Forest Unlimited: Abolish Clearcutting Campaign
This type of logging has various names beside the actual word, “clearcutting” and is the method preferred by corporate owners to maximize profits leaving the other “costs” of environmental damage and restoration for the public to “pay” for them. Clearcutting methods destroy structural forests, diminish watershed abilities for communities downslope, causes massive erosion and landslides, destroys wildlife habitat, creates high severity wildfire threats, uses large quantities of herbicides to kill unwanted growth afterward, and adds pollutants to the air from burning slash piles. As if this was not enough, these environmental impacts, cumultatively, reduce the ability for the world to address global climate change impacts.
Sierra Club Clearcut Campaign: Moving Forward Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic
By John Trinkl and Karen Maki
Like everything else, the workings of the Stop Clearcutting California Campaign have been disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic. California’s “shelter in place” order has impacted our campaign in both positive and negative ways. Planned meetings with state legislators have been canceled, and forest ground and small airplane tours have been postponed. However, Californians holding up in their houses have more time on their hands and are eager for something new to do.
The campaign has adapted by expanding activities volunteers can do from home such as posting on social media and writing letters to the editor of newspapers. We will utilize video to engage and educate volunteers. In the next month, we will be offering Clearcutting 101 and Letter to the Editor training sessions via Zoom. We have published a new Addup.org petition calling on the governor to ban clearcutting. Please TAKE ACTION here.
The pandemic has also impacted the way state forest-related agencies function. For example, the Los Angeles Times recently published an article “Coronavirus Complicates California Wildfire Preparation”, which noted that
Our work is cut out for all of us. Stay strong. Stay well. And stay home.
John Trinkl and Karen Maki are volunteers for the Stop Clearcutting California Campaign.
Board of Forestry Approves Misguided Vegetation Management Plan
By Daniel Barad
While most of us were still eating leftover gingersnaps, on December 30 the Board of Forestry approved a wildlands management plan that endangers California’s famous chaparral, disregards ecosystem diversity, and ultimately isn’t likely to protect Californians from the most destructive fires.
Work on the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) and its accompanying Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR), which make up the plan, was initiated more than a decade ago. In the interim, climate change has arrived and the nature of wildfires has changed.
Unfortunately, the final version of the plan doesn’t reflect the knowledge gained over the last decade. Moreover, it may have been too ambitious to begin with by assuming that a single environmental review could adequately cover a state as geographically and ecologically diverse as California.
A decade ago, wildfire season in the state lasted just several months. Now, as the impacts of climate change set in–including drier seasons and unusually high winds in unexpected places– the season has become nearly year round. Likewise, the emphasis on protecting communities by focusing on fire breaks and thinning of distant forests, has been proven ineffective in protecting homes.
Nevertheless, the new wildfire plan emphasizes conducting more than 250,000 acres of tree removal, prescribed burns and other fuel reduction every year on over 6 million acres of California, even though, as the CalVTP flatly states, that work won’t prevent. the devastation associated with wind-driven wildfires. Six wind-driven wildfires were responsible for 87% of the damage associated with California’s 2018 wildfires.
The plan also endangers the state’s chaparral ecosystems by failing to recognize that they have a fire tolerance that is distinct from traditional forests. Chaparral ecosystems around the state cannot tolerate frequent prescribed burns. Additionally, thinning of chaparral opens up opportunities for more flammable invasive grasses to take hold.
Fire experts, like respected former U.S. Forest Service scientist Jack Cohen, argue that the best way to protect lives and property from wildfire threats is to create limited defensible space and harden homes through measures like attic vent ember guards.
The CalVTP does not include any incentives or requirements for these preventative measures.
In the last two years, while the CalVTP was going through final development, a coalition of environmental groups, including Sierra Club California, presented written comments on the plan raising concerns about its inadequacy.
Unfortunately, most of our concerns were not addressed in the final document.