California Governor Relaxes Logging Regulations to Mitigate “Climate Change” Fire Risk

The low-to-moderate intensity surface fire in this prescribed burn will lower the fuel load in this forest in the Lake Tahoe Basin. CREDIT
Alan H. Taylor

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Dr. Willie Soon / Daily Caller – After weeks of climate change rhetoric, California Governor Jerry Brown has decided to do something practical to reduce Californian fire risk, by proposing a relaxation of regulations governing logging and tree thinning.

California fires: Governor proposes easing logging rules to thin forests

By PAUL ROGERS | progers@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: August 23, 2018 at 4:14 pm | UPDATED: August 24, 2018 at 4:27 am

Faced with the worst summer fire season in 10 years, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing broad new changes to California’s logging rules that would allow landowners to cut larger trees and build temporary roads without obtaining a permit as a way to thin more forests across the state.

The proposal — which has the support of the timber industry but is being opposed by more than a dozen environmental groups — would represent one of the most significant changes to the state’s timber harvesting rules in the past 45 years.

The legislative session ends for the year next Friday. On Thursday, the details were still being negotiated by legislative leaders and the governor’s office behind the scenes and had not yet been formally introduced in a bill or put up for a vote.

“They are trying to get to some kind of a deal,” said Rich Gordon, the president of the California Forestry Association, a timber industry group. “They are looking at what can get done politically.”

Under Brown’s proposal, private landowners would be able to cut trees up to 36 inches in diameter — up from the current 26 inches — on property of 300 acres or less without getting a timber harvest permit from the state, as long as their purpose was to thin forests to reduce fire risk. They also would be able to build roads of up to 600 feet long without getting a permit, as long as they repaired and replanted them.

Timber industry officials say the changes are needed to cut red tape and increase incentives for landowners, particularly in the Sierra Nevada, to thin pine and fir forests that have become dangerously overgrown after 100 years of fire fighting.

Read more: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/08/23/california-fires-governor-proposes-easing-logging-rules-to-thin-forests/

Governor Brown’s proposal comes in the wake of harsh criticism of the role radical greens have played in obstructing sensible forest management.

In my opinion there is no doubt of a direct connection between senseless environmental obstructionism perpetrated by radical greens, and the unnecessary deaths of people caught in fires made worse because of that green obstructionism.

Regardless of whether climate change is contributing to California’s fires, improved forest management will mitigate the risk. If there is no timber or vegetation to burn, there can be no fire.

Cutting fire breaks, cutting access roads, performing more controlled burns, thinning dead wood just waiting to go up like a torch, reduces the risk of fires getting out of control, reduces the intensity of wildfires if they do get out of control, and makes it easier for firefighters to regain control of large fires.

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal is a good start – but I suspect a lot more will have to be done, and fast, to undo the harm done by decades of mismanagement, red tape and green obstructionism.

Update (EW): added extra highlighting to the quoted article – more than a dozen environmental groups are opposed to relaxation of logging regulations.

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93 thoughts on “California Governor Relaxes Logging Regulations to Mitigate “Climate Change” Fire Risk

  1. Better late than never. As in at least seven years too late.

    Not to mention his veto of the bill that could have prevented the Wine Country fires.

  2. What’s the cliche, “if you are in hole, stop digging”? The green blob hole California has dug in the last forty odd years will take quite a long time to fill, and the successors to Brown are likely to be even worse on the subject than Jerry Brown.

    • One day there will be a superfire that burns 200,000 homes to the ground and cover 20 million acres and burns for a year. Then Democrats will tally up the tens of billions of lost property tax income and will shut up the greens for good. Rebuilding I presume is impossible with no forestry control of timber and no one therefore going to provide fire insurance.

      • Or they’ll just triple down on the climate change rhetoric. Nothing will shut them up, not even glaciers rolling over their multi-million dollar homes.

      • ” Then Democrats will tally up the tens of billions of lost property tax income and will shut up the greens for good. “

        Sorry to say but you are wrong. The Democrats will see it as an opportunity (“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” ― Rahm Emanuel). They’ll blame it on Climate change and use it to ram through their socialist ideas that they couldn’t get through otherwise.

    • There is also economic survival. When cities of 10,000 homes a wack burn down, all that property tax and personal income tax goes away. Billions in lost income to the state start stacking up. Superfires will come and burn 200,000 homes a wack in the future costing tens of billions at a shot in lost state income. At some point, there will be a person in the state treasury dept with a brain who will tally the losses and sound the alarm. That income has to be made up somewhere else. Taxes have to go up.

