Protect Our Forests


Current News:

Calls for restoring regular fire in the Sierra Nevada continue, to reduce unnatural fuel loads and reverse the trend toward large high-severity fires that destroys old growth and threatens the safety of communities.
Article published in Science, written by the Forest Service's own researchers: "Reform Forest Fire Management"

King Fire Restoration Ignores Ecology, Calls for Logging, Tree Plantations & Herbicides

Last year's massive King Fire burned 63,000 acres of Eldorado National Forest, at one point even threatening to jump the crest and spread to Lake Tahoe. In the fire’s aftermath, the Forest Service has released its plan for the King Fire Restoration.  Unfortunately, it is all about logging the burned trees ("salvage logging"), establishing sterile tree plantations, and spraying lots of herbicides. The Forest Service still seems eager for any opportunity to log, and thinks restoration is simply growing more trees as fast as possible, so they can log some more. Is this how we treat the public’s forests? What about the Forest Service's own regulations that require the protection of the biological richness of the Sierra Nevada?
Regeneration after a fire
Photo credit: John Muir Project

Natural Regeneration After a Severe Fire

After a fire like the King Fire, burned areas can actually recover very nicely without logging, planting and spraying. After a fire there is a rapid regrowth of vegetation, attracting birds like woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and flycatchers -- and butterflies. And the burned trees become nesting and foraging habitat for wildlife like the California Spotted Owl, whose populations are in serious decline. Owls prefer old growth but they can forage in the newly open burned areas and nest in standing dead trees. Forest ecologists talk about the biological richness of this stage, when a forest begins natural succession and gradually, over decades, returns to a conifer forest. Ecologists call this early stage the "Complex Early Seral Forest," and note that it is the rarest type of forest habitat (but it is invariably targeted for elimination by the Forest Service). Find more on the research the Forest Service should be paying attention to in the Sierra Forest Legacy/Sierra Club comment letter.

Healthy Fire

Restoring Natural Fire Intervals

Why was the King Fire so large and so intense? The scientific research is clear: For over a century the Forest Service logged large fire-resistant trees and clearcut, while putting out every fire. Now there's an enormous build-up of forest fuels. The frequent and mostly low and moderate intensity fires under which the Sierra Nevada evolved have been replaced by larger and more severe fires, which burn even the large trees which usually survived. The highest priority ecological need in the Sierra is prescribed fire, to maintain forest fuels at the level they should be. Ecologists tell us learning how to manage fire is what should guide improvement in watershed health and protecting biological diversity. Managing fire should also guide post-fire restoration.

What You Can Do?

Send an email/letter to Laurence Crabtree, the Forest Supervisor of Eldorado National Forest, and copy Randy Moore, the Regional Forester (Crabtree is his subordinate). Tell them you do not support the current plan, and instead support the Conservation Alternative proposed by in the comment letter from Sierra Forest Legacy and Sierra Club. You’ll find the emails, addresses, and a sample email/letter that you can personalize here.  

Clearcutting during drought and climate change, seriously?


When Governor Brown traveled to Echo Summit on April 1 to announce the first mandatory water cutbacks in the state's history, he traveled through a Sierra watershed denuded by clearcuts like the one pictured above. During the press conference, he measured the Sierra snowpack at 5% of normal and said, "This historic drought demands unprecedented action ... as Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible." Yet why does the state continue to allow extensive clearcutting throughout our headwaters forests, exposing the precious snowpack to evaporation and rapid, early runoff?

Water that should trickle down through the forests to fill our reservoirs and supply water to our homes, farms and businesses throughout the dry months is instead being squandered.  Clearcutting scrapes the land bare of trees, compacts and dries out the sponge­like living soil, and uses toxic herbicides to grow a commercial tree crop. Despite harmful impacts to water, wildlife and the climate, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) approves on average 65,000 acres of clearcut and other plantation-forestry logging plans filed annually by a few private timber companies.

Act now

Don't let our water supply be trashed by irresponsible logging and private tree farm profits at the public's expense. California can't afford more clearcutting. Please sign our updated petition and share widely. Help us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures. 



Hear that giant sucking sound? It's the forests, cleansing our climate pollution! The redwood forests of the North Coast are some of the best carbon­sucking forests in the world. But how much carbon is captured by a clearcut? 
Clearcutting the climate

Deforestation is the fourth largest contributor to climate change. Clearcutting both reduces the amount of carbon forests can retain, and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Every clearcut is like a puncture in our planet's lungs.


That's why forest defenders are lining up to demand that the state's Forest Carbon Plan counts the carbon loss due to clearcutting and recommend selective logging as a less ecologically harmful method of meeting our demand for wood products.


The science is clear: older, maturing trees suck and store carbon better than tree plantations and the wood products they produce. Go figure! Real forests win again! Read More: Hot Air: Myths and Facts about Climate Change and Forests




Letters to the editor are an effective way to alert the public that our forests – and the water, wildlife, and climate they sustain - are being threatened by destructive clearcutting and factory tree farming. Please contact sue.lynn403[at] if you are interested in writing letters.


We need your support!  

Follow us on Twitter@noclearcut and Facebook StopClearcuttingCA 

Sierra Club Stop Clearcutting California Campaign 

View the recent Stop Clearcutting California

e-newsletter upon which this material is based.


New Policy:

Sierra Club Policy on Forest Biomass Energy Plants

For many years Sierra Club activists had been uncertain whether they were free to participate in a meaningful way on behalf of the organization in considering proposals for biomass plants that would burn products from forest restoration or fuels management and produce energy and/or heat. The Sierra Club's End Commercial Logging (ECL) Policy was interpreted by some members as precluding our ability to support the removal of any and all forest-generated materials from public lands if it would be sold for any purpose.
This uncertainty was resolved in 2012, when the Sierra Club Board of Directors adopted the ECL Policy Guidelines and attached language noting that the guidelines "would not restrict the Sierra Club from supporting ecological restoration or fuels reduction projects that help protect communities or enable the safe reintroduction of fire. As long as a project is designed to enhance forest ecology and fire resilience, whether or not some of the costs are recouped by selling by-products such as small diameter wood, chipped material, or other wood residue should not influence our support.” (Minutes, Sierra Club Board of Directors, November 17, 2012)

Three years later, in late April of 2015, the Forest Delivery Team of the Our Wild America Campaign adopted the Sierra Club Guidelines for Activists Engaging in Proposals for Forest Biomass Energy Plants Sourcing Biomass from Public Lands

Contact the Webmaster