Conservationists Crash Forest Management Methods by Saving Iconic Redwoods Amid Yosemite Wildfires

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A leading environmental group has continued to pursue litigation blocking the same forest fire management techniques that are currently helping to save a mass of iconic redwood trees in California.

The Earth Island Institute, a California-based organization, filed a federal lawsuit in June asking the court to stop a “biomass removal and thinning” project proposed by Yosemite National Park and the National Park Service (NPS). The lawsuit argued that the plan would benefit commercial loggers, negatively impact endangered wildlife, and was unnecessary, saying the density of dead trees was irrelevant to potential wildfire spread.

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As part of the proposal, the NPS had planned to cut down “hazardous trees” and remove biomass like fallen dead trees that could contribute to wildfires, according to project documents. On July 5, however, Yosemite National Park agreed to halt its plans pending a court ruling in the case.

Previous fuel-reduction treatments, meanwhile, have helped protect historic redwoods at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite amid a Washburn Wildfire that has ravaged the park since July 7, two days after the shutdown. of the NPS plan. Firefighters managed to contain 25% of the wildfires that spread through 2,340 acres of the park.

The Washburn Fire burns through Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.
((AP Photo/Noah Berger))

“We’ve been preparing for the Washburn Fire for decades,” John Dickman, a Yosemite forest ecologist, said Tuesday. “He really died as soon as he touched the grove.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Abdullah Hasan acknowledged on Wednesday that efforts to protect the forest from damage from wildfires “include the removal of hazardous fuels,” or thickets and dead trees that contribute to the fire. Additionally, a federal report on the ongoing wildfire said it is spreading through an area with a “very heavy accumulation” of combustibles.

However, the Earth Island Institute and other organizations continued to oppose similar NPS wildfire management techniques. Earth Island’s John Muir Project and a slew of other green groups recently announced their opposition to the bipartisan Save Our Sequoias (SOS) law introduced last month, which would boost such efforts, according to its co-sponsors.

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“It’s very telling that the loudest voices opposing the SOS Act are the same ones that actively thwart scientific forest management,” one of the project’s co-sponsors told Fox News Digital. of law, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Bruce Westerman, R-Ark. “Last week, The John Muir Project successfully stalled a forest restoration project in the giant sequoia groves of Yosemite, hours before the Washburn Fire started in the park.”

“All the experts on the ground right now are saying the only thing keeping Mariposa Grove from becoming a raging hell is the active National Park Service ranger management being done in the park,” he continued. “It confirms what we knew from the start: if we fight a fire as it spreads, we have already lost.”

The SOS Act — which was introduced by Westerman, Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and several other lawmakers on June 23 — would prioritize reduction salaries risk of forest fires in the highest-risk groves” and promote scientific forest management activities, according to its sponsors.

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But Chad Hanson, a research ecologist at the John Muir Project, said the NPS plan would have taken place “miles away” from where the Washburn fire is. He also said the John Muir Project supports small “prescribed burning” plans and minimizes the impact of current wildfires, saying “redwoods need mixed-intensity wildfires” to reproduce.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., co-sponsor of the SOS Act, speaks to reporters Dec. 3, 2021.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., co-sponsor of the SOS Act, speaks to reporters Dec. 3, 2021.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“The Washburn Fire is a relatively small, very slow-moving surface fire, burning mostly at low intensity in light to moderate fire weather, including dense forest with no history of forest management and an abundance of living and dead trees” , he told Fox News. Digital.

“It underscores what the John Muir Project and hundreds of scientists have been saying for years: it’s not primarily about the density of living or dead trees, it’s about weather and climate, and climate change.” , Hanson continued.

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The John Muir Project tweeted on Tuesday that the SOS Act “is nothing more than a Trojan horse to reduce environmental assessments,” a criticism dismissed by the bill’s sponsors. A spokesman for Westerman said a simple reading of the text of the legislation shows he would not waive any environmental review or delegate it to third parties.

The NPS did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

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