Editorial: “Why California’s mighty sequoias are at risk from wildfires and environmental groups alike”

From the San Diego Union-Tribune. Mentions the Save Our Sequoias Act, which “would provide $350 million in federal funding over 10 years to help thin, manage and fire-proof forests and protect trees by streamlining environmental reviews of efforts to restore the health of sequoia groves — reviews that now could take 52 years to treat the 19 most at-risk groves.”

Unfortunately, dozens of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters oppose it. They view any weakening of environmental rules affecting forests the same way the National Rifle Association views any weakening of gun rights: as the start of a slippery slope that ends with disaster, in this case loggers ravaging pristine natural areas. Local Sierra Club chapter chair Lisa Ross asserts the bill was introduced on “behalf of a panoply of special interests hoping to bring more commercial development into our national forests.”

Subhead: “It’s a shabby tactic to pretend thinning forests to protect historic trees is the same thing as inviting loggers to despoil pristine natural lands.”



9 thoughts on “Editorial: “Why California’s mighty sequoias are at risk from wildfires and environmental groups alike””

  1. or … “It’s a shabby tactic to pretend thinning forests is not motivated by economic interests inside and outside the agencies, and that it does not have significant trade-offs that affect our water, climate, and fish & wildlife.”

    • If economic interests were not a factor, very little work would get done. Imagine agriculture without economic interests. How much food would be produced? Even my local Community Supported Agruculture (CSA) farmers — all organic — have economic interests.

    • 2nd Law: Not too sure who — or why — anyone is “pretending” that logging isn’t a commercial enterprise. Why else would anyone do it? Also, I doubt very much that a thinning project would have the tiniest effect — much less a “significant” impact — on the climate. Pretty sure if it even exists, that it would be far too small to measure. And for what purpose?

      Impacts on water and wildlife following logging can be very beneficial, and particularly when considering potential biodiversity, wildfire mitigation, birds, and large mammals (including people). Compared to potential wildfire, reduced water flow, and heavy shading in Douglas fir and spruce forests, well-designed thinning or clearcutting projects — and maybe including subsequent reforestation planning — can be very beneficial aesthetically, to wildlife, and to clean water flow. Documented.

    • In Colorado, we often can’t actually sell our trees. Homeowners pay for thinning or request the Forest Service to do so, or do cost-shares.
      Denver Water partners with the FS to protect water supplies. I suppose that that’s an “economic interest” but it’s also a social good. As is wood I suppose… how do you tell the difference between “social goods” and “economic interests”?

      • how do you tell the difference between “social goods” and “economic interests”?

        Try this distinction between social goods and “economic bads” (first paragraph). https://simplicable.com/en/social-goods

        Housing is a social good. Lumber is a good. Logging is an economic bad. Economic bads may sometimes produce social goods.

        • I’m not sure I’m following.. I saw “responsible use of natural resources” as a social good on your cited chart.

          Water is a social good. Dams are an economic bad? The internet is a social good producing energy is an economic bad? Beer is a social good but raising barley is an economic bad?

          Puzzling… do we need to give up, water, the internet and beer because they are produced by “economic bads”?

          It seems a bit counterintuitive to me when people argue that morality requires punching down from consumers to producers.

          • I offered this as a possible construct (as you might call it). If you look at the “economic bads” link it says that ideally an economic system will take into account both the goods and the bads and produce a net benefit to society. I think that punching down on bad producers may be appropriate where the economic system does not do that accounting well.

            • I’d think it would be much easier (and less morally exhausting) to simply not use the products of producers you think are bad.

              Otherwise, it seems like you could tie yourself in moral knots ruminating on whether you are, in effect, some form of a hypocrite.

  2. Years ago, I questioned the decision of banning commercial thinning in all 330,000 acres of the Giant Sequoia National Monument, to ‘benefit’ 39 small groves. That’s a monstrous ‘buffer zone’. *smirk*

    My guess is that the SOS will address this issue…… finally.


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