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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

Forestry Updates

by Jodi Frediani
November 2010

1. SDSF Financial Report
2. SDSF Fern Gulch THP Update
3. Sierra Club - 11/15 Sempervirens presentation- Lompico Forest Carbon Project
4. ARB - Carbon Credits for Clearcutting
5. Forest Practice Rule Interpretation
6. Silver Bullet THP (THP 1-10-080 SMO) San Mateo
7. "No Touch Strip"

1. SDSF Financial Report Update

In May of this year, I sent a letter to SDSF asking for 5 years of annual financial reports. The General Forest Management Plan for this State Forest notes that such reports will be prepared and made available to the public. I received a reply from Rich Sampson, Acting Manager for the Forest, saying that due to insufficient staffing no such reports existed. Instead, monthly financial reports could be found in the Board of Forestry archives. Those were not provided to me.

I contacted Board staff and received 84 pages on State Forests from the archives. No financial info was included. In September while at the BoF in Sacramento, I spoke with Helge Eng, head of the State Forests program, and was told the same thing - the info would be in the BoF archives. When I said it was not, he promised to get back to me. He has not done so.

I then learned that the Unit Chief's are responsible for the financial accounting of each State Forest within their District. I contacted Senator Simitian's staff and Assemblymember Monning's staff and asked them to contact John Ferreira, local Unit Chief.

Funny thing, six months after my initial request, Rich Sampson in the Felton CAL FIRE office, sent 34 pages of annual financial statements for SDSF to Simitian's and Monning's staff with this caveat, "I felt that it was appropriate for your offices to hand it over to Ms. Frediani as she has been in contact with you for it." The reports only include expenses, but I'm told that's because there were no revenues generated from the Forest.

Still scratching my head wondering why I was not provided with this info at the onset. Guess I'll have to ask Rich myself.

PS. I asked John Ferreira, Unit Chief, at a meeting last night why it took six months to get the reports and he said cause the reports were in Sacramento, not in the SDSF or Felton offices. Hmm.

2. SDSF Fern Gulch THP Update

The saga continues. Don Braun of the California Geologic Survey (CGS) has submitted PHI comments from the latest PHI (#4). He has expressed a number of concerns and asked for an additional PHI!

Braun notes that 'several new road points' have been added to Hihn's Mill Road (the main haul road) that were not previously reviewed and have not been mapped. What? This is a ridiculous time for the RPF to be introducing new road mitigations. Certainly this should have been done prior to the October 19, 2010 PHI so they could have been reviewed by a host of RT members present. Certainly not after! Appropriately, Braun wants the opportunity to review them in the field.

He also expressed concern with the RPF's claim that the 'bank failure is situated on a "full bench prism." Braun states, "This is not the case." "CGS-Santa Rosa (2006) stated that the stream bank failure exposes 4 to 8 feet of fill. CGS-Eureka also observed fill exposed in the stream bank failure at the outboard edge of the road and measured the fill thickness at 7.5 feet. Since fill is exposed within the outboard edge of Hihn's Mill Road it is clear that this portion of the road is of cut/fill construction and not full bench (e.g. no fill)." Couldn't be clearer. Even I observed that. Gives one pause on both the RPF's understanding of basic road construction and his ability to read.


3. Sierra Club - 11/15 - Sempervirens presentation-Lompico Forest Carbon Project

Laura McLendon of Sempervirens Fund will speak to the Loma Prieta Forest Protection Committee (Sierra Club) on November 15 about the Lompico watershed carbon credits program.

Location: Peninsula Conservation Center, 3921 East Bayshore Rd, Palo Alto. For more information, contact Karen Maki at 650-366-0577 or


4. ARB - Carbon Credits for Clearcutting

Last month I outlined some of the egregious items included in the Forest Protocols moving forward towards approval by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) at their December 16 meeting in Sacramento. The whole process, not surprisingly, is a bit bizarre. In 2001, prior to passage of AB32, California's climate bill, Assemblymember Sher authored legislation, which passed creating the CA Climate Action Reserve, which then developed guidelines for accounting for carbon per Kyoto on a voluntary basis. Weirdly, the CA Climate Action Reserve is a private non-profit, sort of a quasi-public entity, but not a public agency.

Original accounting pertaining to forest credits was only for 'natural' forest management and did not include clearcutting. Natural Forest Management required mixed species and ages. There were no objections from the timber industry at that time. In order to obtain carbon credits, actions above business as usual, known as additionality, were required as was 'permanence', that is, retention would need to be long term.

