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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

Forestry Updates

by Jodi Frediani
March 2011

1. Fern Gulch THP 1-09-096 SCR: Approved
2. New bank failure on SDSF Haul Road
3. New Cemex THP 1-11-011 SCR - Little Creek
4. SMO Butano THP 1-10-080 SMO: Recirculated
5. 3-acre Amendment to THP 1-09-087 SCR: Recirculated
6. ALERT: Proposal to increase NTMP acreage to 7,500 or 10,000 acres!
7. April 5, Santa Cruz City Water Department HCP Presentation
8. Forest Protocol White Papers - Comments Due Mar 25
9. ASP Rule 916.9 Section V Technical Advisory Committee Survey

1. Fern Gulch THP 1-09-096 SCR: Approved

The Fern Gulch THP 1-09-096 SCR for the Soquel Demonstration State Forest was finally approved by CAL FIRE on March 16, 2011. First submitted in 2004, the 201-acre THP has undergone major revision but still contains troubling provisions. The plan will 1) not be putting in a permanent bridge across Soquel Creeek for future access, 2) will be constructing miles of road within the plan area, sometimes on existing landslides and slopes so steep crib logs need to be installed to cantilever the roadbed out, because cutting into the bank is not acceptable.

This plan and the 158-acre Rim THP have been approved for SDSF in the past six months. We anticipate that both will be operated on this summer. The Rim THP operations will be conducted by Sierra Pacific Industries. The Fern Gulch THP still must go out to bid. The 360-acres from these two plans will add to the hundreds of acres harvested in recent years in the Soquel Creek Watershed by Redwood Empire and the Olive Springs Quarry.

Endangered and nearly extirpated coho salmon were found in Soquel Creek in 2008. Any increased sediment inputs will continue to impair habitat. A significant lack of large wood in the stream is also a contributing factor. It now appears that NOAA's pleading may have been successful and while no large wood project was incorporated into the plan, SDSF is contemplating and planning on installing some large wood into the creek.

CAL FIRE's Official Response can be found as 20110316_1-09-096SCR_OR.pdf at this link:

2. New bank failure on SDSF Access/haul Road.

It's never fun to have to say "I told you so", but CAL FIRE has been remiss in repairing a significant bank failure along the main access road to the Soquel Demonstration State Forest. The original failure occurred in 2006 and SDSF had a grant to do a repair in 2007. Unfortunately, the grant was returned and SDSF has wrangled with agencies ever since complaining that they do not have funds to do the repair.

Well, late February 2011, an additional 20' along the outer edge of Hihn's Mill Road failed taking out the upper 10 feet of the creek bank. According to the CGS March 10 memo, "an average of about 24 inches of bank recession occurred as a result of scour by high flows in Soquel Creek. It appears that the recent bank failure involved up to about 15 cubic yards of material."

During review of THP 1-09-096 SCR (Fern Gulch) it was impossible to get agreement that the repair would be conducted prior to this winter or even during the life of the plan. Now the CGS geologist for the Plan (to differentiate from the CGS geologist representing the Review Team) has made the following recommendation: "[I]t would be prudent to implement mitigation measures this operating season, prior to next winter's storms." CGS also notes that "active scour is occurring at the toe of the bank at the failure area due to the past winter period storm events. Continued removal of the creek channel alluvium exposed at the bank toe from storm flows may cause continued bank sloughing during, and after, large storm events."

Apparently, SDSF is now taking this road failure seriously. According to information received earlier today, it appears that SDSF is proposing a project description for the bank repair that would turn it into a restoration project, including installation of root wads and other habitat improvement elements. This is good news! The repair will require dewatering Soquel Creek and cannot commence until sometime this summer. It appears that this repair could cost in the ballpark of a quarter million dollars. Let's hope the money materializes.

Of course, the bank failure may have worsened with the recent storms this past weekend.


3. New Cemex THP 1-11-011 SCR - Little Creek

A new THP for 211-acres along the North Fork of the Little Creek Watershed on lands owned by Cemex was accepted for filing by CAL FIRE on February 17, 2011. Little Creek is part of the Scotts Creek Watershed. Coho salmon, steelhead trout and California red-legged frogs are present in the watershed. No winter operations are proposed. Murrelet habitat may exist within the plan area and/or along the haul route.

The Cemex forest covers 8,210 acres and divided into 13 units. One unit is planned for commercial harvest each year. The whole plan area was burned at moderate burn severity during the 2009 Lockheed Fire.

