At the Tahoe Summit this week in Lake Tahoe, California Senator Dianne Feinstein unveiled her plan to fight climate change, by pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into logging and vegetation removal projects on public-lands, and circumventing public participation in how National Forests are managed. Although she did not speak of it at this event, Senator Feinstein is also planning to partner with Pro-Logging advocate Senator Steve Daines a Republican from Montana to introduce another “forest management” bill that, according to press releases and news stories from the two offices promises to accomplish the following:
- Further roll back environmental laws including provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act to increase logging on federal public lands;
- Close the courthouse doors to public interest, environmental or social justice organizations who are working to ensure that the few environmental protections still afforded by federal environmental laws are actually followed by agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
- Mandate 150,000 acres of logging and vegetation removal in both California and Montana.
Using the specter of fire and playing on the fears of people (everyone) who don’t want to lose their home in the next wildfire, Senator Feinstein is pushing an agenda that is at odds with the science and will exacerbate risk to communities and the climate crisis. The Senator decried the loss of trees to drought (a natural process which is actually making our forests more resilient to the climate crisis and creating amazing habitat for native species) and insisted that dead trees are to blame for our recent fires (which has been debunked by every scientific study which looked at actual fire behavior in areas with dead trees which found that fire intensity was LOWER, not higher in such areas).
Our forests are not unhealthy or overstocked, and logging them will not stop fires or protect communities. This is because logging, including so-called “thinning” projects reduces the forest canopy and in doing so creates hotter, drier conditions in the forest and increases the growth of easily ignitable invasive species such as cheat grass. Removing trees from the forest also removes natural wind buffers that can slow a fire’s progression. Thus the very act of logging will tend to increase, not decrease the intensity and rate of spread of a fire which is exactly what happened in the tragedy of the Camp Fire in Paradise last year.
Logging also removes native plants and shrubs and disrupts the network of mycorrhizal fungi which are essential to transport nutrients to and between trees and keep them healthy and thriving. All the machinery used for logging – from the chainsaws to the log trucks to operations at the mill – all emit carbon into the atmosphere. But this is a double hit when it comes to our climate crisis because these emissions are happening at the same time that the very trees that are removing CO2 from the atmosphere are being killed and removed.
Senator Feinstein is on the wrong path here with her outdated forest “management” policies. Please call her office today and tell her we don’t need a Feinstein/Daines forest “management” bill and we certainly don’t need any more logging on our public lands – in fact, we need a lot less logging if we are going to be successful in mitigating the climate crisis.
San Francisco Office: (415) 393-0707
DC Office: (202) 224-3841