Will it increase support for salvage logging?
Of course it will!
Will it increase support for Tester’s Wilderness plus logging bill? Yes!
Will there actually be an increase in salvage logging? Hard to say.
Some points needs to be made. First, this beetle epidemic is not just a Montana thing. It extends from the Yukon nearly to Mexico among pine trees. Logging of green trees to get ahead of beetle infestation is hopeless. It hasn’t worked anywhere in Canada or the United States because this is an extraordinary event fueled by a series of warm winters.
Secondly you can offer the dead trees for sale, but the timber operator needs to make a profit. They are presently trying to ramp up the salvage in Canada and the United States. If demand for a product is stable, an increase in the supply drives down the price. The price offered for lumber or chips from dead pine is already low because of the depressed economy. A ramp up of logging will drive the price still lower.
These salvage sales might find no one who will log them. Fortunately, dead lodgepole pine, left standing, does not deteriorate nearly as fast as dead spruce or fir, so some of these might still be worthwhile 5 years from now.
Finally, these dead forests will not necessarily all burn. Dead pine burns like gasoline while it still wears its dead red needles, but after they drop, the fire danger goes down rapidly in many stands. However, when they topple over in the wind on top of each other, the fire danger goes up again.
Pine-beetle epidemic changes debate over logging Montana’s forests. By Jennifer McKee. Missoulian State Bureau
Here is George Wuerthner’s interesting and detailed essay, which I mentioned and others too in the comments.
It turns out that yesterday there was an essay in Writers on the Range about the big beetle kill in Colorado. Folks, including editorial writers, need to understand that this is not a Montana beetle kill or a Colorado beetle kill. It is a continental beetle kill.