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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
Forestry Updates

Forest Update, April 2006

1. Big Creek vs Santa Cruz has its day in the State Supreme Court
2. Board of Forestry reviews Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rules
3. New and existing/languishing THPs
4. SDSF focused PHI to review road failure into Soquel Creek
5. Davenport Geological Society April 8 Scott Creek event


1. Big Creek vs Santa Cruz has its day in the State Supreme Court

On April 4 the State Supreme Court finally heard the arguments on both sides of the Big Creek vs Santa Cruz County lawsuit, regarding whether the state or local governments have the authority to determine where logging can take place. (At the appellate court level there seemed to be agreement that CDF has the sole authority to determine how logging takes place.) The one hour hearing took place in Los Angeles, not terribly convenient for Santa Cruz residents. For those interested in hearing the arguments, modern technology now allows you to bring them into your home or office.

You can listen to the county's argument starting at 1:08:

According to Jenny Harbine, one of the attorneys representing Santa Cruz County in the case, the court is split. According to their questions and comments, it appeared that two justices strongly sided with the county and two with Big Creek. Seven justices heard the arguments and the county attorneys remain guardedly optimistic. The justices have 90 days to publish their opinion.

Two issues were heard: 1) Whether local governments can use their zoning authority to determine where logging can take place and 2) whether the county's helicopter ordinance (requiring helicopter pads for logging operations to be on, or on parcels continguous to, those being logged) is a matter of conduct or location.

The Board of Forestry (BoF) joined Big Creek and presented arguments in favor of the industry position that only the state can determine how and where logging takes place. Inexplicably, making the BoF's arguments was an attorney from CDF, rather than one of the Board's own attorneys. Jenny Chandler, attorney for CDF, was appointed in 2004 by Governor Schwarzenegger. She was previously employed as an attorney for Pacific Lumber. Craig Stuart was the attorney for Big Creek. Attorneys from Shute, Mihaly and Wineberger represented Santa Cruz County.

In January this year, Big Creek had written the court asking that two of the justices recuse themselves. These two had previously sat on the 1st District Appellate Court in San Francisco and had heard the Big Creek vs San Mateo case on the 1000' no-cut zone adjacent to neighboring homes. Big Creek argued that the justices would be prejudiced. Attorneys for Santa Cruz countered that all judges have opinions and cannot be expected to recuse themselves for such. The Santa Cruz attorneys also argued that this case was different from the San Mateo case and, therefore, did not constitute any conflict. The justices apparently agreed with Santa Cruz and were part of the seven justices who heard the case this week.

2. Board of Forestry reviews Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rules

The Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rules expire December 2006. These rules currently add additional protections for watersheds that support listed species (ie coho and steelhead) and/or are 303(d) listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act. Among other things, the rules require leaving additional canopy as well as requiring retention of larger trees for future LWD recruitment. At a special committee meeting held in Sacto April 3, CDF, DFG, NMFS, and SWRCB all testified that the rules should be extended. Letters also favoring extension were sent from the North Coast and Central Valley RWQControl Boards. The Central Coast RWQCB was silent. Environmentalists present also testified in favor of extending the rules. Only members of industry suggested and argued that the rules should be dropped.

The following comments are from Richard Geinger, EPIC:

"Well, I got 4 hours of video tape of the BoF's Forest Practice Committee presentations and discussions on the Threatened or Impaired Rules on Monday. The upshot is that a subcommittee (with Forest Practice Comittee members David Nawi and Jim Ostrowski plus agency reps & open to the public) is going to meet before May to draft a schedule/format for 'scientific' and close review of the T/I rules to be presented for consideration to the full FPCommittee and possibly to the Board at the May meeting in Tahoe. The gist of it is that the Board is likely to extend the rules for one or two years while this review takes place. Two years is much more realistic to actually do a good job.

The CH2mHill presenter (consultant hired by the California Forestry Association) got right down to it: 15 to 60 feet riparian buffers is adequate for large wood recruitment; riparian cover doesn't influence water temperatures very much; most large wood comes from bank failures; etc. This triggered images for me of a cartoon showing a stream with no riparian forest except a strip falling into the creek from bank failures, perhaps facilitated with dozers or dynamite -- labeled "scientific fish habitat restoration". I exaggerate, of course, but however . . . .

