The following is a letter to the editor, published here as opinion. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the writer. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
Editor’s note: At The Mendocino Voice would like to foster a lively debate, and as such invite spokespeople from Cal Fire and their logging contractors to write in with their perspective.
Dear Senator McGuire,
I am writing to ask for your participation and to do all within your power to place a one year moratorium on all approved timber harvest plans (THPs) for Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) in Mendocino County where Governor Newsom recently declared the drought a state of emergency.
The currently approved JDSF THP was drafted and approved under an ecologic and economic “sustainable” forest management model that is outdated and does not consider the current context of our crises of ailing watersheds, bi-annual record breaking catastrophic fires and longer and longer fire seasons each year in Mendo County, and human caused climate disruption.
The currently approved THP for JDSF will provide huge profits—for Willits Redwood Company, owned by ex-Willits Mayor Bruce Burton and partner Chris Baldo; Anderson Logging, the LTO (licensed timber operator) contracted to cut the trees and haul the logs inland over highway 20 to the log deck owned by Willits Redwood—with no regard to the effect this kind of logging will have on a valued public commons and the greater ecologic health that JDSF presents.
Governor Newsom recently drafted an executive order to protect a third of California’s forests, grasslands, and coastal waters in his latest effort to fight climate change that he has blamed for recent record-breaking wildfires. But ongoing extractive forest management with no regard for the health of the forest must also be addressed in the cause of these fires. JDSF is situated perfectly to serve as a model to this mandate.
Contract logging is not restoration. Many ecosystems will be destroyed in JDSF if this THP moves forward due to a lack of enforcing environmental assessment guidelines and further lack of protections. The current THP is approved to take down 100 – 200 year old trees whose canopies and, all the way to their root systems, provide entire ecosystems for the surrounding forest. These big trees provide the only remaining year-round nesting as well as seasonal habitat for threatened and endangered species. These big trees are also massive carbon sinks. 2nd and 3rd growth trees, any redwoods over 20 inches in diameter, and fir trees over 40 inches need to be left standing.
Native Indigenous Tribes and Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) holders must not only have a seat at the table, but be in leadership roles as decision makers of the prescriptive restorations and THP planning. Our forests are struggling with massive undergrowth due to the systematic fire suppression campaigns of traditional Native controlled burning among many other methods for restoration.
Small diameter trees are taking up far too much of the groundwater and create ladder fuels that burn into canopies. Checkerboard canopies are no solution to slowing large fires—rather a temporary remedy yet cause long range deterioration of forest health and a cover for continuing to take big trees.
I urge you to encourage and support a timber and building industry that is flexible and adaptive; one that can emerge from our current context of human caused climate disruption, severe drought (which the governor recently declared a “State of Emergency” in Mendo County), catastrophic fires, and ailing watersheds—due in large part to poor forest management.
The timber industry must begin to sell and make use of small diameter wood that is in massive abundance and is currently being thinned but chipped at best, sent to toxic pellet production plants, or stacked and burned; all the while those in the timber industry scramble to find loopholes to cut big 2nd and 3rd growth seed trees.
It is long overdue we work together in tending to our forestlands, making good economic and innovative use of the saleable materials that actually need to come out of the forests in order to begin the restoration process, and end the extractive model that is cause for so much of the decline of our forestland’s fire resilience, watershed and climate health.
Lastly, it is imperative that logging practices in Mendocino County end their discrete and obsolete ecologically unsustainable “management” of our forestlands without greater consideration to the commons and the public good, if not only public comment. The JDSF Meeting Agendas and JDSF THP’s are difficult to find on the Cal Fire Website. These meetings and agenda items that are open to the public need to be made easily found and legible to the public. JDSF & CalFIRE should be required to contact and inform all local public media outlets—that are not many—to alert the public for our input: KZYX Radio, KMUD Radio, KOZT Radio, and local papers: MendoVoice, Anderson Valley Advocate, Ukiah Daily Journal, Willits Weekly, as well as SoHum papers.
Thank you for reading.
a very concerned Mendocino County resident,
The preceding article was an opinion column, or letter to the editor, and the opinions expressed therein are the author’s, not those of The Mendocino Voice. It was not necessarily edited for punctuation, capitalization, spelling etc. While, we reserve the right to copyedit and fact-check opinion pieces, and letters to the editor — and to annotate such pieces with fact-checking — we do not habitually do so.