Environment & public lands

Public lands provide jobs, recreation, wildlife habitat, and support businesses. If properly managed, they can be a source of economic prosperity in the north state. Inadequate funding, climate change, and a complex tangle of jurisdictional and regulatory issues have caused inadequate management of our public lands. This has caused a drain on local government resources, leading to serious public safety and environmental concerns. There are a number of layers of issues related to environment and our public lands (see topics below). My response to these issues is at its core two pronged. First, I believe that creation has intrinsic value and that care of the land in order to safeguard it for future generations is an enduring rural value.  Second, I believe that local control is an essential part of any course of action. Local entities understand their ecosystems and are best equipped to respond in order to protect, manage, and help them to thrive. One-size-fits-all policies from the Federal government and multiple layers of disagreeing regulations only serve to slow down the proper management of our public lands.

My priorities:

  • Streamlined regulations tailored to the different types and purposes of public lands, and focused on local management and control.
  • Increased funding for local governments to properly manage public lands in their jurisdiction. Especially for
    • forest management and fuel reduction for wildfire prevention (this is a key life and death issue throughout our district).
    • law enforcement (illegal drug production is an increasing problem)
    • road improvement (California’s rural roads are some of the most deadly in the nation)

Cannabis on Public Lands

    • Illegal planting of cannabis on public lands has become a dangerous issue in our district. Even with legalized production, drug cartels continue to plant hidden plots of cannabis on public lands. They divert water sources and dump poisons and chemicals on the ground and in the water. After occupying a plot for several months and harvesting, they move on but leave behind dead animals, garbage, and human waste. Cleaning up these plots is necessary for public safety, as well as the environment. When the plots are cleaned up, the cartels are less likely to return to the same place.
      • We need to increase funding for clean up efforts.
      • We also need to invest in prevention, by increasing the number of law enforcement rangers and aircraft to patrol our parks, national forests, and public lands.

Grazing of Public Lands

    • Managed grazing has been scientifically proven to be a critical method in restoring the vitality of wild lands. Intensive managed grazing (as opposed to dispersed grazing), can restore badly degraded or eroded soils to health in a few seasons while supporting livelihoods of rural ranchers. Restored lands are safeguarded for future generations, are able to support more wildlife as well as more livestock, and contribute to improved microclimates and ecosystems.  
      • Support public-private partnerships to train ranchers in managed grazing techniques, and utilize their knowledge and herds to restore and manage degraded public lands, or to engage in forest fire fuel reduction.

Endangered Species Act

    • While extinction of species is a natural phenomenon, human activity is increasing it. Healthy ecosystems have a diversity of species. The whole system is more resistant to the shock of natural disasters and pest and disease outbreaks if there are more species present. The destruction of a species has the potential to significantly alter an ecosystem. This is however a complex issue because protection of habitat or food for one species can negatively impact another, or can create a public safety issue (as we have seen in our district). The two main issues with the ESA are to balance the competing goods on public land (protecting species versus management and use of the forest) and to mitigate economic losses to farmers and ranchers impacted by the ESA.
      • Competing goods - For example protecting habitat for spotted owls has led to certain areas of the forest not being managed properly to reduce forest fires.
        • Public safety must be firmly established as the first concern in the management of public lands
        • Protection of species is also an important goal, and must be accomplished through evidenced-based science, and solutions-oriented conversation between the various stakeholders at the local level.
        • The Cap-And-Trade emissions policy in California is a creative example of how businesses and government worked together in a mutually beneficial way to increase business revenue and reduce environmental impact at the same time.
        • It should be up to local entities, who understand their ecosystems, to make integrated natural resource management plans.
      • Mitigation of economic losses - For example: protection or promotion of certain predators has caused livestock losses for ranchers.
        • While the government has the right under eminent domain to make decisions that negatively impact the personal property of citizens, it is also the constitutional responsibility of the government to justly compensate citizens for their property. Similarly, in times when the government’s determined action to create a beneficial impact on the environment also causes farmers and ranchers economic hardship, compensation must be made.
        • Farmers, foresters, and ranchers are the front-line stewards of the land. Environmental goals and regulations should be determined in conversation with them.