Humboldt Seeks to Join Marin County in Banning Clearcutting
November 15, 2017
Eureka, Calif.—The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) has submitted a voter initiative to Humboldt County to ban the destructive forestry practice known as “clearcutting” within Humboldt County and implement well recognized principles of sustainable forestry. Clearcutting and other even-aged management involves the removal of all or nearly of a forest stand in a single harvest. This extreme forest disturbance harms water quality and wildlife habitat, and exacerbates climate change. Volunteers will be collecting signatures on the ordinance with the intention of making it on the general election ballot in November 2018.
“Clearcutting is a relic of another era,” said Tom Wheeler, Executive Director of EPIC. “Clearcutting is bad for Humboldt County. It releases more carbon dioxide than a forest fire, destroys fish and wildlife habitat, and pollutes drinking water. As Humboldt County residents, we demand better.”
Timber can be harvested using less destructive methods, such as selection logging, which removes only a portion of trees while preserving the forest. This ordinance would require these types of methods to be employed. The ordinance would also require that timber companies retain large, old trees and other wildlife trees that are disproportionately important for species that depend on older forests.
Humboldt County would join Marin County in banning clearcutting, and would join a number of other local governments, including Berkeley, Brisbane, Daly City, Davis, Menlo Park, Monte Sereno, San Francisco, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale, in expressing their opposition to the practice. Local regulation of timber production is preempted by state law; however, the California Forest Practice Act provides that counties can recommend rules to the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. These rules must be adopted if the rules are consistent with the Forest Practice Act and necessary to protect the needs of Humboldt County.
Successful timber companies do not need to employ clearcutting to provide good paying jobs. In the redwood region, Humboldt Redwood Company and Mendocino Redwood Company both do not utilize clearcutting in their forest management. Across the state, other companies, such as Collins Pine, based in Plumas County, have likewise demonstrated that clearcutting isn’t a necessary tool to be successful.
The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) advocates for science- based protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests, using an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.