Should the Sierra County Board of Supervisors have Supported the Sustainable Forest Action Coalition?
At what point should local government stop supporting industry?
A Prospect Editorial
A coalition of groups, mostly economic development interests, has loosely coalesced to create what some call the "Sustainable Forest Action Coalition". The group has come forward to ask the Sierra County Board of Supervisors to sign on, as well, and Director of Coalitions Tim Beals has encouraged the board to sign on. So they did.
But, should they have?
What it is: The group is a coalition of chambers of commerce, supported by timber professionals. There are also several counties on board. The purpose of the group is to lobby for stricter controls of "environmental groups" and to facilitate the transfer of public trees and biomass to private control, with the hope of creating jobs. The group is focused on three ends: full enactment of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act; encouragement of Forest Stewardship contracts, and "loser pays" outcomes for law suits.
But, wait, aren’t there foresters and professional forest groups behind the Coalition for Having Your Forest and Taking It Too; don’t they know what’s best for the forest?
They are, but they don’t necessarily know. Being a professional forester might mean you mostly know about turning trees into money. Let’s not forget, it was professional foresters what got us where we are. Smokey Bear is a professional forester, and it’s because of Smokey that we’re in the state we’re in. When trees took on a dollar value they became too value to allow to burn, and that eighty years of fire suppression and clearing of the forest has put us in the understory and brush heavy situation we’re in. Typically, they are educated in schools where resource extraction is the goal, and such schools often work cheek by jowl with timber companies. A professional forester might, or might not, know much about how the woods really work, and their definition of "sustainable" might or might not produce a working forest.
What about jobs! We need jobs! Sure, we do, but if that’s all there is to any decisions, the most attractive of us would all be prostitutes; after all, it’s a job. Jobs are important, but job creation is not the only or even the best way of judging a public policy.
But, doesn’t the current system provide sufficient input to such groups? No, if there were, people wouldn’t be suing over 4 inches in tree diameter, or a few miles of road. What’s missing isn’t more government intervention, it’s more community intervention. It isn’t quite accurate to say "the environmentalists held up the timber harvest" when in truth it was timber industry pressure on the Forest Service that prevented the compromise that could have prevented a law suit. If local communities got together, not to insist on more government or more law, but to insist on having a voice, that would help. A group of counties who could say to enviro groups and the Forest Service, "to hell with the last two inches of diameter, if the timber company doesn’t want the harvest, they don’t have to take it, wring out a working compromise and do it this week or we’ll go on Facebook and rat you both out."
I’d be on board with a county movement of that sort.
Finally, visit the Coalition’s website HERE. Wait! There’s no link! How can we trust an organization that doesn’t have a website?
A movement to call for yet more government intervention in the cow counties? Maybe we should have waited on that.
Why didn’t we say something before they approved it? Frankly, we dropped the ball on that. Sorry! We can’t say "we told you so" and are disappointed about that.