  3. So they can cut the more profitable trees but do they have to remove the smaller stuff at the same time? If not the fuel load won’t be reduced appreciably

      • The brush is very dense and the terrain horribly steep in many places. A herd of goats is effective in some instances, but they have to be tended. Controlled burning is really the only practical answer, but there is a lot of liability if the fire gets out of control. You have to do it in the winter, rainy, months and local authorities have a say in what they will allow, etc. So, you are talking about a lot of money! There really is no cheap and dirty solution.

        • The terrain is often so horrible only clear cutting justifies the costs of roads in and logging. Goats eat grass, not trees. The cheap and dirty solution is clear cutting alternating parcels.

          • Actually goats eat trees, not grass. They are browsers, not grazers and will only eat grass when shrubs, small trees, coarse roughage etc are not available. In Oz we use goat herds to wipe out thousands of acres of impenetrable blackberry thickets and control “re-growth” forest. And goats just love climbing into rough areas.

          • My neighbor’s goats seem to eat everything, except ferns. In late spring/early summer, the ferns pop up in certain parts of our yards, and the goats and horses won’t touch them.

    • It does say up to 36 inch instead of up to 26 inch. So does not appear to restrict cutting of trees less than 36 inch, i.e the small stuff.

  4. This may be the Trump effect: after a lot of harsh words against Trump then they retreat in their hole.

    Like that annoying harsh vulgar bragging poker you want to raise each time to show him for good but you end up folding to because he has the goods.

    [?? .mod]

    • I credit MY President’s Tweets for SHAMING geriatric Gerry Brown into action. Donald J Trump! Hell Yeah! and they said a “businessman” wouldn’t make a good president …

      • “They” didn’t know what they were talking about. Trump has a lot more good advice to give Jerry, too. Jerry should listen.

  5. It’s truly disgusting how politicians try to cover their arse with “it’s Climate Change” rhetoric when the facts aren’t on their side. Why more people don’t call them out is beyond me.

  6. I think the proposal is lacking though and will be minimally effective at best, if at all.
    The problem being the 36″ diameter limit … the dead trees from decades of mismanagement and years of drought could be larger than 36″ and the limit could leave many of the larger dead trees still in the ground to burn. If All Dead Trees were removed regardless of diameter, the forest would be much better off. Brown should have stipulated that only dead trees could be removed

    • You can hallucinate what you want, but you just taxed everyone in Norcal for trillions to clear the forests else someone has to log that for an income. I am not aware of companies running around to log dead termite trees. You can dream demands to clear brush, but people without money will just show up with matches to handle it. The state wants to ruin you financially else you know how to use matches is not a big choice.

    • I live in Mariposa County, the focal point of dead bug trees. Unfortunately, most dead trees are now two years old and cannot be cut. They are too dangerous. Trees in the national forest have lost their needles (grey phase) and are less fire hazardous, but no one has the resources to go into rough ground to cut them.
      Thousands of trees have been cut, many salvaged. Local governments and landowners are dealing with the problem trees first…those near structures or roads.
      Brown’s changes will help. So will Rep Tom McClintok’s bill to separate fire funding from USFS budgets, and new CA funding for forest thinning.
      It would be nice to have some new sawmills and let foresters do their jobs. Used to be wood sales covered 25% of school costs. Not anymore.

      • Correct. The dead trees are already dry and easier to ignite with a spark therefore harder to transport safely. Fresh cut “Live” trees transport easier and safer and allow for proper seasoning prior to milling.
        One thing the dead trees would be for … pellets for UK power production.
        Probably not very good for firewood as the sap would tend to cause sputtering.

  7. I give at least partial credit to President Donald J Trump for SHAMING Jerry into finally DOING something to counteract the rampant CA wildfires. See! There is REAL VALUE in MY President’s Tweets …

    • What were those tweets? I am surprised they have not been published in the Australian media, they publish almost all others.

      • Here is one of them…
        The “Water” comment is a little off course but the tree cutting is the question

        Donald J. Trump

        @realDonaldTrump
        California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!

        2:53 PM – Aug 6, 2018

        • A land owner in Victoria, Australia was fined AU$50,000 for clearing trees off his property. Shortly after, fires ripped through the area and his property was untouched. We need a Trump in Australia.

