Responsible Management Needed
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Kern Valley Sun
McNally Fire seedlings are choking,
NEPA does not work
Stewards of the Sequoia members recently weeded and watered
about four hundreds seedlings in the McNally Fire area.
In the month since planting some seedlings were killed by
gophers. Volunteers spent most of the day removing vegetation
choking a large number of seedlings. Stewards hauled 50 gallons
of water up the hill & watered each tree they could find amongst
Another letter writer claimed last week, "In many areas ground
cover species are thick and are providing shade for existing
seedlings." Well, yes the vegetation is thick, but as far as we
can see it is choking, not shading.
Currently it takes far too long to perform forest management.
Had there been no National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
requirements after the McNally Fire, planting could have been
done immediately. Herbicides and pesticides would have been
unnecessary, since there were no choking plants or gophers after
the burn. NEPA law does not work in cases where action must be
swift to protect our precious forests and wildlife. The
situation is akin to a patient at death's door being treated by
an untrained self-proclaimed committee, while experts are given
little credence. NEPA law has created Analysis Paralysis.
This letter writer claims his group has seen as many as 52
seedlings per acre." Before Stewards planted seedlings we found
about four natural seedlings in about 10 acres. There may be
some burn areas with more seedlings, but Forest Service staff
knows of none with the high seedling count that letter writer
mentions. There are vast areas with too few seedlings to
regenerate. Without replanting, regeneration will take too long
for the wildlife that depends on forest for habitat.
Previously lawsuits have been filed to supposedly protect
wildlife and forest. Those lawsuits prevented forest management
that could have reduced the size or intensity of the McNally
In an effort to prevent management and timber harvests,
"environmental protection" has left a legacy of incineration.
Millions of acres of forest and wildlife have been sacrificed on
the altar of environmental extremism. The Healthy Forest
Intiative and other changes are efforts to correct the poor
management our forests have received in recent decades under
Mountainsides of dense standing dead trees offer testimony to
our folly. Unless some dead trees are removed the area will burn
again along with the seedlings.
(Instead of the area remaining) unmanaged, wildlife would like a
forest back more quickly than a few hundred years.
Many folks, including myself, agree about following democratic
process and not using Executive Orders. However, it is
unrealistic, costly and counterproductive for the public to be
involved in every facet of forest management. Somehow (some
people) overcame their aversion to Executive Orders and
supported Clinton's Order to create the Sequoia Monument,
ignoring huge opposition and bypassing democratic process. This
provides insight into their support of the Roadless Rule without
public input, which circumvents the local 15-year forest plan.
Chris Horgan, Executive Director
Stewards of the Sequoia