Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My turn: Investments in Sierra forests crucial for future water supply

The two of us have many differences. One of us is Republican, the other a Democrat.

One represents a sprawling rural district, the other predominately comprised of suburban communities.

And to be sure, there is plenty we do not agree on.

But one area we are in total agreement is the many benefits that flow from the Sierra Nevada to all of California — the most obvious of which is water. Simply put, additional investments in the Sierra are necessary to ensure water continues to be delivered throughout California and that these forests remain a state icon.

More than 60 percent of our water supply originates from the Sierra as rain or snow. This water is captured in reservoirs and moved through pipes and canals to communities, farms and businesses throughout the state. Like much of California, communities in the Bay Area are direct beneficiaries of the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada region provides all or part of the drinking water for more than 23 million people and irrigates one-third of California’s agricultural land. Sierra Nevada water also makes up half the flow of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — in many ways, the Delta begins in the Sierra.

In addition to water, Sierra Nevada forests provide many other benefits. They absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon. They filter water and slow down runoff after storms, mitigating potential floods. They provide habitat for dozens of species and offer recreational opportunities or a place of solace for millions of people. The forests also play an integral role in our state’s economy as a source of wood products and jobs for Californians.

Today, the Sierra Nevada forests, and their many benefits, are in great peril and will continue to decline if we do not take action.

Streams face water quality challenges from mercury left behind more than 150 years ago by gold miners. Overgrown forests are susceptible to catastrophic fire with far-reaching consequences, especially to our water supply, as erosion from these fires will drastically increase the amount of sediment that clogs streams and reservoirs. This creates costly maintenance problems to our water systems and decreases the storage capacity.

In June, we faced conditions unlike any in recent memory. Record lows of precipitation this winter have left dry conditions on the ground. Combined with overly dense forests, this creates a potentially devastating scenario. Already, large fires in the Sierra have forced hundreds of families to evacuate their homes, and fire officials warn that this could be one of California’s worst fire seasons in history. A recent fire in Colorado destroyed more than 500 homes, and of course, we all mourn the loss of the 19 brave firefighters who perished in Arizona. For those of us dealing with the complex issues surrounding the future of California’s water, additional investment in the state’s primary watershed is essential to avoid such tragedies here.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency with the mission of balancing environmental and economic concerns, is working with a wide range of parties to resolve conflicts around forest management. In recent years, the conservancy has benefited greatly from Proposition 84 monies, which have funded numerous restoration projects throughout the Sierra. However, designated Proposition 84 dollars for the Sierra are nearing depletion and are expected to fully run out by 2015. Additional funding is essential for the conservancy to successfully carry out activities that will bolster the Sierra, such as forest thinning, meadow restoration, land conservation and mercury remediation. These projects will be costly, but they are necessary for the Sierra forests to thrive and deliver various resources for all Californians.

Funding for the Sierra ought to derive from multiple sources, one immediate source being the Cap and Trade auction revenues initiated last fall. After all, the steps we take to protect California’s primary water supply from catastrophic fire will simultaneously protect us from additional greenhouse gas emissions.

As two members of the state legislature, we will work together to ensure the needs of this region — a region that benefits all of California — are part of the discussions and the ultimate actions that address California’s water future. Our constituents in rural Northern California and the metropolitan Silicon Valley should expect nothing less.

California State Assembly Republican Member Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, represents the 1st Assembly District. Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, represents the 24th Assembly District.

Special to the Democrat


Discussion | 12 comments

  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 9:14 am

    I will listen when someone shows they care by letting the people who know how to manage the forest come in...and thin it out--before fires just burn it all up. We can breathe a little bit better today. People were not allowed to log--yet we were able to watch it all go up in smoke. People lost their jobs--so that thousands could risk their lives. someone com up who cares...or maybe we should just do it ourselves. How many animals and frogs lost their many were scared and confused? I know my dog was miserable--how do you tell them it is okay? How do you tell a child who wakes up coughing in the middle of the night--it is okay. there are so many dead trees up is too crowded...they are fighting for water and air....thin the trees--and you will have more water. Take any small pot--cram 50 baby trees into it--how many will grow up healthy? "The Sierra Nevada Conservancy" --they have a governing advisory I dont trust them. Only because I have seen what other councils are doing in this county.

