A Tale of Two Jerry Browns

From The Daily Wire

ByEmily Zanotti @emzanotti

TRUMP WAS RIGHT: Jerry Brown Eased California Logging Rules Back In August

campfire

Months ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown urged state lawmakers to loosen restrictive logging regulations put in place to appease environmentalists — a move that appears to have confirmed that President Trump’s recent critiques of state logging practices was correct.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported back in August that Brown was proposing one of the most significant changes to the state’s logging rules in nearly half a century.

“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 paper reported.

Environmentalists in California weren’t on board. They’ve been pushing for years to make California’s logging rules more restrictive, not less — but forest fires in recent years appeared to change the calculus for certain lawmakers.

“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 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,” the Sentinel reported. “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.”

Forests, particularly in northern California, California lawmakers admitted, have become dangerously overgrown. But there’s currently little incentive for landowners to clear their trees — they are only allowed to clear dead and decaying wood and undergrowth and can’t clear healthy tress. By allowing landowners to recover some money from the process — letting them create and sell lumber, for instance — it could incentivize them to make bigger changes.

Environmentalists said they were worried landowners would go way too far, cutting down ancient redwoods or clear-cutting property, but even the most ardent environmentalists admit that some thinning is needed.

Despite his own embrace of new logging rules back in August, Gov. Jerry Brown balked at President Donald Trump’s suggestion that poor forestry and poor forest management might be to blame for the massive wildfires that ripped through northern and southern California earlier this month, claiming dozens of lives and tens of thousands of acres.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” the president tweeted while he was in France observing the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

Read the full story here.

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54 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Jerry Browns

  1. The greens are opposed to anything done with forests that benefits people, other than the immeasurable joy of tree-hugging. California’s forests have not been “natural” since the end of the last Ice Age, as Native Americans managed the forests for their benefit, mostly better hunting and different undergrowth providing what they wanted.
    Much of what they want is a fantasy, of something that never existed.

    • Freeman Dyson has written a wonderful essay in which he explains, among other things, why he is a humanist. link

      The environmental book that most resonates with me is a Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. Leopold points out that people need to get out into nature. Nature transforms people. By doing things like fishing and hunting, people are developing a love for nature. Contrast that with most naturalists who would rather that no humans sully the landscape.

      • Sand Country Almanac is one of my favorite books.
        FWIW, mostly about central Wisconsin, the geological ‘sand country’ now mined for fracking sands as well as farmed for subsequently frozen vegetables. The mountain wolf essay evokes my beloved Wisconsin dairy farm minus both mountains and wolves. Altho the wolves (coywolf hybrid variety) are staging a definitely heard midnight moon howling comeback thanks to whitetail deer overpopulation thanks to decline in deer hunting.

      • I guess, I grew up in the forest and raised from birth on islands,No power fetching water for a mile on dirt with old rickety bikes , gathering windfalls with a chain saw at 9. My grandfather raised my aunts and uncles in a tent . Money was almost non existent, so you hunted and fished/harvested , grew a garden and canned(mason jar) everything.
        I had the best of both worlds, summers and winters with my relatives ( some in their 70/80 , dragging boats down to the water to row across a straight to get sheet..amazing!)on the island(mudge/ruxton crew names from a explorer).
        Then I went home with my mom and lived in the lap of luxury with a black and white tv with 2 channels and running water and a toilet instead of a outhouse(hated that as a kid, dropped a flashlight down one and had to fish it out…….teach me a lesson:/)
        The point is most people don’t understand how hard life can be in nature when you have no other choice. I was lucky I was around the best generation ever, wars , depressions , DEATH at the door, Building cities, working 18 hour days , and still keeping track of your neighbours who might be having troubles or elderly.
        Fake nature lovers are the ones shutting down everything they deem hurting earth, they see us as an alien species ( a maggot as dr. Suzuki thinks) . We are part of the ecology of earth and where I live we all know this. The world is not worse in my lifetime, it’s getting better, i’ve seen real pollution and feared atomic bombs.
        We’re Still here…..live and let live, ..nature will come up and bit us in the arse eventually!

        Sorry ahead of time, drunk rant, happy thanksgiving my America cousins! 😋

        • Lance of BC

          Nothing wrong with the occasional drunk rant especially when experience allows you to say things have gotten better for life on the planet.

          Many are suffering the privations you did in your youth right now, and worse. Why are we, now privileged westerners, denying them the opportunity to reach the living standards we now enjoy.

          China isn’t prepared to accept that and whilst their methods might not be acceptable to many, their objective is noble.

          • HotScot,

            “Why are we, now privileged westerners, denying them the opportunity to reach the living standards we now enjoy.”

