Last week Carole King—singer, songwriter, author and environmental advocate—wrote an op-ed for The New York Times urging President Biden to issue an executive order immediately directing his Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture departments to stop commercial logging in our national forests.
Friends of Animals is adding our voice to hers, and we are pressing our supporters to also call on President Biden to leave national forests alone before it’s too late. You can send an email here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/. Or send a letter to: The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500.
Let him know that while the Infrastructure Bill he signed last November does deal with wildfire issues in positive ways, such as providing funds to bury powerlines (which are common ignition sources for wildfires) and funding to reduce the flammability of homes, the main thrust of the legislation continues to promote the idea that “fuels” are the problem and logging is the primary way to deal with climate-induced wildfire. And that’s a problem.
“Among other provisions, the Infrastructure Bill includes a legislative mandate for 30 million acres of additional logging on federal public lands over the next 15 years,” writes George Wuerthner, author of Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. “Thirty million acres are nearly equal to the area of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined!”
Wuerthner also points out the legislation provides $3.3 billion for wildfire risk reduction efforts, including hazardous fuels reduction (a euphemism for logging); controlled burns; community wildfire defense grants, collaborative landscape forest restoration projects (another name for logging); and firefighting resources.
It’s disturbing that so much logging is hidden in the legislation. An administration that has made a commitment to address the climate and biodiversity crises must do better.
Last fall, more than 200 climate scientists from around the country sent Biden a letter underscoring the consequences if timber harvesting continues in national forests. They wrote that “greenhouse gas emissions from logging in U.S. forests are now comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. coal burning.” Protecting federal forestlands from logging, on the other hand, would remove 84 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, they wrote.
Not to mention, mature forests have the added benefit of improving biodiversity by providing critical habitat for mountain lions, spotted owls, northern goshawks, black bears, and other threatened and endangered plants and wildlife, according to Los Padres ForestWatch, a non-profit dedicated to protecting wildlife, wilderness and water throughout the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument in California.
Intact forests safeguard important ecosystem functions like water purification and flood mitigation. Mature forests retain more moisture, and many tree species develop fire resistance and resilience in the form of thick bark and the ability to resprout as they get older.
Perhaps Sir David Attenborough said it best: “Ancient trees are precious. There is little else on Earth that plays host to such a rich community of life within a single living organism.”
Together we have to make sure President Biden protects what’s precious.