Posted on Categories Forests, Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , ,

Landowner under fire for post-Walbridge salvage logging violations

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

To hear Ken Bareilles tell it, the worst thing to happen on his land west of Healdsburg since the 2020 Walbridge Fire was the felling of charred Douglas fir trees that now lie on the ground, dried and cracking, because there’s so little demand at the mills.

To hear his neighbors tell it, the worst thing to happen since the Walbridge Fire has been Ken Bareilles.

It’s not just the neighbors. He’s seen as a bad actor by environmental watchdogs, regulators and others who have watched his emergency timber operation unfold on 106 acres in the sensitive Felta Creek watershed. Set among lush redwoods and ferns, the creek is a last refuge for endangered coho salmon.

Bareilles, for his part, has a different take on the unauthorized creek crossing, the hillside erosion, the flowing sediment, the tractor driven into the bed of Felta Creek and the host of violations documented by three state regulatory agencies over the past year.

According to him, they are the result of bad luck, poor advice, miscommunication and the relentless griping from residents who object to him logging fire-damaged trees up the hill from their homes along a narrow, private road.

He says Cal Fire and other agencies are only trying to pacify the critics by cracking down on him, and anyway, it’s only words and paper. So far there have been no fines or interference in his logging — though he remains under investigation by at least two state agencies. His one-year emergency logging permit, initially set to expire in October 2021, was even extended a year, like everyone else’s.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/landowner-under-fire-for-post-walbridge-fire-salvage-logging-violations/?ref=moststory

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Utilities need to do more to improve power grid, reduce wildfires, state audit finds

Kimberley Morales, THE MERCURY NEWS

A 91-page report by the state auditor says California utility regulators need to do more to ensure utility companies reduce the risk of wildfires.

According to the March audit, utilities led to two of the largest wildfires in the state from 1932-2021 including the Dixie Fire, caused by a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. line, which burned 963,000 acres and sits as California’s second-largest wildfire, and the Thomas Fire, which the report said was caused by Southern California Edison and burned 282,000 acres. The audit later adds that the cost of fighting fires has nearly doubled when comparing the 2016-2017 season to the 2020-2021 season from $1.9 billion to an estimated $3.5 billion.

The audit included that the state Office of Energy and Infrastructure Safety has failed to hold its standard for granting safety certifications to utilities such as PG&E despite serious deficiencies in mitigation plans.

“The office approved plans despite some utilities’ failure to demonstrate that they are appropriately prioritizing their mitigation activities, and subsequent reviews have found that some utilities failed to focus their efforts in high fire-threat areas,” wrote Michael Tilden, acting California state auditor in the public letter to the California Legislature.

Read more at https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/05/15/pge-is-not-doing-enough-to-reduce-wildfires-state-audit-finds/?

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags ,

The myth of forest biomass energy

Jenny Blaker and Janis Watkins, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

Please ask your Supervisor to ban the local processing of forest biomass to bioenergy, and prohibit the export of local forest biomass for bioenergy.

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump assumed the Presidency. The forest product industry almost immediately pushed a lobbying campaign to fully legitimize burning forests for energy. In 2016, industry scientists claimed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that burning forest biomass is carbon neutral. Independent scientists said burning trees for energy is dirtier than coal.

In 2018, Republicans passed legislation establishing biomass as a “carbon neutral” fuel. This act was implemented by successive EPA heads – disgraced Scott Pruitt and coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler – and MAGA stalwart Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, along with corruption-prone Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. Our nation’s climate policy was in thrall to industry.

Forest “Health”

Trump is gone but his biomass legacy endures. Nationally and locally we are told the forests can be burned for “renewable” biomass energy because this helps improve forest “health.” Neither statement is true. We cannot trust slanted industry studies and models that claim we need forest treatments. They cherry-pick evidence and make questionable assumptions to reach pro-industry conclusions. The influence of money is driving the narrative recommending large continuing forest “treatments” to provide “feedstock” for biomass energy generation.

For example, the Forest Service’s budget depends on making money on logging. Its strategy for the wildfire crisis focuses on “thinning” (logging) on public lands to prevent wildfire intrusion into communities, targeting 80% removal in some areas. Many other scientists dispute this is the best way to mitigate community risk. “Thinning” makes the forest hotter, drier and windier – and more susceptible to wind-driven fire. Still, the industry pushes for more forest “feedstock” to fuel experimental biomass plants sited in the forests.

