Well, silly us thought that listening to a workshop on the Forest Ordinance would be kinda snoozy. Instead of drowsiness, however, we experienced severe anger! Every time we think we have a pretty good handle of all the damage the last BOCC wreaked upon our county, another example is thrown our way! When will it end folks?! WHEN?!
Mike Wilkins, another fine example of the county employees that work so hard for us, from the Planning and Permitting division is on hand to discuss proposed changes to the Forest Ordinance. However, we soon learn that these aren’t really changes as much as reverting back to what the ordinance was in 2007. What happened? Well, in 2011 you-know-who, struck out a lot of what was passed!
There’s lots of changes, and we’ll let you read them here. What we want to focus on is the 1 to 1 planting requirement that was a part of the 2007 ordinance. From 2007-2011, the county experienced a net gain of 10 acres of forest. When this provision was repealed, from the five year period between 2011-2016, we experienced a net loss of 335 acres. Not only because trees weren’t replaced, but the old BOCC would allow developers to substitute storm-water management ponds and street trees for forest. In the 2007 ordinance this was allowed to account for 25% of what they had to replant, the BOCC changed it to 100%. So, all the developers had to do was plant some street trees, make a pond and they were good to go.
Why do we need forests? Besides the obvious answer to have air to breathe, forests capture lots and lots of rain which prevents storm-water run-off. Forests also help conserve the soil (Dust Bowl, anyone?) and give animals shelter and food. If you want an actual list of all the terrible things that happen when deforestation takes place, spend some time and read through this.
We all know that Shrelauter will have some things to say. Kirby isn’t so bad, asks a reasonable question about what goals the county has for their forest canopy. Billy, on the other hand, is as rude and irrelevant as ever. He wants to know what effect this will have on Habitat for Humanity or the Interfaith Housing and affordable housing in general. Instead of listening to the answer, he keeps interrupting until he’s told by Mr. Wilkins’ boss to listen to the explanation. It turns out that in the worst case scenario, the cost of reforestation is about $462 a unit. But there are lots of exceptions and Habitat and Interfaith would most likely never have to pay that amount. However, the point we would like to make here is: BILLY DO NOT PRETEND FOR ONE MINUTE THAT YOU AND YOUR CRONIES GOT RID OF THESE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF NON-PROFITS. WE ALL KNOW THAT THIS WAS YET ANOTHER DEVELOPER GIVE-AWAY! And man oh man, didn’t they have a great old time with this board? Billy also wants to know how many trees have been destroyed by gypsy moths and tornados and we can barely take listening to this man anymore!
Hopefully, this ordinance gets reverted back to what it was in 2007 and we can all breath a little easier knowing that the forest is here to stay.