Setting a Standard
Those animal-rights protesters exposed some horrific animal abuse at our local farms, as evidenced by the video they released ("Cage Match," Oct. 24). I wish the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and the sheriff's department were more interested in stopping this illegal animal cruelty than covering up for them. The video clearly exposes the claims of Whole Foods as buying only from "humane" farms and wanting transparency as a shameless marketing ploy. Sonoma County could be setting the standard for animal welfare! Thank you to the protesters for making us aware.
Unrest in the Forest
Besides destroying thousands of homes, many thousands of trees were lost in last year's fires. Sadly, when burned lands were cleared, there were live trees cut down needlessly due to a combination of expediency, greed and carelessness.
Now that PG&E is facing scrutiny for responsibility for the fires, many remaining trees are again under threat. PG&E and its contractors are engaged in a program of extreme vegetation removal. They claim that they must cut 12 feet or more away from power lines and poles for the sake of public safety. This is excessive; their regulations call for a four-foot safety area, not 12 feet. By cutting a huge swath of trees and vegetation, they claim they will not need to cut again for 10 years. They end up cutting trees that are very old and healthy, and which are not adding to the danger of forest fires.
Near my home, I see many large oak trees that have been marked with "to-be-cut" ribbons on them. Those trees are located on sparsely wooded land and pose no fire risk. Also, I have been told that numerous large trees, some that were over a hundred years old, have been cut down by PG&E or its agents in error.
The tree companies are being paid in a manner that encourages overcutting—the more they cut, the more money they make. Those evaluating what to cut are not arborists, and the tree-cutting companies are from all over the country, which means that those doing this work lack an ecological, professional or local connection to what is being done.
Trees are the lungs of the earth, and their presence contributes to human emotional health. Trees are already under assault by drought, insects, fires, climate change, disease, vineyard conversion and development. Must PG&E also destroy trees needlessly to add to this carnage?
"They'll grow back" is the retort to questioning the cutting. But the trees may not grow back, and if they do, it may happen when many of us are long gone.
Of course tree and vegetation management is needed for fire protection, but it needs to be done conscientiously. Please contact PG&E and your local government representatives and ask that vegetation removal be done with care and discretion. It is not necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.