The silent cries

Were DO All These Animals Go?

Our forests are complex and fragile ecosystems, complete circles of life for countless lives. California is the home to rare species whose existence is balanced through diverse and healthy forests whose trees are young to old. The timber industry maintains that patches of forest amidst clearcuts are enough to sustain regional health. Yet everywhere clearcutting exists in California, local residents overwhelmingly challenge this claim. Habitat integrity is destroyed.

Destructive clearcut logging severely impairs the quality of water and reduces our water reserves. As much as 80% of the water used by all Californians comes from forests. Even fallen logs hold a tremendous amount of water. In the past, the Sierra Nevada has acted like a great sponge, receiving the snowfalls of winter and then steadily releasing the water to the valleys below. Now with more and more vegetation gone, winter flooding and summer drought are increasingly common. Logging on steep slopes with roads that typically undercut the terrain, and logging close to streams, causes silt to be dumped or washed into the streams. Water districts must then treat the water to remove the silt and the herbicides that accompany clearcutting.

The surrounding forest community suffers due to logging practices. Logging is only a small portion of a forest community's economy-less than 3%. Tourism, creating 75% of a forest community's revenues, often deteriorates significantly as logging makes the surrounding land less attractive to sportsmen, hikers, and vacationers. With the near disappearance of the coho salmon (1% of prior numbers), fishing boats sit idle in harbors and fishermen have no need of licenses.

Agriculture has also suffered. In the 1990s on the North Coast, a third-generation apple farmer saw her productivity drop by half due to logging-related flooding and water pollution of the South Fork Eel River. Even people's homes were impacted. Seven homes in Stafford were leveled by a "tsunami of stumps and trees" after steep hillsides were weakened by logging and then pounded by rains. The guilty logging company paid $3.3 million.

The financial benefits of clearcutting are reaped by the logging industry (3% of California's gross domestic product) and politicians such as Governor Davis, who had received over $100,000 in yearly campaign contributions from timber interests. Citizens are provided wood and paper. However, with sustainable forestry practices, recycled wood and paper, and alternative materials, we could have the products we need without paying so dear a price.

To sum up, the costs of clearcutting include wildlife extinction; loss of jobs in the fishing, agriculture, and recreation industries; a drop in water quality and availability; and increased climate change.

Reports and Articles

Cumulative Impacts to Amphibians Species