Wise stewardship of natural resources was the motif running through the 10th annual Tucare Dinner and silent auction Friday night.
Retired wildlife biologist and author George Gruell was the keynote speaker. Gruell has spent years poring over thousands of photographs taken in the Sierra Nevada between 1849 and 1929. Gruell studied the pictures and then went back to the locations they were taken to document the changes that have taken place in the forest. Gruell´s before and after picture comparison illustrated the dense overgrowth that has occurred in many parts of the Sierra since the introduction of fire suppression and the decline of timber management.
Gruell says the thick forest canopy and heavy undergrowth aren´t allowing plant life to emerge in many areas, reducing plants available for consumption by wildlife.
Tucare Board member Rocky Wolf acknowledged that the past plundering of the forest has hurt the timber industry. Wolf says the abuse that has taken place in the past has been replaced by much more heavily regulated and enlightened approaches to forest management.
John Hardin was also honored with the group´s Conservation Award during the annual fund raiser . Tucare Program Consultant Ginger Armstrong says the organization is dedicated to the intelligent management of the area´s natural resources, with an emphasis on educating the public.
Administrative Consultant Melinda Fleming says this year´s event was the most successful Tucare fund raiser ever.
280 people attended the dinner and auction at the Elks Lodge in Sonora. Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, some Tuolumne County Supervisors and Sonora City Council members, as well as a representative from Senator Dianne Feinstein´s office attended. The dinner and auction is the biggest fund raiser of the year for Tucare.