Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Only two THPs under review
Nearly unheard of, there are only two THPs currently under review in the Southern Sub-district. Sort of a reprieve for the forests. Of course, more than 1000 acres have been harvested over the past two years in the Scott Creek/San Vicente Creek watersheds under Emergency Exemptions after the Lockheed Fire, so the local mill is not hurting for logs. Redwood Empire has a plan under preparation in San Mateo County and will need to conduct a 2-year marbled murrelet survey before submission.
Currently under review:
This THP was accepted for filing May 6. Branciforte Creek is 100' downstream. This small plan engendered 28 First Review questions, ranging from a host of mapping inadequacies to lack of disclosure of another THP in the Branciforte Creek watershed. Other issues include lopping of slash for fire protection within 200' of adjacent homes, mapping of the property line, incorrect winter operating period dates, no protection for non-listed raptor nests, no definition of wet season re red-legged frogs, incorrect listing of sensitive animal species, NO MENTION Of coho or steelhead in the watershed, plus a list of confidential archeology questions. Whew. Winter operations are proposed.
Starcreek THP, 1-11-030 SCL-SCR, 164 acres, Bill Vaughn, RPF, Pescadero Creek
This THP straddles the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz county line down near Aromas. At the RPF's request, the PHI will not be held till the end of May. The plan is located on a much larger property located east of Highway 129. It is in the Pajaro River watershed. Again lots of mapping deficiencies were noted in the First Review questions. The 164-acre plan includes 80 acres of oak woodland, chaparral and meadows. Hmm.
And the Soquel Demonstration State Forest has two approved THPs ready to be harvested, but they are waiting for the haul route along Highland Way to be repaired by Public Works after several washouts this past winter.
Emergency operations continue on the Lockheed property. See below for more information.
As you may recall, during review of the Fern Gulch THP, NMFS, DFG, and others urged SDSF to install large wood into Soquel Creek as part of their haul route bank stabilization repair project for Hihn Mill Road. While there was much objection from SDSF, it was ultimately agreed that a large wood installation demo project would be undertaken.
I've learned that plans for the large wood installation are moving forward. With assistance from the Resource Conservation District, and funding of $50,000 secured, the proposal would install large wood in four different locations along Soquel Creek within the state forest. This project is being done as a demonstration independent of the bank failure repair, and I am told the public will be invited to hopefully view installation as it occurs.
I'm also informed that the bank stabilization project is also being designed. The LWD/road repair project is being prepared by CGS Senior Engineering Geologist, Steven Reynolds. The projected $150,000 it will cost is slated to come out of the state's California Forest Improvement Fund (CFIP), though it was originally hoped the money would come from SDSF's Rim THP. That plan is stalled due to slope failures above and below Highland Way, the county road that will be used as the haul route.
The current repair proposal will utilize route wads with 20' of log still attached. The logs will be buried under the road, with the wads extending into the creek to form fish-friendly habitat. The logs with wads attached will come from the Fern Gulch proposed road alignment.
DFG recently released marbled murrelet recommendations for 3 Notices of Timber operations (Boyer Creek, Powerhouse and Upper Mill Creek) in the Big Creek and Scotts Creek Watersheds on lands of Lockheed Martin.
All three harvests are being undertaken through Emergency Notices as a result of the Lockheed Fire. Operations commenced in February 2011 and DFG was only notified of large tracts of adjacent old growth March 22, two days before the commencement of the marbled murrelet breeding season. Murrelets are known to nest within 0.3 miles in one direction and 1.8 miles in another.
DFG notes, "Therefore, these plans were approved without DFG being informed of, or providing consultation for, the potentially suitable marbled murrelet habitat." "Since the Boyer Creek EM was received by CAL FIRE on February 22, 2011, helicopter yarding may have commenced as early as February 28, 2011." "Suitable habitat was identified at five different locations adjacent to timber harvest activities." "The field inspection focused on the northwestern boundary of Habitat Area 3 since portions of the haul route were determined to be within 300 feet of this boundary. " "Several Douglas-fir trees that possessed multiple limbs in excess of 24 inches wide were observed to have been felled in this habitat area due to fire suppression activities."