            Who is doing so?

          • Kristi, are you really that dense? The green blob, who you seem to have sympathy with, wants to keep peasants peasants, as well as reducing most other Westerners to being peasants, all in the interest of “saving the earth”. Apart from not really appreciating what is required to sustain their current lifestyles, they idolize Arcadian Socialism, and have a Luddite view of technology, which they don’t understand either.

        • Lance of BC,

          “We are part of the ecology of earth”

          Exactly! While economic development is in most senses a good thing, it can lead to forgetting this essential aspect of the human condition – and that can lead to, on one hand, an abstraction of the idea of “nature” to the point where it’s something that humans have no place in (“radical” environmentalism), and on the other hand the idea that nature is something for humans to exploit, and whatever damage comes of it we can repair through technology. Both extremes are misguided. We should instead recognize what humans did for thousands of years: we can reap the benefits of nature through management that preserves its essential functions. Harvest timber without destroying forest function, including its ability to produce future harvests. Fish without destroying the ability of fish populations to maintain an age structure needed for their perpetuation. Stop introducing and spreading species that become invasive and detrimental to natural ecosystem function. (And, I would add, be aware that we have the capacity to rapidly change the global climate through CO2 emissions.) We are part of nature, dependent on it, and it’s in our best interests to recognize that.

      • commieBob

        Brilliant essay by Freeman Dyson. Two important things about it:

        1) He says what have I maintained here many times and been shot down in flames; scientists are observers of fact, not soothsayers.

        2) He does beautifully what all scientists should aspire to; communicate with laymen like me in a language I understand. That’s the true job of a scientist in my opinion, to inform and educate. All too often scientists hide behind complicated science and sneer at people like me for our ignorance, yet the 90% of we lesser educated are the very people scientists need to convince of their theories. In the democratic western world we all have but one vote, even Freemon Dyson however much he might deserve more, so scientists need to speak to the ill educated 90% rather than each other if they are to persuade people of their science.

        This is what alarmists like Gore and DiCaprio have done so successfully, I know they’re not scientists but they have targeted the 90% instead of the 10% with pseudo science and it’s largely worked.

      • commieBob

        Read this statement from Freeman Dyson:

        At present we do not know whether the topsoil of the United States is increasing or decreasing. Over the rest of the world, because of large-scale deforestation and erosion, the topsoil reservoir is probably decreasing. We do not know whether intelligent land-management could increase the growth of the topsoil reservoir by four billion tons of carbon per year, the amount needed to stop the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All that we can say for sure is that this is a theoretical possibility and ought to be seriously explored.”

        Then read this article from the NYT Magazine: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/20/magazine/palm-oil-borneo-climate-catastrophe.html

        There are more questions than answers, which I think is what Dyson is saying.

        • To act when you don’t have the answers, to fail to act when you know the result is death and destruction is man’s greatest folly and the path forward advocated by classroom environmentalits.

      • “So it happens that the experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future, and end up believing their own predictions.”

        That from quote Dyson’s essay pretty much says it all. Thanks, CB.

    • Tom Halla,

      Humans and nature co-evolved; humans are part of nature, and still dependent on it. Over time, humans began to exploit nature rather than manage it. Without environmentalism as part of the process of checks and balances, humans now tend to simply exploit resources for short-term gain (or to survive, in the case of overpopulated, underdeveloped countries), and that leads to long-term problems.

      Clear-cutting is a good example – it is one thing that leads to overstocking. A natural old-growth forest has a variety of size classes, and competition from old, established trees helps to keep the understory from getting too dense with vegetation. Unless they are suppressed for long periods, fires can move through without killing the largest trees. Once you start “thinning” these large trees, it creates conditions that allow overstocking. Also, when the thinned trees are removed for lumber, irresponsible managers leave behind the rest, creating perfect conditions for catastrophic wildfires. Prescribed fire is a much better alternative to thinning for the purpose of fire prevention.

      But we need timber. It’s a valuable commodity, important for the economy. There is nothing wrong with timber harvesting as long as it’s done wisely, with adequate habitat preservation and follow-up measures to prevent fuel accumulation. Intact forest has economic benefits, too.

      It may be true that Brown made a change toward worse management from a fire perspective, but if it was only in August that he did so, it’s unlikely it would have been the “poor management” alleged to have cause the disastrous fires, as Trump (and this article) asserts.

      “But there’s currently little incentive for landowners to clear their trees — they are only allowed to clear dead and decaying wood and undergrowth and can’t clear healthy tress”…without a permit, presumably, since there’s plenty of clear-cutting on private land. Nice example of poor journalism.

