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Is clear-cutting of California forests causing loss of wildlife habitat & wildlife?

Dear Gary:
I found your blog while searching for information about Fish and Game Commissioner Judd Hanna (booted off the commission for promoting a ban on lead bullets in the endangered California condor range. /Gary).

I am a biologist in the Placerville area, working with a loose coalition of like-minded people trying to figure out what in the world we can do to stop the insane amount of clear-cutting that is being approved by state agencies (CDF/Calfire and CDF&G) by SPI (Sierra Pacific Industries) in California … basically converting our native forests into pine tree farms, with little value for wildlife of any kind.

Deer are starving to death in the winter in the Sierra Nevada, and SPI’s policies (and the Forest Service isn’t much better) are the biggest contributor to this.

I thought that because you published that letter from Judd Hanna, and that you are friends with Eric Mills (Action for Animals), that you might have some ideas about who to talk to and how we can get more visibility for this issue among your colleagues, networks, and circle of friends. I would appreciate any ideas you have.

Clear-cutting is approved through Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) on a daily basis, and also after wildfire.

When there is a wildfire, the timber industry and the federal managers jump in immediately to cut the scorched trees — most of which have been shown to be alive still — and cut them in so-called “salvage” timber sales.

Most of the regulatory rules for timber harvest in California, under the “Forest Practice Rules” are suspended during this process. Then the industry proceeds to plant dense rows of mostly single species, commercial ponderosa pine at levels that create huge fire hazards (the pine plantations have been scientifically shown to be more of a fire hazard than native forest, brush, or grassland).

Then they douse the ground for several years with chemical herbicides which kill the native re-growth of shrubs and herbs, and oaks … the very species which deer need to survive on. And the early successional forest is the very foundation of the native forest food web.

Absent wildfire, the state approves thousands of acres of clear-cuts in California which then undergo the same chemical and planting regime.

The upshot of all of this is that deer and many other species of birds and mammals (not to mention the frogs, turtles, butterflies and everything else which no longer have habitat for food, nesting and reproduction) are declining throughout our forests in California.

I know that many hunters are very upset about this too, but there is no organized effort to force the state to take action. We desperately need to get all interested and affected citizens together to fight this outrage.

Here is a recent article on SPI’s clear-cutting practices from Amador County’s Ledger Dispatch: http://www.ledger-dispatch.com/news/newsview.asp?c=236988

It is so rare to actually see the press get this right. You won’t see the big papers reporting on this issue. (Vivian Parker, Placerville)

Vivian:
Your message is getting some of that much-needed visibility right here in my blog.

You should also contact as many of those newspapers that you say aren’t reporting this to see if they’ll let you write a forum/op-ed piece about this problem for their editorial pages. Most newspapers have the mechanism in place to accept and print articles like you’ve written above. Be sure and footnote all the points you make.

You should submit your op-ed piece to papers like the Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chico Enterprise-Record, Redding Record Searchlight, etc.

Anyone else have anything to say on this? Please add your comments below.

Be sure and click on the link and read the above story in the Ledger Dispatch. They’ve got a pretty interesting grassroots thing going. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Under: Habitat, Logging, Wildlife | No Comments »