Everyone agrees that maintaining healthy forests in the Sierra Nevada is a good thing. It’s good for air quality, provides a base for healthy water, provides scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, and drives the economy of the foothill and mountain communities.
But not everyone understands that individuals can have a major impact on decisions regarding the future of the forests.
To often the public interest has not been supported by government and commercial decisions. Those decisions have had a major impact on the long-term health, and even potential survival, of the forest.
Damage has been done.
But that can change.
Here are several concrete steps you can take to help encourage others to repair the damage done in the past, build a better future, and sustain the Sierra forest , watershed and habitat in a way that assures future generations can enjoy the benefits of healthy forests.
1. Educate yourself.
- Read about forest management practices. Use your library. Question your sources. Use the internet to find out the difference between “clear cutting” and “even-aged management” by timber companies.
- Look at the photos of the Dorrington area on Google maps, and discover what has already happened.
- Research the impact of herbicides on habitat and water quality. Visit www.signaloflove.org/clearcutting/deathbyspray
- Look up the long-term impact of replanting plantations of one type of tree instead of maintaining mixed conifer forests with a complex habitat.
- Take a close look at the source of any information, because millions of dollars are at stake and timber corporations spend a lot of time and money on lobbying and public relations.
- Learn enough to be confident that you can decide what you believe is good forest management.
2. Buy green.
- Learn the difference between truly “green” forest products, certified as produced in an environmentally sound manner by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and “green-washed” products stamped as green by a corporation-created organization called Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
- Home Depot and other major building supply companies recognize the difference. Buy products that were made in a responsible way and did not damage the environment.
3. Put boots (or four wheels) on the ground.
- Take a hike in the Sierra to see what a healthy forest looks like. One of the places you can see this is on the South Grove Trail in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a five mile loop through forests that has been allowed to exist in an almost natural state.
- Then take a ride on the forest roads around Dorrington. Drive south across the Stanislaus River on Boards Crossing Road and take almost any dirt road a few miles and see what clear cutting has done to the forest surrounding the state park. Or go north on Summit Level Road out of Camp Connell, using the Google map as a guide, and take a look at a clear cut area behind the screen of trees along the roads.
4. Exercise your citizen power.
- Let your elected officials know how you feel about current laws that do little to protect the forests of California.
- Start at the local level, and make sure your county commissioner knows that you understand that healthy forests are good for the local economy.
- Make sure your state representatives and congressman know how you feel. Attend town hall meetings, write letters, communicate directly or through friends. The timber corporations spend thousands of dollars to make friends with politicians, but you get to vote.
5. Take a public stance.
- You do not have to be a polished orator to speak at a commission meeting, or write a letter to the editor.
- Do it.
6. Give your time or your money.
- Support the wide range of organizations that work to protect the Sierra forests. Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch is one of many. Go to our How to Help page to learn how to become a member or donate. Follow the links from this web page to organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center. We at EPFW are part of a growing alliance to promote healthy forests.
- www.Centerforbiologicaldiversity.org (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/forests/clearcutting_and_climate_change/index.html
7. Walk the talk.
- When you visit a forest, treat it with respect. Don’t litter, obey the fish and game laws, and if you see evidence of abuse let the appropriate authorities know about it.