More on whether to try to save the Sierra forests

For several years now, national forest managers, private timber land owners, environmentalists, scientists and others have been discussing the woes facing the forests here in the Sierra Nevada. The issues are complex, but for the sake of brevity, it largely comes down to whether we let catastrophic fires destroy the forests. Nobody wants this. Not only are the forests beautiful, but if they burn down it hurts water supplies we all depend on, and also we lose the chance to harvest valuable timber needed for the human economy.

Yet a variety of changes, including shifting climate patterns and the fact that we’ve let a lot of the forests grow dense undergrowth that contributes to fires, mean the odds are against us. An extended drought would make this all even more difficult, and it is extremely expensive to do some of the things that might help, such as using machines and human hand crews to thin overgrown areas and restore water-absorbing meadows.

If a person was to bet on such things as what might eventually make parts of California uninhabitable, then lack of water would have to be high on the list. And if the Sierra forests burn, we’ll get mudslides after rain and snow storms rather than the slowly-released trickle of clean water that healthy forests provide through the summer.

So while it’s great that the feds, the scientists and a few others get together to discuss this, it is unlikely the problem will really be solved unless a lot of the rest of us who live in California also pay attention and push for changes. That’s why everyone should know about the “Sierra Cascades Dialogue Session” in which the future of forests in the Sierra (and the Cascades) is being discussed.  The next session is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 30 in the Lions Gate Hotel in Sacramento. Attendance costs $25 and includes lunch.

And here’s the theme for the April 30 session:  “Exploring the Range of Public Views on Desired Conditions for the Sierra Nevada National Forests”

That’s a long-winded way of saying that the forest folks know that it matters what the rest of us think. They want to hear.  And it would be good for them to know that there’s lots of us who hope to continue living and thriving in California in the future and we want the forests to survive. You can also be specific about the forest conditions you want, ie. whether you want priority set on water production, recreation, timber or other values

To register or for more information, contact Deb Whitall with the Forest Service;;  Phone: 707-562-8823


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