Friends of Gualala River and Forest Unlimited

Author Rick Coates

Feb 19, 2019 — 

Friends of Gualala River and Forest Unlimited, once again recently prevailed in court. The courts have found the logging plans called Dogwood I and Dogwood II have failed to meet the legal standards required.  Twice they have failed to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to evaluate project alternatives with less environmental impact and having an insufficient Cumulative Impact study.

Dogwood III is just as flawed as its predecessors. It lacks even the most basic survey information on seasonal wetlands – the floodplain of the Gualala River in northern Sonoma County.  It also lacks scientific information on rare and endangered plants and wildlife species such as steelhead trout.

The floodplain of the Gualala River is too important to the health of this already impaired river. Logging of redwood trees in the floodplain will do great harm.

We are asking that this logging Plan, Dogwood THP 1-15-042 SON, be subject to greater review.  We request Dogwood be elevated for policy-level review by the CALFIRE headquarters and the Board of Forestry.

What can you do to help?  Please email Santa Rosa CALFIRE before Feb. 21, 2019 with your comments. Tell them in your own words why you are against logging in the floodplain.  Whether it be the fish, the wildflowers such as Coast Lilies, the wildlife such as Western Pond Turtles and California Red-legged Frog, tell them why this special place we call the Magical Forest shouldn’t be logged. Ask CAL FIRE to elevate Dogwood for a policy level review. Email CALFIRE at this address: santarosapubliccomment@fire.ca.gov.   Thank you

Treat homes, not forests, to reduce wildfire risk

Recently Donald Trump used his executive authority to mandate increased logging of our public lands with the goal of reducing wildfire threat to communities. His order instructs land managers to treat (read log) 8.45 million acres of land and cut 4.4 million board feet of timber ostensibly to reduce fire hazard.

Unfortunately, the mandate ignores the latest fire science which suggests you start at the home and work outwards to reduce fire risk to communities.  It’s time to change our fire policy to reflect what we are learning about the role of global heating in fire ecology and forest ecology.

Trying to minimize fire which is natural to most plant community in the West is wrong-headed. Instead, we must promote effective strategies that allow communities to persist in fire-prone ecosystems. We do this by reducing home construction in fire-prone landscapes and by reducing the flammability of homes.

Current fire policies focus on promoting forest alterations, mainly through logging, to change fire severity.   It is the lack of high severity fire that impoverishes many forest ecosystems.

Trump’s policies will harm forest ecosystems, while logging is one of the leading contributors to global GHG emissions, exacerbating global heating.

Most fires are small-burning less than 5 acres. These fires occur during low to moderate fire weather conditions. Though they account for 95-98% of all fires, they burn a small percentage of the landscape, and few threaten communities.

Read More

Americans Increasingly Say Climate Change Is Happening Now

A national survey has been asking the question for a decade. Now, researchers say the country may have reached an inflection point on the urgency of climate change.

Industrial forestry contributes to the West’s wildfire crisis

Author Craig Patterson

Imagine words so prophetic yet so misunderstood that agencies and science get sabotaged by ignorance and greed.

The U.S, Forest Service refuses to admit that past management has had significant ongoing consequences and that we can’t solve a problem using the same thinking that created it.

Case in point: the wildfires currently raging throughout the West.

The Forest Service says we are experiencing these cataclysmic wildfires due to fire suppression and climate change, and that thinning the forests will reduce the danger.

Now witness California, Oregon and worldwide, as wildfire records are broken yearly.

Forty years ago, I remember the old bulls saying, “We don’t put out fires in the woods. Either the rains come or they run into an old growth forest and fall to the ground as a surface fire and go out.”

Now, with 95 percent of the old growth gone, only the rains really help extinguish fires of any size and consequence. Until we acknowledge and understand the connections between past practices and current realities, we will continue to experience uncharacteristic fire danger.

The Forest Service and many scientists ignore these most significant changes that have occurred in essentially three generations. This is why crown fires have become far more common today and are nearly impossible to be put out. They are consequences of past management.

Logging and replacing healthy, diverse forests with tree plantations has eliminated a key factor that seriously affects wildfire behavior (surface fire) and corresponding intensity. Rain is the other factor. Last year we spent the summer fighting uncontrollable wildfires. Then the rains returned, and three days later — problem over.

Healthy intact forests maintain shade and absorb the rain in aquifers, moderating erosion and drought while supporting diverse species in symbiotic harmony. Clearcutting causes soil, water and slash to heat, leading to erosion and ultimately leaving no forest if the integrity of the soil goes.

In the beginning, Gifford Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt defined the mission of the Forest Service to obtain “the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time.”

But after World War II, automation and technology drove the Forest Service to pursue the greatest good for fewest number for shortest time. Between 1950 and 1990, the Willamette National Forest cut more than 25.5 billion board feet of timber, whereas in the previous 58 years it cut 3 billion to 4 billion board feet. Where and how are the environmental, economic and social consequences accounted for in management or science? Meanwhile, the extent and consequences of today’s wildfires are too overwhelming to ignore.

Now we have our sacred cow — restoration as a focus and a determinant of places and projects to fund. However, ignoring past logging consequences allows current logging to persist. Today many restoration technologies and practices actually follow and supplement industrial forestry while consequences and lessons remain disconnected.

Today McKenzie Bridge is ground zero for the Goose Project, a restoration project which has been forced upon us under the guise of making us more “fire safe.”

Yet I’ve seen log trucks rolling by with three or four logs to the bunk. Old growth trees pushing 4 feet in diameter being cut in the name of “restoration.” Cutting these big trees makes us less fire safe, not more.

Little about industrial forestry is sustainable — environmentally economically or socially; yesterday, today or tomorrow. It’s a short boom followed by protracted bust every time. Privatized profits and socialized liabilities do not make for healthy forests or healthy communities.

The jury is in if we see the forest holistically and with common sense. How we repair the blind spots in our wildfire management philosophy and practice are questions that need to be asked. Our children and grandchildren depend upon it.

Craig Patterson of McKenzie Bridge has been a member of a forestry cooperative and delivered a paper to the National Roundtable on Sustainable forests in Washington, D.C, in 2005.

PG&E calls bankruptcy ‘only viable option’ in California wildfire crisis

PG&E is filing for bankruptcy.  PG&E must face its responsibility for the destruction of California’s forests and the tremendous loss of life that it caused.  We believe that it is time for the state to seek ownership of the electricity distribution network from PG&E in bankruptcy court, invest the money needed to bring it up to safety standards, underground power lines,  then charge sufficient to cover the cost to all power generators including what is left of PG&E and other community power generators:

Overwhelmed by billions of dollars in claims from the Camp Fire and the 2017 wildfires of Northern California, PG&E said Monday it plans to file for bankruptcy, but insisted it will not go out of business.

The embattled utility gave 15-day notice of its intent to file for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, as required by a state law enacted last fall to deal with utility fire liabilities. The company made the announcement less than 12 hours after announcing the resignation of its CEO, Geisha Williams

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said total liabilities from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires “could exceed $30 billion,” easily outstripping PG&E’s liability insurance coverage and the $1.5 billion in cash it has on hand.

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article224504140.html#storylink=cpy