Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Soquel Demonstration State Forest THP update
Currently two THPs are under review for SDSF, the 201 acre Fern Gulch THP and the 158 acre Rim plan. The RPF preparing the RIM THP is from out of the area and apparently unfamiliar with Santa Cruz Special Rules. He neglected to map and flag in the field his landings and skid trails prior to the PHI. as required. However, CAL FIRE does not seem to think it necessary to hold a second PHI to allow Review Team members to review his belated flagging. It is always fascinating to me how CAL FIRE, when it suits them, insists they have no authority to do things not explicitly laid out in the Forest Practice Rules, but also when it suits them, suddenly finds all sorts of ways to circumvent the very same rules.
Problems with the Fern Gulch THP seem to run deeper. Access for the Fern Gulch Plan is via the Olive Springs Quarry and over a WLPZ road on SDSF land immediately adjacent to Soquel Creek. A section of the bank failed in 2006 and has narrowed the remaining roadbed. This is the second bank failure in the vicinity in the past 15 years. The previous one just upstream was repaired and has remained stable. Additional failures, could take out the road completely.
Ed Orre, SDSF RPF, has decided to remove repair of the failure from the THP after NMFS said that the fix should incorporate addition of large instream wood and that SDSF could not dewater the creek. In addition, a variety of permits will be required. Orre wants to remove the road repair because it will take too long to get the needed permits. It was suggested that Orre work with the RCD under their Permit Streamlining process to expedite permit approval. Mr. Orre has apparently been in discussions with the RCD for many months, but it seems that most of those discussions revolved around trying to get the RCD to foot the bill for the repair. At the most recent PHI, March 25, 2010, he was encouraged to contact the RCD again and ask if SDSF can utilize their streamlining process as part of a timber harvest plan.
Currently, SDSF accesses the plan area by driving across Soquel Creek at a wet-ford crossing. A permanent bridge was included in the 2004 version of this plan, but has now been removed due to state budget constraints, with a temporary bridge proposed instead. According to the SDSF General Management Plan and state law, all funds generated from logging SDSF are to be plowed back into the forest. It is unclear where the revenues from this proposed logging will be used. In spite of coho 'take' warnings from NMFS, Orre insisted he will continue to drive across the creek to access the plan area for various studies and management activities. He did agree that once the plan is approved, he will be able to complete road improvements via access through lands of an upslope neighbor and then access the harvest area without fording Soquel Creek.
Several agencies believe that helicopter logging the area would be preferable to the extensive road construction proposed in the plan. One segment of road, across a perennial stream and over an active landslide area, proposes use of Styrofoam blocks (polystyrene) for the roadbed. Soil from the active slide area will be excavated and replaced with these blocks. Such construction has never been used in a forested setting. I understand that CAL TRANS has used such blocks in urban jungle for onramps to freeways in northern California. Orre is saying this is part of the 'demonstration' to be done in the Demonstration Forest. I think the correct term is 'experimentation'.
We believe that such experimentation is totally inappropriate in a coho watershed, and upstream from the towns of Soquel and Capitola. I believe that Capitola has a Styrofoam ban in place. What will happen if this road fails delivering bits of Styrofoam via the creek?
And lastly, Orre has continued to reject NMFS' strong suggestion to create a number of large wood installations in Soquel Creek to dramatically improve Coho habitat. This would be an excellent demonstration of stream habitat improvement that could then be copied by willing private landowners. The SDSF General Management Plan states as two of the forest's goals: "Protect, restore, and enhance the significant natural values of the Soquel Demonstration State Forest", and "Improve fisheries and wildlife habitat to foster healthy populations and promote biodiversity". I am unaware of any watershed restoration projects undertaken on SDSF over the past 20 years, so I would say the State is long overdue in fulfilling its mandate on these public lands.
NMFS will hold a public workshop for interested parties 'to understand and provide comments on the public draft of the CCC coho recovery plan from 2:00 - 4:00 pm, April 8 at the Seymour Center, Westside of Santa Cruz.
