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Global Skywatch

hugging trees to death

Sonoma Highway oaksGreat grandfather oaks stand in twin rows alongside California’s Highway 12. All day long, automobile traffic backs up solidly in the two-way lane between them. Breaks in traffic must be provided by electrical signal lights scattered along the way. Widening this road to match the four-lane highways that surround it is politically impossible.

The vast majority of the people in the stately oak’s ancestral home ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM … and protect each and every one until they collapse to the ground from old age, and complete their return to the earth by decomposition.

Permission to cut even a single grandfather oak is a multi-year, multi-agency process that includes public notices and public hearings; one that is accomplished occasionally, but only by professional red-tape experts. Cutting down a 20-mile row of them will simply not ever happen.

However, almost nowhere in this community of oakley love do you find baby oaks, adolescent oaks or young adult oaks. When the great grandfather oaks die, the oaks will be gone.

Nobody seems to notice that.

Oak experts make the big bucks running cables from branch to branch keeping these trees intact a few years longer, like an exoskeleton propping up senior citizens whose limbs have given out.

California colleges and universities have become expert at chemically fighting oak root fungus and other maladies brought on by removal of the oak leaf mat that should suppress grass growth under their umbrellas, and by the constant irrigation of root zones that should go dry in the summer. The cabled-up great grandfather oaks on life support make their lonely stand amidst great expanses of mainucred lawns in campuses throughout the Valley Oak’s old habitat.

Feral pigs, introduced by early Russians and Europeans, eat acorns and uproot baby oaks, severly limiting reproduction and growth of wild-land oaks. California Department of Fish and Wildlife enjoys the power to manage pig hunting at a level guaranteed to keep oak reproduction from taking place where the pigs live. Sadly, that is everywhere multi-generational communities of oaks used to thrive.

In human occupied places, landowners and public agencies mow the grassland short for fire protection and esthetics, chopping newborn oaks to the ground before they even get a good start.

Homeowners suspicious of the dangers inherent with having a “heritige oak” designation dictate their options often cut down adolescent oaks to replace them with landscaping not at risk of public ownership.

Complete widespread failure to understand the Valley Oak ecosystem place the future of this entire species on shakey ground. Obviously, it is not lack of love, but simplistic solutions, excessive faith in self-proclaimed experts and trusting bureaucrats whose concerns are not the same as yours.

—-

They took all the trees, and put ’em in a tree museum

And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em

-Joni Mitchell

lands managed by feds—-

Heading up into the mountains finds the same tree-hugging mentality killing evergreen forests there too. The federal government usurped land from a population ignorant of the role defined by the Constitution and is managing the trees to death.

Forests otherwise identical to those well managed under state and private stewardship burn in thousand-acre swaths covering multiple states with smoke every August through October fire season.

Pine bark beetles move from tree to tree with no breaks provided by local government or logging interests who are smart enough to figure out what the feds seem to not comprehend. Great stands of ever-browns grow where ridges and valleys of evergreens used to be.

Log them while there is still value in the lumber? Perish the thought.
Remove the fuel load before lightening season? Heck no.
Restore the logging economy?
Revitalize communities that have become nearly jobless retirement villages?
Re-employ vacant lumber mills?
Not on your life.
The feds will see all of that organic carbon released by fire spewing smoke into the atmosphere over the left half of the country before they will alow THAT.

We definitely do not want employment and independence for mountain folk. They must move to federal housing, stand in federal soup lines, in federally approved population centers while we assert control over it all: rural, wilderness and cities.