Forests Forever

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Forests Forever Action Alerts

4/18/06

HERITAGE TREE ACT BACK IN STATE SENATE

A bill that would protect some of California’s largest and oldest inhabitants is back in the state Senate.

On Feb. 24 Sen. Don Perata (D-Oakland) re-introduced the Heritage Tree Preservation Act, S.B. 1799, in the California Senate. The bill was sent to the Natural Resources and Water Committee, where it passed on Apr. 4 by a 5 to 2 vote.

It is scheduled for a hearing before the Appropriations Committee on Apr. 24. A floor vote in the Senate should take place between May 30 and June 2.

The Heritage Tree Act protects old-growth trees such as coast redwood, giant sequoia, Port Orford cedar, douglas-fir and other evergreens and hardwoods. Its protections would apply to trees that meet species-specific minimum diameters and were alive in 1850.

Most of the state’s old-growth forests have already been logged off, with only about 3 percent remaining. Existing state and federal protection for old growth is extremely spotty, and leaves the majority of ancient trees vulnerable to removal.

The Heritage Tree Act protects trees on all nonfederal forestlands in the state. This includes land owned by timber companies. The bill’s definition of forestland is very specific: land capable of growing a crop of trees to produce lumber or other forest products. In other words, the measure does not apply to trees in people’s backyards.

California’s heritage trees are more than so many board feet of lumber. These trees help provide clean drinking water, clean air, and shelter for endangered species. They are an irreplaceable part of the state’s history.

Please write to your state senator and urge him or her to support the Heritage Tree Act. You can find contact information for your state senator at:

http://www.legislature.ca.gov/legislators_and_districts/legislators/your_legislator.html

Also, send a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger . Write to the governor at the State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Senator:

I strongly urge you to vote yes on Sen. Perata’s S.B. 1799, the Heritage Tree Preservation Act.

The trees protected by this act are some of the oldest and largest living things in the state. Not only are these trees an irreplaceable legacy, but also they are the foundation of complex ecosystems that sustain numerous threatened and endangered species. Old-growth trees provide essential ecological services as well, helping to provide clean water and sequestering carbon dioxide (a major contributor to global warming).

This bill would only affect trees harvested commercially for timber, and allows for cutting heritage trees for carefully defined reasons, such as for firebreaks or for safety. It does not affect backyard trees.

Please protect California’s heritage trees now, before we lose them forever.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and thank you for voting for S.B. 1799, the Heritage Tree Preservation Act.

Sincerely,

Your name
Your address

 

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

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