After the occupation and showdown at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by a band of extremist right wing outlaws earlier this year, it’s become even more clear that our precious public lands are only as protected and cared for as we demand them to be.
Federal public lands designations began in the late 1780s and progressed through several Acts of Congress during the 1800s, but the modern concept of public lands conservation began with the passage of the Forest Reserve Act of 1891.
This Act allowed the president to establish forest reserves to help conserve the forests and watersheds of the West. In 1964, the National Wilderness Preservation System was established by the Wilderness Act.
These places need our continued protection, and the way to do this is to be involved in processes that determine how public lands are managed. This entails everything from commenting on management plans to pushing back on timber sales, from hiking and heightening awareness with our friends and colleagues, to praising federal agencies for their good work and criticizing them when they’re on the wrong track.
Here at the Northcoast Environmental Center we know that proactive involvement in protection of these special places requires restoration of the whole ecosystems. That’s why the NEC is represented on the Trinity Collaborative, a Trinity Board of Supervisors sanctioned group that formed to engage directly with the Federal land managers to come up with smarter management of these lands that make up many hundreds of thousands of acres in Six Rivers and Trinity National Forests.
We are also part of the Northwest California Mountains and Rivers Group, a large and diverse coalition from our bioregion—Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino and Del Norte Counties—that has been working together to identify better management endeavors for our public lands and create potential legislation that our congressman Jared Huffman could introduce in D.C. to promote collaboration right here at home.
We’re proposing a large restoration area in the South Fork Trinity and Mad River watersheds. The focus of this restoration area is managing with and for fire.
Creating a network of roadside shaded fuel breaks, long overdue thinning of the thousands of acres of unmanaged plantations (from the failed even-aged management clearcuts of the past), and repairing or putting to bed thousands of miles of roads would be part of this restoration.
Cleaning up the backlog of trespass marijuana grow activities, expanding and supporting recreational opportunities, and—of course—protecting the last of the areas suitable for Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River designation that for political reasons were dropped from the previous Wilderness bills would also be included.
The NEC is working to strengthen and expand this coalition. This is critical for Congressman Huffman to introduce legislation in Congress; he will need to show that his
constituents want him to protect our surrounding public lands. Please help us in this exciting endeavor by checking out the website www.mountainsandriver.org/get-involved. Let our congressman know you want to support this effort. Contact him online at www.huffman.house.gov/contact/email-me or call 415-258-9657.