The State of Our Forests

Written by Byron P. Krempl: Headwater Forests Program Manager

As a recent California transplant, I was blown away by the beauty and splendor of the Tuolumne River Watershed. From the Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park to the Sierra Nevada foothills, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with a sense of awe and wonder. But even in all of that wonder, I noticed ominous undertones. The legacy of the 2013 Rim Fire, the sheer number of standing dead trees that succumbed to drought and beetle kill, the overstocking of the forests, and the rapidly changing climate.

We are stewards of our natural resources, and it is our job to restore our natural landscape. But how? Restoring our natural landscape won’t be quick, and it certainly won’t be easy. But it can be done. We must recognize the inherent factors that make nature resilient and learn to work together, federal agency and environmental nonprofit alike, to work with nature instead of against it. Just like our landscape, solving this problem is bigger than any one of us. It requires an array of management approaches to yield a suite of environmental conditions and outcomes that benefit not only us, but the environment and future generations.

We can produce timber and wildlife habitat, sequester carbon and filter water, reduce fuel loading and increase old-growth forests all at the same time. But only if we come together and begin to seek out solutions rather than focus on problems. TRT is poised at the epicenter of a swirling storm of diverse stakeholders, objectives, and beliefs about what landscape-level forest planning should look like within the Upper Tuolumne Watershed. TRT is diligently working with an array of stakeholders to develop a common-ground approach to restoring our forests. Can it be done? Yes. Not quickly, not easily, and certainly not without your support. But together, we can save our forests.