The harshest cut - Page 4

Sierra timber practices aren't front-page news anymore — but the brutal devastation of clear-cutting continues apace
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Denuded forest near Arnold

SPI kept a low profile for a while, even declaring to the press it would scale back clear-cutting in Calaveras County — only to redouble its practices a few months down the road.

The Yuba River site has been spared, thanks to the intervention of the Trust for Public Land, which has been able to purchase 110,000 acres from SPI. Those parcels, also located in the Tahoe region and Humboldt County, were transferred to public ownership for conservation.

On the policy front, Forests Forever has been leading the charge for 20 years. The lobbying group has sponsored three initiatives in Sacramento to ban or further restrict clear-cutting. The last bill was killed by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in April 2008.

"There's a lingering sense that logging is still an economic driver in the state," said Forests Forever executive director Paul Hughes. "But tourism and retirement, which depend on healthy forests, actually contribute more to the economy."

Skeptics say that 80 percent of the wood used in California comes from Washington and Oregon or from the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, where clear-cutting is the norm anyway. But as Hughes put it, "You've got to start somewhere to fight this abomination."

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