Scientific Research

The John Muir Project engages in and supports original scientific research performed by independent scientists, including JMP's own Chad Hanson, Ph.D., in order to find the truth which underlies the many untested assumptions that govern the management of our National Forests today.

Giant Sequoias Thrive in Recent Wildfires

John Muir Project is the national leader in research regarding giant sequoia groves and wildfires. Our recent studies have found that higher-intensity fire patches stimulate by far the best and most vigorous sequoia reproduction. Further, the preliminary claim by government agencies-that 20% of mature sequoias were killed in recent fires-was substantially exaggerated.

Spotted Owls and Wildfire

John Muir Project, working with our research partners, is conducting leading-edge research and conservation work regarding imperiled spotted owls, wildfires, and logging. Our innovative studies discovered that spotted owl occupancy is very high in large mixed-intensity wildfire areas, so long as they are not subjected to post-fire logging, which destroys important spotted owl foraging habitat created by higher-intensity fire patches. JMP co-authored the petition to list the California spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now proposed to list this species under the ESA, citing studies by JMP and our research partners.

The Truth About "Thinning"

John Muir Project is leading unprecedented research regarding the real impacts of logging projects being conducted under various euphemisms like "thinning". Studies authored or co-authored by JMP have found that "thinning" logging projects kill significantly more trees than they prevent from being killed by wildfires, and thinning removes far more carbon from forests than fires consume. Further, the fundamental premise of "thinning" policies-the claim that historical forests were "open", with low tree densities maintained almost exclusively by lower-intensity fire-is based on a "falsification of the scientific record" by scientists funded by the U.S. Forest Service.

The battle we have fought, and are still fighting for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong, and we cannot expect to see the end of it. … So we must count on watching and striving for these trees, and should always be glad to find anything so surely good and noble to strive for.

John Muir, "The National Parks and Forest Reservations" in a speech by John Muir
(Proceedings of the Meeting of the Sierra Club Held November 23, 1895.) Published in Sierra Club Bulletin, (1896)