          • I’d MUCH rather see trees … re-purposed … as a home, than burnt to black stumps … as I now see all over the USA

          • After those fires, I don’t recall when now, but after I recall driving from Sydney (NSW) to Melbourne (VIC) and on the way on some highway, I don’t recall which were miles after miles of blackened bush either side of the highway. That trip was in 2008.

          • “I don’t recall which were miles after miles of blackened bush either side of the highway. That trip was in 2008.”

            And in a year or two, you couldn’t even tell it happened. Fires are only “disasters” to humans.

          • It is truly sad the extent to which Australia is a socialist state en route to totalitarianism.

            The latest turnover in PM might be a small step in reversing this dangerous process.

        • You can look like a buffoon (Trump sometimes does) and still get the work done.

          Many tweets are absurd at the literal level, but start interesting discussions, like the one equating net neutrality and media fairness. Net neutrality is content neutral hence not “fairness” of information, but a move to regulate the net could end up with “fairness” (which is what France is trying to do).

          • Trump is decidedly NOT eloquent. However our last POTUS was wonnnnnnnderrrfully eloquent … or as Joe Biden said … “well spoken for a black man”. Huh? I will take Trumps brusque and curt language and ACTIONS over a president who talks purdy and WRECKS America

          • Kenji, I agree that the previous POTUS was “wonnnnnnnderrrfully eloquent ” when he was reading off the teleprompter. Whenever he spoke without that crutch of a teleprompter, however, he was all “ums”, “uhs” and “ahs”

          • How is content neutrality not fairness? Personally I don’t think there is a need for the net neutrality law, but what you say makes no sense.

    • All Trump has to do is cap spending on fire control and make the states pay the rest and watch the shit hit the fan and the enviros get thrown in the street with the whinos and homeless.

      • They should send all fire fighting bills to those environmental groups. Two years worth of paying for fire fighting would break their backs and slowly drift away, a footnote in history.

  8. Laughable.
    Fuel is there and will continue to accumulate.
    What is taken out — if it every is, will not be there to burn.
    That will be a very small fraction.
    Mega-fires are in CA’s future.

        • Trees, like people differ from one to another. A stress that kills one, may not kill the one next to it. Beyond that, the ground itself isn’t uniform. Nutrients and water availability vary from one spot to another.

        • eyesonu
          Juan Browne in his video report California Wildfires 2018 (see below) mentions (at 10:00) the species mix in a new growth plantation being as follows: Ponderosa (pine), Cedar (Western Red), Douglas Fir, Redwood and Sugar Pine. Five species are recorded each with different light tolerance, growth habit and rooting strategies.

          Here in the UK we have just come through a hot dry summer. In local woodland shallow rooted birch show sign of water stress while adjacent deep rooted oaks are still healthy with a canopy of deep green leaves.

          The nearest road cut picture in Bryan’s posted Google map also shows an impressive species mix similar to that mentioned by Juan Browne. I suggest that the forest dieback seen here is species specific and depends on the ecological growth strategies, disease susceptibility and drought tolerance of the mixed tree population in this natural forest.

      • NPS claims “Native Pine Bark Beetle and poor forrest health.”
        Take a trip on I-80 across Nebraska. It follows the Platte River across most of the state. Stories from the pioneers that traveled from the East to California tell of how they were warned to bring firewood for the trip along the Platte River as there are no forests or even trees within miles of the river along either side. Now use your favorite Satellite map service and look at the Platte River. It is so overgrown that animals that were never west of the Missouri river are following the small forest along either side of the Platte. Fires were an annual occurrence of the plain states, from the receding of the glaciers till Smokey Bear appeared. They were not caused by MAN (primarily.) Why do environmentalists have a problem with that? Now the flora and fauna is no longer “Native.” How is that environmental correct? The Pine Bark Beetle is now ruining the “Non Native Pine trees that were planted throughout Nebraska as a result of Environmental do gooders over the last 150 years.

