Diggin’ In: The Gienger Report

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Monday, April 26th, 2010

biocohocougar01inhancedRichard Gienger, veteran forest advocate from southern Humboldt county, has been working with EPIC for over 30 years to improve logging practices and fish habitat. Each season, Richard brings readers up to speed with Diggin’ In, the Gienger Report in his contribution to the Trees Foundation quarterly, Forest and River News. This spring, Richard’s report explores the history of an elemental concept in comprehensive forest managment, and EPIC’s history, cumulative impacts.

Diggin’ In:  The Gienger Report

In this issue I’ll be “recapping” some of the continuing sagas, like the bond funding freeze and watershed/fisheries restoration work. But first I’m going to try to summarize some of the elements of the so-called “timber wars” over the last three-plus decades and then focus on crucial current conflicts and opportunities. I’ll have to skim over years of fundamental detail in order to get to the here-and-now. For those who want to dig in deep, there are multiple sources to search out—you might be able to earn a PhD, or two, for your efforts. For a one-stop summary of a central aspect you might read and/or acquire Sharon Duggan and Tara Mueller’s Guide to the California Forest Practice Act and Related Laws. For a millennial overview I’d recommend A Forest Journey: The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization by John Perlin. And while you’re thinking millennial, read King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon by David R. Montgomery.

My first experience of forestry in California came in the fall of 1971 in the Mattole Valley as I walked through battered landscapes ravaged by tractor logging after World War II and up through the 1960s—streams buried and skid trails disrupting hillsides with incredibly dense and damaging networks. I soon learned of the ad valorem tax brought to bear by the California legislature to make sure that the materials for the post WWII building boom were available. Landowners were taxed ON THEIR STANDING TIMBER until they cut 70% of it. This tax, which spawned the crazed gypo cat-logging frenzy, lasted into 1976. …
To read the full story download a PDF of Diggin’ In: The Gienger Report here.