      Trump wants to deregulate forestry. It’s unclear how that will improve management for fire or anything else.

      • Kristi Silber – November 22, 2018 at 10:59 pm

        A natural old-growth forest has a variety of size classes, and competition from old, established trees helps to keep the understory from getting too dense with vegetation.

        Natural, old-growth forests, in the US, ……. are scarce as hen’s teeth.

        • Crispin,

          In my opinion, there are too many factors to say that either is the best overall treatment. Each site must be assessed individually. In some cases cutting is not economically viable if management for fire is taken into account, partly because follow-up treatment is necessary to limit over-stocking and high fuel at ground level. I suspect that it is partly a lack of follow-up that contributed to the intensity of the Camp Fire, but this is just a guess.

          In the sense that “forest management” includes post-harvest management of clear-cut sites, Trump may have a point about poor management.

      • I’d be willing to bet that in Kristi’s “mind”, the difference between manage and exploit is little more than who benefits.

        • MarkW,

          Wrong again. Haven’t you learned yet that you have no frickin’ clue what I think, but simply make mindless, idiotic assumptions based on your prejudices? You only show your own stupidity by trying to insult me and add nothing to the discussion.

          To my mind, forest management looks at the long-term and the big picture. It means preservation of ecosystem function (e.g. erosion control, microclimate, habitat preservation, fire dynamics…) as well as a diversity of potential economic considerations (e.g. timber harvesting, fishery health, tourism, protection of settlements from fire damage, invasive species, insect outbreaks…). Because it can involve so many factors, good forest management takes knowledge and planning.

          Exploitation is the desire for short-term gain (economic, political power, status, etc.) without consideration of costs or benefits to others or over the long-term. (People exploit all kinds of things – natural and human resources, technology, information, tax loop-holes, biases, public opinion… – but always with a focus on their own benefit.)

      • Dear Kristi,

        There is no such thing as “natural old-growth”. Every old tree in North America was selected by human beings to be NOT burned by the annual human-set stewardship fires which dominated over the last 10,000+ years. All old-growth trees are/were culturally modified and anthropogenically selected.

        I have inventoried and measured (on foot in person) hundreds of so-called old-growth stands. Typically there are only 1 to 5 200+ yo trees per acre in such stands, while the other 250 to 500 stems are less than 75 yo. That distribution indicates that 200 years ago such stands were savannas, not forests. In the absence of human-tending in the recent past, thickets of young trees have become established under or between the older cohorts of human-selected trees.

        Another telling clue is that the older cohorts are mainly edible nut-bearing trees such as pine and oak, while the younger cohorts are mostly firs. Indeed, the nut trees are out-competed by the firs and over time (without tending) are replaced by non-edible species. Since that is the evident case, the only logical conclusion is that the old trees were selected for survival by humans, not “nature”.

        • Mike the Forester,

          “Every old tree in North America was selected by human beings to be NOT burned by the annual human-set stewardship fires which dominated over the last 10,000+ years.”

          Every old tree? That is simply impossible. And I highly doubt humans set fires annually, except possibly to very limited areas. It would be far too laborious, counterproductive, and impossible in most forest systems.

          Where did you do your work? This will influence your (and my) perceptions. Oaks are not a common old-growth indicator in the forests I’m talking about, i.e. mixed-conifer western forests of the type around Paradise – I guess I didn’t specify – but some of the same ideas hold true for other old growth forests. There are oak forests in parts of California that are being encroached upon by conifers, but that doesn’t seem to be what you are describing. More info, please.

          What was your definition of “old growth”? There are lots of different definitions, and I was pretty vague in my comment, actually referring to an ideal of “old growth” that is seldom seen today due to widespread logging and fire suppression. My comment was based mostly on theory, which is a weakness, I admit – though at least it took me little time to find the theory repeated in the literature of Western forest:
          “Szwagrzyk and Czerwczak (1993) hypothesized that competition
          and resource distribution should create two general patterns
          in stem distribution. Large trees should be regularly spaced
          at small distances due to growing space competition, and all
          stems should be clustered at larger scales reflecting localized
          differences in growing conditions. Departures from
          either of these trends and the scale over which it occurs can
          help identify other factors driving stem pattern. In some
          forests, the dynamic between competitive repulsion and
          microsite attraction may be relatively balanced, producing a
          highly dispersed stem pattern and continuous canopy cover
          (Armesto et al. 1986). If light, water, or nutrients, however,
          are highly variable due to microsite differences or disturbance
          history, resource distribution may override competitive
          repulsion, creating a spatial pattern and species composition
          driven by patch dynamics (Pickett and White 1985,
          Taylor and Halpern 1991). This pattern would be particularly
          evident if large trees, with their high resource requirements,
          are not regularly distributed at small scales.”

          https://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/Conservation/FireForestEcology/ThreatenedHabitats/OldGrowthForests/OGF-North04.pdf

          Disturbance regime is very important to this whole issue.