  9. It is good to try to mitigate fire threats in California forests. This and other changes can be helpful and should be encouraged. Perhaps some smaller land owners will take this route rather than selling to developers or selling to buyers who turn out to be drug makers or pot growers.
    Now the bad news. Who is going to cut down and haul these trees? California legislation on commercial diesel engines have forced almost all existing lumbering equipment to be scrapped (or sold overseas) and replaced with more expensive and more efficient engines (with less power). Many independent loggers have just given up. Fly-by-night operators would not follow environmental rules – some of those rules are really important! Where will logs be milled? California legislation and automation have eliminated many mills, thus increasing hauling costs to those still in business. Burned trees must be havested within a year or their wood is not merchantable – even then there is a steep discount. Land owners with burned wood would get priority over these smaller green sales and there is a lot of burned wood this year. Existing mills have a physical limit to what they can produce. In years with large fires this capacity is reached and logging operations stop. The larger trees are not the fire danger; the danger is the brush with no market value and dense stands of smaller trees with no market value as chips (it costs more to chip than you get in sales, if you get sales). The major fire threat is not on smaller private lands but on the huge tracts of Federal and State lands – these are unaffected by the rule change. Where fires have burned on Federal and State lands, the forests were left to grow back naturally, which means ecologically undiverse brush fields that choke out most sapplings. The new rules do nothing for these brush field time bombs.
    A serious effort to mitigate fire damage would include major changes to the laws enacted primarily to make timber activities too expensive for many growers and not just a change in one link in the product chain of wood products. Rules would also need to affect Federal and California state lands, something that is not going to happen.

  10. Incompetent forest management is a first-order forcing of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. I wonder if that’s also the missing piece that’s causing the models to diverge.

  11. You would think Environmental groups would make an effort to actually understand at least a little bit about the environment and its ecologies.

  12. Before California was run into the ground by lunatic Leftists, they had a statewide program of forestry crews (with a large portion of these crews recutited from the homeless population) clearing millions of tons of highly combustible deadfall to reduce the threat of large uncontrollable forest fires..

    It was a great program that helped employ the homeless population, increased lumber production, greatly reduced property loss from runaway forest fires and made forest healthier.

    Then the eco-wakos shut these programs down because they supposedly destroyed the habitats of “endangered” species of plants and animals..

    The only things endangered in California are: common sense, logic, reason, free markets, the economy, financial solvency and rationality.

  13. No one is going to run around clearing brush and thinning forests. It is too expensive. The only economical timber harvesting is clear cutting.

    • Northern California is not Oregon. Sustainable uneven age management is profitable in California for commercial growers. SPI and other companies often prefer clear-cuts, but not all land owners manage their land that way. Fires, wind, drought, and bugs can cause damage requiring clear-cuts but those can be the exceptions. Brush fields are being returned to forests on private lands but it takes time and a concern for the land. Thinning is more difficult due to it being a cost and not income producing.

    • @ Donald and Jeff and hopefully others

      There is a lot of misconception with regards to thinning vs clearcutting as to the density of trees left standing. Some view thinning as leaving a tree every 20 yards or so. That may work on planted pine plantations but in the real world especially deciduous forests as in the Eastern US, realization needs to be given that felling trees damages standing trees.

      About 20 – 25 years ago I had a lengthy discussion with several USFS managers on the merits of utilizing a clearcutting technique leaving a healthy mature standing trees (oak) every 40 – 50 yards. They had made a few cuttings/thinning and left mature trees @ about 20 yards apart and it left no diversity as the canopy shaded out most new growth. With a minimum spacing of 50 yards one one particular plot there were mast bearing oaks in the midst of a great diversity of new growth. The partial shading effects lead to much greater diversity and wildlife gained much to my desire. That appears to be their new standard in what little cutting is done on govt lands now. Often the remaining scattered oak will produce a heavy mast crop while there is a complete failure in the adjoining timber stand. Just think, acorns, berries, browse and cover on the same plot and spread out over several months. That’s the only thing I have respect for as to the previous management (~20 years ago to date) of the USFS. Some changes may have been made over the past few of years since I gave up on dealing with them and their road closures. Maybe there is some hope for the biggest land holder in the US but some of the the managers of 20 – 30 years ago need to be gone, gone, gone.

      • Thinning to the extent you are talking about leads to a lot of down falls during storms, at least in fir/pine forests. Boundary trees develop impressive root systems due to stresses applied to them from storms. Interior trees don’t get stressed nearly as much so don’t have as good of a root system. Cutting boundary trees while leaving interior trees standing leaves them vulnerable. Sustainable logging is used where a certain percentage of trees are taken every year. It’s a more costly way to log so not always economical but does lower fire danger and helps prevent damage to those vulnerable interior trees.

        Anyway, there’s a couple reasons to clear cut. One is obviously profit but another big reason is clear cutting saves loggers lives. Trying to leave trees behind leads to dangers that will lead to injury and death.

    • Into the 90s a person in Colorado could get a permit to cut and clear deadwood for $10. Heated a lot of homes and provided income. Then the Econuts stopped it so we could have more in-place forest fires.