DFG has recommended that, "No other timber related activities [other than hauling which may not occur either] shall occur during the marbled murrelet breeding season (March 24-September 15).
Because Emergency Notices are not posted on CAL FIRE's ftp site, the DFG letter can be obtained directly from CAL FIRE or from me.
This conference on redwoods is being held in Santa Cruz in June and actually includes some inspiring presenters including Randy Klein, Leslie Reid, Mary Ann Madej, and Will Russell, as well as a host of other academics, scientists, land trust presenters and timber industry foresters.
There will be three concurrent sessions on Watershed Processes, Ecology and Forest health. Three field trips are offered including one with a visit to the Big Creek mill and portions of the Lockheed burn area.
Fees are not inexpensive, but include meals. Lodging is available. Early registration ends May 21.
For more information and to register: http://ucanr.org/sites/redwood/
The 2011 attempt to increase the allowable acreage ownership for NTMPs seems to have fizzled. At the April Board of Forestry committee meetings, Eric Huff, Board staff, informed us that it was premature for the Board to take a position and, and recommended that the Board conduct a study to see how NTMPs are working. Huff mentioned a couple of existing papers and urged the Board to get input from various agency members who are familiar with on-the-ground operations.
The two spot bills, which earlier in the season seemed possible vehicles for the increase, have since morphed into bills for other issues.
In February a handful of 'small' timberland owners attended the Board of Forestry Management Committee and asked that the Board of Forestry support increasing the amount of acreage for NTMP landowners from 2500 acres of timberland to 5000 or more. There was discussion and the item was included in future agendas. I spoke to the inadvisability of increasing acreage for the southern sub-district outlining a number of problems we have had from these long-term 'forever' timber management plans. After the meeting I was told that the proponents of such a change would be going to visit their legislators that afternoon to see if they could get a sponsor for a bill to make the legislative change.
From the County's website:
"On June 12, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the fire on Martin Road in Santa Cruz County a State Emergency. The fire burned 520 acres, primarily in the rare Sand Hills habitat. As a direct result of the fire, stressed ponderosa pine trees that survived have become infested with western pine beetle, further killing off the remaining ponderosas in the fire area, and have spread beyond the limits of the burn into the rural neighborhoods around the Martin Road Reserve. Dead and dying trees currently pose a threat to fall on roads and structures in the rural neighborhoods, and on passersby on the nature paths within the Martin Road Reserve.
The County recognizes the threat to public health and safety posed by this situation and has issued a permit for local residents and the California Department of Fish and Game Martin Road Ecological Reserve to remove hazardous trees under certain conditions."
The National Marine Fisheries Service recently held a Protected Resources conference/workshop in Santa Cruz and as part of the offerings for the 120 participants, held several field trips. Two trips included visits to the MBSTP hatchery on Big Creek. A third field trip was organized by Kristen Kittleson, County Environmental Health and included a visit to Bean Creek to discuss county policy on large wood in streams, a visit to the Soquel Lagoon in Capitola to learn about lagoon management, and a stop at the Bargetto Winery on Soquel Creek to learn more about the County's riparian ordinance policy. The conference and field trips were not open to the public.
An interesting read on water. We use more of it than we think.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fish, water, and/or fish and water. I think that covers everyone. This book by Charles Fishman includes more information on water where it comes from, how we use it, how we conserve it and everything in between, than you ever thought was possible to know.
Easily readable, Fishman uses lots of similes and metaphors so we can grasp the magnitude of the amounts of water we use and our relationships to it. The facts outlined in this book are startling, diverse, and sure to astound. Fishman outlines a variety of innovative water conservation techniques being utilized across the country, waxes lyrical on how water is believed to have arrived here in 'primitive meteorites called chondrites', is stored in serpentine rock deep in the interior of the earth, and replenishes the oceans under pressure and heat.
For anyone concerned about the City of Santa Cruz's desal proposal, I also recommend this book, if just to see how Las Vegas has begun to deal with their oasis in the desert phenomenon.
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