The plan can be accessed online at: http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/recovery/Coho_Recovery_Plan_031810.htm
Comments are due no later than 5:00pm, May 17, 2010:
Via email: (no files larger than 5MB)
Via US Mail: Charlotte A. Ambrose, NMFS, 777 Sonoma Avenue, Suite 325, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 ATTN: Recovery Coordinator/CCC Coho Salmon Public Draft Recovery Plan Comments.
Via FAX: 707-578-3435. Please include the following on the over page of the fax, "Recovery Coordinator/CCC Coho Salmon Public Draft Recovery Plan Comments."
HELICOPTER LOGGING OF BIG CREEK FALLS & SWANTON ROAD
Big Creek Lumber has a 288 acre Emergency Exemption to 'salvage log' trees damaged by the Lockheed Fire. The permit (no agency review or public input required) was approved February 10, 2010 and is good for one year. Big Creek expects to be done logging by May 1, depending on weather conditions. The application says, "The Lockheed Incident burned approximately 1743 acres of property associated with Big Creek Lumber Company and Mrs. Roberta Smith's properties. The intensity of wildfire behavior varied widely across lands associated with these landowners.
"The 288 acres covered under the Berry Creek Emergency Notice experienced moderate to severe fire behavior resulting in mortality and substantial damage to timber resources throughout the entire area. Harvest of these dead, dying and substantially damaged trees will allow the landowners to minimize financial loss of timber resources that would certainly occur as a result decay over time. Stocking levels within some portions of the area of emergency notice may be reduced below standards set forth in 14 CCR 913.8(a) and 926.25."
Cal Poly has also received a rubber stamp on their Emergency Exemption to log 90 acres burned in the Lockheed Fire along Little Creek and Cemex has an approved Emergency Exemption for 47 acres along the North Fork of San Vicente Creek. All operations are to be conducted via helicopter and all intend to conduct operations on Saturdays. Neighbors disturbed by the Saturday operations need to contact CAL FIRE.
All such emergency operations are to comply with the Forest Practice Rules (except for filing a Timber Harvest Plan - THP). It is unclear why it is ok to not meet stocking upon completion (i.e. less trees will be standing than required by the rules). It is also unclear why harvesting had to be done as an Emergency since redwood trees are exceedingly unlikely to show rot within the amount of time it takes to prepare and get approval for a THP. Of course, the timberland owners save lots of money and do not need to deal with agency oversight or public input when conducting ops under Emergency Exemptions. The watersheds potentially impacted by these logging operations, Scott Creek and San Vicente Creek, are Coho salmon and steelhead trout streams".
Mark Andre, Registered Professional Forester, was recently appointed to fill the public seat vacated by the resignation of David Nawi on the State Board of Forestry. Mr. Andre's appointment was supported by EPIC. Here is what they have to say about Andre:
Mr. Andre is a Registered Professional Forester and one of California’s leading voices in community forestry. Community forestry is an increasingly important part of forest management in California that has not been well-represented on the Board of Forestry to this point.
Mr. Andre maintains excellent relationships with people across the wide spectrum of interests involved in forest management and policy in California, including timber operators and large firms, academics and nonprofit advocacy groups. Mr. Andre also serves as Director of the City of Arcata’s Department of Environmental Services.
As the primary manager of Arcata’s 2100 acres of City Forest, including the Arcata Community Forest and the Jacoby Creek Forest, Mr. Andre has a clear record of economic and environmental success in managing these working forests for multiple objectives. As principal author of both the 1994 Forest Management Plan and 1999 Non-industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) governing Arcata’s City Forests, Mr. Andre has demonstrated both a mastery of California’s Forest Practice Rules and the innovative leadership that California’s forest resources need at this critical juncture.
The Arcata City Forest program emphasizes “ecological principles” enhancing the integrity of the watersheds, wildlife, fisheries, and plant resources while producing an opportunity for recreational activities, and the generation of revenue for acquisition and development of recreational facilities and open space in the City. These forests are also Smartwood certified, giving Mr. Andre important insights into an increasingly relevant aspect of forestry – marketing to environmentally conscious consumers.