"Aggradation behind debris jams is also prevalent. Debris check-dams that were burned out during the Lockheed Fire have caused reorganization of the bedload in some locations and therefore increased sediment transport. Near-stream mass wasting is moderate to high."

Cemex has recently harvested under a number of Emergency Exemptions as a result of the Lockheed Fire.


4. NMFS rejects Petition to Delist Coho, Proposes Range Extension

This 260-acre THP was submitted by Big Creek Lumber and is located 6.2 miles east-southeast of the town of Pescadero. The North Fork of Butano Creek flows along portions of the plan boundary. Public Comment closes March 21.


5. 3-acre Amendment to THP 1-09-087 SCR: Recirculated

This is an amendment to add 3-acres and 800' of skid trail to a 12 acre THP 1400 feet upstream from the San Lorenzo River. Public Comment closes April 18. Gary Paul is the RPF. Bushnell the property owner.

6. Proposal to increase NTMP acreage to 7,500 or 10,000 acres

Once again, the timber industry, with support from some environmentalist along California's North Coast are proposing legislation to increase the allowable acreage for Non-industrial Timber Management plan ownership from 2500 acres to 7500 acres. (Maybe more.) These in-perpetuity harvest permits were established for small non-industrial (do not own mills) timberland owners.

This would allow for NTMPs on lands of Redtree Properties, Cemex and San Jose Water Company among others in the Southern Sub-district. Enviros welcome the inclusion of larger acreages up north, as this would theoretically incentivize landowners to give up clearcutting in exchange for a simplified regulatory process. Since clearcutting is prohibited for NTMPs and in the Southern Sub-district we would get nothing in exchange. Instead, we would get more plans that are good forever without any additional opportunity for public input, once approved.

More info to follow soon.

7. April 5, Santa Cruz City Water Department HCP Presentation

Santa Cruz City Council (meeting to be held in City Council Chambers) will have a special meeting on April 5 at 4pm to hear the Water Department's presentation of its proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP is an effort to secure a federal permit for "take" of endangered and threatened species, including coho and steelhead salmon. The big question mark is how much water the National Marine Fisheries Service will require the City to leave in area streams for fish habitat. (from SC Desal Alternatives)

8. Forest Protocol White Papers - comment deadline Mar 25

Forest Protocol White Papers

When Version 3.0 of the Climate Action Reserve’s Forest Project Protocol (FPP) was adopted by the Reserve’s Board of Directors on September 1, 2009 the Board instructed Reserve staff to continue to explore a series of issues related to forest carbon accounting and forest management practices. To this end, the Reserve has commissioned a series of white papers to examine these issues in more depth. The white papers cover the following topics:

1. Accounting for carbon in soils affected by forest carbon projects
2. Accounting for carbon in lying dead wood
3. Effects on forest carbon of even-aged management and alternative silvicultural activities
4. Evaluation of sustainable forestry certification programs and criteria
5. Assessment of forest project eligibility on federal lands

The first four of these papers are now completed and available for download below.

Accounting for Carbon in Soils

Carbon Accounting and Management of Lying Dead Wood

Carbon Dynamics Associated with Even-Aged Management

Sustainable Forest Management Certification

More Forest Protocol white papers now available

9. ASP Rule 916.9 Section V Technical Advisory Committee Survey (from CAL FIRE)

CAL FIRE’s Anadromous Salmonid Protection Rule Section V Technical Advisory Committee (VTAC) requests your assistance with helping us implement the Anadromous Salmonid Protection Rule 916.9 Section V Pilot Projects.

Please take a few minutes and complete the online survey found at the following website:

Your thoughts and comments will help us set priorities in the months ahead and will help us frame the issues and approach we take as we develop guidance for this innovative approach to riparian forest management. A brief introductory video (optional), as well as background information, is provided on this website.

We would greatly appreciate your survey response at your earliest convenience. Survey responses received before March 29th will be discussed at our next VTAC meeting.

Thank you very much for taking the time to help us implement the Anadromous Salmonid Protection Rule 916.9 Section V Pilot Projects.

Mike Liquori, Sound Watershed Consulting (VTAC Chair)
Pete Cafferata, CAL FIRE (VTAC Lead Staff

Jodi Frediani
Forestry Consultant
Santa Cruz Group
Ventana Chapter, Sierra Club
ph/fax 831-426-1697

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

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