Sierra Club Praises Davis’ Call for State Ban of Clearcut Logging


(from press release)

On Tuesday May 13, 2014, the Davis City Council unanimously approved a resolution to call on the state legislature and governor to enhance protections for California’s forest watersheds and ban clearcut logging in California.

“Our economy, our water, our climate and our well-being are directly connected to the health of our forests. I am proud that the City of Davis has so clearly connected the health of our downriver city with the health of our forests in opposing 20th century industrial clearcutting practices,” said City of Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza. “Urban and rural Californians must all seek the responsible 21st century stewardship of our forest watersheds,”

California’s forest watersheds store, filter and gradually release 75% of the state’s clean water supply.[i] Mature forests absorb up to 40% of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, California law allows all trees to be cut on large tracts of forest (clearcutting) followed by the planting of new trees as factory farmed industrial plantations of only one or two tree species. Toxic herbicides are applied to prevent the growth of ‘undesirable’ tree and plant species. Over a million acres in key watersheds in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and Redwood forests are in the process of being converted to highly uniform, fire prone tree plantations.

Clearcutting and tree farming create a sterile landscape much like factory-scale corn, soy, or alfalfa fields, allowing minimal natural plant and animal biodiversity, and creating soil disturbance and run off which pollutes waterways and releases large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Maintaining natural, mature forests is increasingly recognized as vital in reversing climate change.[ii]

The Davis resolution also calls for a California prohibition of the outdoor cultivation of genetically engineered tree plantations, an even more aggressive and chemically intensive form of factory tree farming for which biotech corporations are currently seeking approval at the USDA. Opponents warn that such genetically engineered tree plantations, if approved, could make destructive clearcutting even more profitable and desirable to the timber and tree pulp industry, and could present serious biological contamination dangers to the integrity and health of California wildlife.

Opponents of clearcutting call for trees to instead be logged using a less destructive method known as selective harvest, which involves the planned removal of carefully identified trees, while leaving overall forests intact.

Sierra Club representative Juliette Beck hailed the Davis city council’s action, saying “This resolution against clearcutting marks the beginning of a turning point in California, away from destructive and toxic factory tree farms and toward more ecologically sustainable methods of selective logging which will preserve healthy forests, the Earth’s climate, and more stable jobs in forest products and tourism, far into the future.”

[i]      California Forest Magazine, Winter 2011,

[ii]     Nature Journal, “Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size,” 1/29/2014

ClearCutting in California:

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  1. Frankly

    And with this, again, the environmental extremists increase the risk for greater forest fire damage and greater cost to the state while they also increase the costs to business and chase more jobs away.

    The end game for environmental extremists is a world of pristine nature without people.

    Environmentalism is out of balance with the needs of society. Without a greater indication that it seeks compromise and reasonableness, it will always be considered extreme and worthy of scorn.

    1. David Greenwald

      For not clearcutting? I don’t believe clearcutting is good forest management, in fact, I ask you to find a forestry person that would state that it is.

      1. Frankly

        Opponents of clearcutting call for trees to instead be logged using a less destructive method known as selective harvest, which involves the planned removal of carefully identified trees

        Code for someone in government will have to establish the criteria and provide the oversight.

        More government intrusion.

        More cost to the logging business.

        Higher cost wood products.

        Impacts to the construction industry.

        Fewer jobs… except for the new government jobs.

        Clear-cutting is used strategically and it copies the natural process that is caused by forest fires (nature’s clear cutting). The environmentalists want to ban it without allowing consideration of the problems caused by the lack of natural fire-breaks in a forest (those that exist from previous fires). What we end up with is a huge contiguous forest of tinder… that is why we have had some massive fires over the last decade or two.

        1. Frankly

          Oops… messed up with my tags. Only the first paragraph is a quote.

          Note that clear-cutting includes replanting… this is similar to what happens when a natural forest fire occurs.

          1. Davis Progressive

            clearcutting is extremely damaging. replanting takes decades. fire management is based on thinning trees, but more importantly clearing underbrush.

          2. Tia Will

            Replanting with a single species which is a common practice among clear cutting operations does not come even close to matching the diversity of species in the original forest. This is not the equivalent of “nature’s clear cutting” in any way.

