California Forestry News
Reprinted from UC Berkeley News Center. For whole story click here.
BERKELEY — Responding to a challenge by California Gov. Jerry Brown, more than 500 of the world’s top global change scientists have outlined the main environmental issues – from climate change to pollution and population growth – that policy makers must address immediately to avoid an approaching global tipping point.
Gov. Jerry Brown discussing Earth’s tipping point with UC Berkeley professor Tony Barnosky at the WEST Summit 2013. Barnosky led an effort to provide Brown and other world leaders with a playbook on how to address global environmental problems such as climate change. Courtesy Rob Jordan/Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
The leaders of the initiative joined Gov. Brown on May 23 and gave him a copy of the 30-page statement, “Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century,” at the 2013 Water, Energy and Smart Technology Summit and Showcase, an event designed to mobilize Silicon Valley innovation to tackle planet-wide problems.
Held at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., the joint venture by NASA Ames and the non-profit group Sustainable Silicon Valley is being sponsored, in part, by a who’s who list of top Silicon Valley companies.
“Governor Brown asked me last year why, if global change is such a big deal, scientists are just publishing in scientific journals and not translating their findings into terms that policy makers, industry and the general public can understand and start to address,” said Anthony Barnosky, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology. Barnosky was lead author of a scientific paper last year warning that Earth is approaching a tipping point beyond which the planet’s climate and biodiversity will be radically and unalterably changed beyond anything humanity has known.
“Here are 520 scientists from throughout the world making a very strong statement, with as little waffling as possible, about Earth’s environmental problems, and we’re putting it in the hands of policy makers so they can understand and start formulating solutions,” he said. “And we are starting with the governor of California, the world’s ninth largest economy.”
The scientists, representing a variety of expertise on the impact of humans on Earth’s ecosystems, identify five key threats: climate change, which has already led to increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels and dramatic changes in weather patterns; high rates of extinction for both animals and plants; the loss of ecosystems around the planet as they are paved over, plowed or tamed; the pressure from a steadily increasing human population; and pollution.
“We’re in a war here in the contest of ideas. You have to reach people who are skeptical, disinterested and maybe even somewhat hostile,” Brown said after listening to the scientists at the meeting. “It will take some critical mass to first communicate the point and then create the conditions by which we can begin to make change.”
The full text of the statement and a list of the signatories – they hail from 44 countries and include two Nobel laureates, 33 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and members of other nation’s scientific academies – is on the website of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, where it is available for signing by other scientists and the general public.
Sounding the alarm
“As members of the scientific community actively involved in assessing the biological and societal impacts of global change, we are sounding this alarm to the world,” the scientists write in the summary. “For humanity’s continued health and prosperity, we all – individuals, businesses, political leaders, religious leaders, scientists and people in every walk of life – must work hard to solve these five global problems, starting today.”
“In 30 years there are a few things that people will credit us for doing now, or bemoan our failure if we don’t. Grappling with climate change, and stopping it, is the best gift we can give the future, because unstopped it will crack our society and impoverish our children,” said Stephen Palumbi, one of the statement’s 16 main authors, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University and the director of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, Calif.
A map of the 44 countries of the 520 scientists who signed the consensus statement about the threat of global environmental change.
The statement does not recommend specific strategies, Barnosky said, but pinpoints the major issues that need to be addressed and feasible broad-brush solutions. For example, to deal with climate change, “it is essential to get off fossil fuels as fast as possible. If we don’t, we are not going to make it. Period,” he said.
“How we mitigate and manage these interacting environmental impacts will determine whether or not human quality of life declines over the next few decades,” Barnosky added. “This is not the first time scientists have alerted decision makers to these issues, but we are doing it now much more forcefully. There is a lot of new and alarming scientific insight about the environmental changes currently taking place and how this is profoundly affecting humanity.”