          I’ve done data collection in old growth forest for a model of forest dynamics, but that was in upstate New York, a very different ecosystem from the California conifers, which I’ve only observed. The forests in my home state of MN seem more like the ones you describe, encompassing savanna, hardwood, mixed hardwood/conifer and mixed conifer. In any case, it seems like the patterns you talk about likely reflect successional or ecotype transitions – if evidence of savanna is still there, it’s hard to see how that could be defined as “old growth.” Such transitions may be partly due to human interaction with the idea of promoting nut-bearing species, but the idea that individual trees were selected to survive seems a stretch to me. How do you justify this comment?

          It may not sound like it, but I’m eager to learn from your observations and experiences.

          • Kristi,

            Clearly you have never been to Oregon.

            The climax forest for the Willamette Valley is hemlock rain forest, not the savannah which greeted David Douglas and other early explorers, who commented on the choking smoke of fires there in the 1820s.

          • Kristi Silber – November 23, 2018 at 4:21 pm

            What was your definition of “old growth”? There are lots of different definitions, and I was pretty vague in my comment, actually referring to an ideal of “old growth” that is seldom seen today due to widespread logging and fire suppression.

            I’ve done data collection in old growth forest for a model of forest dynamics, but that was in upstate New York, a very different ecosystem from the California conifers, which I’ve only observed.

            Kristi S, ….. I’m sure that the trees in the woodlands that you observed …. shur looked like “old growth” timber to you, …… but the fact is, bout 98% of the “old growth” or “virgin” timber east of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes region was pretty much “clear-cut”, both by homesteaders and lumber companies in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, with the latter shipping tens-of-millions of board-feet of lumber eastwardly to build the great cities of the east coast. (Boston, New York, Phila, Baltimore, Washington DC, etc.)

            The homesteaders couldn’t raise their families by raising trees, ….. so they clear-cut the trees to raise cattle, sheep, horses, chickens, turkeys, gardens and their children.

        • Mike the Forester – November 23, 2018 at 11:01 am

          There is no such thing as “natural old-growth”.

          Mike, you really, really, REALLY should have stopped writing after you penned your above “1st sentence”.

          Cheers, …… Sam C, … a long time student of the natural world.

  2. If I own land, I should be allowed to cut every last tree on it if I wish. Restricting that amounts to a “taking” of my resources.

    • Implicit in that entitlement would be that you also own the atmosphere above your land. You don’t.

      • Are yes, the air we don’t own. How about oxygen taxes, with an additional imposts on nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water specially for farmers.
        How about energy of motion taxes on river-water stream flow & atmospheric winds while we’re at it.
        I am sure there are a few others that could also be thought of.
        Gravity Tax? or perhaps a Sunlight Tax!
        /sarc

      • Airspace (as well as all land beneath to the center of the earth) is included in property rights. The molecules themselves move about, so they cannot be owned, but the space is.

    • brians356,

      This would not be ethical because the effects go beyond the limits of your property. It’s the same as the argument that you should be able to dam rivers and use all the water if they are on your property – and it’s a closely related issue to forestry. For instance, clearing up to a stream bed changes the water temperature and allows erosion into streams, both of which can impact riparian health.

      We have laws that limit the rights of individuals in order to protect the population as a whole, and that’s how it must be in any functioning society. We cannot depend on individuals to regulate their own behavior. Selfishness and ignorance would lead to anarchy and chaos.

  3. Laws that restrict a property owner’s right to cut trees on that property fly in the face of the definition of “property” and are unconstitutional, unless it can be shown that this would adversely affect others’ property, or cause a harmful environmental impact. Common sense dictates a property owner in a fire-prone area should cut trees and shrubs close to his residence back to a safer distance, for self-preservation. Are there no court cases about this?

    • In actuality, the only property “rights” a land owner has …… is the “right” to pay their assessed town, county and school taxes.

      And iffen they don’t exercise that “right”, ……. their property will be sold at “the courthouse door”.

    • My dad told me this back in the 70’s, he was right then and he’s even more right now.

      “We don’t own property, we pay government for the right to maintain the government’s property.”

    • Here, at least in our area of West Virginia, most of the local families, those that have been here for several generations, always clear a couple of acres around their houses. It is usually the expats from the cities that build their houses among the trees and refuse to thin, even for firewood. We have several acres in the state Temberland Management program but are still permitted to thin out 1 chord of firewood per acre per year. The deer population keeps the underbrush under control, but if you don’t take out the older trees as they reach a certain level of maturity they soon die, fall over and become fodder for the next fire.