In 2022, the State of California issued a Roadmap targeting over 1 million acres of forest lands annually for “treatment.” This vast initiative also targets Emerging Opportunities for Forest Biomass, including biofuels.

Read more at https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/the-myth-of-forest-biomass-energy/

Posted on Categories Forests, Sustainable LivingTags , , ,

For 70 years, a Mendocino forest has been used to promote logging. Is it time to change its mission?

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

MENDOCINO COAST — Even in the fading light of dusk, a 200-foot-tall redwood known as the “Mama Tree” is an exalted presence.

Her imposing height and girth show she has been on earth far longer than anyone who might find comfort in her shade.

Near her base, a downed log serves as an altar, displaying stones, a seashell, pictures, a pink crystal triangle and a bird’s lost feather — talismans left by visitors who travel along a well-used trail nearby.

In Mama Tree’s branches, 65 feet above ground, a tented wooden platform occupied by a variety of committed protesters last year is vacant, waiting, a long banner hanging just below it.

“Save and Protect Jackson State,” it says. “The Forest of the People.”

For more than a year, this spot in the sprawling Jackson Demonstration State Forest has become a rallying point in an intensifying battle over the future of the nearly 50,000-acre expanse of public land, an area nearly twice as large as the city of San Francisco.

The forest, which extends east from the central Mendocino Coast about 100 miles northwest of Santa Rosa, was set aside seven decades ago to extol the virtues of responsible logging.

Now, however, activists say it’s time to rethink its purpose. Each massive redwood that is cut down can no longer absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere and becomes one less weapon in the battle against climate change.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/for-70-years-jackson-state-forest-has-been-used-to-promote-logging-is-it/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags , ,

Permit Sonoma releases updated draft of county Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

This week Permit Sonoma, in collaboration with local fire agencies, community members and organizations, released the updated draft of the Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for public review.

A CWPP is a detailed document that measures wildfire risks specific to an area and identifies ways to mitigate risks in a comprehensive plan. The plan also provides a prioritized list of projects that if implemented, can help reduce wildfire hazards.

Before the plans are submitted to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval, Permit Sonoma will host a draft review meeting in each county district in order for the public to learn about the plan and provide input.

The virtual meeting dates for each district are as follows:

District 1 – Jan. 20, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 2 – Jan. 13, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 3 – Jan. 19, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 4 – Jan. 26, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 5 – Jan. 27, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

The public comment period for the draft CWPP is open until Feb. 28. Comments may be submitted to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan project page or via email at PermitSonoma-WildfirePlan@sonoma-county.org.

Read more at https://soconews.org/scn_county/permit-sonoma-releases-updated-draft-of-county-community-wildfire-protection-plan/article_e12e6f6e-749b-11ec-8a2a-17fd9e118f52.html?

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags , ,

Sonoma County needs public input on wildfire plan

Colin Atagi, PRESS DEMOCRAT

Beginning Thursday, the public may weigh in on a long-term Sonoma County plan to enhance wildfire protections and minimize damage.

A draft of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan will be presented during a 6 p.m. Zoom meeting for Sonoma County’s second district, which includes Petaluma.

The plan and other upcoming meetings are listed on the county’s official website for the plan.

“There’s gonna be lot of information presented at these meetings to give people context to what we are doing,” said Bradley Dunn, policy manager with Sonoma County’s Permit & Resource Management Department.

The 400-page plan identifies high-risk areas and prioritizes projects designed to minimize the threat and damage of wildfires.

Projects include developing an evacuation plan for Bohemian Highway communities in the western county, a prescribed burn in the Sugarhood Complex area east of Santa Rosa and improving emergency response and preparedness in the Camp Meeker area.

The plan is expected to go before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval later this year.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-county-needs-public-input-on-wildfire-plan/?trk_msg=6G93I0RD1S7KB2PG8LVEJLAG4C&trk_contact=8LCG0IN7LNSGSSH59B7T0MAVBK&trk_module=new&trk_sid=GLMDB2ARUSFL0V8QG5IINGJ3O8&trk_link=3C7TQP2C1GAKFEPS5H0HI25GBS&utm_email=157294458471E43CD45CF5795F&utm_source=listrak&utm_medium=email&utm_term=https%3a%2f%2fwww.pressdemocrat.com%2farticle%2fnews%2fsonoma-county-needs-public-input-on-wildfire-plan%2f&utm_campaign=pd_daily

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags , ,

Greenbelt Alliance announces its Resilience Playbook

GREENBELT ALLIANCE

The Resilience Playbook is your go-to guide for accelerating equitable adaptation to the climate crisis in the Bay Area. It offers a holistic approach to advancing solutions that address overlapping environmental, economic, and social challenges. The Playbook brings together curated strategies, recommendations, and tools to support local decision-makers and community leaders wherever they are in their journey.