Communicating science to politicians
“Our report, having been requested by the California governor, might be an important move forward in our effort to communicate science to politicians. I find this to be ‘science for policy’ at its best,” said Nils Chr. Stenseth, another of the statement’s main authors. Stenseth is a professor of ecology and evolution and a member of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis at the University of Oslo.
Among the recommendations are:
- Reduce the effects of climate change by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and planning now how to adapt to the consequences already underway. To achieve this, replace fossil fuels with carbon-neutral energy sources, such as solar, wind and biofuels; promote energy-efficient buildings, transportation and manufacturing systems; conserve forests and regulate land conversion to maximize carbon sequestration and ecosystem services; and develop plans to deal with such climatic impacts as sea-level rise and shifting patterns of agricultural productivity.
- Slow the global loss of biodiversity by recognizing both the long-term economic benefits and intangible gains that accrue from protecting natural ecosystems from global pressures, such as ocean acidification, and local pressures, such as overfishing or forest conversion.
- Curb the manufacture and release of toxic substances into the environment with regulations on existing as well as new chemicals, and bolster research to develop safer alternatives.
- Slow land conversion, which has already transformed 40 percent of Earth’s surface into farms and ranches, cities and suburbs. This can be achieved by improving the efficiency of food production in existing agricultural areas and better food distribution while decreasing waste. Encourage urban growth rather than suburban sprawl so as to preserve natural landscapes that enhance such critical human services as water quality.
- Slow and eventually stop world population growth, with a peak of no more than 9 billion, decreasing to less than 7 billion by 2100. To achieve this, ensure access to education, economic opportunities and health care, including family planning services, with a special focus on women’s rights. Promote environmentally friendly changes in consumer behavior.
Also on hand to release the statement to Gov. Brown were Palumbi and statement coauthors Elizabeth Hadly, Anne and Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, all Stanford professors. Other leaders of the initiative are Rosamond Naylor, Gretchen Daily and Harold A. Mooney of Stanford; Marvalee Wake of UC Berkeley; James Brown of the University of New Mexico; Estella B. Leopold of the University of Washington; Mikael Fortelius and Jussi Eronen of the University of Helsinki, Finland; and John Peterson Myers, founder, CEO and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences.
Barnosky was the statement’s lead writer when he was the Cox Visiting Professor in Stanford University’s Department of Environmental Earth Systems Science. He is also a member of the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BiGCB), an ambitious effort to analyze biological records during ancient and more recent episodes of environmental change to better forecast how plant and animal populations might adapt to our rapidly changing planet./span>
Forest Owners Thank Congressional Leaders for Bipartisan Bill Preserving EPA Forest Roads Policy, Jobs, National Alliance of Forest Owners, May 16, 2013
The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) today thanked Congressional leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for introducing the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act, preserving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 37 years of success regulating forest roads as nonpoint sources under the Clean Water Act (CWA)....
Endangered Species Act: On 40th anniversary, time to rethink how we protect wildlife, By Laura E. Huggins and David Currie Special to the Mercury News San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, May 15, 2013
Many organizations are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. One group of equity investors that will not be honoring the occasion is Google, NRG Solar and BrightSource. This trio has spent millions to keep a large solar thermal power plant from going dark before ever lighting a single home -- and all because of a tortoise listed as threatened under the species act.....
Brown taps cap-and-trade money, By John Howard, Capitol Weekly | 05/14/13
Gov. Brown’s rewritten budget borrows $500 million from California’s cap-and-trade auctions and diverts the money for use in other state programs – a move that drew immediate fire from clean-air advocates. The administration said the $500 million represents a one-time loan and will be paid back, with interest. Tapping the money was proper, the administration said, because the state needs more time to set up programs to coordinate the investments of the auction proceeds and nobody can predict how much the auctions will raise in the future......
Federal omission in closing oyster farm broke law, court told, The firm's attorneys say U.S. did not do an environmental review. The closing of the farm would lead to the first marine wilderness area on the West Coast. By Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Interior Department violated federal law by failing to conduct an environmental review before ordering a Northern California oyster farmer to shutter his operation, attorneys for the farmer told a federal appeals court panel here Tuesday. In a case that has become a cause celebre across the political spectrum, oysterman Kevin Lunny had been ordered to close the farm late last year when his lease to operate within Point Reyes National Seashore expired.....
