Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. SDSF General Forest Management Plan Update
The update process for the SDSF GFMP is moving forward. CAL FIRE has realized they need to reconvene the legislatively mandated Advisory Committee (AC) which assisted with development of the original GFMP. Since most AC members have moved on, new members are currently being solicited. The AC is required to have a member from the Board of Forestry, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors (or an appointee), Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Fish and Game and the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park Citizens Advisory Committee (which was dissolved in 1999). In addition, the previous AC had a rep from The Nature Conservancy, Soquel Creek Water District, a neighborhood representative and a local RPF. Apparently the RPF, the neighborhood rep and TNC rep are still available. However, it seems that the BoF committee feels a local land trust should be represented rather than TNC, which was the original holding company for the land. A public notice requesting recommendations for the AC will be circulated and appointments will be made by the CAL FIRE Director.
In the meantime, the Department has already begun preparing a DRAFT of the GFMP, which can be found online at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/resource_mgt_stateforests_soquel.php
When the General Forest Management Plan was adopted in 1998, it included a number of action items with completion dates, largely by the end of 1999. These included such things as a Fisheries Management Plan, with fish population surveys, sediment level monitoring, and aquatic habitat monitoring, an inventory, assessment and risk-rating of each segment of forest road, and a similar assessment and risk-rating of active landslides.
On May 3, Sierra Club and CCFW submitted a joint request to CAL FIRE for copies of the various reports that would have been generated by these and additional studies and required actions. In response, we received a letter and CD with a variety of study reports or summaries. Most were conducted by other agencies (NMFS, RCD), some specifically for the SDSF, but some simply to monitor Soquel Creek. We are still reviewing those documents.
CAL FIRE's May 18 letter noted that 'fisheries biologists and hydrologists' dissuaded them from doing specific sediment monitoring (V*) and to substitute temperature monitoring instead. Of course, temperatures (which can be related to pool depth, or lack thereof from excessive pool filling with sediment) give no information on the quality of spawning habitat.
Ecological condition of aquatic habitats, to be monitored annually by sampling invertebrates through 1999 and periodically thereafter, was sampled once in 1995.
The letter further states that some studies and/or reports were not conducted or produced due to funding shortages. For instance, no comprehensive report has ever been compiled with requests for emergency responses, including requests for police, fire, medical, or search and rescue services, including response times. The letter noted that in this case, such reports must be reviewed prior to public release to insure sensitive information is not disclosed contrary to State or Federal law. We do not understand how compiling statistics (numbers) can violate those laws, and are surprised that no Emergency Services Monitoring information is available for public review.
Of greater concern, however, is that the required "accurate annual reports which will compile revenues, expenses itemized by program, and cumulative balances" were not only not available, but never done. The GFMP also states,"The Department will maintain a mailing list for requests of annual distributions of the report." However, the May 18 CAL FIRE letter stated that "due to lack of local staff such reports have not been produced." We find this confusing as for years the Soquel Demo Forest had two RPFs on staff as well as an administrative assistant. Did they also want an accountant??
The letter continues to note that 'Monitoring activities specifically depend on funding to be performed. Therefore, the lack of funding is an acceptable cause of monitoring delay." Of course, the public has not been given the necessary financial statements to independently evaluate the financial status of the Forest.
As a result of the passage of AB32, all projects in California must include a greenhouse gas assessment. Apparently, the First Review of CAL FIRE's own Rim THP on the Soquel Demonstration State Forest, asked for specific 'calculations', but the RPF did not fell he needed to comply, because, in his own words, "The RPF is aware that the Department is working on a GHG calculator that will be made available to RPFs online. A search of the Department's web site while preparing this response letter did not yet yield such a calculator. Furthermore, until an LTO has been contracted and a comprehensive list of equipment can be tabulated, such a calculation would be hasty and inevitably erroneous. Should the Department calculator be available prior to plan approval (assuming an LTO has been selected) the RPF shall provide a plan-specific calculation for the record."
Once again we see that CAL FIRE RPFs feel they are above the law. (Remember, a different CAL FIRE RPF illegally allowed a training class to fell redwoods in the area of a proposed, but not approved timber harvest plan.) But the plan preparer in this case was not alone in his assessment. CAL FIRE seemed to accept this 'explanation and justification' by the RPF.
Anthony Lukacic, CAL FIRE Second Review Team Chair for this THP, made the following admission in an internal email (posted online): "At the time of 2nd review, there were two public comment letters, neither of which mentioned greenhouse gas, so I did not worry about plan specific discussion." (Emphasis added)
Apparently, CAL FIRE thinks they only need to follow the rules if the public comments on them.
