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 often-thick vegetation.
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 Fire.
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 ill-conceived "protection."
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
Lake Isabella