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02/06/2012

Effort Launched to Protect California

Protect CA launch

You could have heard a pin drop after a Sacramento labor leader pressed legislators about the need to end clearcutting in California recently.

The labor leader, a member of a panel on clearcutting, was participating in the launch of the Protect California Campaign, a concerted educational effort led by Sierra Club California, environmental and environmental justice groups, and other allies to push back on anti-environmental rhetoric at the state Capitol.

“I could feel tears welling in my eyes as the clear cutting panel testimony ended with Bill Camp’s impassioned plea to give working people sustainable jobs by keeping the forest sustainable,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. “The entire panel provided such a great balance of data and heart—exactly the balance that will help us recapture the environmental debate.”

The panel was organized by the Sierra Nevada Campaign and Sierra Club California. It was one of five that drew more than 100 audience members and 15 legislators during a three-hour update on the environment.

"Over the past fifteen years, a major shift has been occurring in California's forests particularly in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades. While clearcutting – an extreme, intensive form of silviculture – has largely been phased out of public lands due to public pressure, thousands of acres of forests and the public trust resources they sustain – water, wildlife, and air, as well as the climate – are coming under what the timber industry terms even-aged management,” Juliette Beck, the Sierra Clubs’ Clearcutting Campaign coordinator testified. “One company alone is in the process of converting nearly a million acres of forest to industrial, chemical-intensive tree plantations that will not sustain the benefits that natural forests provide for free. The magnitude of this extreme and arcane silviculture method is unprecedented in the Sierra and out of touch with a modern, 21st century approach to the responsible management of California's forests. We need forestry for the 99%, not clearcutting for the 1%."

Forestry panel speakers and topics included:

- Juliette Beck, Sierra Club’s Sierra Nevada Resilient Habitats Campaign, Overview of forestry’s shift to private lands clearcutting

- Addie Jacobson, Ebbets Pass Forest Watch, Clearcutting’s environmental impacts on all Californians, including urban dwellers

- Steve Wilensky, Member, Calaveras County Board of Supervisors and labor union advocate, Clearcutting’s social and economic impacts 

- Bill Camp, Executive Secretary, Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Clearcutting’s impact on California economy and labor

The briefing was part of Sierra Club California's Protect California campaign half day hearing in the state capitol to push back on the strong anti-environment rhetoric of heavily funded special interests in the State Capitol. The update included panels of experts focused on air pollution, water pollution, toxics exposure, state parks closures, and forest clear cutting.

-- By Kathryn Phillips

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