LaMalfa visits Siskiyou County
Posted Apr. 10, 2015 at 10:41 AM
Approximately 60 people attended a meeting in Fort Jones on Wednesday night to voice their concerns about forest management and wildfire policies to U.S. Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who represents Siskiyou County.
LaMalfa visited both Happy Camp and Fort Jones – two communities highly affected by the county’s 2014 wildfires – along with local speakers to provide information and take feedback on the complex issues surrounding federal land management.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey told the crowd that he and other sheriffs around the West are concerned about natural resource issues, recalling the days when Siskiyou County had a bustling economy driven by the timber industry.
He went on to describe societal issues his agency faces – child abuse, domestic violence and drug-related crimes – and said that he believes high unemployment plays a large role in exacerbating the crime situation.
After Lopey, American Forest Resource Council consultant Rick Svilich highlighted issues on the four forests under his purview.
In the Six Rivers, Mendocino, Klamath and Shasta-Trinity forests, Svilich said that more than 1 billion board feet of wood grows each year while only a small fraction of that is harvested.
He likened the situation to a person eating 1,200 calories per day while only burning 800, saying that tree numbers will “explode” if effective and sustained treatments are not implemented.
Svilich also took aim at the Northwest Forest Plan, the overarching 1994 agreement that set forth a template for logging practices in the region.
The plan calls for target amounts of board feet sold each year out of Northwest forests, and Svilich said that over the past 21 years, approximately half of the 4 billion board feet promised has been sold for harvest.
Other speakers and members of the public touched on forest management, particularly with how it is enmeshed with catastrophic wildfire.
The topics included perceived inadequacies of post-fire salvage projects, fire danger from high tree densities and the actual response to fires. Some pointed fingers at the United States Forest Service’s response to the 2014 fires, both in how local experience was utilized by out-of-area teams and the timing of the initial attacks on the fires.
Those in attendance offered their ideas for ways that LaMalfa could respond with his position in Congress, with added funding for USFS administration of timber sales topping the list.
The streamlining of environmental protection rules such as the National Environmental Policy Act was also suggested, with one commenter explaining that he would like to see a forest-wide approach that would not require NEPA evaluation for every action in a forest.
Litigation of timber projects on federal lands was also a hot-button issue, with calls for modification of existing laws to hold litigants responsible if their lawsuits fail, as well as other reforms of the Equal Access to Justice Act.