House farm bill has plenty for California growers, Michael Doyle, Sacramento Bee, MAY. 14, 2013
WASHINGTON -- California lawmakers will now help plant another farm bill, hoping it will bear fruit for the state’s frustrated growers. The last farm bill died on the vine. But on Wednesday, House Agriculture Committee members are scheduled to start trying again, with a draft 576-page package that would change rice and cotton subsidies, potentially shake up California’s dairy industry and open an olive oil debate, among other provisions.....
Wildfire risk runs high, but budget cuts mean fewer firefighters, The U.S. Forest Service will hire 500 fewer this year, officials say, although the cuts are expected to affect Eastern states rather than the drought-stricken West, By Wes Venteicher, Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2013
WASHINGTON — The drought that caused record wildfires in California and other Western states last year is expected to persist through the summer, but fewer firefighters will battle this year's blazes in other regions because of federal budget cuts, top federal officials said Monday.....
Environmental group's cable TV ad hits Jerry Brown on logging, Sacramento Bee, May 13, 2013
A Northern California environmental group has begun airing advertisements on cable TV stations criticizing Gov. Jerry Brown for allowing clear-cut logging on thousands of acres of forest land. Marily Woodhouse, co-founder of the Manton-based Battle Creek Alliance, said today her organization paid $3,000 to air spots this month on CNN, MSNBC and other cable networks in Sacramento.......
Wildfires 2013: A government-sponsored disaster, By Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, represents California’s 1st Assembly District. Redding Record Searchlight, May 10, 2013
When severe wildfires blazed through Southern California a decade ago some people started rethinking our forest management practices. So far there has been too much thinking and not enough action. Every year since 2003 we have seen millions of dollars wasted as Cal Fire responds to the annual ritual of trying to save people and property from out-of-control catastrophic wildfires. In the next 60 to 90 days we will again see millions of dollars spent on California wildfires. Unlike earthquakes and tsunamis, wildfires are a disaster that we can see coming well before they happen......
Re-posted from the UCANR Green Blog
Ask most youth what they think about wildfires in forests and they will usually respond with "they kill trees and animals" or "it’s bad – they burn down homes and put out lots of smoke." They are partially right.
Ask youth about considering a career studying the history of fire from a tree cookie, a slice of tree branch that shows the rings, or lake bed sedimentation. Or ask them what role wind plays in how a fire jumps from treetop to treetop or how wildfire can help open pine cones and produce a huge flower show. Then they might respond with, "No way, is that a real job?"
Two eighth-grade students at Sutter Middle School in Sacramento got a chance to learn about fire ecology careers through a project in their science class requiring researching science careers. Students Maura Ingram and Jordan Johnston decided to explore fire ecology and learned that fire is a hot career choice.
Maura and Jordan interviewed Scott Stephens, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley*, about fire ecology careers. They learned that fire ecology as a discipline focuses on the origins of wildland fire and its relationship to the environment, both living and non-living. Fire ecologists recognize that fire is a natural and important process in the forested ecosystem, one that both animals and plants depend on.
“Some fire ecologists will be fire managers working with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service or private companies and will ignite and manage prescribed fires and manage wildfires,” Stephens said. “Other fire ecologists with jobs like mine will do research and write papers as teachers and university faculty. That will help guide fire managers in their work. More people are getting interested in fire ecology and the field has really grown in the last 15 years."
"Fire effects the forested landscape, by shaping the patterns of vegetation growth and mortality, recycles nutrients and changes the foraging and reproductive habitat for wildlife,” Stephens continued. “Fire is a critical part of most ecosystems in California and not allowing it to operate is causing great harm. We can do some operations with mechanical thinning and other methods to duplicate some aspects of fire, but not all of them.”
