News

Urban forests are dying.

By Andrew Zaleski June 5, 201

Walk through Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and look up. The fan-shaped ginkgo leaves and ­ruby-red pearls dangling from cherry branches are the literal fruits of how Gene DeSantis has spent the predominant part of his life. On Saturdays, the slight, cap-wearing 57-year-old plants trees. By his count, 15,223 of them over the past 40 years.

For DeSantis, an MVP to local ­greening outfits, the routine began as a form of therapy. The Baltimore native spent some of his childhood in Los Angeles, with an alcoholic stepfather and drug-addicted mother. On the nights his stepfather’s drunkenness turned violent, the young DeSantis climbed trees in the yard to find peace. “Trees became my friends,” he says. “You could say I kind of grew up there.”

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Protecting Our Napa Valley: Saving trees, grapes and ourselves

AUTHOR Amber Manfree May 26, 2019

Global-scale projections of climate change impacts are common, but what about right here, at home? As we look to the future, a clear view can help our community plan wisely and save time, money, and energy.

The biggest effects of climate change in Napa County are likely to be extreme weather, gradually rising temperatures, and loss of native plants and animals. Some of the best tools we have to address these problems are local-scale cooling strategies and conservation of wildlands and waterways.

Napa has had torrential precipitation events the past couple of years, and five years of extreme drought before that. Climate scientists say this may be indicative of the future, and that problems can compound one another. The fires of 2017 were extraordinarily damaging due to extreme weather in the preceding years.

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Alarming Rate of Forest Loss Threatens a Crucial Climate Solution

by Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate

The world’s forests continue to disappear at an alarming rate, threatening a resource that scientists say is a crucial “natural solution” for controlling climate change on an urgently short timescale.

Last year, the planet saw its fourth-highest level of tropical tree loss since the early 2000s—about 30 million acres, according to a new analysis published Thursday.

Those losses have continued even as more corporations and countries made commitments to preserve forests, and as scientists emphasized that maintaining forests must be a global priority—as crucial to staving off the worst risks of climate change as cutting fossil fuel use

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Forest ‘thinning’ is not the answer

Author:  Christy Sherr, September 25, 2015

Two Republican bills being considered by Congress are using the public’s fear and misunderstanding of wildland fire to mount one of the most extreme attacks on our national forests in history.

Both bills would suspend or weaken federal environmental laws and clear the way for the timber industry to dramatically increase commercial logging under the guise of “forest treatment” or “thinning.”

Though the term “thinning” may sound relatively benign, the majority of thinning operations on national forests are intensive commercial logging projects that frequently remove two-thirds of the trees, including mature and old-growth trees.

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Napa County approves new rules to protect native trees and the watershed

Author  Kerana Todorov

April 10, 2019

The Napa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted new rules drafted to protect the watershed in the hillsides above the Napa Valley floor.

The vote came after multiple meetings during which some asked for stricter rules to protect native trees and the watershed and to combat climate change. Supporters of Measure C, the ballot measure rejected by 51 percent of the vote in June 2018, and others wanted provisions that would have offered native trees and watersheds greater protections than those approved Tuesday.

However, others called the new rules unnecessary, infringing on property rights and full of unintended consequences. Napa County until now had considered agriculture the highest and best use of the land, opponents to more regulations said. Tuesday’s vote changes that.

Representatives for both sides agreed on one point: the issue is not settled.

Measure C co-sponsor Mike Hackett said the ordinance was an incremental step in the right direction. At the same time he did not hide his disappointment. “Our basic premise was to protect the watershed and the trees on our hillsides. This particular ordinance does not do that adequately,” said Hackett, a retired airline pilot from Angwin.

Jim Wilson, co-sponsor of Measure C, did not rule out another initiative. “We’re disappointed,” he said after the vote. “All options are open.”

Stu Smith, general partner at Smith-Madrone, strongly opposed Measure C. He was against the new ordinance out of principle. Napa County’s agriculture already faced strict regulations, Smith and others said, adding the science did not back the need for new rules.

“There was no need to do this,” Smith said of the ordinance which he calls “Measure C 2.0.” Measure C was defeated at the ballot. Tuesday’s vote “subverted the will of the people,” Smith said. “I’m furious.”

What’s next is anybody’s guess,” Smith said after the vote.

There is no end in sight, he predicted, referring to the land-use controversies affecting agriculture raging in Napa County. “The battle continues ad nauseam.”

Napa County Farm Bureau led the fight against Measure C and opposed the need for the proposed ordinance, calling it “a political solution in search of a problem,” according to Napa County Farm Bureau Chief Executive Officer Ryan Klobas.