Change forestry practices to save water

02/21/2014 12:02 PM

02/21/2014 2:14 PM

Re "$687 million tagged for drought aid" (Page A1, Feb. 20): As the forested watersheds of California provide 80 percent of the state's water supply, there is a particular forestry management practice that appears at cross purposes with helping protect our water supply or quality.

That practice is called clearcutting and it's extensive in Sierra forests. Clearcutting involves stripping 20 acre plots of forest, spraying with herbicides and leaving the soil bare until reforested. Without the understory the soil lacks the ability to store rain water or insulate snow for slow release of water in the spring. The bare soil erodes. Resulting sediment clogs waterways. Herbicides drain into our water supply.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation reported that nearly 300,000 pounds of herbicides were sprayed on California's forested counties in 2010.

When every drop counts, now or in the future, this is a practice we can't afford to continue to allow.

-- Luanne Clayton, Sacramento

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