Wednesday, Apr 09 2014 06:00 AM

Guest Commentary: Bear Valley Springs vs beetles

This is a rebuttal to the letter to the editor from David Giannandrea published March 26 in the Tehachapi News.

Mr. Giannandrea at first seems to be writing an enlightened article on the problems in the higher elevations of Bear Valley Springs with the destruction of hundreds and hundreds of Ponderosa pine trees in the forested areas of our valley. I will agree with the beginning of his article that the problem is water!

Along with our record drought, this problem is wide spread up and down the Sierra Nevada as well as LA and San Bernardino Mountains. I will again agree that while there is great controversy as to whether global warming is self-induced. I am not going to debate that larger problem.

I have lived in the upper elevations of Bear Valley Springs for over 18 years. Back in 2001 through 2003 I witnessed first-hand the massive destruction by Pine Bark Beetles on my little four acres of beautiful forest property. No one not even the Association, CSD, or ECC., when I talked to them back then, even knew what Pine Bark Beetles were.

Despite many hours of self-education and efforts around the clock to save at least part of my little forested dream, I lost 85 ancient Ponderosa Pines -- some that were over 150 years old. I went through my life savings hiring a professional tree service to cut each and every one down day after day weeks turned in to months and over two years lost over half my forest.

The forest on my property was never over-crowded. The thinning practice is totally unnatural.

Jump forward 11 years later. Just since the start of this year, with no real moisture, my very thinned out forest is so thin that if it wasn't for planting new trees over a decade ago I would be living in a meadow instead of a forest!

Now I have lost and had removed another five dead trees and losing about two more each month. I have tried everything to save them including sprays, systemic insecticides, fertilizers, and yes, watering. I have now lost over half of my little forest; the back and front of my property has only a few trees left.

These trees are starving to death without being overcrowed. The trees cannot produce enough sap to keep the ever present beetles in check. If they were healthy they would produce pitch tubes of sap encasing and killing the beetles keeping the population in check and not running rampid.

The distress pheromones that the trees are sending out are attracting more beetles then the trees can handle, girdling the trees in an elliptical circle boring into the Cambium surface where life's moisture and nutrition systemically rises through the trees.

This is not, as Mr. Giannandrea implied, a natural life and death cycle of a tree that is not even close to the end of its life cycle. We have strands of pine trees up here that are completely destroying entire lots. Yes, in the end it will also greatly reduce property values. But the forest itself will be gone without human intervention to save it, as well as the oaks.

It is a vicious cycle. Without the forest there will be no animals; without the animals more species will die! Each and every thing living depends on the other to maintain the delicate balance of nature for survival.

Mr. Giannandrea also implied that Bear Mountain Ranch's proposed timber harvest is for fire prevention. This thinning is not to save the forest, it is for the almighty dollar. If Sierra Forest Products Timber Harvest Plan is implemented it will be 1250 acres right up against BVS.

The above company was asked what kind of trees do you want to harvest. They want the ones that are healthy or diseased and still alive so they can harvest them off of Bear Mountain and make money along with the very ranch that wants this done under the guise of forest thinning for health.

If BM Ranch was worried about fire so much why are they taking down trees that are thousands of feet from their very home and not thinning at all around their upper elevation home or their foothills (Keene) home?

It's all about the money. These new owners stand to make a lot of money by harvesting these trees for profit! Not for fire prevention or healthy forest thinning!

They want to use our crumbling infrastructure roads to remove these beetle ridden trees down the mountain on BVS property with more than 10 round trips per day, 10 hours per day, five days per week for up to a year. These 80,000 pound semi-trucks will traverse our hair pin turns down to his side of the mountain with beetle infested logs that will bore back out of there temporary homes in these logs into our already diseased stressed pine trees and make a catastrophic situation even worse!

Hence the errors in your article that this is a windfall and prevents the spread of Pine Bark Beetles! If fact this will add to the spread of them.

They are not doing anything good for BVS without getting paid! Again these 5000 acres is not BVS property. There only logging 1250 acres of a 44-year-old BVS district boundary that this land owner thinks gives him the right to use BVS Roads for his financial gain period! What is the most distressing is that he does not want to use his own 5000 acres to exit his property, but use the convenience of BVS roads to gain his profitable logging operation.

Deertrail Drive has not been abandoned by BVS. There are many beautiful homes with hard working families that happen to love the beauty of this area. Sadly people read your misinformed article and think so what is the problem. I have over four inch thick of documents that this rebuttal doesn't even begin to address the issues here at hand.

If you are trying to understand where the CSD is coming from, You obviously haven't attended some of the volatile meeting without cries from BVS residents since we found all this out last September! You seem to proclaim your expertise in this whole matter. You don't have a clue what is going on here!

By the way, a healthy pine tree is not a torch for fire but, yes, a dead one standing is, along with smaller dead and dying trees and bushes creates the ladder effect for a major forest fire!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Anderson's submission was due to space limitations.

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