Forests Forever

Restore • Reinhabit • Re-enchant

Legislature passes Forests Forever’s AB 2575!
Forest Land Recovery Act now headed to governor’s desk


By a vote of 50-24 the California State Legislature on Aug. 23 gave final approval to Assembly Bill 2575, the "Comprehensive Forest Land Recovery and Restoration Act," sponsored by Forests Forever and authored by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast).

If California is serious about restoring and safeguarding its endangered anadromous fish habitats, this reform is imperative. The bill’s enactment could reverberate across the state’s forests and watersheds for decades.

“It’s a great day for all those who worked so hard to shape this bill,” said Forests Forever Executive Director Paul Hughes. “All of our members who made calls and sent emails on behalf of this bill – their efforts made a difference. Right now all eyes are on the governor in anticipation of him signing A.B. 2575 into law.”

Emails, calls and letters to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are now urgently needed. Please ask him to sign the measure when it reaches his desk. (See the action item below.)

Getting to this point has required enormous effort on the part of many people, not the least of them the legislators who voted for the measure as it worked its way through the process.

Just in the nick of time, as the legislative season approached closure on Aug. 31, the Senate on Aug. 19 cast a decisive 22 to 10 vote in favor of A.B. 2575.

The bill then moved back to the Assembly for a final “concurrence” vote on the Senate’s amendments to the bill.
Now that all have agreed on the outcome, the measure is “enrolled” (printed and proofread) and will be sent to the governor for his signature or veto.

Enactment of A.B. 2575 would put the force of law behind Board of Forestry (BOF) administrative actions already underway.

Introduced in February by Chesbro, A.B. 2575 dovetails with the Anadromous Salmonid Protection Rule (ASP) adopted by the BOF in September 2009. The rule governs timber harvesting in watersheds where anadromous fish species have been designated as threatened or endangered.

Once Schwarzenegger signs A.B. 2575 into law (assuming he does), the act will put his and the state legislature’s imprimatur on two pilot forestry projects already being set up by the California Dept. of Forestry (CDF) in accordance with ASP guidelines. One pilot project would located on the coast, the other inland.

The ASP rule states that every timber operation in California “shall be planned and conducted to contribute to restoration of properly functioning salmonid habitat.” In fact CDF officially deems this a primary objective of the rule.

A.B. 2575 decrees that CDF’s pilot projects will contribute to this objective by gathering the scientific data necessary for tallying the cumulative impacts of logging operations on impaired salmon runs. It also calls for developing guidelines on how to conduct cumulative-effects evaluations of timber harvesting in watersheds with listed anadromous fish.

Ultimately these actions will allow for non-standard operational measures to minimize the cumulative impacts of timber harvesting on watersheds.

Once methodologies have been worked out for addressing these impacts, the process can be applied to all California watersheds harboring listed anadromous fish.

Only by analyzing the impacts of multiple logging sites up and down a watershed – past, present, and into the foreseeable future – is it possible to piece together the puzzle of why, for instance, the fall Chinook salmon runs on the North Coast have been collapsing.

“It's way past due for California to take on dealing with cumulative impacts on California forestlands,” said Forests Forever Advisory Council member Richard Gienger, who helped shape A.B. 2575. “Overall it’s a very positive step forward. Hopefully the governor will sign it and then we’ll have to work real hard to see that it’s implemented and improved/advanced as time goes on. I really think it is foundational.”

A.B. 2575 will also enhance public participation in timber harvests, watershed management and salmon restoration. All documents that form the basis for the pilot projects, including timber harvest plans, will be posted to CDF’s website.

Moreover the technical advisory committee created by the ASP rule to oversee the pilot projects will include government, industry and public representatives.

“This bill would require the CDF to start really making use of cumulative impact data,” said Forests Forever Legislative Advocate Luke Breit. “And, as pilot projects often become the law of the land, this could have a huge impact on how logging is carried out throughout the state.”

TAKE ACTION

Write, email or call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Urge him to sign A.B. 2575 as soon as it hits his desk. Let him know you agree that understanding and ultimately mitigating the cumulative impacts of timber harvests on salmon habitats is crucial to California’s economic and environmental well-being. It’s a crucial step in restoring Coho, Chinook and other salmon runs to some semblance of their former glory.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 (new number)

Also please email or call Contact Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (916-319-2001) and thank him for authoring A.B. 2575. Let him know you appreciate his efforts on behalf of the citizens of the North Coast and all of California.

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Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
by
John J. Berger

NOW AVAILABLE
from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places