  4. In Australia we have been down the path of what President Trump refers to as ‘ poor forest management’.
    As others from Australia have noted here, undergrowth builds up in winter when it should be carefully cleared . This has been opposed by Greens claiming it adds to fossil fuel pollution. As summer comes and the material drys often to tinder state, a fire breaks out and a conflagration follows. Where homes are built in or near bush or forest areas, the results can be catastrophic.
    Then the Greens who opposed the solution claim the fires are evidence of global warming.
    In 1939, Australia suffered its ‘ Black Friday’ disaster perhaps our worst ever.
    Everyone seems to forget the experience of past generations.

    • It doesn’t help that you have vast forests of oily, aromatic gum trees (eucalyptus in the USA) which are explosive in a fire. I was in Sydney during you Black Saturday Bushfires in 2009. Here, the Oakland (CA) Firestorm in 1991 was largely eucalyptus trees.

  5. Jerry is a useless and annoying twit. He has an allegiance to Southern California at the extreme expense of rhe rest of the state. The irony is that his big ideas mostly can’t be paid for with diving deeply into southern California pockets.

    All the “easing” of logging regulations in the state would have had no effect on the Paradise (Camp) fire because the fire, while it started probably on a downed or arcing PG&E line near Pulga, burned westward, comtrary to standard expectations. Also, it had to burn over extensive areas that are “clear cut” in 2017 satellite imagery. “Regulations” rarely affect business as usual. They just mean that someone, besides the guy that planned the cut, gets a slice of the profit. There is a good potential that the clear cuts burned as energetically as the regular forest depending on the slash handling prescriptions and how closely they were adhered to.

    • Duster,

      “‘Regulations’ rarely affect business as usual.” Not sure what you mean by this.

      I don’t know what post-clearing regulations in California are, but it seems clear that there ought to be such regulations. I noticed the same thing about the clear-cutting, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that people have long known that clear-cutting can lead to high fuel load. The problem with regulations is they have to be enforced, and when budgets are already stretched thin, this often gets overlooked, instead relying on the contractors/land owners to do as they are told. (It seems we are in most or all respects in agreement here. No?)

  6. In 1690 (yes,300 years ago) a big wildfire in Mocklehult, Sweden, devastated all forest in seven counties.
    Not a single house burnt, because “they were surrounded by grazing land”.

    So easy – and so hard to see.

  7. Can’t you remove trees within a certain distance from your house in California ?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of houses burnt because of trees that could have legally been removed, if the land owned wanted to.

    • It can be pricey to cut a tree down unless you can do it ourself. Another change in forested areas was that they used to be open to the public with no fee or permit needed to take deadwood or small damaged trees. That practice was stopped some time ago, not sure how long ago.

    • Jeff,

      People also PLANT trees in their yards!

      The whole attitude to wildfire has to change in places like California and Australia, from the idea that “it will never happen to me” to one that sees fires as an ever-present risk.

  8. The 26-inch diameter upper limit on tree removal does not protect “old-growth” trees. In my yard there are several trees over 30 inches dbh which are only 30 years old. I know because I planted them. I recent fell a 48-inch tree that was 54 yo. It was planted next to a house built 54 years ago. Big is not necessarily old.

    • Lack of competition means that a single well placed tree will outperform similar trees which sit in the midst of a forest.

  9. What the environmentalists fail to comprehend is that fires which would be prevented by logging operations, destroy more trees than the loggers would take.

    • Indeed, Derek. Because burning trees on the altar of Gaia is more holy and of richer spiritual experience than cutting and using that same tree to benefit humanity.

      And the ones who argue for the burning are more than willing to use boards, books and the banal magazines of their ilk for the own purposes. There is nothing quite like the stench of hypocrisy in the morning.

  10. As a forester, one who actually went to school to learn about forests, once told me:

    A mature forest has two choices:

    It will have to be cut down.
    Or
    It will burn down.

    • Davis

      As a forester, one who actually went to school to learn about forests, once told me:

      A mature forest has two choices:

      It will have to be cut down.
      Or
      It will burn down.

      No, actually there is a third choice (in nature): Each tree can die, fall down, then (very slowly) decay (burn organically) back to CO2.
      Or as you point out, man can cut it down, pulp it, trim it, and use the lumber, burn the bark and waste, and pulp the remainder for paper. And eventually recycle the paper, wood, and CO2. The now open area grows more trees, more bush and brush, more life.

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