TuCARE talks water, trees at summit

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

The Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment (TuCARE) and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen hosted TuCARE's 12th annual natural resources summit Friday at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.

The event featured a variety of guests talking on multiple issues, including recreation, energy and environmental policy.

But speakers like Olsen and Rep. Tom McClintock touched on a common message throughout - their belief that state and federal environmental policies on timber and water are hindering the local and state economy.

Olsen criticized Gov. Jerry Brown's water-conveyance proposal that calls for a tunnel system under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move water south of the Delta, saying it misses "one critical component - common sense."

She said the proposal, and other state water policies, ignore needs and rights of Northern California and foothill communities by imposing excessive regulations and restricting uses.

Water, Olsen said, is the "most important infrastructure issue that we will need to solve in this generation."

She also went after timber policies, calling for an expansion of lumber production in the state's national forests and cut back on the "miles of red tape and bureaucracy" she says timber companies face.

McClintock went further during his talk, calling modern environmental voices in California part of a "radical and retrograde ideology." He called on state and federal agencies to increase forest thinning, saying modern policies have led to high fire danger from overgrown forests and hurt mountain economies.

McClintock also criticized policies that he says makes it "economically impossible" to build new dams for reservoirs, which he said would increase water supply and decrease energy costs.

Overall, policies have shifted "from sustainable consumption to benign neglect," he said.

A local advocacy organization for logging, mining and agriculture in the Central Sierra Nevada region, TuCARE holds the summit as an opportunity to discuss issues and policies related to the group's mission. Speakers throughout the morning called for policy changes in a number of areas, saying looser regulations would improve water supply, fire protection and the economy.

Other participants on Friday included Pete Kampa, general manager of Tuolumne Utilities District, who gave an overview of TUD's system and outlined the state and federal regulations that apply to their actives. Chris Horgan, of Stewards of the Sequoia, advocated for increased recreational uses of forest land in the state. And Eric Eisenhammer of Coalition of Energy users gave a talk heavily critical of the California Air Resources Board proposal to create a carbon credit market in the state.

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The Union Democrat
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