Timber interests are once again attempting to use fear of wildfire as a means to increase logging and the Trump Administration, with Ryan Zinke in the lead, is pushing the timber industry’s agenda. Zinke went so far as to call those who want to protect forests “environmental terrorists.”
Using fear of fire to increase logging is nothing new and it is not limited to Republicans. Here in California, the Democrat-dominated legislature recently passed and Governor Brown signed SB 901 which will loosen logging rules and provide logging exemptions in order to reduce fire risk. Brown originally proposed allowing private landowners to cut trees up to 36 inches in diameter on property of 300 acres or less and to build roads of up to 600 feet long without getting a logging permit from the state. Those provisions were scaled back in the final version to trees up to 26 inches in diameter and temporary road construction on slopes less than 30%. The Sierra Club strongly opposed the legislation.
Proposals to increase logging in order to reduce fire risk fly in the face of what scientists have learned about fire in western forests. First and foremost, research indicates that weather, not the amount of fuel, usually determines how intense a fire will burn. Several studies also confirm that unlogged forests and protected lands typically burn at lower intensity as compared to logged forests and that tree plantations resulting from salvage logging are most likely to burn at high intensity.
In an attempt to introduce good science into the wildfire debate, over 150 scientists recently sent an “Open Letter to Decision Makers Concerning Wildfires in the West.”
Here is how they end the letter:
Public lands were established for the public good and include most of the nation’s remaining examples of intact ecosystems that provide clean water for millions of Americans, essential wildlife habitat, recreation and economic benefits to rural communities, as well as sequestering vast quantities of carbon. When a fire burns down a home it is tragic; when fire burns in a forest it is natural and essential to the integrity of the ecosystem, while also providing the most cost-effective means of reducing fuels over large areas. Though it may seem to laypersons that a post-fire landscape is a catastrophe, numerous studies tell us that even in the patches where fires burn most intensely, the resulting wildlife habitats are among the most biologically diverse in the West. For these reasons, we urge you to reject misplaced logging proposals that will damage our environment, hinder climate mitigation goals and will fail to protect communities from wildfire.
Unfortunately, most politicians appear to be listening more to timber interests than to scientists.
North Group Underwrites Three Campers
by Sue Leskiw
This summer, North Group sponsored three campers—a 10-year-old girl from Eureka, an 11-year-old girl from McKinleyville, and an 8-year-old boy from Loleta—to attend a week-long session at Lost Coast Camp near Petrolia. (A fourth child had been selected but canceled at the last minute.)
This is the second year that campers sponsored through donations to the Lucille Vinyard/Susie van Kirk Environmental Education Fund have gone to overnight camp at this venue in the Mattole Valley. The facility’s mission is to “provide youth with a dynamic summer camp experience, which promotes building self-esteem and positive friendships, individual expression, and fostering an appreciation for the natural world.”
In exchange for their tuition, the campers agreed to submit an essay to North Group about their experience. The following are excerpts:
Camper 1: “I had a great experience at Lost Coast Camp! Some of my favorite activities were art, swimming in the river, and archery. I also really enjoyed making new friends, the amazing food, and playing capture the flag in the forest. I love art, so it was great to make lanyards, bracelets, and masks, as well as to draw and paint. There were many art supplies to be creative with, such as feathers, googly eyes, and ribbons. The river was fairly warm and it was great to jump in after a long day of hiking and walking around camp and the farm. I think archery was my favorite activity. Instructors taught us how to safely use, aim, and shoot the bow. I loved having the opportunity to go to this camp and am thankful for the scholarship that enabled me to attend.”
Camper 2: “Every day we hiked down to the river and had a lot of fun. The river was big and we played in it every day. The ranch was so fun. We hung out in the garden, then picked squash and apples and climbed on the hay. We saw the cows that were so cute and I liked throwing them apples and squash to eat. We also had a lot of fun with pranks. If you’re looking for a fun summer thing to do, you just found it!!!”
Camper 3: “I really feel lucky to have gone to Lost Coast Camp. I made a lot of friends and we got to do all kinds of fun stuff. I love swimming and we got to do it every day. I also liked that we got to do art projects such as making masks. I made lots of memories at camp but my most important one is having fun. Signed, Happy Camper.”
One need not be a Sierra Club member to participate in these outings. Please join us!
Sunday, October 14—North Group Horse Mountain Botanical Area trails Hike. Two loop trails: one with views of the King Range, the Siskiyous, and the coast, and another loop viewing Trinity Alps and Yolla Bollys. Bring lunch, water and good boots. No dogs. Medium difficulty, five miles, less than 1,000 feet elevation change. Carpools: Meet 9 a.m. Valley West (Ray’s) Shopping Center, 10 a.m. Horse Mountain parking area. Leader Ned, firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-825-3652. Bad weather cancels.
Sunday, November 11—North Group Lacks Creek/Pine Ridge Prairies Hike. Explore this nearby BLM area off Highway 299 on new and old trails. We will see a mix of oak savannas, old-growth conifers, and actively managed hardwoods. Bring lunch and water, and dress for a fall day at 3,600 feet elevation. Medium difficulty, about five miles, less than 1,000 feet elevation gain/loss. Carpools: Meet 9 a.m. Valley West (Ray’s) Shopping Center. Leader Ned, email@example.com, or 707-825-3652. Bad weather cancels.