Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Salvage Logging-RE Emergency Operations
Redwood Empire is currently conducting salvage logging in Ramsey Gulch under a Notice of Emergency Operations. The Notice covers nearly 18 acres of redwood and hardwoods burned in the Summit Fire with harvest projected at more than 25 mbf. CCFW submitted a letter to CAL FIRE alerting them to the fact that the operations are not in conformance with the FPRs. The CAL FIRE Emergency Notice form filled out and signed by RPF Michael Duffy says that “timber operations conducted under this notice must meet minimum stocking standards at the completion of operations.” The RPF has said explicitly that he does not intend to meet stocking: “The damaged area is within and adjacent to an existing THP (1-08-016 SCR) that was scheduled to be logged in 2008 or 2009. The proposed removal of dead and dying timber will drop stocking levels below the standard requirements of the southern sub-district and the County of Santa Cruz. Hence, the existing THP would not adequately recover the dead and dying timber form the property.”
What you may ask? Hydrophobia was supposed to be a symptom of rabies. Well, fires can cause the formation of soils that repel water, or hydrophobic soils. From the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/eng/HYDROPHOBICITYfactsheet.pdf
In July CAL FIRE instated a new, “interim' policy to limit PHIs “as much as feasible” due to “drawdown and post fire activities”. The original notice requested a response from each agency if they felt there was no need for a PHI. That was going to last a week, it seemed. Then that idea was changed to this: “At the next First Review I will start with a base assumption that a PHI is NOT needed for each plan. Then, if your agency requires a PHI, please contact me and include the specific reason.”
Kevin Collins and I represented Santa Cruz County at the Board of Forestry in support of the petition to require additional mitigations since coho salmon are now on the verge of extinction. It was amazing and completely demoralizing to watch industry (including Piirto, Cal Poly, who represents the public) claim there was no proof that logging was a problem for the fish, while simultaneously claiming that the whole problem was in the oceans. Charlotte Ambrose, NOAA Fisheries was outstanding as she was grilled for 45 minutes by the timber barons. Shamefully, DFG and CAL FIRE refused to come out in support of the emergency petition. Rather they claimed that landowners 'voluntarily' applying the additional mitigations would save the day and the fish.
The petition before the state board of forestry comes as California salmon are at historic lows
In early July, George Gentry, Executive Officer of the Board of Forestry, sent an email to Assemblymember Ira Ruskin's office alerting him that San Jose Water Company now wants to activate their right to appeal the denial of their 1000 acre NTMP in the Los Gatos Creek watershed. The plan was denied by CAL FIRE last year because SJWC owns too many acres of timberland to qualify as a non-industrial timberland owner.
The timber industry continues to publicly claim that selection logging reduces fire risk through reduction of crown fires, although their colleague, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Professor, Dr. Christopher Dicus, has conducted a study in the Santa Cruz Mountains showing that logging actually increases fuel loads and fire risk to the forest and adjacent homeowners. Dicus' study, “Fuel Loading and Potential Fire Behavior After Selective Harvest in Coast Redwood Stands” was conducted on Cal Poly's Valencia Creek timber holding. (ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/69763.pdf)
While the Watsonville Public Works Director may have thought they would begin harvesting this summer on their Grizzly Flat watershed lands, CAL FIRE has other ideas. Gary Paul, RPF who prepared the plan, didn't do his homework. The plan was stamped “Returned' after First Review with about 40 questions needing to be answered. Paul forgot that Corralitos Creek is 303(d) listed as impaired for fecal coliform. He neglected to include information regarding inventory design, cruise methods, cruise intensity and additional essential inventory data. He asked for an exemption which was rejected by CAL FIRE from mapping locations of spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous salmonids (that would be state and federally listed steelhead). Nor did he give adequate information regarding California Red-legged frogs (federally listed as threatened) which have been found on the property.
12) Opponents, who unsuccessfully challenged the 1997 sale at Grizzly Flat in court, said logging endangers the city's water supply and removes large trees that provide a canopy, effectively eliminating the cover that shelters the forest floor from fuel build-up. “I don't really see how you can possibly go in every 12 years ... it just doesn't make sense. There aren't that many trees in there now,” said Betsy Herbert, a consultant from Bonny Doon who fought the 1997 Grizzly Flat sale. They took quite a bit of timber out of there the first time. Now, 12 years later, there aren't going to be that many great big trees that have grown back in 12 years,” Herbert said in an interview Friday. “The trees are just going to get smaller and smaller and smaller. Every time they go back in, the trees are going to get smaller.” In a letter about Grizzly Flat, Herbert added, “I think that the City of Watsonville is ill-advised to proceed with yet another logging plan in the same manner as before, without including the public in a discussion of how to best manage this property. This public discussion should include a post-mortem fire report for the Summit Fire, which partially burned the Grizzly Flat property.” Koch said the logging plan is designed to maintain a steady rate of tree regrowth, meaning that the city should be able to repeat similar harvests over time without reducing the net amount of timber. http://www.register-pajaronian.com/V2_news_articles.php?heading=0&page=&story_id=4873
While SPI's last minute attempt to purchase Pacific Lumber holdings (purchased instead by Mendocino Redwood Company and held under the new Humboldt Redwood Company), the following article shines a light on some of SPI's less than stellar activities.
14) Just because a tree is scorched and leafless, doesn't necessarily mean it's dead. Given time, a good number of the trees burned in the recent wildfires will recover. Many of our native trees have developed adaptations to withstand California's periodic wildfires. Today's leafless skeleton may eventually be able to recover much of its former glory. Tree survival depends on the nature of the fire that swept through an area. A fast, low-intensity fire might just cause a tree to lose the current crop of leaves, and the tree could be green and full of leaves by next summer. On the other extreme, a hot fire can turn a stand of trees into an eerie forest of charcoal. Bark insulates a tree against fire. The first step in evaluating a tree for recovery is to see if the bark was able to protect delicate tissues underneath. Scrape off a very small section of the charred bark and see if there is a pale, moist layer preserved below. If it's whitish, pink or pale green that's a good sign; if it's yellow, orange or brown, it's probably damaged. Check a few more locations around the trunk. If 60 percent or more circumference of the trunk is uninjured, the tree is a good candidate for preservation. Trees damaged more seriously than this may recover, but they are more likely to be unstable and subject to attack by insects and diseases. Smaller trees are more sensitive than larger trees. Once trees for preservation are identified, there are a few things that can be done to help them recover. Replace the mulch that has burned off. This will protect the roots and help to re-establish beneficial fungi in the soil. If there are arborists working in the area, many will deliver chips for free or a nominal charge. Delay all pruning except safety pruning. It can take a long time for some trees to resprout. In a year, it will be much easier to evaluate which parts are dead and which are alive. If the trees were in a landscape, continue to water them. After the soil is rewetted, they won't need as much water as they previously did. Native oaks shouldn't be watered this summer, though if the rains start late this year, a deep watering in mid- to late-October would be beneficial. If we have another dry winter, give oaks another deep watering in April or early May. The most important thing is patience. Trees react slowly, but they are tough. Don't cut down trees just because they 'look dead.' http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_9773626
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