Is Policy Standing in the Way of Healthy Forests and Watersheds?

We may think it’s obvious, but still it must be said: Sierra Nevada forests and watersheds are at a critical point.

Four years of drought, over a century of fire subdual, pervasive tree mortality throughout the region due to bark beetle infestation and disease, and a changing climate have led to an increased and severe risk of continued wildfires.  

It’s time for our state and federal policies to meet these challenges head on.

Is Policy Standing in the Way of Healthy Forests and Watersheds?

We may think it’s obvious, but still it must be said: Sierra Nevada forests and watersheds are at a critical point. Four years of drought, over a century of fire subdual, pervasive tree mortality throughout the region due to bark beetle infestation and disease, and a changing climate have led to an increased and severe risk of continued wildfires. The recent U.S. Forest Service study published in November 2015, “Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States”, further outlines how hotter, drier and more extreme weather will spark massive insect outbreaks, tree and plant die-offs, bigger and more costly wildfires, and economic impacts to timber and rangeland habitat, which have been said to reach an estimated $1 billion in insurance losses. It’s time for our state and federal policies to meet these challenges head on.RimFire

While a growing consensus agrees that more must be done to increase the impact of Sierra forest restoration efforts, a number of obstacles related to policy remain in place. The following barriers must be addressed if restoration efforts are to be effective:  

There is good news. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), a regional partner of SBC and steering committee member of the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (CAMP) has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region and its supporters to coordinate the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program, a collaborative effort to influence policy and restore the health of California’s primary watershed.

Sierra CAMP will work closely with SNC and the Watershed Improvement Program to achieve common policy goals for the health of Sierra forests and watersheds. If you’re interested in taking on these obstacles, learning more about Sierra CAMP, becoming a member, joining as a non-member signatory for this important effort, or want to sign up for our quarterly newsletter please contact Diana Madson at dmadson@sierrabusiness.org. It’s going to take a collaborative, regional effort if we hope to restore our majestic forests and watersheds to full health; thankfully Sierra CAMP is ready to take action.

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