      • Used to be able to do this in Oregon too. Not only was it the econuts but those sue happy people also put a serious dent in the ability to cut wood. People would get hurt cutting fire wood then sue the property owner (government or private) for damages. Quick way to prevent getting sued is lock up the woods.

  14. So it was OK for the good governor to allow the forests to become tinder boxes by mismanagement. Then become the savior by “allowing” them to be properly managed again.

  15. Right decision for the wrong reasons.When logging was restricted 50 years ago, the underbrush flourished & fires became far more intense. A changing climate has little to do with it. The problem was caused by the always misguided environMENTALISTS.

  16. Juan Browne talked about this 2 weeks ago. He also has reported on the Oroville dam. He is a sensible man.

    • Good video. Good history summation.
      Interesting tidbit: most modern forestry maps don’t show the checkerboard land ownership Juan talks about. Oh, it still exists, but the agencies don’t want you to know about it because they jealously want to take those private lands.

  17. If green groups prevent the thinning and controlled burning of forests then landholders should sue them. In the event of death, perhaps the start could start arresting and charging them with manslaughter because that is what it is. A few in jail for inflicting harm on the community they are claiming to protect may lead the way to some common sense outcomes. Even our fruit loop greens in Australia have come to realise that eh aborigines had it right with fire stick farming.

  18. If the underbrush is cleared on a regular basis, a 36″ tree won’t burn. I guess you have to start somewhere.

    • The large trees are the economic incentive to get the loggers into an area. Once there, they will cut anything that the can sell at a profit. (Up to 36 inches as per the regulation)

  19. Calling themselves “environmentalists” is pure fraud. Save that tree and ground litter so it can burn down the entire forest. You’d think these morons could understand something as simple as a forest fire.

  20. 45.8% of the land in California is Federal. Rules for private land management will help, but the heavy lifting needs to be done by Federal employees.

  21. Now that Trump has straightened out Jerry Brown on the need to manage the forests and woodlands, Jerry needs to think about what he is going to do with all that wood.

    I would suggest that Jerry make a deal with the UK to sell them wood for their wood-burning powerplant. Jerry could also build wood-burning powerplants in California and use those cut trees right on site. Win/win!

  22. Another selective information from the CBC about the size of BC forest fires…
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/the-future-looks-grim-after-2-years-of-devastating-b-c-wildfires-1.4801181
    The journalist, Bethany Lindsay quotes The Canadian Partnership twitter feed of https://www.canadawildfire.org/about claiming that the 2018 season is second only to the 2017 season…
    https://twitter.com/CanadaWildfire/status/1034098090813210624/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1034098090813210624&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbc.ca%2Fnews%2Fcanada%2Fbritish-columbia%2Fthe-future-looks-grim-after-2-years-of-devastating-b-c-wildfires-1.4801181
    Yet according to Wikipedia, the 1950 Chinchaga fire has burned about 1,4000,000 hectares alone, known as the biggest forest fire in North America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fires_in_Canada
    No mention of this fire? Because it straddles Alberta… How convenient.
    Meanwhile, the usual University professor rehashing the weak jet stream stuff and stagnant weather…

  23. While Moonbeam seeing the light would be a wonderful story, that I not how I read this article. I dealt directly with a state legislature for around a decade. So any bill that was not introduced early in session, gone through committee(s), had little chance of passage. So this is so much PR or spin leading up to the midterm elections. There are trying to give people the idea that the Sacramento politicians have suddenly become reasonable. The various environmental groups are part of the Democratic Party base, though often taken for granted like other parts of the Party base they will certainly not ignore them.

    Also, Moonbeam as I understand it is term limited so he can say “see I proposed a solution” while knowing that the bill will not pass and the next Governor will inherit the problem. Even if he were not term limited the enviros could keep the bill tied up in court for a decade, just long enough for fuel to build.

  24. The thing that gets me about environmental zealots, not true environmentalists, is that they believe in “preservation” not “conservation”.
    Preservation guarantees massive fires and damage and the fact that Brown acknowledges this means it must be true, but, wait for the backflip

  25. About time. Someone would eventually sue California for ruining the air quality in neighboring states – intentionally. Following the instructions of a bunch of idiots in the Sierra Club is pandering at the risk of the health of Californians, Oregonians, and Nevadans. Maybe more.
    I still think a law suit is in order. Here in the Reno area we’ve only seen the local mountains about 50% of the time since June. That’s the second year in a row they’ve been destroying our air quality. It’s one thing to have been stupid last year, but two years in a row….

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