Anu Kramer and Kate Wilkin, UC Berkeley graduate students in the Stephens Fire Lab, showed Maura some of the tools they use in fire ecology research, such as lidar, computer fire models and the fire vortex used to demonstrate fire physics and extreme fire behavior.
“Extreme fire can create its own weather patterns including the creation and collapse of a fire column which can be very dangerous,” said Anu. “The fire vortex helps us visualize this on a small scale for our research.”
UC Berkeley students and researchers are working to understand how warming and precipitation changes due to climate change will affect fire frequency and behavior, and how fire disturbances affect plants by conducting scientific research and providing training in the fields of wildland fire science, ecology, and resource management. Students and researchers participate in interdisciplinary efforts when possible and share findings by publishing results in peer reviewed academic journals, posters for academic conferences, and conducting outreach to schools. Berkeley provides high quality scientific training and guidance for graduate students that will prepare them for careers in academia or professional fire science, policy or management.
“When you think about fire-related careers, most kids think that firefighters are the only ones that deal with fire directly,” said Maura. “But the career opportunities are endless. I have learned a lot about how important fire is. Fires can still cause a lot of damage to the forest and homes, but studying fire ecology is helpful because we can then use the data to apply fire in a more beneficial way – ways that help the forest, wildlife and the overall environment."
Stephens is one of the principle investigators of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP). SNAMP is investigating how fuels thinning projects effects fire behavior and forest health, water quality and quantity, and wildlife.
Here is the weekly news digest of news about California forestry from UCCE Natural Resources Advisor Greg Giusti.
LaMalfa praises bill to increase timber cutting in national forests, By LARRY MITCHELL, Chico Enterprise-Record, April 4, 2013
A bill to increase timber cutting on national forests has the strong support of Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale. "I'm excited that the bill is moving forward," he said, speaking by phone Wednesday from his Oroville office. "It's something I look forward to helping on in committee." The bill, called the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, was introduced by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. He chairs the House Natural Resources Committee......
'Fire tax' debate heats up, Cindy Baker, Capitol Weekly| 04/02/13
As the weather heats up, a Capitol debate is heating up, too -- on the hotly disputed 'fire tax.' The $150 annual charge on some 850,000 rural property owners is on the books, despite delays in collections, court action and tens of thousands of complaints from property owners. Republican lawmakers have seized the issue as a hot political topic......
Tree-sitter shot, 70 feet up, by CHP rubber bullet, Tim Redmond, San Francisco Bay Guardian, April 2, 2013
Tree-sitting is nothing new. It's happened all over California, going back decades. It's a dangerous, but often effective protest tool that stops logging in its tracks. Nobody with any official sanction is going to cut down a tree while there's a human perched in it -- and it's been notoriously difficult for the authorities to remove people from platforms high above the forest. And now, in Mendocino County, police response has entered a new phase......
High court declines to hear challenge of EPA air standard for nitrogen dioxide, Greenwire, April 1, 2013
The Supreme Court today denied a call from industry to review U.S. EPA's air pollution standard for nitrogen dioxide pollution. In deciding against hearing the petition from the American Petroleum Institute, the court effectively upheld an appellate court ruling last year that said EPA had not acted arbitrarily or capriciously in setting a one-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard for nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, which is commonly emitted from smokestacks, auto tailpipes and oil rigs.....
Federal judge rejects plan to drop marbled murrelet habitat, The Oregonian, April 01, 2013
SEATTLE -- A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has rejected a proposal by the federal government that would have dropped nearly 4 million acres of designated "critical habitat" for the marbled murrelet.
Lumber markets improved sharply in the US during 2012 and early 2013, Forest Business Network, March 31, 2013
Lumber production in the US and Canada improved during 2012, with total output in 2012 being eight percent and five percent higher, respectively, than in 2011, according to WWPA. Sawmills in the Western region have been more fortunate than mills in other regions in North America since they have been able to ship lumber both to markets in the US and to Asia......
