We can’t trust folks from the cities to protect our rural communities. We need our own voice in Sacramento. Because if we don’t manage our forests, Mother Nature will do it for us.
After decades of trying to “protect” our forests, Sacramento and Washington have only succeeded in stockpiling fuel for horrifyingly large fires. How many already endangered species are sucked into the inferno every year? How much greenhouse gas is dumped into the atmosphere when 1.5 million acres goes up in smoke? How many timber industry households are now threatened by the forests that used to put food on their tables?
It’s time to stop paying for feel-good policies with human lives.
Somewhere along the line, special interests redefined the word “conservation” to mean “look but don’t touch.” By definition, that sets up California forests for recurring massive wildfires, which plagued the land long before even the first humans arrived.
I believe in productive conservation, which has three basic principles that come from real conservative values:
Principle 1: Natural resources create wealth.
During the Gold Rush, people from all over America came to California, because they thought they could make a better living for themselves by harvesting a natural resource. Gold doesn’t grow back, but timber does — it’s California’s most prolific renewable resource. Properly-managed forests support industry, which supports community. Timber is not just a means to build a roof over your head, but a means to keep it over your head, too, as a renewable crop that can be managed for harvest and renewal.
Cutting regulation on the timber industry means more jobs and fewer catastrophic wildfires.
Principle 2: Waste is immoral.
Preventing waste is a basic principle of good business, but when it comes to our natural resources, preventing large-scale waste is a moral issue. Hunters and fishermen speak of their contempt for wanton waste, the taking of a wild game animal and needlessly wasting its edible or useful parts. In California, I can think of no more wanton waste than a wildfire: timber, which could have sheltered wildlife and sustained a community, instead is squandered to fuel their destruction.
Wasting our resources, by wildfire or mismanagement, is an unethical treatment of nature.
Principle 3: We must work for the benefit of our children.
The public lands of the United States belong to all of us. We elect governments to steward our public resources not only for our benefit today, but for our childrens’ benefit tomorrow. Responsible forestry is about keeping a timber crop alive and healthy for generations to come, not leaving our children to the uncertainties and lethal risks of ideological hands-off policies.
Forestry policy should provide the most benefit, to the largest number of people, for the longest time.
With principled, conservative policies, we can prevent catastrophic wildfires and put rural California back to work. This won’t be easy, nothing worthwhile is.