News from the Center: June 2022

Larry Glass, NEC Board President
Caroline Griffith, NEC Executive Director

Congratulations to the U.S. Forest Service – Klamath National Forest

The Klamath National Forest (KNF) has announced it will adopt alternative treatments to herbicides use as part of its post-fire work on the eastern portion of the KNF. This exciting development was announced via Facebook by Forest Supervisor Rachel Smith, who wrote:

“It is clear that indigenous people in Siskiyou County and many long-time partners and concerned members of the public are unified in opposing herbicide use on public lands, and with good reason. As our partners know, I am always interested in adding tools to our toolbox collectively – as we face a need to amplify our pace and scale of restoration on the landscape, we need to consider all options for effective land management.

We are committed to a collaborative process where the voices of our partners and interested public are heard and considered seriously. As a result, we are removing herbicide use entirely from the proposal for post-fire work on the eastern portion of the forest. Our principal focus is on reestablishing a healthy forest and we will look at alternative paths to achieve that goal.”

This is notable because the KNF is notoriously the least environmentally friendly forest in Region 5 (California). We look forward to seeing more decisions like this coming out of the Klamath National Forest. For more on “post-fire work,” check out EPIC’s article on page 11.


Biden’s Old-Growth Executive Order

The need to amplify the pace and scale of restoration on the landscape was underscored by a recent Executive Order by President Biden called “Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies.” While we are glad to see President Biden acknowledge the importance of old growth forests, and the executive order brings critical attention to the problem, it fails to recognize or address the serious threat that the logging of old growth and large trees represents. 

Millions of trees were lost in 2021, hurting climate goals, set at last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030. The world’s forests, from the tropics to the northern boreal forests, continue to fall by bulldozer, chainsaw and flames, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide as countries struggle to meet their climate commitments.

We’ve seen a similar situation here in Northern California where millions of acres of forest have been lost to wildfires. It has been believed these losses could be mitigated by widespread reforestation. While that may make people feel better about the dramatic loss of so much forested land, many of these massive tree plantings in the last fifty years have fallen way short of replacing the older forest ecosystems that were lost, and instead we have millions of acres of unhealthy, over crowded, fire prone tree plantations where old growth forests use to thrive.

While planting trees certainly has merit, it in no way makes up for all the healthy forest ecosystems we’re losing. This is why it’s important to keep our mature forests healthy and intact, which also makes them more resilient to wildfires.


Forest Bathing

One good reason, aside from carbon sequestration, to keep our mature forests intact is the therapeutic aspect of being in a forest environment. As more and more people move to urban settings, the act of immersing oneself in the natural world, something that was human nature for 99 percent of our existence, has become even more important for our health and wellbeing. Forest bathing, a Japanese practice called Shinrin-yoku, is a therapeutic technique in which you immerse yourself in a forest environment while focusing on the experience through the five senses.

Forest bathing is a type of ecotherapy designed to improve immune function, prevent disease, and produce a relaxed state through nature exposure. Many of us in northern California are fortunate enough to be close to accessible natural spaces, whether forest, mountain or beach, but ecotherapy can be practiced wherever you find nature, from your local park to your backyard.

Other forms of ecotherapy include animal-interactions or animal-assisted therapy such as bringing nature to your living space by having a birdfeeder; walking, running, swimming or any type exercising in nature; practicing nature arts and crafts, for example taking photographs or painting outside; or therapeutic horticulture i.e., cultivating a flower or vegetable garden. However you are able to practice ecotherapy, it’s important to remember that we are of the earth and in order to remain healthy and whole we need to maintain that connection.


Spring Interns

Last but not least, we want to recognize our wonderful Spring 2022 interns. Our EcoNews interns, Sabriyya Ghanizada and Raven Marshall, have had some great articles and graphic design in the last few issues. We’ve also had a Local Policy intern, Cassidy Hollenbeck, who has been following planning processes in the City of Arcata and working to engage her fellow students in these processes. Our Environmental Policy Intern, Lisa Heikka-Huber, has tracked US Congressional water policy legislation  that could impact the north coast region. Their energy and points of view have been a breath of fresh air and we are excited to see where their studies take them. We’ll soon be hiring summer interns, so stay tuned to see what’s next. If you are interested in helping fund an internship that will cultivate environmental leaders of the future, please get in touch.