Citizens for Fire Safe Forests
Mendocino County - June 7, 2016

Citizen Initiative on Intentionally Killed Trees Left Standing

Firefighters in Mendocino County have filed a citizen initiative to address fire danger caused by intentionally killed and left standing trees. This is done by commercial forest companies with a technique called “hack & squirt”. There are now millions of dead trees standing in our coastal forests, adding dry fuel to the extremely dry conditions during this extended drought.


Hillside covered with dead standing tanoaks east of Comptche as seen from the Ukiah-Comptche Road     Photo  by Mike Kalantarian

Some background:

  • When redwood forests are (over) cut tanoaks increase in density and abundance. This a natural process of what ecologists call “secondary succession,” where after disturbance the forest goes through a succession of species that eventually replace each other and are eventually replaced by a forest dominated by redwood.
  • The successional species are important because they prepare the site for the return of the redwoods by stabilizing soils, retaining moisture, replenishing soil nutrients, providing shade, and many other critical ecological functions.
  • Shortcutting this process by poisoning important successional species such as tanoak, madrone, and manzanita is a risky way of regenerating a severely damaged redwood forest ecosystem.
  • There are many reasons why hardwoods should not be killed and left standing, besides the obvious fire hazard. A mature tanoak tree can produce as much as 250 pounds of acorns that were a favored and critical food source of the Pomo Indians of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. They are also an important food source for many species of wildlife including deer, bear, boar, dusky-footed woodrat, turkey, quail, squirrels and many others.
  • There are many other uses for tanoaks such as flooring, biochar, and firewood, if they must be removed

When passed, this initiative will declare the practice of intentionally killed and left standing trees a public nuisance. 2502 petition signatures will be needed from Mendocino County voters to qualify for the June 2016 primary ballot to help put an end to this practice."

Citizens For Fire Safe Forests
18452 Orr Springs Rd
Ukiah, CA 95482