the Stanislaus Nat’l Forests, coming back after fire

So-called salvage logging has been around for decades—promoted by the timber industry and vehemently opposed by forest advocates—after insect infestations, die-off due to drought, and most often after forest fires. But really, it’s generally about satisfying the market. Given the history of large fires in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, salvage logging proposals are on the table in a big way again, in California, right now. 

 >>Send a message today to lawmakers urging them to prioritize public (tax) money going into 

  • Fire safety efforts,
  • Toward controlled burning and “home-hardening” efforts in wildfire zones, not logging trees.
  • Any thinning and/or brush removal done sparingly and carefully, thinning of trees a last resort.

Salvage logging, as it is now being proposed, will cause more harm than good.

>>Send your message to your representative as well as the governor. To find your representative, go here:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2018 wildfire plan proposed to double logging levels in California’s forests, and reduce environmental protections taken into account when logging plans are approved. Jerry’s “forest carbon plan” is contradicted by science, and Newsom should not continue on the same track.

Use the information in this alert to communicate your opinions about forest management for fire safety to Gov. Gavin Newsom. There are resources at the end for further information.

According to forest ecologists and scientists, and contrary to information often put out to the public, only a small portion of the carbon in forests is emitted in forest fires, because whole trees are not consumed in their entirety. Logging, on the other hand, is a major source of carbon emissions because only half or less of the wood in a tree is marketable lumber. Often “thinning” is proposed–a euphemism for cutting millions of dead trees, or snags, to chip for biomass energy, ostensibly replacing coal. But as much as it can sound like good recycling, burning forest biomass for power releases substantially more CO2 than coal, exacerbating the climate crisis. Snags are also important habitat for a multitude of forest species like many species of birds, flying squirrels, chipmunks, insects and many more, and play a crucial role in the forest community.

AND—cutting down the forest doesn’t prevent wildfires or protect communities any more than raking the forest (as our 45th president suggested) would.

Where is Gavin at on this?

On Governor Newsom’s first day in office, he signed an executive order to develop risk assessments for areas particularly vulnerable to wildfires—a good idea on its face—that includes a $305 million program to accelerate removal of dense, dry forests and brush. In his state of emergency declaration, Newsom waived environmental regulations to expedite “forest management projects”

Better management of California’s forests is needed without a doubt, and investment is needed in that effort, but common sense management that prioritizes maintaining healthy, age-diverse forests with as much old growth as possible, (which is the most fire-resistant forest) is the ecologically wise route.

The catastrophic Camp fire in Paradise last year burned through a region scorched and logged a decade earlier. Said one colleague about current salvage logging proposals in Calif., “It is a very Trumpian approach. It’s the false notion that more logging paired with rolling back environmental protections is going to protect communities.”

A better approach: 

  • Defensible space
  • A hard look at where and with what materials homes are built in the urban-wildland interface
  • Material support for retro-fitting homes for fire-safe capability, and 
  • Less logging of old, more fire-resistant trees, and
  • No suspension of environmental regulations that already inadequately protect vulnerable species and key habitat.

A forestry expert friend and colleague of ours pointed out that the 1973 Forest Practice Act, upon which timber harvest and management decisions are made by CalFire, the state forestry agency, whose mission is attaining high quality forests, and associated values, along with high quality forest products, but instead, the trajectory has been extreme forest depletion that has been called liquidation. This has been at the cost of almost any focus on greenhouse gas-reducing, fire resistant, carbon-rich forests that support vibrant wildlife populations which equals healthy forests. Things have gotten worse, as more and more focus is given over to emergency response, fire fighting, and saving lives. It is easy to understand why, but since the roles are all folded into one agency, it means (budgetary) short shrift for resource management and actual forest stewardship. Perhaps it is time for an amicable separation.  (above: the Stanislaus Nat’l Forests, coming back after fire)

Further reading (thanks to Forests Forever for compiling this on-point ref. list and for their alert, which we drew from!)
-“Logging Didn’t Stop the Camp Fire”  , Chad Hanson, John Muir Project,
-Fuel Treatments don’t prevent forest fires, George Wuerthner: 
-Salvage logging increases fire risk. Sierra Forest Legacy:
-Newsom declares wildfire emergency; waives environmental rules
-Portland State University study debunks salvage logging


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