the landscape be well-stocked, rather than just have such stocking in riparian zones.
The effort was funded by the Downeast Maine Salmon Restoration Fund. The Fund was created by the settlement of a Clean Water Act enforcement suit brought by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group against Heritage Salmon, Inc. The Fund has provided $375,000 in grants for environmental research, restoration, preservation, protection and/or education projects intended to benefit wild Atlantic salmon and their habitat and ecosystems in Downeast Maine.
The report is invaluable for landowners, foresters, conservationists, and anyone interested in the recovery of the Atlantic Salmon. The 43-page report is available on the Institute’s website at www.meepi.org in PDF format, and printed copies are available by contacting MEPI, POB 347, Hallowell, Maine 04347.
The Maine Environmental Policy Institute is an independent nonprofit organization based in Hallowell, Maine. It is dedicated to researching environmental challenges facing the state and reporting this research to policy makers and the public. The organization has won the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its work.
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