Craig Thomas

Craig Thomas, Executive Director of Sierra Forest Legacy, recently met with some Sierra County folk. The Prospect inquired of two of those locals what they saw. The first saw just a regular guy, real nice in fact, no tail, no horns, no stench of sulfur. The second saw a demon who wants the woods to burn.

Being cursed with the solemn responsibility of being journalists, the Prospect went in search of this mysterious stranger.

Regular Prospect readers will remember two interviews with Sierra Forest Legacy which were done without the participation of Mr. Thomas. They are here.

This time Mr. Thomas was participating, by telephone.

Sierra Forest Legacy is a big time organization; website is here. We didn’t want to seem podunk, so we were as professional as possible. Our first question was subtle: "What the hell do you know about the woods?"

Mr. Thomas’s reply was lengthy and referred to scientific documents which are on their website, but then he dropped a bomb shell: "And, I own four chain saws and have milled lumber."

What the hell kind of timber hating devil does this?

On further discussion, Mr. Thomas seemed most interested in talking about the cogen plant and the importance of infrastructure, saying that SFL was exploring options for biomass. He made it clear that he understood the importance of the Sierra Pacific Industries cogen plant to the development of a biomass industry. "Everybody" he said, "should agree to work on infrastructure."

The conversation turned to local control, self contained small tree mills, and niche markets.  These are alternative revenue sources to cutting large trees,  and they could lead to a diverse local small business environment.

He recommended a Forest Service Sierra Nevada Research Center, Pacific Southwest Research Station publication, which you can find here, about methods of restoring the forests to health. There are benefits to those of us who live here from the work that has to be done in the woods.

Thomas is not to be confused with a timber harvester. He is pretty clear that the woods need to burn sometimes, and that burned timber is not wasted. Explore the SFL site for information on fire and ecology.

We spoke briefly about an October 1 tentative ruling against SFL on an issue of USFS logging on a Quincy Library Group plan. While it didn’t prevent the logging from going forward, neither did it negate most of SFL’s points.

However, Thomas was actually optimistic that, though there would be more court time ahead, eventually a process would be worked out.

All in all, the devil Thomas was neither as scary nor as persuasive as one would expect of someone with such a reputation



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