Excerpt from an editorial by The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board:
Century-old forest management practices by the Forest Service, Cal Fire and the logging industry have led to intense standoffs in recent decades among environmentalists, scientists and fire experts who believe we have managed our forests under a profit motive, not resiliency.
They are not necessarily wrong. As The Bee’s Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler noted in a recent story about this conflict, “much of the sturdy old-growth was cut down, and what grew back in its place were dense stands of small trees and brush,” they wrote. “The stage was set for an era of catastrophic fires like the sorts California is experiencing every summer.”
In addition to fighting fires instead of controlling them, the Forest Service allowed logging companies to decimate California forests for much of the 20th century, with little concern about the ecological harm they were causing. This gave environmentalists all the ammunition they needed to question the motives of an agency that oversees millions of acres of California forestland.
But now is the time for the environmental left to stand down. California’s forests are in terrible shape after decades of unchecked commercial logging and aggressive fire suppression. Conditions have only gotten worse as climate change dries our forests and reduces rainfall, aiding recent record-breaking megafires that threaten populated areas and wipe out entire habitats.
By weaponizing federal protections — such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act — to obstruct or outright kill various wildfire prevention projects, environmentalists imperil the very ecosystems they wish to protect.
Organizations like the John Muir Project, Conservation Congress and other allied groups have been accused by leading experts of spreading “agenda-driven science” that promotes specific unsupported narratives and avoids data to back up their litigious claims. At least 111 scientists have co-authored at least 41 scientific papers to rebut their dubious methods, The Bee reported, an extraordinary sign of how problematic these groups have become. Some of their disputed claims have caused the courts to delay important fire prevention projects.