Van Zant points to “absurd” assertion by The Union’s paid columnist Boardman

“I was taken aback by George Boardman’s Aug. 28 column, ‘Wild lands burn while special interests argue over what’s best for them,’ writes Peter Van Zant, a former Nevada County District 1 supervisor, a long term Sierra conservationist and currently on the board of directors of the Sierra Nevada Alliance, in The Union.

“The assertion that an argument over forest management and post-fire protocol is a cause of the fires is absurd.

“…(Boardman) blames this on ‘environmentalists who … have a hard time tolerating the harvesting of dead trees — never mind ones that are actually alive.’ Really?”

“I have been involved in Sierra conservation issues for more than 25 years. There is no credible conservation group subscribing to Boardman’s assertion: ‘On one side we have tree-hugging environmentalists who would be much happier if people would just disappear from the wilderness landscape.’

“Wildland fires and the future of the Sierra landscape are serious issues. They won’t be solved by conjuring up tired old animosities.”

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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19 Responses to Van Zant points to “absurd” assertion by The Union’s paid columnist Boardman

  1. jeffpelline says:

    This afternoon George Boardman is comparing The Bee printing The Union (earlier newsroom deadlines for sports and breaking news, trucked “up the hill,” same or less quality, ie, creases and weak color reproduction) to Transcontinental printing The Chronicle at a new $146-million plant in Fremont (same deadlines, higher quality, most of the pages in color to compete with glossy magazines, online and TV). George is delusional — and absurd. He is a walking metaphor for The Union’s demographics.

  2. Judith Lowry says:

    There are dead trees all over the county now.
    The dead trees visible in the basin are beginning to predict a troubled future for us.
    My friends from Oregon ask why we aren’t taking them down faster.
    I tell them this area cannot afford to protect itself from the threat of a major forest fire.
    In Oregon they shave the hills and create huge fire breaks.
    It looks like the mountains have Mohawk hairdos, but it works.

    • Chip Wilder says:

      In Oregon those shaved hillsides are clearcuts of live trees.
      As far as the dead trees? Here or in Colorado? Like most everything else – There is no money to cut down dead trees. There is no place nearly big enough to store them. Period. Nowhere in Nevada county. There have been 3 meeting for the public so far on the Bark Beetle and the dying trees.
      There is another one upcoming, call your friends in Oregon ( they may be getting their news form the Union) –
      Friends Of Banner Mountain Present:

      Meet The Beetles
      September 25, 2016- 6:30-8:00 pm
      Community Room Madelyn Helling Library
      Nevada City, CA.
      Cal Fire- Matt Wallen— “Are You Firesafe?”
      Forestry- “Beetles Presentation” from Danny Cluck
      Jeff Peach- “Shaded Fuel Break” “I Loved My Forest To Death- Why Don’t People Clear?”

  3. jeffpelline says:

    At the Tahoe Summit, the Obama administration just earmarked $29.5 million to clear dead trees in the Tahoe Basin. It was real collaborative effort between the California and Nevada Congressional delegations (with the exception of Tom McClintock, who wasn’t invited to the Tahoe Summit). Here we are “stubborn and backward” and throwing rocks at the government. These are the same people (Brown, Boxer, Feinstein, Pelosi) that curmudgeons like George Boardman and our local wing nuts likes to make fun of. “Give nothing, get nothing.”

  4. Bert Wheeler says:

    The rock throwing at the government started back in the” Raygun”years some thirty five years ago,when he made fun of the government by saying ” I here from the government to help”.Ironic,but it took root and that’s where we are today.Now folks want to drown it in a bathtub ,by starving the beast,then point to let you know it’s broken,very sad.Add to the mix some corruption here and there at all levels and presto,dysfunctional mess.You can be part of the problem or part of the solution .Thanks Jeff for holding the mirror.I might add that a number of red states are a perfect test tube for backward thinking are really paying a heavy price for that choice.

  5. Judith Lowry says:

    Last night’s televised meeting of the Grass Valley City Council was fairly chilling.
    Nevada County will have to get busy taking down trees and attempting replanting, but it’s a massive God-sized job.

    I don’t see how such an impoverished county like this can face the challenge.
    My husband and I saw the Colorado beetle kill when we took the Amtrak to Denver over ten years ago.
    I was, in a word, apocalyptic.
    We knew then that this infestation would reach California forests in time.
    Now it’s here.

    In Colorado they are exporting wood to Asia and producing wood products, like guitars and furniture from beetle kill lumber, but things like that won’t keep pace with the destruction and waste the kill will produce.
    They are also making a kind of “bio-char” soil amendment from the dead trees, which looks quite promising.

    But, if we look at local history and some early photos, we see that Nevada County was denuded of trees at the onset of the gold rush.
    Prior to Anglo intervention, the oaks were predominant because they were they major source of protein for the thousands of Nisenan who lived here.
    When the mining culture advanced upon these lands they basically cut down the “grocery store” and left bare soil in its wake, now it’s the cedars that rule and they are seriously out of hand.
    The Nisenan managed their forests much differently than present day foresters.
    They had a greater understanding of their biosphere and the importance of defensible space.

    In Colorado the aspens are replacing the lodge pole pines.
    Perhaps Nevada County ought to consider a mix of healthy oaks tree in their reforestation efforts.
    Sudden Oak Death is affecting some species, but not all.

    Then there is also the opportunity to replace dead forest tracts with farms and orchards that will produce the food and beverages our local farmers wish to see become more sustainable and independent of outside deliveries. Maybe that’s where the bio-char could come into play.

