Fellow forest advocate Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), just issued an key report about the critical condition of the forests in the Sierra Nevada. The report is intended to inform policy makers, community members, businesses, and more of the dire current state of the forests of in that area. The 25 million-acre Sierra Nevada Region encompasses one-quarter of the state, and all or part of 22 counties.
The unhealthy condition of the forests is of serious importance. The Sierra Nevada region is an area of great significance to the State of California, comprising about 25% of California’s total land area, the region is also California’s principal watershed. According to the report, the area provides the origin of 60% of California’s developed water supply and is a major producer of wood products and hydro-electric power.
Wildfire has plagued the state in recent years. Last summer’s Rim Fire scorched 257,000 acres and this year’s Kings Fire has burned almost 100,000 acres. While the fire season is not over yet, California has already spent our $209 million wildfire fighting budget. The LA Times recently reported that “the state has long been king when it comes to spending on wildfires. By one estimate, $4 billion was spent combating wildfires in California from 2003-12, topping all other states.” This year CALFIRE has responded to nearly 5,000 fires, about 1,200 more than average for this time of the year.
Restoration is a way in which the forests can be helped. SNC’s report suggests state and federal officials to double or triple the current pace of forest restoration, including more mechanical thinning of overgrown forests, more use of fire to clear undergrowth, and construction of more biomass electrical generation plants to provide a market for wood chips from restoration projects. “The United States Forest Service Region 5 estimates that between six and nine million acres of the land they are responsible for managing in California are in need of restoration.”
We agree that it is extremely imperative for action to be taken to save these forests lands. They provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habit, recreation, and more. They are also essential to our state as a way to sequester carbon and fighting back against CO2 emissions.