Go to website: https://resilienceplaybook.org/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags , ,

Global NGOs warn COP26 that burning forest wood for energy sabotages climate action

Luisa Colasimone, ENVIRONMENTAL PAPER NETWORK

Declaration reacts to high-profile biomass industry greenwashing drive

Glasgow, 10 November 2021 – Environmental organizations are pledging their opposition to burning forest biomass for renewable energy in a declaration issued today at the Glasgow climate conference (COP26). The statement (below) was issued as the biomass and wood pellet industries host a series of events at COP26 that NGOs say greenwashes the use of forest biomass for energy.

Burning forest wood for renewable energy is growing explosively, particularly in Europe where renewable energy targets and subsidies of over €10 billion per year reward biomass as “zero carbon” energy. While some policymakers promote replacing coal with wood, biomass harvesting and use has been implicated in increasing emissions, degrading the EU’s forest carbon sink and contributing to declining biodiversity. Bioenergy is not being directly discussed at COP26, but the role of nature and carbon uptake by forests and other ecosystems is critical to the world’s ability to deliver the Paris Agreement’s goal of holding global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees C. Amid concerns about the climate and forest impacts of burning forest wood for fuel, Europe’s largest biomass plant was recently delisted from a leading clean energy index last month due to sustainability concerns.

Read more at https://environmentalpaper.org/2021/11/global-ngos-warn-cop26-that-burning-forest-wood-for-energy-sabotages-climate-action/

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , , ,

How a California state forest became a battleground for logging redwoods on public land

Ashley Harrell, SFGATE

A century-old redwood — California’s most revered tree — lies dead on the forest floor.

Its trunk has been sawed into two large sections, a message scrawled on its stump in red marker: “STOP.” Beneath, the stump’s diameter is recorded: 55 inches, about the height of a 10-year-old child. Lower still, in smaller letters, another message: “This is not fire prevention.”

Surrounding this tree are other redwoods that have been felled or girdled, meaning large swaths of their bark have been carved away from their trunks. More redwoods are marked blue — they too are slated for a timber harvest. Dead foliage and piles of branches abound.

The wounded and dead trees look like casualties left behind on a battlefield. And in a way, that’s what they are.

Welcome to Jackson Demonstration State Forest, a 48,652-acre forest managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Although it’s little-known outside the coastal Northern California county of Mendocino, Jackson has become ground zero in an escalating war over the management of redwoods on public land, with catastrophic wildfires and global climate change necessitating urgency and raising the stakes.

Read more at https://www.sfgate.com/california-news/article/norcal-jackson-forest-redwood-logging-controversy-16530191.php

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As California burns, some ecologists say it’s time to rethink forest management

Hayley Smith and Alex Wigglesworth, LOS ANGELES TIMES

As he stood amid the rubble of the town of Greenville, Gov. Gavin Newsom this month vowed to take proactive steps to protect California’s residents from increasingly devastating wildfires.

“We recognize that we’ve got to do more in active forest management, vegetation management,” Newsom said, noting that the region’s extreme heat and drought are leading to “wildfire challenges the likes of which we’ve never seen in our history.”

Yet despite a universal desire to avoid more destruction, experts aren’t always in agreement about what should be done before a blaze ignites. Forest management has long been touted as essential to fighting wildfires, with one new set of studies led by the University of Wisconsin and the U.S. Forest Service concluding that there is strong scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of thinning dense forests and reducing fuels through prescribed burns.

But some ecologists say that logging, thinning and other tactics that may have worked in the past are no longer useful in an era of ever hotter, larger and more frequent wildfires.

“The fact is that forest management is not stopping weather- and climate-driven fires,” said Chad Hanson, a forest and fire ecologist and the president of the John Muir Project.

Many of California’s most devastating recent fires — including 2018’s deadly Camp fire and the Dixie fire, now the state’s second largest on record — seared straight through forests that had been treated for fuel reduction and fire prevention purposes, Hanson said.

Read more at https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-21/california-burning-is-it-time-to-rethink-forest-management