        2. tribeUSA

          Re: Frankly’s comments 9:28

          The overly-dense forests you alllude to are indeed tinderboxes during dry summer months, and these dense forests are the direct result of past forest mismanagement. Old growth forests are much less dense, have much healthier trees, and are much less fire-prone than the older style plantation forests (forest management has improved quite a bit over the last few decades; but remember western forests take ~40-70 years from one harvest to planting and the next cycle of harvest, so vast tracts of forest remain that are products of older style forest mismanagement).

          Another aspect of forest management to consider: Imagine your corporation controls 15,000 acres of contiguous forest land, and that all of this forest could be harvested and sold within a few years. Acting as a good capitalist, rather than harvest 500 acres per year over a period of 30 years (sustainable harvest); your bottom line would come out better if you chopped it all down in a couple of years and invested the profits at 4-5%/year rate of return. So what if the consequences of cutting down most or all of the trees in a large area results in widespread erosion and soil nutrient depletion, spoiling of animal habitat, silting up of downstream reaches and reservoirs, etc. such that the land is degraded for the next cycle of forest growth, and gets successively degraded for future generations? By acting as a good capitalist, you still come out ahead with the quick chop. Interestingly, a rain-forest native tribe in the Amazon in the 20th century had a name for the westerners–the “future eaters” as they saw the westerners raze the forest for a few years worth of farm land or cattle grazing; after which erosion and nutrient depletion destroyed the fertility of the land, which reverted to desert. A perfect example of where pure free-for-all capitalism results in a degraded future for future generations (I’m not anti-capitalist and it seems to me free markets do very well for small and medium size businesses; but no question there must be restraints and regulations on big-business capitalism).

          Are you aware that prior to animal domestication and farming, the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea were heavily-vegetated and often lush–likely inspiration for the “Garden of Eden” we’ve heard tell about? Yes, that’s right, poor land management due to over-harvesting/clearing of timber, over-grazing and poor farming practices has resulted in most of the lands rimming the Meditteranean reverting to desert through massive widespread erosion of once-fertile soils (most of it lies on the bottom of the Meditteranean Sea now, where it washed in). You’ve heard tell of the “Cedars of Lebanon”? That’s right, vast forests of cedar once covered much of Lebanon. Now it’s a desert with infertile soils; the land is not good for much. Care to guess what happened?

          1. tribeUSA

            There are many, many more examples of human-caused land degradation thruout the world–once soils are depleted/eroded, it takes centuries to miillenia for fertile soiils to re-develop (depending on climate and geology/topography).

            And while it is true that fires do occur in old-growth forests and can be moderately destructive; they are not nearly as hot and devastating as fires in the older-style overly-dense plantation forests. When there is a fire in old growth forests, mature trees may suffer some damage but generally survive (surely you’ve noticed the very thick bark on mature redwoods, cedars, seqouias, etc.–that’s very good heat insulation), the fires are less hot due to lower fuel density and thus much more vegetation survives, even if somewhat scorched.

          2. Frankly

            I think it was year 2000 when the US has a slew of devastating fires. Then the Bush Amin passed the healthy forest act. And forestry and logging were changed for the better. From what I understand clear-cutting is already regulated. There are rules for how much. There are also rules for water impacts and soil conservation.

            There are plenty of regulations. The logging industry is already heavily regulated.

            The problem is that the environmentalists don’t have enough other things to define them and so they manufacture new artificial outrage… and the politicians leverage it for favors and to wrap themselves in a ‘good environmental citizen’ label.

          3. tribeUSA

            Frankly–yes, generally I agree with your point here, over the last few decades forest management practices have greatly improved. It has become understood what types of clear-cutting lead to erosion and other bad consequences, and what types of clear-cutting have minimal adverse impacts; and only clear-cutting practices that are likely to have minimum adverse impact on an area are permitted. Its my understanding that there has been generallly a move to smaller patches for clear-cutting, and more clear-cutting in stripes no more than 100-200 yards wide; with geometry/orientation carefully planned to minimize erosion and other adverse impacts.
            So yes, the evidence is in that clear-cutting can be done in a manner that has very little long-term impact on the land.

