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We witnessed two California fires on nightly TV: the Yosemite fire and the fire at Tahoe. The fires were quite large because the forest had not been properly thinned. Does this same situation face the national forest in El Dorado County?
At a recent meeting of local retired forestry workers, I found out that the Eldorado National Forest grows roughly 200 million board feet annually, yet very few trees are harvested. Lawsuits are routinely filed whenever a timber sale is announced. These lawsuits were designed to protect forest habitat, but these persistent suits have instead resulted in dead and dying trees, crowding each other out. This unhealthy situation encourages deadly beetle encroachment and results in “ladder fuels,” dead trees leaning against each other, waiting for a flash of lightning. Instead of being preserved, the forest habitat is being legally destroyed.
Is there any solution to this worsening situation? Perhaps. First, our environmental friends need to become aware that “sue and settle” methods destroy rather than preserve forest habitat. All species, not just endangered, perish in forest fires. Secondly, EDC lumber mills have been closed and dismantled because logging operations are small and uncertain. The U.S. Forest Service is on a yearly budget and cannot project operations into the future. What entrepreneur will commit funds to open a new sawmill when supplies of logs are so uncertain?
Ultimately our dying forest is the result of poor management due to legal restrictions. I call upon our representatives and local BOS to repeal or work around these harmful restrictions. Our environmental friends lobbied for many years to put these laws in place. Will they lobby to correct this situation? Everyone who treasures a healthy forest will thank them.