As well, Mr. Andre possesses personal qualities valuable on the Board of Forestry. He is thoughtful, unfailingly courteous, and demonstrates his open-mindedness by listening carefully to questions and concerns from all angles. In his capacity as Director of the City of Arcata’s Department of Environmental Services, Mr. Andre does not hesitate to enforce laws and regulations, but has done so in ways that clearly signal the desire of the City to support and encourage businesses, especially the small and innovative businesses that are such an important part of our economy on the North Coast.
It would be nice to see a scientist, environmentalist or someone not directly tied to selling logs holding a public seat.
From a 3/24/2010 article, "Mountain lions rattle South Coast [of San Mateo County]", Half Moon Bay Review:
"One working theory has the lions as protectors of imperiled species of coho salmon and steelhead trout.
“We’re playing around with the idea that if the lions keep deer and pigs away from the creeks, that could change vegetation in the area and change relationships with water temperature… It’s all sort of tied together,” Wilmers said. “There are a lot of things that affect coho and mountain lions might be one among many.”
- Researcher, Chris Wilmers.
Thanks to multiple lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity, the critical habitat designation for endangered California red-legged frogs was completed and finally expanded (quadrupled) to 1.6 million acres.
"California red legged frogs will disperse from their breeding habitat to forage and seek suitable upland and riparian habitat if aquatic habitat is not available." CRLF have been found in upland areas for 50 days and up to 302 feet from aquatic habitat.
North Coastal Santa Cruz County includes 72,249 acres from approximately Green Oaks Creek in San Mateo County to Wilder Creek. It includes Green Oaks Creek, Waddell Creek, East Waddell Creek, Scott Creek, Big Creek, Little Creek, San Vicente Creek, Laguna Creek and Majors Creek. (pg 66)
Watsonville Slough includes 4,057 acres in Southern Santa Cruz County, north of the mouth of the Pajaro River and seaward of CA Highway 1. Includes all or portions of Gallighan, Hanson, Harkins, Watsonville, Struve, and the West Branch of Struve sloughs. Includes portions of the Corralitos Lagoon and Mouth of the Pajaro River watersheds.
Elkhorn Slough comprises 519 acres of land located along the coastal plain in northern Monterey County. (pg 67)
The map for San Mateo County can be found on page 166. Santa Cruz Critical Habitat areas are mapped on page 182. The maps do not include lots of roads, but it sure looks like the north coast area encompasses that area bounded by Empire Grade to the Coast.
Log in as a "guest."
1-10-002 SCR, Redwood Empire, D. Van Lennep, 130 acres, Soquel Creek
1-10NTMP-002 SCR, Haines, Benedetti, Frentz, G. Paul, RPF, 75 acres, Valencia Creek
1-10-003 SCR, Bradley, Frosi, G. Paul, RPF, 18 acres, Bear Creek
The California Fish and Game Commission will hold its April meeting in Monterey, April 7-8. Most of the agenda items will deal with fishing regulations and changes to Marine Protected Areas. And hunting of black bears. The Commission proposes loosening restrictions on hunting of bears with dogs. The item is the fourth on the Thursday agenda. The meeting starts at 8:30am. Plan to attend to speak out against increases sport hunting of bears!
One item that will be considered during the closed Executive Session is the following lawsuit: Big Creek Lumber Company and Central Coast Forest Association vs. California Fish and Game Commission re: Coho Listing, South of San Francisco.
Big Creek Lumber and the local timber industry are relentless in their efforts to get our coho salmon delisted, based on their unfounded claims that the fish are not native.
The Hearings will be held at the Best Western Beach Resort, La Grande Room, 2600 San Dunes Drive, Monterey.
For more info: http://www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2010/2010mtgs.asp ;
and click on Agenda on the right.
"Some people are simply alive only because it's against the law to kill them."
< back to all issues