            I too am not sure that it is a good idea to ban clear-cutting altogether; as long as current regulations are followed in most cases there is likely to be little long-term damage. (Maybe a professional forester on the forum can correct me if I’m wrong).

  2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    While I agree that clearcutting forests is bad forest management and causes harms beyond the forest, my much more heartfelt opinion is that the Davis City Council should never, ever weigh in officially on any state, federal or global policy that has no immediate impact on the City of Davis. I don’t mind individual members of the Council giving their views–even from the Council dais–on any topics out of their purview. However, I don’t believe they were elected to represent the people of Davis on issues of forest management or tracking or abortion or war in the Middle East, etc.

    I want to make clear that I do favor the City Council weighing in on state and federal policies which have an immediate impact on Davis or our proximate environment. Unfortunately, our City Council–the present one and those from days gone by–are almost always completely silent when it comes to real threats to the City from state or federal policies, unless some activist group in town prods them.

    For example, David Greenwald sent me an email recently about the re-inroduction of a piece of state legislation written by the firefighters which will effectively double or triple the cost of workers compensation for them:

    That will devastate cities, including Davis. Yet our CC remains entirely silent? The bill has the support–of course–of Mariko Yamada. (I don’t know if Lois Wolk is for it or not.) It seems to me that if our CC were doing its job, the members would be explaining the harm to Davis of AB 1035, condemning the legislation and condemning our representative(s) for supporting it and harming Davis.

    Instead … crickets.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      I agree that the CC should do it’s job, not try to play politics on a grand scale. Is it pure ego, or are they scared to tackle real issues? Streets are falling apart, water rates will jump, the plan to bring new businesses to Davis is still non-existent, and the long-term fiscal plan doesn’t even exist. Am I wrong?

      Besides, newfound and over-educated “environmentalists” said “Let it burn” to Yosemite, and look what happened! Then they claimed “well, there was never a fire this big in 150 years, this is a once every 400-years fire”… to a fire which they themselves helped create.

      And I guess they used the word “plantation” in order to make these … non-diverse tree slaves? Jesus. These are the same people who push ethanol for cars as a savior… which drives up the worldwide price of corn … which therefore starves people in 3rd world countries.

      This makes as much sense as pushing Global Warming, when we haven’t had any warming in 17 years. (Mr. Rifkin, have you used google yet?)

    2. Davis Progressive

      there is a clear difference taking a position on an issue that is on the other side of the world, and something actually directly impacts us in terms of location (30 miles away), in terms of river impacts, in terms of air quality impacts, in terms of fire danger, etc.

          1. South of Davis

            Apple Hill is only about 60 miles away and every year lots of Davis kids drive up there to “clearcut” a “forest” of 5-7 year old pine trees.

            Maybe the city of Davis after banning plastic “bags” could ban real Christmas trees (forcing everyone to buy plastic “trees”)…

          2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            Wasn’t meant as a literal distance?

            I see, you are thinking of a mythical forest which, “directly impacts us in terms of location (30 miles away).”

            For those living in the real world, there is no forest being clear cut 30 miles or even 50 miles from Davis; and more importantly than distance, there is no forest being clear cut which is in the purview of the City Council which signed labor contracts which are so expensive we cannot provide basic services (police, fire, roads, parks) without jacking up tax rates again on poor people and students in Davis who make far less total compensation than city workers.

          3. Davis Progressive

            i’m baffled by two things… first in what sense do you live in the real world and second what does the council passing a clearcutting resolution have to do with labor contracts?

  3. Alan Miller

    WHAT THE HELL?!?!!

    I agree that clearcutting is vile, but what happened to the very sane council vow to only take up local issues? I heard this even early on in the oil train vote, which made no sense because though a wider issue the trains could derail and/or explode locally so there was direct impact. Saying, what, the water is tainted by logging makes it local? No, that is too much a stretch. I lose faith in any government body anywhere that tries to make statement resolutions on policy that clearly needs to be dealt with up the ladder. City councils are for city local issues, period. Boo! Boo!

