The Citizens' Campaign for Old-Growth Preservation (CFOG), a broad coalition of religious, environmental and business groups, announced today that it has begun gathering the 420,000 signatures required to place the Heritage Tree Preservation Act on the November 2002 ballot.
The Heritage Tree Preservation Act would ban the cutting of heritage trees, defined as trees alive in the year California became a state (1850), on non-federally owned forestlands. Heritage trees can be over 16 feet in diameter, are resistant to forest fires because of
their size, and provide crucial habitat for numerous endangered and threatened species.
"California's old-growth ecosystems are an irreplaceable treasure. Most Americans don't realize that ancient trees are still being cut down daily. We want the public to decide whether California will protect our heritage trees, or if they will be lost forever," says campaign coordinator Susan Moloney.
Organizers anticipate support from Governor Gray Davis as the act provides the perfect opportunity for him to fulfill his March 1998 campaign pledge to ensure that "wetlands are preserved, rivers are clean, and all old-growth trees are spared from the lumberjack's ax."
"With only 3-4% of our original forests left, it's unconscionable that any of these trees are still falling," asserts CFOG member Julia Butterfly Hill, an initiative supporter who spent two years camped in an ancient redwood in Humboldt County, California.
The Heritage Tree Preservation Act's endorsers are actors
Martin Sheen, Ed Begley, Jr., Woody Harrelson and Emilio Estevez, Sequoia Alliance director Martin Litton, Surfrider Foundation co-founder Dr. Gordon Lebedz, and former US Representative Dan Hamburg, currently Executive Director of V.O.T.E. Action Committee.
The initiative is also endorsed by numerous religious organizations, such as Christians Caring for Creation,the Bay Area Chapter of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the Episcopal Diocese of California, and Environmental Ministries of Southern California.
"The community of faith has a moral responsibility to maintain the ecosystem balance set up by our Creator," said the Rev. Sally Bingham, of the Episcopal Diocese of California: Commission for the Environment. "Preserving old-growth trees is imperative!"
You can help by volunteering at our Los Angeles office, making a donation, gathering signatures on the initiative, and getting your friends and family involved. Please contact the Los Angeles office at
(213)484-4474 or visit the campaign website at http://www.ancienttrees.org