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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Club and CDF disagree on logging plan for Soquel Demonstration Forest

by Jodi Frediani, Forestry Task Force Chair, Ventana Chapter


Photo: Jodi Frediani
Blue paint on the trunk marks this old-growth tree for cutting. Photo: Jodi Frediani

The Soquel Demonstration State Forest (SDSF), adjacent to Nisene Marks State Park, was established in 1990 thanks to AB 1965 sponsored by then Assembly member, Sam Farr. The 2681-acre forest, previously owned by Pelican Timber Company and slated for extensive logging, became part of the 71,000-acre demonstration state forest system.

Farr and his aide at the time, Fred Keeley, made sure the enabling legislation for SDSF included safeguards to prevent the demonstration forest from becoming a "cash cow" for the state. The safeguards included: watershed protection; base-line monitoring; studies of the hazards, risks, and benefits of forest operations; public education; sustained yield timber production, and protection of old growth redwood trees. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) which manages the state forests, may conduct limited commercial logging at SDSF only to fund maintenance and operations and fulfill the other objectives of AB 1965.

An advisory committee, also required by the enabling legislation, was formed to help CDF develop a General Forest Management Plan for this particular demonstration forest. The general public also has been actively involved in ensuring that the management plan adhere to the enabling legislation.

Since the formation of SDSF, one timber harvest has occurred and a number of small hardwood harvests have taken place. Some studies have been conducted including research on snags (dead, standing trees) and snag creation, bird populations, sudden oak death and large in-stream wood. Various educational events have also taken place.

Last year, SDSF foresters prepared a second timber harvest plan (THP) to occur along the east branch of Soquel Creek. This plan, still under review, does not conform to the General Management Plan for SDSF.

The initial proposal included using water from Soquel Creek for road construction and to keep dust down during the logging; however, the state forest does not have water rights to Soquel Creek. The listed species inventory needs to be re-done, and the sustainability analysis required of all owners of over 50,000 acres of timberland has not been done. Certain mapping and on-site flagging still needs re-doing.


It also turns out that the THP does not conform to the General Forest Management Plan. The THP intends to fell a large old-growth redwood which CDF has deemed a public safety hazard. SDSF plans to construct a road immediately adjacent to this leaning old tree, thus converting it into what CDF believes will be a hazard. However, Sierra Club and Citizens for Responsible Forest Management contend that the Management Plan does not allow for felling any old growth as the Management Plan says that ALL old growth conifers will be protected. Additionally, the THP calls for winter operations, while the Management Plan prohibits logging during the winter. Further, no baseline monitoring studies, as outlined in AB 1965, have been conducted to study the "hazards, risks, and benefits of forest operations and watersheds to urban areas."

Photo: Jodi Frediani
Members of the Review Team conduct a pre-harvest inspection on the proposed timber harvest in the Soquel Demonstration State Forest. Team members include representatives from the California Department of Forestry, Soquel Demonstration State Forest, Department of Fish and Game, and members of the public. Photo: Jodi Frediani


How to help

Submit comments to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on THP 1-04-046 SCR. Insist that the SDSF timber harvest plan adhere to the enabling legislation and the SDSF General Forest Management Plan. Send comments to: Leslie Markham, Deputy Chief Forest Practice, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 135 Ridgeway Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401 or email:

The deadline for close of public comment had not been set at press time, but comments should be submitted as soon as possible. Letters and emails can be cc'd to Representative Sam Farr, 100 W. Alisal Street, Salinas, CA 93901, and also to Fred Keeley, Treasurer-Tax Collector, County of Santa Cruz, P.O. Box 1817, Santa Cruz, CA 95061,


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