I'll try and get a date and venue out to you for the subcommittee meeting. Cajun James (scientist employed by Sierra Pacific Industries) is talking about bringing in experts like Benda & Beshta to straighten out the onerous T/I rules. The process and persons involved in the T/I review are critical. We also must not forget that the T/I is more than arbitrary science -- it requires a thought and care process by RPFs, LTOs, and landowners that gives a basis for protection and recovery of listed anadromous salmonids.

If you want the videotape let me know. Maybe we can pass a couple copies around.

Please suggest people that need to be involved to help assure a good and credible review process. Also we need to assure a strong presence at the BoF and Joint meeting with F&G Commission at Northshore Tahoe at the beginning of May."

I encourage all who can to attend the next sub-committee meeting and/or the full Board meeting in Tahoe in May.

3. New and currently-under-reivew THPs

The Soper-Wheeler THP along Bonny Doon Road was withdrawn after the county brought to

S-W's attention that one 20 acre parcel is zoned SU and therefore not available for logging. I understand that Soper-Wheeler will resubmit shortly, minus the 20 acres.

A THP in Boulder Creek (called The Pond THP), including lands owned by the Boy Scouts, has been accepted for filing and a PHI date is currently being chosen.

The Cemex/RMC THP (1-05-187 SCR) is still under review. CDF will be asking that an Erosion Control Plan be submitted as part of the plan for all the timberland belonging to Cemex in the San Vicente Creek watershed. DFG's PHI comments were extensive (28 pages). DFG noted that "numerous deficiencies in the THP relating to watercourse and wet area identification, watercourse classification, identification of suitable marbled murrelet habitat, and application of the Forest Practice Rules" were noted by review team participants during the initial PHI November 28, 2005. An additional PHI was held January 26, 2006 during which "the review team again noted numerous deficiencies in the THP and revised materials including watercourse and wet area identification, application of the Forest Practice Rules, and an undisclosed archaeological site."

The THP is principally within the San Vicente Creek watershed which supports steelhead and coho and is the sole watersupply for the town of Davenport. DFG also noted, " observations of road rutting by pick-up vehicles during the PHI provide clear evidence of likely impacts associated with winter period and wet weather road use. DFG recommends that the winter operation plan prohibit the use of pick-up trucks or heavy equipment following two inches of cumulative rainfall and between April 16 and May 1." The Davenport Sanitation District has asked that winter operations be prohibited.

Los Gatos residents are still waiting for the next submission of the San Jose Water Company NTMP (SJWC) along 6 miles of Los Gatos Creek. SJWC has indicated the plan would be submitted by Mid-April. While most second review team meetings will now be taking place in Felton, CDF said today that the SJWC and the SDSF plans will still be chaired by Santa Rosa CDF Forest Practice Officers out of the Santa Rosa office. A phone conference line will be set up in the Felton office.

4. SDSF focused PHI to review road failure into Soquel Creek

Within the Soquel Demonstration State Forest (SDSF) lands, a segment of the access road for THP1-04-046 SCR, 86' in length and adjacent to Soquel Creek eroded and fell into the stream this past winter. CDF has scheduled a 'focused PHI' so the various review team members can do a site inspection of the damage and discuss mitigations proposed by the California Geological Survey (CGS). In addition, the PHI members will visit the leaning old growth redwood which was originally slated to be cut for public safety reasons. SDSF is now planning on retaining the tree as required by the enabling legislation for the State Forest and the SDSF Management Plan.

5. Davenport Geological Society April 8 Scott Creek event

The DGS will be hosting a meeting Saturday, April 8, to learn about the Scott Creek marsh. "Visiting Liverpool (UK) University faculty Andy Plater and John Boyle will present their sediment coring work in the marsh. The cores lead to a stratigraphic cross section. Salinity and vegetation changes, sediment changes and provenance, etc. give a history of conditions. These gentlemen are "Mr. Marsh" and they and their students have done work in our central coast marshes for some years."

The "meeting will begin at the Al Smith House* at Swanton Pacific Ranch at 10 am with snacks, then the presentation, then brown bag (you bring) lunch, then field trip. * Off Hy 1, at 280 Swanton Road, Davenport - see mailbox and 'logging games' sign -go up paved driveway winding uphill; left at signed fork-to Al Smith House. April 8 meeting in the garage conference room." DGS dues are $5. For more info, contact Roberta Smith:, 831-429-9535

This is the first of three springtime educational events re Scott Creek.


Jodi Frediani
Chair, Forestry Task Force
Ventana Chapter, Sierra Club
1015 Smith Grade
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
ph/fax 831-426-1697

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