EPIC Submits Voter Initiative to Ban Clearcutting

December, 2017


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Submitting the ordinance to the Humboldt County Office of Elections. Photo courtesy of Tom Wheeler.


EPIC has submitted a voter initiative to Humboldt County to ban the destructive forestry practice known as clearcutting within Humboldt County and implement well-recognized principles of sustainable forestry. Clearcutting and other even-aged management involves the removal of all or nearly all of a forest stand in a single harvest. This extreme forest disturbance harms water quality and wildlife habitat and exacerbates climate change. Volunteers will be collecting signatures on the ordinance with the intention of making it on the general election ballot in November 2018.

Timber can be harvested using less destructive methods, such as selection cutting, which removes only a portion of trees while preserving the forest. The ordinance would require these types of methods to be employed. The ordinance would also require that timber companies retain large, old trees and other “wildlife trees” that are disproportionately important for species that depend on older forests.

Tom Wheeler stands in front of the elctions office, courtesy of Tom Wheeler.

Humboldt County would join Marin County in banning clearcutting, and would join a number of other local governments, including Berkeley, Brisbane, Daly City, Davis, Menlo Park, Monte Sereno, San Francisco, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale, in expressing their opposition to the practice. Local regulation of timber production is preempted by state law; however, the California Forest Practice Act provides that counties can recommend rules to the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. These rules must be adopted if the rules are consistent with the Forest Practice Act and necessary to protect the needs of Humboldt County. 

Successful timber companies do not need to employ clearcutting to provide good paying jobs. In the redwood region, Humboldt Redwood Company and Mendocino Redwood Company both do not utilize clearcutting in their forest management. Across the state, other companies, such as Collins Pine, based in Plumas County, have likewise demonstrated that clearcutting isn’t a necessary tool for success. While numerous timber companies use alternative practices, we can expect that Big Timber will fight EPIC every step of the way.



5 Reasons Why Clearcutting is Bad for Humboldt


1. Clearcutting releases more greenhouse gas emissions than a forest fire. California’s forests can play an important role in helping the state combat climate change. Our forests are one of our few resources that can sequester carbon, but as they are currently managed, California’s forests are a source of greenhouse gases.

2. Clearcutting pollutes our rivers. Clearcutting is known to increase sediment pollution, which destroys salmon spawning habitat and can kill adult salmon. 

3. Clearcutting puts lives at risk. Clearcutting is known to increase the risk of a landslide. For example, clearcuts were a suspected cause of both the Oso landslide in Washington State that killed 43 people in 2014 and the landslide in Humboldt County that destroyed almost half of the hamlet of Stafford in 1997.

4. Clearcutting promotes use of cancer causing chemicals. After a forest is clearcut, timber companies frequently use heavy amounts of herbicides to kill naturally regenerating plants which can compete with the seedlings planted. Not only do these herbicides kill native plants, which reduces the complexity of regrowing forests, but these herbicides can affect the health of forest overall and nearby landowners.

5. Clearcutting destroys wildlife habitat. This one is obvious: clearcutting takes all of the trees in a forest, and given the quick rotation time between harvests, timber companies never allow trees to get large enough to serve as good wildlife habitat.

EPIC needs your help to collect signatures! 

Please email Briana at [email protected] if you can help!



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