FORESTS FOREVER'S FIGHT
CALIFORNIA'S LOGGING RULES
As a re-examination of the efficiency and effectiveness of the state's forestry regulations got underway, unfortunately but all-too-familiarly, our challenge soon became one not only to maximize this reform opportunity but also to stave off a timber industry push to capture and co-opt the process, which would almost certainly render any revamped rules toothless and ineffective.
As soon as A.B. 1492 was signed into law we began a strong push to set up demonstration-logging pilot projects under the new law.
These pilot projects—essentially logging experiments-- would take place in several different types of forest ecosystems in the state. They should first nail down precise existing conditions in the forests, thereby enabling the charting of an unambiguous, fact-based, doable course toward accurately assessing and controlling logging's many impacts on water, soil and wildlife.
But we met with solid resistance when the pertinent agency officials accorded zero acknowledgement to the need for pilot projects.
All that has now changed, thanks to our relentless pushing on the matter and organizing our constituents to speak out! Amazingly, the aforementioned officials today have embraced pilot projects, which are now being funded, with the first project to roll out early next year. We should ultimately see at least two, and possibly four, pilot projects carried out.
This objective of meaningful participation by the public remains a top priority. Accordingly, we worked hard to get a good turnout at an Oct. 14 public meeting held in Ukiah and a followup meeting on Dec. 15.
The meetings were aimed at garnering input on the regulatory reform process taking shape. They were a big success, as our message was heard repeatedly and forcefully from those who studied our materials, turned out, and commented, both in-person and via webinar. About 60 persons turned out for the meetings during the onset of the holiday season, a challenging time for getting lots of folks to a public policy discussion.
Unfortunately at this writing, the timber industry and its handmaidens in state government have birthed an evil child—the so-called Effectiveness Monitoring Committee (EMC)—and it poses the possibility that our progress may eventually be blocked. This committee comprises the usual industry-oriented "experts," bureaucrats, and other logging boosters.
The EMC cannot be allowed to commandeer the process of logging reform: Checks and balances by the concerned public are urgently needed.
Bone up on A.B. 1492's overall aims and progress at the state Natural Resources Agency's website here.
When 1492 became law it eliminated all permit fees the timber industry had previously been required to pay, substituting this revenue with funds from the new lumber assessment. Hence the public is now paying for the reform process; so we should have a say in calling the tune!
Forests Forever Executive Director Paul Hughes' 12/26/15 comment letter can be perused here.