In 2006, AB32 passed and went into effect the following year. The above noted protocols were adopted, over new industry objections. In 2009, in a backroom deal, Sierra Pacific Industries lobbied successfully to include clearcutting as a method for obtaining carbon credits. Other important provisions were also removed from the Forest Protocols.

More significantly, the environmental movement split on these new issues. The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC and the Pacific Forest Trust all supported inclusion of clearcutting, seeing California Forest Practice Rules (40 acre maximum clearcuts) as the Gold Standard they believe will be set for elsewhere in the world, should the current Protocols be approved.

Of course, the 'rest of us' think this is a very bad idea. We are now working on getting media coverage, legislative help, the ear of members of the Air Resources Board and any other ideas we can think of to resurrect the earlier Forest Protocol package.

A previous sign on letter was drafted by Center for Biological Diversity and a new SIGN ON letter is being prepared, so if your group would like to voice opposition to clearcutting as an allowable forest management practice qualifying for carbon credit, let me know and I'll get the letter to you.


5. Forest Practice Rule Interpretation

I recently learned that the same forester who is a Board Member of the local forest association and believes that "ownership of old growth timber is more of a liability than an asset to the owner", dropped at least one tree into a Class II stream on a current THP and then removed it. Review Team members discovered the tree felled into the stream while conducting a PHI for another THP on adjacent property. While operations are prohibited in the Channel Zone of Class II streams under new ASP Rules, CAL FIRE seems to think removal/retention of the tree is a 'gray area'. It is unclear what action, if any, will be taken against the RPF. Some things never change, even though rules have been tightened. Nancy Drinkard used to allow removal of trees that slid downslope into Class I streams, where we believe they should have been allowed to remain as Large Wood. Of course, the same RPFs who removed those trees, sometimes left the tops clogging the watercourse. No commercial value in those.

I also understand that this RPF and others have been having a hard time interpreting Santa Cruz Rule 926.19 regarding Erosion Control Maintenance. The rule says,"Skid trails, landings and work areas shall be reseeded, mulched or protected by compacting slash and debris from harvest operation." Apparently certain RPFs have chosen to interpret this to mean ONLY WLPZ trails, landings and work areas. I find it fascinating (substitute any other adjective which may be more appropriate) that RPFs NEVER interpret rules to the benefit of the forest, only to the benefit of the landowner's pocketbook.

6. Silver Bullet THP (THP 1-10-080 SMO)- San Mateo

This 251 acre proposed THP on lands of Big Creek Lumber has raised concerns from DFG regarding the proposal to draft water from the North Fork of Butano Creek (Class I), which runs through the plan area. The drafting is needed to water 5 miles of haul road. Matt Dias is the RPF. I believe this is a portion of the property Big Creek purchased from Maxam after Maxam/Pacific Lumber essentially clearcut the lands. Big Creek then conducted a 'seed tree removal' harvesting the remaining residual old growth during the late '80s/'90s.

Drafting is proposed from the North Fork of the Butano, 2 miles above Butano Falls, a natural barrier to anadromy. The ASP FPRs require bypass flows at water drafting sites in Class I watercourses in a volume sufficient to avoid dewatering the watercourse and maintain aquatic life downstream. The THP estimated a diversion rate of 20 percent of the flow, which is twice the required maximum of 10 percent. DFG does not believe the flows required by the rules can be met under the current drafting proposal. DFG wants them to show there will be no change in flow. DFG is recommending use of an alternative water source. The Regional Waterboard (San Francisco) has not yet weighed in.

The plan proposes many watercourse crossings as well as winter operations. Butano Creek empties into Pescadero Creek, a salmonid stream. DFG recommends a winter cutoff date or rainfall cutoff amount and sufficient road rocking to limit sediment inputs into the watercourse. The plan also proposes installation of a plastic culvert on a Class III watercourse and construction of a headwall using sakcrete. DFG is concerned that the dry 'ready mix' concrete would not properly cure and could leach alkaline cement powder into the creek over an extended period of time.

7. "No Touch Strip"

If you think I'm talking about the new full body scans at the airport for 'security' purposes, you'd be wrong. This is the euphemism that the local timber industry has coined to talk about the new no-cut buffer zones along Class I streams under the Anadromous Salmonid Protection rules: strips that cut into the profits of timberland owners.

Jodi Frediani
Central Coast Forest Watch
tel/fax 831-426-1697

Jodi Frediani
Chair, Forestry Task Force
Ventana Chapter, Sierra Club
tel/fax 831-426-1697

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