by Larry Glass and Carrie Tully
Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act
Our Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, authored by North Coast Representative Jared Huffman, was packaged together with many other public lands bills and called Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act. We are happy to announce that the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act passed in the House of Representatives on February 26th! (See full story here.)
We are very excited and looking toward the next step, which is getting introduced in the Senate. I was part of a coalition Zoom call with Senator Padilla’s brand new environmental staffer, Sarah Swig, who just finished working for Nancy Pelosi in the House. She had only been on the job for three days, so we’re going to give her some time and then reconnect. We are looking to have Senator Padilla introduce it on the Senate side. We’re very hopeful given Senator Padilla’s progressive record.
USFS Salvage Logging Plans
The US Forest Service is drawing the attention of the NEC and other environmental organizations as it continues to pursue salvage logging plans in the August Complex Fire footprint. One of the more concerning elements of these plans is the use of the prescription “designation by damage class” as the key for determining what trees are cut or not. This concept means that the logger determines at the time of cutting which trees are taken. In the past, trees have been marked ahead of time so we have the opportunity to survey the impact and offer input. Supposedly, only hazardous trees are to be taken, but so far what we’re seeing is that all trees are being cut.
While we’ve been focused on the pandemic, the climate continues to unravel. Take as an example the Atlantic Ocean circulation – the one that drives the Gulf Stream current. This circulation system brings warm and mild weather to Europe, and to the east coast of the USA. This current has been slowing down and is at its weakest in more than a millennium; climate change being the likely cause. Scientists warn that a further weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) could result in more storms and more intense winters and possibly more damaging heatwaves and droughts across Europe.
Scientists are also predicting that the AMOC will weaken further if global heating continues, and could reduce by about 34% to 45% by the end of this century, which could bring us close to a “tipping point” at which the system could become irrevocably unstable. A weakened Gulf Stream would also raise sea levels on the Atlantic coast of the US, with potentially disastrous consequences. One thing we can do locally is stop dumping food wastes in the landfills which eventually releases very damaging methane gas into the atmosphere.
Staff at the NEC have a lot to talk about! In case you haven’t caught it yet, they were recently featured in the EcoNews Report on the Saturday, March 20 show where they were given the opportunity to talk about the important projects that they’ve been working on. Here’s a summary of what they had to say:
Our second annual Trash-a-thon is happening April 19-25. Celebrate Earth Week with citizen science, direct-action activism, and fundraising! This incredible, family-friendly, COVID-safe event was such a success the first time around, we had to bring it back in 2021. Trash-a-thon is similar to a walk-a-thon, except instead of raising money for miles walked, you’re raising money for the number of pieces of trash you pick up. All of the funds raised will be used for the NEC’s Coastal Programs. Signup to volunteer or sponsor a cleanup team at www.yournec.org/trashathon2021.
In continuing to combat litter, another like-minded project of the NEC is the Butt-In: Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Program. Nearly all cigarette butts are made of plastic, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals. These chemicals leach into the water and soil when littered, which is deadly to wildlife and toxic to humans. Therefore, this program strives to offer cigarette butt receptacles to businesses for little or no cost, in order to provide smokers with a convenient place to put their cigarette butts.
Our two most recent programs are focused more on community-building. Activate NEC: Community Action Group aims to empower community members to bring their activism to the table. Each month we will be hosting a brief lunchtime meeting to activate our skills and take a stand for local environmental issues. Come ready to take action!
The NEC’s new program, Thrive: Eco Grief Circle, welcomes community members to join our FREE monthly EcoGrief and EcoAnxiety Circle. This Circle welcomes any and all people looking for a space to express their stories, sadness, worries, anxiety, and fear concerning the state of our planet. We will address topics such as climate change, species extinction, catastrophic fire and other natural disasters, spiritual disconnection, and anything else that is brought to the Circle. Now more than ever it is time to come together, in both mourning these losses and building our future.