Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | chapter wide
State Logging Legislation Threatens the Central Coast
AB 904 will not protect any old growth forests in California. Photographer: Kevin Collins
Assembly Bill AB 904 has passed out of the California State Assembly to the Senate. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water hears this bill on June 25.
Sierra Club California and several chapters including Ventana have written letters strongly opposing AB 904. This legislation would radically change and, in some cases virtually eliminate state supervision of commercial timber logging on private lands in California.
This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbo (D-North Coast), expands a specific type of logging permit that is now available to landowners who do not also operate log mills. AB 904 expands this permit from a size of 2,500 acres of forest land, to an astonishing 15,000 acres or 23.4 square miles of land. These permits to log, called "Working Forest Management Plans" (WFMP) are permanent and transferable in perpetuity to all succeeding landowners, forever.
WFMP permits would receive only ONE initial review by the State Resource Agencies such as CALFIRE/CDF, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and the Water Quality Boards. We believe it will be impossible for this one permit review to effectively evaluate such a massive land use plan. A plan of this size may include, for example, over 100 miles of log truck, dirt haul roads, to say nothing of the other bulldozer work of commercial logging operations.
This proposed law includes a provision for 5 year reviews. But the legislation only requires a paper review and does not obligate the Resource Agencies to actually inspect the land. This law is a farce for the people of California and a gift to the Timber Industry.
The one important difference with a regular logging permit (called a THP or Timber Harvest Plan), is that these huge new plans will not allow extensive clear-cut and burn logging. This however is meaningless to the Central Coast because clear-cutting has been illegal here for decades. Therefore AB 904 is all bad news for the Santa Cruz Mountains. It has no conservation benefit to us.
The CA Legislature has never had the strength to ban clear-cut and burn logging in California and to tighten the laws for land-use conversion law (forestry to subdivision).
This is the real solution to this issue, to extend the selection logging rules of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the rest of CA. For more information, click here for a PDF of the Ventana Chapter letter to the State Senate Committee on Water and Natural Resources.
Contact your Senator Bill Monning and also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, Senator Fran Pavley. Tell them not to allow this bad law to apply to Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin Counties where clear-cutting is already illegal. These four counties are called the Southern-Sub District of the Coast Forest District.