What We Do
California’s 20 million acres of national forests offer the greatest opportunity for large-scale forest preservation in this state. National forests are public lands that provide a special space for shared public benefits, including conserving habitat for forest wildlife, helping address the climate crisis by sequestering carbon dioxide in trees and forest soil, serving as the headwaters for half of California’s water supply, and offering inspiring and relaxing recreation opportunities. Environment Now seeks to fully protect California’s national forests from commercial logging.
Currently, the US Forest Service permits timber companies to do commercial logging on our national forests. Logging harms the shared public benefits from national forests. Not only does logging cause ecological damage and release carbon into a rapidly-warming world, it also impacts taxpayers: the Forest Service’s timber program operates at a net loss of over a billion dollars per year.
Faced with rising public concerns, the Forest Service and the timber industry have increasingly sought to repackage logging as “management” and “restoration,” often using inaccurate claims about forest fires. The Forest Service’s current logging projects in reality continue to be destructive and costly, diverting resources and attention away from actions that could help forests and help protect communities during wildfires. Environment Now’s partners stop harmful logging and advocate for community fire-safety.
Environment Now’s partners work at three levels to protect national forests:
- Forest Watch— Environment Now supports a network of grassroots organizations that monitor California’s national forests and, when necessary, challenge harmful logging projects in court. Example: John Muir Project
- Forest Protections—Our partners work to maintain and increase the protections for national forests, such as through national forest management plan revisions, endangered species designations, and policies on climate-polluting forest biomass energy. Example: Center for Biological Diversity
- Forest Science—Our partners conduct and disseminate rigorous scientific research debunking false claims used by the Forest Service and timber companies to promote more logging. Example: Wild Nature Institute
Environment Now’s partners have successfully challenged harmful logging and chaparral-clearcutting projects on every national forest in California. Logging levels on California’s national forests have decreased by 87% over the 30 years since Environment Now was founded in 1989.
In 2015, the Pacific fisher became the first major forest-dwelling species in the Sierra Nevada to receive protection under the California Endangered Species Act, thanks to a scientific petition and litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center and its co-plaintiffs also secured federal Endangered Species Act protection for the Pacific fisher in 2020.
Environment Now’s partners in the science community have published dozens of studies in peer-reviewed journals debunking erroneous forest fire claims that have been used to justify more logging, showing for example that logging, rather than fire, is a primary threat to spotted owls. Our partners also convey the latest forest science to policymakers and the public in accessible ways, such as science summaries, media outreach, and informative videos.
While working to protect national forests, Environment Now’s partners also advocate for resources to help communities safely coexist with inevitable wildfires. To learn more about these solutions, see “Working from the Home Outward: Lessons from California for Federal Wildfire Policy” (May 2021).