AB 245 would shine light on cap-and-trade auctions, Warren Duffy, Cal Watchdog, March 29, 2013
AB 245 is a bill that would reverse the secrecy that currently exists around the cap-and-trade auctions of the California Air Resources Board. As CalWatchdog.com reported last August, the Legislature “nixed” proposals to mandate accountability under Sections 11120-11132 of the California government code, which is the Bagley Keene Open Meeting Act......
Feds want $18 million back from timber counties, JEFF BARNARD AND BEN NEARY, Huffington Post | March 29, 2013
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service's demands that rural timber counties pay back millions of dollars in federal subsidies under automatic budget cuts have outraged members of Congress from both parties and caused concern in those counties with struggling economies.....
Lawmakers blast White House over retroactive bill for rural schools payment, Phil Taylor, Greenwire, March 28, 2013
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers today urged the White House to halt its request for forest communities to repay a portion of $323 million in Secure Rural Schools and commodity payments they received earlier this year to satisfy the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester......
Logging season nearing, Sean Janssen, The Sonora Union Democrat, March 29, 2013
Rights to harvest enough saw logs from the Stanislaus National Forest to build almost 1,600 average-sized homes will be sold in an annual meeting of timber operators next month. The U.S. Forest Service will allow nearly 24 million board feet of timber to be harvested this year in the Stanislaus, down about 1 million board feet from last year......
Nobody is declaring a state of drought in California, but, Surveyors in the Sierra find only half the snowpack that is normal for the date. But it could have been worse, considering the last three months have been the driest January- March period on record, Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2013
When snow surveyors headed into the Sierra Nevada on Thursday for the most important measurement of the season, they found only about half the snowpack that is normal for the date. It could have been a lot worse — considering that the last three months in California have been the driest of any January-through- March period on record, going back to 1895......
PLF sues over three outdated ESA listings in California, Anthony Francois, Pacific Legal Foundation, March 27, 2013
Federal officials must take two California plant species off the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list, and “downlist” one other species, Pacific Legal Foundation claimed in a lawsuit filed today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The complaint, filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleges that federal officials have known for more than five years that the three species should be reclassified, but have not acted......
Lawsuit Filed to Overturn Latest Spotted Owl Critical Habitat, Tom Partin, American Forest Resource Council, March 21, 2013
Today, the American Forest Resource Council joined the Carpenters Industrial Council, Siskiyou County, California, and a group of forest products manufacturers and private forest landowners in a lawsuit to overturn the latest Northern Spotted Owl critical habitat designation. The case was filed in federal District Court in Washington, D.C., against the Secretary of Interior and the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service......
Rodenticides used on illegal marijuana farms have already been shown to pose serious harm to the fisher—a cat-sized carnivore found in forests across Canada and four regions in the U.S. (Previous news article.)
Mourad Gabriel, a doctoral candidate with the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, provides a more comprehensive look at the situation in the recent issue of The Wildlife Professional, put out by The Wildlife Society. (Article here.)
New information looks at risks to other species and to the ecologists and biologists conducting wildlife research on community and public lands where more of these crops are being cultivated.
- Newly documented fisher mortalities (necropsies done at UC Davis’ California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System)
- New data documenting just a glimpse of potential environmental degradation possibly occurring on our public lands
- First mention of toxicants like carbamates and organochlorides (DDT etc...) that are being found in California grow sites
- Provides readers with information on how some of these toxicants are placed at grow sites to maliciously poison wildlife
- New info and discussion points of "what are" the potential effects of ...such as damming water courses, putting toxic slurry of chemicals in dammed creeks, cutting riparian zones, human feces (affects salmon and many other species)
- First-hand accounts of ecologists and biologists conducting wildlife research being shot at, chased and threatened
- Quantifies the loss of project area access, and data from fisher projects in California public lands
There is also a link to a video that offers a first account visual representation of what a fisher looks like, the unfortunate visual effects of toxicosis and the realistic outcome to wildlife from these illicit activities on tribal and public lands.