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Letter to the editor – July 24, 2015

Dear editor,

Thanks to early conservation efforts, vast areas of prehistoric redwoods have been protected from logging where they survive in our state despite generations of an industrial economy. These redwood forests are now under threat, and help is needed if we want these ancient trees to continue into the future.

Poachers are encroaching into protected government and private land to steal the burls from these trees. By removing their protective layers of bark, these ancient redwoods lay exposed to disease and pests killing them quickly over time. The burls are sold to lumber mills or craftsmen and this beautiful decorative wood is ultimately used to create high-end consumer goods. With the small number of rangers available to patrol the vast acreage of the forest, the risk of getting caught is limited. Worse yet, if convicted, current penalties can be easily incorporated into the cost of doing business with minimal impact on the profitability of this enterprise.

The California Federation of Women’s Clubs is asking for support of California Senate Bill 288, which increases penalties of burl poaching to include up to one year of imprisonment and imposes stiff fines on poachers in the hopes of making those who would kill our redwoods think twice before seeking this avenue for enrichment. While this does not resolve the problem of catching poachers, it will reduce the spin of the courtroom doors for those convicted of this offense.

We ask that Californians contact their state Assembly representative to stand with the California Federation of Women’s Clubs to protect our redwoods by passing Senate Bill 288.

—Jennifer Nickel, Legislation & Public Policy State Chairman, California Federation of Women’s Clubs

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