Current Issue

  • RESTORING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF FREQUENT-FIRE FORESTS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN WEST

    W. Wallace Covington & Diane Vosick

    The ecological, social, and economic sustainability of the Rocky Mountain West is threatened by declining forest health that is manifested by unnaturally high tree densities and fuel loads, increases in invasive exotic plants, decreasing biological diversity (plants and animals), and increased insect and disease outbreaks. These unnatural fuel loads lead to wildfires that have become unprecedented in their severity, acreage, and effects. In this paper we discuss the causes of forest health decline and advocate for ecological restoration as an approach for restoring forest health. We also summarize recent policy changes with the stated purpose ...

  • ON THE INEVITABILITY OF “CONSTITUTIONAL DESIGN”

    Sanford Levinson

    I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to offer some brief comments on the fascinating essay Against Design. It is a long and rich piece raising many questions, and I emphasize that this comment is both brief and therefore necessarily insufficient as anything approaching a complete response. But I obviously hope that even these truncated remarks will help further an important conversation prompted by the four authors.

  • DESIGN IS THE SOURCE OF VARIATION; SELECTION IS THE FILTER

    Vernon Smith

    Against Design concerns the impossibility of deliberate design for desirable outcomes when the dynamic processes of social and economic change are decentralized, free and creative. In this brief commentary I want to relate the authors’ theme to specialization, innovation, and morality in economy.

  • THE WILDFIRE MENACE: Will the West Learn or Burn?

    Senator Jon Kyl & Kris Kiefer

    While some of us have been working on forest management and ecological restoration since the 1980s, much of the interest and energy in forest health began to take shape after one of Arizona’s most damaging fires, the Rodeo- Chediski in 2002. With more than 462,000 acres of ponderosa pine forests charred and hundreds of homes lost, our earlier warnings finally took on some urgency.

  • STILL AGAINST DESIGN: A Response to Steven Calabresi, Sanford Levinson, and Vernon Smith

    Caryn Devins, Roger Koppl, Stuart Kauffman & Teppo Felin

    Our argument in Against Design may seem new, challenging, or even bizarre. One commenter, Levinson, questions whether we really mean what we say: “I presume that the authors cannot really be arguing that all design is impossible.” Given our admittedly unorthodox and perhaps radical challenge to common notions of design, we appreciate the thoughtful attention to our views given by our commenters Vernon Smith, Sanford Levinson and Steven G. Calabresi. Even when disagreeing with us, they have responded to Against Design with open minds.

  • RESISTANCE, RESTORATION, RESILIENCE: A Survey of Fire’s American Century

    Stephen J. Pyne

    America’s modern fire era began with two parallel processes. One was industrialization, which sought to replace open fire with internal combustion but also rewired humanity’s power and redefined Americans’ relationship to their natural surroundings. This transitional phase is typically one of unsettled fire regimes and widespread, even abusive, burning. The other process was the surge of settlement that swept over post-Civil War America. A map of forest fires for the 1880 census shows the outcome. America in the 1880s was much like Brazil in the 1980s—an agricultural society, rapidly industrializing and remaking its national estate. Fires—both good and ...

  • THE COST OF INACTION: Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project Cost Avoidance Study

    Wayne R. Fox

    This study estimates the potential financial damages mitigated by the implementation of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP). The goal of FWPP is to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and post-fire flood impacts by conducting fuel-reduction forest treatments in two watersheds critical to the City of Flagstaff—the Dry Lake Hills (Rio de Flag) and Mormon Mountain (Lake Mary). By thinning unnaturally dense vegetation and using prescribed fire in these areas, the risk of intense wildfire and post-fire impacts will be significantly reduced.

  • FRIEDRICH A. HAYEK, THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, AND INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN

    Steven Gow Calabresi

    In their article, Against Design, Caryn Devins, Roger Koppl, Stuart Kauffman, and Teppo Felin argue that it is impossible for any lawmaker to successfully design a Constitution or a law so that it will produce the ends that the legislator wishes to enact. The authors argue that institutional design is impossible because every such design in law sets in motion a Spontaneous System of Order, which then develops the law or institution in ways the Framers of such laws and institutions could never have imagined. This is the case because changing circumstances and unforeseeable inventions and developments render ...

  • 4FRI AND THE NEPA PROCESS

    Annette Fredette

    The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) is the largest collaborative, landscape-scale restoration initiative in the country, the largest initiative of its kind ever endeavored. This initiative’s goal is nothing less than the restoration of the ponderosa pine forest stretching across northern Arizona. It seeks to reduce the threat of destructive wildfire to thriving forest communities, restore forest ecosystems with natural fire regimes and functioning populations of native plants and animals, and build and sustain forest industries that strengthen local economies.

    4FRI as an initiative stretches across four national forests: the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto. This initiative is a large ...

  • THE RESILIENCE DILEMMA: Incorporating Global Change into Ecosystem Policy and Management

    Donald A. Falk

    The progression of changes to Earth’s climate poses unprecedented challenges to the science and practice of ecosystem management. The viability of many populations, species, and even ecosystems is increasingly uncertain in their current form. Effects of climate change per se are compounded by multiple interacting stressors, including landscape modification and fragmentation, alerted disturbance regimes (particularly wildland fire), and the increasing presence of non-native invasive species. In framing a meaningful response to global environmental change, all of these interacting factors must be taken into account. For example, the ability of species to migrate in response to changing climate geography—as ...

  • THE ROLE OF ARIZONA STATE FORESTRY AND FIRE MANAGEMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

    Jeff Whitney

    Modern forestry, our national forests, and the U.S. Forest Service were created in the early 1900s as a means to conserve the nation’s natural resources. Reactions to disasters and misunderstandings of forest systems resulted in flawed management practices that persisted throughout the 20th century resulting in critically unhealthy forests across the Western United States. Unhealthy forests threaten watersheds, are prone to disease, insect infestation, and catastrophic wildfire. Arizona State Forestry (AZSF) is part of the solution to these issues. AZSF and our partners have the ability to engage the public and private sector to implement a Cohesive Wildland Fire ...

  • HOW FOREST TREATMENT SAVED THE BRAY CREEK RANCH

    Michael A. Johns

    Bray Creek Ranch is an old homestead along the Highline National Recreation Trail, which is a part of the Arizona Trail, at the base of the Mogollon Rim about twelve miles north of Payson, Arizona between Boy Scout Camp Geronimo and Girl Scout Camp Shadow Rim. The ranch is surrounded by National Forest in the Ponderosa Pine type at about 6,000 feet elevation.

    I started my Federal career in 1969 on the Payson Ranger District Helitack Team. In 1972 we formed the District’s first Hotshot crew and I was asked to be its first foreman. In 1973 I clerked ...

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