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  • robertdnollAugust 31, 2013 - 10:54 am

    frogs are animals

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 11:48 am

    lolol...yes frogs are animals...I wrote that wrong--I just wanted the focus word "frog" to be noticed :) but thanks for the help. Animals--"frogs" Please delete and from the previvious post ...lololol I remember a teacher once told us--if it doesnt look like a mushroom--it is an animal...lolol

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 11:50 am

    sorry "and" Im annoying myself Robert...lololol

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  • robertdnollAugust 31, 2013 - 11:56 am

    perfect,if it's back faces heaven it is edible

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 12:00 pm

    lolol...and "previvious" to "pre·vi·ous"...lololol. Hey...wait a min. Robert should it read ..."All frogs are animals?" Otherwise isnt it a sentence fragment? I forgive you.

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  • robertdnollAugust 31, 2013 - 12:12 pm


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  • Fran DuchampAugust 31, 2013 - 1:32 pm


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  • Judith MathatSeptember 04, 2013 - 6:41 pm

    And the evangelistic, serf-serving "God replacements" believe that the microcosms of life that are connected to each other only can be "fooled with" by those who have "ology" after their names and only know book sense. Not by those whose living in and whose livelihood was made out of the vastness that is the Sierra Nevada. This beautiful part of America that soon will have the name, "Range of Light National Park" if those who believe in the human hands off approach (Agenda 21 Biodiversity Treaty Wild-lands Act) are allowed to have their way. Using the same reasoning and brainwashing as their mentors who designed the all to obvious, to some of us, computer models fallacy that the planet was being destroyed by too much gas (over heating), or holes in the ozone or cows flatuation, (never mind the millions of buffalo's that were replaced by them) and that the seas would rise and the crops would all die and we would all fall victims and perish due to our destructive ways. Now that was, let me see well over 15 years ago. I think SF Bay is still there and so is the city and New York has not sunk yet, although Venice is still sinking after 600 years. If you live long enough you just may get a glimpse into the idiocy that has taken over our education systems and produced pendulum swinging polarities of generations who are neither right or wrong! We need to keep our nest clean and not allow corporate destruction at the expense of greed but we need to allow the products corporations provide in order to progress and falter and progress and falter. We do not need the shackles to stop all progress forward and tie us to the chains of "back to the future". That was 1600ish and the US was barely inhabited but by native Americans who moved their camps and homes as soon as they had an area over used and who lacked the ability to provide water and sewer and grow their own infrastructure, The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is only one more spec of sand on the beach of time who believes they can change this part of the world with a few dollars and regulations that other areas I have seen are doing very well when left alone to the people who have the experience and live on and next to the lands that they locally are in care of and who also recognized the importance of the connectivity of the whole to provide for all. The Owens Valley and the water taken by the LA Basin comes to mind. We now have desalination plants and the water sent to LA could stay where it is east and north and be given back to the farmers and ranchers who in this state could almost grow enough food to feed the entire world! If they could use the water that flows from the mountains. We have so much to learn and so much to remember when moving forward. If we do not stop the forces of politics from destroying this state and nation then we can all work together to grow the future, not destroy it. It is almost laughable to me that the paddlers who stopped this county from "development and over growth" (by their friends in Sacramento) have found their backsides caught in the huge permitting fees to build anything and everything and are back out in the open using the Measure Y butterfly to flit down again to completely stop growth so they can return the county to a more affordable place to build their own projects. "El Dorado County swings like a Pendulum do, self serving liberals two by two! West County developments tower over them, little red cheeks of the offended greedy men."

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  • Phil VeerkampSeptember 04, 2013 - 8:09 pm

    Judith, do two of your poetic "little red cheeks" belong to Bill Center? (good one ~;-)

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  • rodSeptember 05, 2013 - 7:37 pm

    Judith, I like the drift of your comment. ANY agency that has the word "California" in has too much authority for my liking. This 'My turn' letter is esoteric... for a reason, I'm sure they don't really want to tell us their whole story... like half the water is for the farmers... horse pucky. LA is first, urban remainder is second, Endangered species third... and farmers last. This state's #1 asset WAS agriculture. This letter resembles a back door plan to offset anxiety over the 'Tunnels' project, which really will cripple northern Ca along with our delta estuary. In 1979 CA had the BEST managed and productive forest industry in the world, along with the best schools a cheapest Universities anywhere... then the libs moved in.

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  • rodSeptember 05, 2013 - 7:43 pm

    Caveat... The one agency (to my knowledge) that has really helped the farmer more than any other California agency, imposing as little regulation as necessary is the California dept. of Food and Agriculture, I spent many years there personally assisting farmers and county agricultural commissioners.

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