    1. Davis Progressive

      you’re talking about something that is 30 miles away. you’re talking about something with impacts on the region and valley. this is not the west bank.

  4. South of Davis

    Rich wrote:

    > While I agree that clearcutting forests is bad forest management
    > and causes harms beyond the forest

    Don’t forget that some “clearcutting” laws will also ban small tree “farms” including Christmas Tree farms (and give the right wing nut balls yet another reason to scream about the left’s “War on Christmas”)…

    P.S. Maybe Davis can copy Berkeley and the city council can get involved with what is going on in South Africa and the Middle East (anything to keep the public from talking about how they seem to be focused on raising taxes so they can give their friends more pay and benefits)…

    1. Tia Will

      “another reason to scream about the left’s “War on Christmas”)”

      All the while forgetting that there is absolutely nothing Christian about a Christmas tree !

        1. South of Davis

          Frankly wrote:

          > Nothing Christian about a Christmas Tree except the name.

          The trees have been called “Holiday” Trees in Davis for years now…

          1. Frankly

            Yup… because the word “Christmas” is so offensive to the secular left and Muslims. If there is nothing “Christian” about it, then why change the name?

          2. Don Shor

            is so offensive to the secular left and Muslims

            I don’t know why you chose to include “Muslims” in your latest canard and not, say, Buddhists or Jews. Then I googled it and realized this odd singling out of Muslims is a very common theme on far-right web sites. I don’t think any significant percentage of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world are offended by Christmas, any more than any significant percentage of secular Americans or members of any other religion are. I would guess that avowed atheists are probably more likely to object than any other group, and that most secular people (who aren’t self-identified atheists, by and large) could not care less.

          3. Frankly

            There is no major religion so anti-Christian (and anti every other religion) than Islam.

            There is a political correctness myth that only a few Muslim extremists hold this view. In the Muslim world intolerance for other religions is widely practiced. In Europe, Canada and some of the US it has been primarily those that practice Islam and those that seemed bent on putting Muslims in a protected class that have demanded the removal of the Christian icons of Christmas from public display.

            Look it up. Can you find a similar level of demand from Jews? From Buddhists? From ???

            I am not going to let hypersensitivity cloud the facts here.

          4. Don Shor

            I am unaware of any Muslims in America ever demanding that Christian icons of Christmas be removed from public display. Nothing comes up on Google on the first page of results for “American Muslims protest Christmas display.” So please, yes, provide proof for your statement that “those that practice Islam… demand the removal of Christian icons of Christmas from public display.” I am aware of several internet hoaxes in that regard. Most of the complaints come from organizations for the separation of church and state, including the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
            I think you’re wrong about American Muslims in this regard. You don’t have facts that I can find.

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        Re: Christmas trees

        Almost everything American Christians of all stripes (and non-believers) do today to celebrate Christmas, including decorating Christmas trees, displaying a creche and exchanging gifts, was up until around World War 1 considered un-Christian by every major Protestant sect. Those traditions were mostly followed by Catholics, and for a very long time–hundreds of years–Protestants considered such rituals to be wrong or sinful or even evil, but certainly not Christian. But along the way, two things changed in the U.S., and later a third thing changed. The first was that we had a huge number of Catholics immigrate to the U.S. from Ireland, Germany, Italy and some other countries, making what was “American” no longer whatever Protestants decided. The second thing was Hollywood. Even back in the silent movie era, its depictions of how people celebrate Christmas all reflected those Catholic traditions with the tree and so on. That popularized those rituals among non-Catholics. And later, following our defeat of the Nazis, American religious bigotry declined dramatically. No longer was it mainstream to hate another American because he had a different faith or tradition. Anti-Semitism, which had been very widespread up to the late 1930s, became very marginalized after WW2. As such, the reasons most Protestants did not follow Catholic traditions in their Christmas festivities had all withered away, and now everyone thinks of trees, gifts, creches, etc., to be mainstream Christian rituals, and even many non-Christians partake in most of what today is the Christmas celebration.

    1. Davis Progressive

      they have laid out two potential tax increases, so i’m not sure it’s behind the back. but not sure what clear cutting has to do with increased taxes.

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