May 3, 2018: In 2013 the Rim Fire burned 257,000 acres in/near Yosemite, now the resilience of our native forests is on full display!
Only 20% of the Rim Fire area burned at high intensity, creating essential and highly biodiverse snag forest habitat where most or all of the tree were killed. Yet it is in these high intensity fire ares which escaped the chainsaw where the most amazing display of forest resilience is currently taking place.
An abundance of naturally regenerating native shrubs, flowers and tree species are proliferating in these areas actively taking up carbon dioxide, while the dead trees (snags) in the area maintain long-term storage of the carbon which was sequestered before the fire burned. This combination of living and dead vegetation creates the perfect environment for a thriving community of native wildlife. Insects, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, large mammals, as well as birds from woodpeckers, to blue birds, to raptors such as California Spotted Owls, Great Gray Owls and Northern Goshwaks all are living or dining in these high intensity burn areas and benefiting from their bounty.
But even with this display of resilience, rejuvenation and recovery these areas ARE NOT PROTECTED! In fact, if something is not done, these areas will be destroyed by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Biomass Logging Project!
Don’t Let This . . .
Rim Fire Burn area, naturally regenerating forest September 2017
Be Turned into This . . . .
Area of National Forest burned in Rim Fire 2013 – Logged 2015- Photo taken May 2018
THE CURRENT THREAT:
In the immediate aftermath of that fire logging interests began pressing the U.S. Forest Service to open up forest lands burned by the Rim Fire to clearcutting.
Environmentalists challenged the logging interests, in an effort to protect California Spotted Owls that were nesting in the burned area after the fire. The Court challenge focused attention on this imperiled species and resulted in a significant portion of the area (approximately 25,000 acres) not being logged. It has now been almost five years since the fire and in the areas which were not logged, the owls are still there, as are woodpeckers, blue birds, Northern Flickers, beautiful shrubs and flowers as well as an amazing carpet of naturally regenerating pine, cedars and fir seedlings. It is an amazing example of Nature knowing what’s best – but it is still not safe!
Logging interests combined with state and local agencies and nonprofits to apply for grants for so called “watershed restoration and reforestation” which will include all of the elements (logging dead and live trees, spraying deadly herbicides and eliminating all those flowering shrubs) that actually destroy habitat and all of the newly sprouted trees. After they have “restored the area” they then plan to waste millions of taxpayer dollars to reforest the newly denuded area by planting trees and administer toxic herbicides to ensure that native shrubs, grasses and flowers do not return.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the main grant applicant Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) are relying on an inadequate and outdated Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the U.S, Forest Service to support their decision to spend $28,000,000.00 to eliminate the vibrant habitat that exists in the unlogged areas today – under the false claim that the forest is not recovering.
To make matters worse, all of the fast growing/ carbon sequestering shrubs and young trees in these areas, as well as the carbon storing snags, that will be removed will be burned in local biomass energy facilities immediately emitting thousands of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This is a lose lose for wildlife, forest ecosystems, for community health and for our Planet. Please help encouraging the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to abandon their environmentally harmful biomass logging plans for the Rim Fire and let them know that a new and accurate assessment of the impacts to the Rim Fire Area is needed before if they still intend to proceed with their unnecessary and climate damaging logging activities.
Or Call Jim Branham @ (530) 823-4667 (o) or (530) 721-0018 (cell)
Sample Comments are below:
SUBJECT HEADER: Please Abandon Your Plans to Destroy Rim Fire Habitat and Regenerating Forests
The USFS Environmental Impact Statements do not reflect current on-the-ground conditions. The harm to habitat, forest recovery and climate change from continuing to log, and then burn as biomass, the post-fire forests of the Rim Fire far exceed any harm assessed by the Forest Service shortly after the fire. California forest lands have proven time and again that they can regenerate without disruptive human intervention. The Rim Fire site is further evidence of that. I urge you to abandon your plans to use this grant to log live and fire killed trees, disturbing undergrowth with heavy machinery and damaging soil productivity and killing the tree seedlings that are already growing in (some as tall as 7′ many around 3′ tall, with thousands of tiny seedlings just sprouting this month!) in the process. In fact the soil was so damaged in areas that were logged over 3 years ago, that they still fail to support a naturally regenerating forest. Please limit use of the grant money to recover areas that were destroyed by logging, not destroy areas that were rejuvenated by the Rim Fire or to prop up the biomass industry and its dirty, anti-climate energy production.