    Whatever happens there are big changes ongoing right here and now and there is no time left not to act.

  6. Joe Koyote says:

    There is also no time left not to act on climate change issues. Eleven months in a row have been the hottest on record globally. We are at the crossroad and can no longer tolerate the stalling tactics of the oil companies and their foolish cadre of deniers.

  7. Judith A Lowry says:

    Joe,

    Take heart, if the reports that the ozone holes are shrinking due to the cessation of fluorocarbon emissions are true and verifiable, then that means it is possible that human “pro-activity” does have a positive reversal effect and that concerted, consensual activism does make a difference when societies are motivated enough to accept that they are the necessary agents of precipitous change.

  8. Steve Dodge says:

    Regarding the timely removal of dead pine trees, one factor is the cost associated with permitting and cutting them down. I have 2 dead pines on a Nevada City lot and the NC permit to cut them down costs $100 and the actual cost to cut them down is $3100, and that is a low bid! Other bids were $4- 5000. I don’t know if this is true but are some people just not doing it because of the associated costs?

    • brucelevy says:

      It should be interesting when, in a strong wind, they start coming down on top of houses. I lived on Grove street in NC for 16 years and saw it happen quite few times.

  9. Brad Croul says:

    Too many were pro-tree hugger for too long. Now we ‘reap’ what we have sown.

  10. Steve Frisch says:

    I am sorry Brad but this has almost nothing with being “pro tree-hugger.”

    First, the added environmental cost of processing a project in California is less than 10% of the development cost of a forest timber harvest plan. Global competition from primarily Canada, that has million upon millions of acres of boreal forest that has never been cut, meaning the trees are substantially larger thus lowering the cost of milling, is a primary factor, Competition has also increased from southeast Asia. Free trade had much more to do with diminishing the California timber market than environmental regulation did.

    Second, tree mortality is being driven by drought; drought is being exacerbated by climate change; and in the last three years we have seen the only time in modern recorded history when night time temperatures have averaged above freezing, also a factor driven by climate change. It would be a stretch to say climate change is the cause, but it is definitely worsening the problem.

    Third, energy de-regulation and falling electricity prices have made biomass to electrical energy less cost efficient; B2E costs about $0.14 per kwh and I can buy natural gas for $0.08 and now some solar and wind for $0.06 per kwh. We eliminated most subsidies for biomass in the early 2000’s and nothing replaced it, meaning that what were traditionally waste products for timber harvest (electricity and heat) have no market, meaning you can’t make timber harvest cost efficient.

    The entire “environmental regulation” caused this problem case is an complete red herring. No truly credible timber market analyst or economist that follows these markets closely would say that regulation has been the or even a primary cause.

    We could gradually fix this problem but it is going to take substantial investment, in the range of $2 billion per year in the Sierra alone, and require very big changes in how we value forests. I say gradually because the damage is done, it will take 50-100 years to “fix” the problem.

    Restore the pre-1997 biomass subsidies; loosen air quality regulation by allowing life cycle analysis of emissions so the emissions from B2E can be benchmarked against forest fire related emissions; come up with an agreed upon methodology for measuring carbon benefits from a well managed forest; create a valuation system for the ecosystem services coming from healthy forests and watershed and require payment for those services to be applied to restoration of function [this could be a fee on water to downstream users]; include requirements for domestically produced
    forest products like cross laminated timber in building codes; re-introduce small scale low intensity wildfire to Sierra forests as a management tool.

    We need to find a way to value and pay for forests because they are what sustains our lives.

  11. Steve Frisch says:

    Ooops…I need a better text editor.

    “I am sorry Brad but this has almost nothing to do with being “pro tree-hugger.”

  12. Judith Lowry says:

    Steve,

    Perhaps it’s about the way the pendulum swings wide in both directions.
    Sometimes too wide to account for critical nuances.
    Forestry practice disciplines have been in a tug-of-war for decades now.
    This is the hour of truth.

  13. Steve Frisch says:

    Judith, I spent a couple of hours last week in LA talking with a leader in the Yurok tribe who was amazed that he was hearing a “leader of a business organization” advocating for native traditional forest management practices. Never having met, coming from completely different perspectives, we met on a dais and came to the same conclusion in front of 600 puzzled Angelenos who are just coming to the realization that water comes from forests.

    To continue with your apt pendulum analogy, the mass of our forests has swung too widely, the arc of the trajectory is long, 150 years, and it will take that long to bring it back to equilibrium. We added the ‘critical nuance’ of a changing climate, which, regardless of the braying of jackasses, is hastening the hour of truth.

    A large part of the problem, as Peter correctly points out, is that people still persist in demonizing the “other side” and assigning blame, rather than working together toward a solution. We need to simply go around the radicals on either side and solve the problem. Peter is entirely correct that there is a broad coalition advocating change including native practitioners, environmentalists, loggers, scientists, local government leaders, business interests, and residents living in the shadow of disaster.

    We have to cut the Gordian knot that is strangling us.

    • Judith Lowry says:

      Yes Steve,

      The Yurok Nation has been way ahead of the tribal curve for decades.
      We ought to be looking at their model for working with the U.S. Forest Service.
      My own people in Indian Valley, Plumas County, have done the same kind of work for years.
      I hope the ERC will connect with the NCR at some point.
      Please don’t dismiss the importance of at least meeting with them.

  14. Steve Frisch says:

    Well, I’m not the ERC and I will meet with anybody. 🙂 I don’t get up to Indian Valley often enough and would love to meet with them. Who should I call? You can e-mail me at sfrisch@sierrabusiness.org

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