Sonora, CA — A Friday afternoon luncheon of the Tuolumne County Business Council focused on post Rim Fire timber harvesting, the health of the forest and state government matters.
Featured guests included Tim Tate of Sierra Pacific Industries, Mike Albrecht of Sierra Resource Management and District Five Assemblyman Frank Bigelow.
Tate spoke about S.P.I.’s efforts to help create a fire line in the early stages of the Rim Fire in the Duckwall region. The company eventually had 16,000 acres of land in the Rim Fire’s perimeter, and an estimated 9,000 acres were completely scorched. He said that the mills in Standard and Chinese Camp are currently running at capacity as the company harvests the salvageable timber on their private land.
Albrecht spoke about how timber harvesting has become more difficult over the last several decades on federal lands due to an increasing number of federally protected zones. He noted that it has resulted in overgrowth, and combined with increased temperatures, more explosive wildfires.
Bigelow spoke about the need for increased water infrastructure, which he said is very evident in light of the current drought. He spoke about the need for the legislature to put funds into a rainy day fund, rather than spend the new revenues that have emerged. He also spoke about efforts to pass California Environmental Quality Act reforms in Sacramento. He noted his displeasure that the Senate Democratic leader removed amendments he had requested to a CEQA bill in the minutes before it was voted on last session. Bigelow also criticized the state’s involvement in the high speed rail project.
“The breadth of concerns that people raised here today were the same that I have heard in the past,” said Bigelow after the luncheon. “Help us with CEQA Reform, help us get some jobs, and help us with some water. Now we can’t open up the heavens to get water, but certainly there are things we can do to help us with our water storage.”
The luncheon was held at the SRMC’s current Project Intellicare 2.0 site in the former Andy’s building.
The Tuolumne County Business Council is a non-profit organization founded in 2008, and it has a stated goal of addressing challenges facing businesses in a positive and constructive manner.