WATCH THE UPDATE: California Coastal Commission Approves Of Terrorizing Wild Animals In Their Forest Homes

WATCH THE UPDATE: California Coastal Commission Approves Of Terrorizing Wild Animals In Their Forest Homes

On Thursday, April 11, 2024, the California State Parks Department presented its deforestation project for Tomales Bay State Park to the California Coastal Commission for approval. In Defense of Animals, along with other passionate activists and citizens participated in the proceedings via Zoom with a familiar mix of frustration, anger, horror, and growing dread.

We Watched in Horror

We watched and listened as this state park’s complex, dense, lush — and above all healthy coastal forest, teeming with animals — was described like a sickly senior citizen on life support in a hospital ICU, about to expire - and requiring life-saving intervention. The “treatments” proposed to “heal” the “diseased” senior-forest?:  Chainsaws and chippers and masticating machines and toxic herbicides.

The California Coastal Commission, which must approve this monstrous deforestation project of killing and more killing if the project is to proceed, is a regulatory agency. It was created, ironically, to protect — not destroy — natural resources like this dense, lush, wild coastal forest on Tomales Bay in west Marin County.

Chainsaw Management, Herbicide Medicine

Maddeningly, we watched two state agencies, California State Parks (Cal Parks) and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) talk the same industrial forest “treatments” rhetoric of non-science of  “restoring” forests by cutting down trees with chainsaws and shredding untold acres of understory shrubs and bushes with industrial masticating machines and using chippers to chop up freshly killed trees and shrubs. The icing on this apocalyptic cake is toxic herbicides, applied liberally to kill even more plants, growing in a wild forest, whom these bureaucracies claim shouldn’t be growing there.  

As upsetting as hearing Cal Park’s torrent of pseudo-scientific rationalizations for destroying a forest in order to save it, was the Coastal Commission staff mindlessly repeating back the identical, pseudo-scientific rationales — and speedily approving the deforestation project.

Ignoring Animals, Destroying Their Homes

Both the Cal Parks and Coastal Commission agencies were indistinguishable in their enthusiasm for spending millions of dollars to industrially assault this dense, lush, wild forest — while making zero mention of the devastating effect that ten years of ear-splitting machines will have on the thousands of vulnerable animals who live here. Bats, songbirds, raccoons, foxes, skunks, woodpeckers, deer, wood rats, and several species of owls will be among the thousands of forest animals who will flee their quiet, secluded forest homes in terror.

Ignoring Reason on The Road to Ruin

Over twenty of us made comments to the Commission, since its members are supposed to listen and respond to public comments. However, there was no back-and-forth, no engagement, and no questions about our many submitted reports and data. There were no scientific challenges to what we had to say and there was no common sense reasoning to explain their point of view. The Commission ignored the substance of the over 300 pages of letters and reports and reasoned critiques that we the people submitted.  

Among us were biologists, ecologists, and other scientists and environmental groups who criticized the project for over a dozen reasons. All were simply ignored.

In short, the fix was in. Even our public comments were reduced from two minutes to just 60 seconds after the first ½-dozen speakers.

Demonizing Wildfire To Win Agency Funding

This is cutting down acres of forest to supposedly “restore” a healthy forest, while simultaneously reducing wildfire risk — even though this forest must have wildfire to be healthy. This deforestation project will only interfere with the natural ecological process of wildfire – in order to win millions for Cal Parks’ budget by simultaneously labeling this a “wildfire reduction” project too.

This is a blatant abuse of public trust, since both these agencies are supposed to protect wild forests like this one and safeguard the thousands of animals who live here. Instead, this project will degrade the forest and destroy the homes of thousands of forest animals.

Our Fight for All Forests — and Forest Animals — Continues

But we will not quit. We will continue to educate and monitor events surrounding the Tomales Bay deforestation project. We are exploring our options for saving these animals and their home. We will continue to speak up for them. We will educate more of the public that is being frightened by agencies leveraging wildfire danger to get money. who seek wildfire funding to fear forests. 

We will continue to inform you, too, and rely on your support because we know you care too. We must value and protect wild forests as precious animal retreats for animals of all kinds - even the human kind.

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