Sacramento – On Saturday, Governor Brown signed AB 1958 by Assemblymember Jim Wood which will create a program that would allow private land owners to affordably protect historic oak woodlands from encroaching conifers.
Assemblyman Wood said, “Under our current policies we are losing oaks at an alarming rate. This bill will provide a new resource for private land owners to manage their land and preserve these valuable habitats.”
Oak woodlands provide valuable rangeland, fire breaks, and habitat for wildlife. On the North Coast, historic oak woodlands are tragically disappearing into the mass of conifers. Conifers grow large and quickly pushing out mature oak trees, eventually killing them. Currently land owners are required to replant conifers even after restoration projects, effectively making it impossible to protect oak woodlands from conifer encroachment.
Yana Valachovic, Director of the UC Cooperative Extension in Eureka said, “In many ways, the loss of oak woodlands is the quintessential UC Cooperative Extension issue: the loss threatens some of the most productive working landscapes in our region, affecting both ecological and cultural resources.”
AB 1958 would eliminate the requirement to replant conifers and create a restoration exemption, allowing land owners to permanently remove and sell the conifers in order to make conservation, protection and maintenance of oak woodlands easier and more affordable.
Mike Cipra, Executive Director of the North Coast Regional Land Trust said, “AB 1958 is an important step towards giving landowners the tools they need to restore and conserve our region’s incredibly diverse oak woodlands.”
Elected in 2014, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- Healdsburg) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.