Restored forests mitigate CO2 production

Image of Chamberlain Creek Falls, Jackson Demonstration State Forest, Mendocino County. Image credit: Kyra Rice.


The urgent need to incentivize forest ecology improvement above extractive logging…

California’s annual fire season once was made up of scattered wildfires that have been a part of forested and grassland ecologies for millennia, where fires caused damage of little consequence to healthy tree stands, burning out crowded understory and sapling overgrowth, maintaining healthy forest structure and genetic diversity. In less than 20 years this “fire season” has progressed to multiple annual catastrophic fires burning from July well into early winter, having increasing fatal and disastrous effect to human lives, entire townships, and to the land with which social, ecologic and economic well-being are so intimately intertwined. Not only are we loosing increasingly massive stands of carbon sequestering forestland each year, but these fires are in turn pumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere as they burn. It has become an imperative that we restore what remains of the forests—one of California’s main sources of carbon sequestration.


Clear cut at Owl-Creek grove, 1995, Headwaters, Northern Ca. You can see the even age growth in the upper right of this image next to the residue of more recent clear cut logging. The Headwaters Forest became a State Reserve in March of 1999, after the largest forest defense action in U.S. History.


The even-age growth from post clear cutting that we see today have created the conditions for the catastrophic fires raging annually.

98% of California forestland (nearly 50% of which is privately owned) is recovering from clear-cut forestry, which is still legal on private lands and widely practiced. Much of that forestland is 3rd, 4th and 5th generation grow back from multiple clear cuts and is in deep need of tending in order to bring it to a state of health and fire resilience.

Best-practices forest stewardship that thin overburdened stands of fire-fuel loads, that assists in genetic, age, and species diversity; watershed restoration; and natural succession (the gradual process by which ecosystems change and develop over time); is of our greatest hopes for long term environmentally based carbon sequestration throughout California.

Clear cut forest management

Clear cut forest management


The unfortunate reality is that currently landowners are well compensated for timber felled by clear cutting which also costs far less then if they were to choose selective tree thinning methods. This is among other real challenges toward making a shift to restorative forestry stewardship a standard.

However, the FRG has identified real solutions to the ends of main-streamed best-practices stewardship by revitalizing a localized forest product industry sourced from forest improvement projects.


Forestland in Round Valley after selective small tree thinning by FRG member Dane Downing. Image credit: Dane Downing

Round wood from above tree thinning project, finished and utilized by FRG member, Dane Downing. Image credit: Dane Downing


Chalenges >> Solutions

Challenge #1:

Land owners lack the informed will or the means to restore their forestland. The main forest improvement grants available make it difficult for the sale of thinnings to compensate for expenses, and landowners must put a large portion of the cost up front, making these options prohibitive for far too many.



IMPROVED COUNTY, STATE, & FEDERAL FOREST IMPROVEMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS - Advocate for grants and assistance that are more accommodating for forestland owners, allow for the sale of by-products from restoration projects, and incentivize utilization of by-products

BUILD CAPACITY AMONG ALL FORESTLAND OWNERS - Advocate for and host workshops by forest restoration specialists including traditional Indigenous forest stewardship practitioners

Host workshops on forest improvement grants & assistance

Challenge #2:

Create a market for forest thinnings.



MARKETING FOR SMALL POLE UTILIZATION (SPU) - The abundance of small diameter wood is a material-base for housing shortages.

Many meaningful uses including bio-char, biomass for gasification electric units, pallets, crates. It is an abundant material-base for a revitalized forest product industry that carries the integrity of making good use of a byproduct of restorative forestry.

EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ON THE BENEFITS OF SPU - Local byproduct sourced from restoration projects; superior quality wood than dimensional lumber bought at hardware stores; round poles are compatible with fire-resistant earthen wall features

EDUCATE A NEW GENERATION OF HOME BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS ON SMALL DIAMETER POLE UTILIZATION - The more industry professionals and trades-people know how to work with small poles, the more demand there will be.

INCREASE EDUCATIONAL & NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES - in small pole utilization and all aspects of forest reciprocity

FRG NATURAL BUILDING ARTS & INNOVATION CENTER - A networking, job training, and educational HUB for natural building techniques and innovation, as well as all aspects of forest reciprocity.


Chalenge #3

County agencies thwart large scale, coordinated restoration efforts due to autonomous mandates they must uphold, for example the Air Quality and Resource Conservation Districts.



ADVOCATE FOR POLICY CHANGES - Stakeholders participate in focus groups created by the newly established Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee to implement policy changes for intra-agency mandates prioritizing GHG emission reduction and carbon sequestration efforts which include land and forest restoration and fire resilience.