The email exchange and GHG Calculations, which were finally submitted on June 7, 2010 can be found at: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2009/1-09-107SCR/
1-10-024 SCR, Mildred Holmes, Hildreth, RPF, 40 acres, Day Creek (Boulder Creek)
1-10-045 SCR, William & Ellen Pedersen, Gary Paul, RPF, 10 acres, Valencia Creek
1-97NTMP-027 SCR, Notice of Ops #4, Eric & Cate Moore, Gary Paul, RPF, 30 acres, East Branch, Newell Creek.
1-10-052 SCR, Judith Crawford & Hen Truong, Hildreth, RPF, 31 acres, Trout Gulch
AB2575 received enough votes to pass out of the Assembly and now goes on to the Senate.
AB 2575 (Chesbro) : Salmon Protection
Would direct the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFIRE) to implement a pilot project for the improved protection and repair of the riparian zone in watersheds with listed anadromous salmonids.
Anyone who is not in a coma, is painfully aware of the ongoing cataclysmic disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the ensuing petroleum gusher now filling the gulf with crude. Of course, there were 'mistakes', short cuts, cost saving measures, bad cement jobs, broken Blowout Preventers, and on and on. But the most glaring problem I see is that industry was and is essentially conducting self-regulation. What does this have to do with forestry?
Well, Tuesday, I attended the Board of Forestry monthly committee meetings once again. And once again, I watched (and spoke out in opposition) as industry lobbyists on the Board bashed CAL FIRE and the North Coast Waterboard staff for their suggestions on new road rules that would provide better protection for fish and water quality. Both CAL FIRE and the Waterboard insisted that the language as written would not provide necessary and lacking protection. In fact, as currently drafted, the language would violate the Basin Plan. DFG also chimed in and was blasted, because that staffer's comments were stronger than the politically watered down final comments by his department on the Anadromous Salmonid Protection Rules.
One industry Committee Member said he didn't see any problems in the field after CAL FIRE's Deputy Director pointedly said that CAL FIRE staff had found that the current rules were not adequate. This Management Committee is comprised of three Board members, in this case, two are industry lobbyists and one is a new public member, also an RPF - not a fisheries biologist, a geologist, or hydrologist, but a forester, too. Even though the Z-Berg Nejedly Forest Practice Act established a public majority on the Board of Forestry (to end the previous industry-run regulatory process), the timber industry is still running their own show and dominating the rule promulgation that ostensibly regulates their industry.
PLEASE contact your state legislators and let them know that industry lobbyists should not be in charge of developing the rules that regulate them and their clients. This is a complete conflict of interest. And as long as industry lobbyists sit on the Board, no Committee should be dominated by industry reps.
Want to keep on top of THPs and don't want to ferret through CAL FIRE's websites? You can check out the THP Tracking Center at: www.thptrackingcenter.org
In addition to a list of current THPs, you'll find a variety of resources, timber company websites, photos, blogs, news and a way to become a member and submit info. The site uses "Google imaging technologies and mapping utilities to provide an overview of the Timber Harvest Plan (THP) process."
From the site developer: "We provide both a graphical overview of every THP and a detailed look at each THP with downloadable Google Earth files. The idea is to make it easy for you to see where private lands logging is occurring in relation to where you live. Since logging can have a large impact on the quality of water we drink, the air we breathe, and the animal, plant and fish communities around us, we feel it is important for people to become more aware."
By Dave Kranz
CFBF Communications/News Division
On three occasions this spring, the Department of Fish and Game sent letters to farmers and ranchers along the Scott and Shasta rivers in Northern California, warning them of possible civil and criminal penalties if they do not notify the department of their water use and potentially obtain a permit from the agency. That permit, known as a Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement, has never before been required for farmers who use water from the rivers to irrigate crops without actually altering the riverbed itself.
In its lawsuit, Farm Bureau alleges that the Department of Fish and Game recently reinterpreted a law enacted in 1961, in an attempt to create a “fundamental change” that would give it broad new authority to oversee water rights—a function already performed by the courts and a separate state agency, the State Water Resources Control Board.
The Department of Fish and Game began following the new interpretation, Farm Bureau says, as it pursued a recovery strategy for coho salmon in the two rivers, which are protected under the state Endangered Species Act.
For the 'rest of the story': http://www.cfbf.com/agalert/AgAlertStory.cfm?ID=1551&ck=4E6CD95227CB0C280E99A195BE5F6615
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