There is a clear-cut connection between healthy forests and that of water quantity, water quality, and climate that our society and wildlife depend. This has been true even before the realization that Global Warming/Climate Change Impacts should have stopped this practice in its tracks. The value of forests to all of the above supercede the value of merchantible trees by far. However, logging trees accrues large short-term profits while the value that forests have on healthy ecosystems is not assessed. Big money buys the political agenda. Therefore, the quick, cheap and dirty method of clearing whole forest ecosystems exist which includes slash burning and continuous use of herbicides on plants that now grow rampant without mature trees shading them out.
While clear-cutting is the most economically profitable way to harvest a forest, the disruption to eco-related flora and fauna severely compromises our California environment. A typical clear-cut scenario is to cut down all the trees in a designated area. As part of this process undesirable brush and tree species are killed with herbicides, which truncates the ability for the land to self-heal and contaminates local water sources. Common practice to “reforest, new seedlings are planted which will grow into a mono-culture forest which further disrupts the ability for a natural and balanced eco-system.
One area where clear-cutting is impacting our California landscape is the Los Padres National Forest, home to ponderosas, Jeffrey and Pinyon Pines. The U.S. Forest Service plans to commence a commercial logging operation that “would affect nearly 4.5 square miles of some of the only truly forested land in the Los Padres as well as over 1,000 acres of the Antimony Inventoried Roadless Area.” The Forest Service is excluding an environmental impact review which gives them license to log wherever they want with no accountability for the rare and endangered species that will be impacted including; the California Condor (an endangered animal), California spotted owl, monarch butterflies, Tehachapi white-eared pocket mice and San Emigdio blue butterflies.
The U.S. Forest Service and other government entities use the fire prevention argument to justify their actions however studies show that an incremental forest management plan that incorporates removal of dead trees and judicious thinning of trees of all classes is far more effective for fire management and overall forest health.
Below is a picture from Shasta County and an aerial view of their forests after being clear-cut. It does not take an educated, trained forester to see that this is not a sustainable, healthy forest. Timber companies making a profit from logging is not the issue. The issue is cutting this aggressively intensifies global warming along with creating a timber economy that cannot consistently meet the demand of the consumer.
To achieve a healthy forest it is more complicated than indiscriminate clear-cutting. A truly healthy forest needs to have a significant proportion of large high-quality trees that support a diverse ecosystem.
It is a Pressure Drop situation and California is feeling that pressure.
Source: Los Padres Forest Watch