A plan announced last month to thin the city's woodlands, and sell the timber for profit, took heat from residents, who accused city officials of using Palestine's forests as a money making scheme.
Texas A&M District Forester Buster Robinson, however, told the Herald-Press Thursday managing forest growth is necessary for public safety. He cited California's recent fires and rolling blackouts as a case in point.
“One of the biggest benefits of forest management is that it mimics natural processes,” Robinson said. “Harvesting timber, and thinning the forest, as well as prescribed burns are helpful in avoiding catastrophic wildfires.”
By abstaining from timber thinning and controlled burns, unchecked growth in California has created a tinderbox. Overgrowth has fueled deadly, out-of-control wildfires, and California now faces a year-round fire season.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates California has seen nearly 200,000 acres in flames, due to more than 6,000 fires this year alone.
In early October, state officials authorized Pacific Gas and Electric Company to engage in massive power shut-offs in 30 counties to help stem the spread of wildfires caused by electrical equipment.
Nearly three million residents have lost power since the plan began.
“Harvesting timber would have helped, 100 percent,” Vinnie Dublino, a professional musician and native Californian told the Herald-Press. “It's not something they're just realizing with the fires raging right now; every time there's a fire in California, they have this discussion.”
Robinson said he understands why conservationists want to see nature preserved.
“Foresters are typically the greatest conservationists you'll ever meet,” he said. “We hear all the time that we just want to make money off the land and the timber, but that's not the case.
“You simply can't put a padlock on nature, and expect it to remain unchanged. Mother Nature doesn't care about padlocks, and she will bring the change in the form of disasters, like wildfires. Good, responsible, sustainable forest management is our best bet.”