Logging in the Californian Sierra Nevada paralleled the growth of the population of the State. The California Gold Rush (1849-1855) initially created demand for timber for constructing towns associated with mining activities. Timber was also used to construct the towns and cities, like San Francisco, that grew initially to support the mining industry. Timber was used in lode mines for ground support and steam power generation to run the pumps and mills. It was used for construction of railroads.
After the Gold Rush, many sawmills were started up in California. Much of the timber was exported overseas by ship. In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, allowing timber to be shipped by train to the east coast of the United States. Agriculture also began to flourish in California, and timber was cut to clear agricultural land for use.
Recognizing the impacts of a mostly unregulated industry, conservation efforts began in the 1900's to protect land in the Sierra Nevadas. This led to creation of state and national parks such as Yosemite, Sequoia, and Grant Grover. Forest reserves were created and forest lands began to be regulated. Agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service began to regulate public lands.
The economic boom after World War II dramatically increased timber production. In comparison, most of the mines in the Sierra Nevada were shut down by the U.S. government during World War II and never reopened. Those that did closed down for the most part in the 1950's due to a fixed price of gold by the U.S. government and rising labor and supply costs that made them uneconomic.
Clear cutting was dominant method of logging used after World War II. The Forest Practice Act and Z'Berg-Nejedly Forest Practice Act were enacted in the 1970's and resulted in development of responsible and sustainable mining practices that are used in the forestry industry today, on both private and public land.
Today, the concern is over regulation of the forestry industry. Instead of managed forests, which included fire management, much forest land has been effectively removed from logging for perceoved protection. This has resulted in forest management practices that allow build-up of fuels in the forests, leading to devastating forest fires.
The Sierrans for Responsible Resource Development (the "Sierrans") supports the cooperation of agencies, corporations, individuals, special interests groups, and other stakeholders to effectively manage public and private forest lands for the benefit of society - including use of responsible and sustainable forest practices and logging.