I Am Not Bald… I Just Have a Variable Retention Haircut

By Bob Ferris

I am a bald man.  I have been bald so long that my mother once laughed and then said:  You know, I cannot remember what you looked like with hair.  (Thanks, Mom)

Therefore, there was a time in my life when I had to deal with the age-old question of whether or not to comb over my scant scalp resources and play that charade.  I chose not to.  I felt it was the honest way to go and I have not regretted this decision. 

The reason I bring this up is that the Bureau of Land Management—with the help of forest scientists Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin—are trying to convince the public that the aftermath of variable retention harvests (VRH) are healthy forests rather than the comb-over equivalent we know them to be. Bottom line is I am bald and these are clearcuts

Certainly these variable retention harvests leave some trees but is it really a robust forest?  The answer to that is: No, not any more than hair plugs in their early stages seem to anyone to be full heads of hair.  They both generally look awful and make people stare.  

"Bald is beautiful" is a saying that we developed to make those like me who frequently curse a certain sex-linked gene feel better about themselves.  But every time the sun beats down or it rains on our craniums we remember that we are part of the hair-challenged set.  I suspect these “forests” experience these phenomena similarly.  

Francis Eatherington gave a great introduction to this methodology in her recent blog but I think it is also important to add some imagery as well.  To fully grasp the risk of this approach you need to have the facts but you also need have some sort of device that puts abstract thoughts like trees per acre in a package that communicates the reality of the approach and consequences of the resulting aftershock.

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