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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
Forestry Updates, February 2008

1. Cal Poly NTMP: 1-07NTMP-020 SCR
2. Conference on Clearcutting the Climate-Report
3. Fee proposal for Timber Harvest Plans
4. Poor coho returns
5. March 5-8, SRF Conference - Lodi
6. Pacific Lumber Reorganization Options

1. Cal Poly NTMP: 1-07NTMP-020 SCR

Cal Poly submitted a 701 acre NTMP for Swanton Pacific Ranch in Davenport in 2007, but it was returned by CAL FIRE. The NTMP was prepared by Big Creek forester, Nadia Hamey, RPF. It was returned on first submission with 68 items (some multiple-part questions) that needed addressing. These included such basics as 1) including the complete names of all the timberland owners rather than “et al”, 2) adding two named streams which run through the plan area and one just downstream which were not included in the Notice of Preparation (NOP), 3) adding “Group Selection” to the NOP and recirculating, 4) properly classifying roads as temporary, seasonal or permanent, 5) and adding the Molino Creek Coastal Commission Special Treatment Area to the plan maps. The resubmitted plan was accepted for filing on January 3, 2008 with an additional 26 first review questions to be answered.

This NTMP proposes to use “Group Selection” (up to 1/2 acre clear cuts) on 565 acres of the 701 acre plan. These will include harvest of Doug fir, Redwood, hardwoods and/or Monterey pine. The plan also proposes using tractors inside cable yarding areas and will also utilize helicopter yarding for other sections. Artificial regeneration is being proposed to meet stocking standards, i.e. “group selection areas shall be planted with conifers”.

The PHI has already taken place, as have a number of ‘pre-consultation’ site visits by various agency personnel. The plan is 300 pages long, though much of that is ‘filler’. You can review the plan and supporting documents at:

2. Conference on Clearcutting the Climate-Report

The Native Forest Council held their first conference on Clearcutting the Climate: Uniting the Climate and Forest Protection Movements, a conference of science and action, at Oregon State University, January 26, 2008 in Eugene.
Several excellent presentations filled the morning program. The Conference was video-taped and can be viewed at:
Look for Doug Heiken’s power point presentation on Forest Carbon Myths: (Scroll down to Power Point Presentation)
Heiken started with a collection of myths promulgated by the California Forest Products Association and proceeded to debunk them backing up his arguments with scientific citations. His paper on the same topic can be found at:

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Mark Harmon, et al. Harmon was one of the presenters at the conference. He teaches in the Forestry Department of Oregon State.

“Simulations of carbon storage suggest that conversion of old-growth forests to young fast-growing forests will not decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in general, as has been suggested recently. During simulated timber harvest, on-site carbon storage is reduced considerably and does not approach old-growth storage capacity for at least 200 years. Even when sequestration of carbon in wooden buildings is included in the models, timber harvest results in a net flux of CO2 to the atmosphere. To offset this effect, the production of lumber and other long-term wood products, as well as the life-span of buildings, would have to increase markedly. Mass balance calculations indicate that the conversion of 5 x 109 to 1.8 x 109 megagrams of carbon to the atmosphere.”

From: Effects on Carbon Storage of Conversion of Old-Growth Forests to Young Forests
Mark E. Harmon 1, William K. Ferrell 1, and Jerry F. Franklin 2

3. Fee proposal for Timber Harvest Plans

As everyone knows by now, California is facing a severe budget crisis in the billions of dollars. The Governor is proposing a 10% cut across the board for all state agencies. There is talk of adding a fee for fire protection to homeowner insurance policies. State Parks is looking at closing a number of our parks.

And all the while, the timber industry continues to get their timber harvest plans reviewed by multiple state agencies (and some counties) for free. (There is a minimal fee paid only to DFG if and when a plan is approved.) There is also no fee for processing timber waivers. We think it is time for this to change.

To that effect, several of us will be meeting with our local legislators with a proposal so that the timber industry can do their share to help with the statewide budget crisis. Stay tuned.

4. Poor coho returns

This has been a particularly bad year for coho all along the California coast from the Central Coast region northwards. In our area, this is particularly disturbing since this was to be the return of the ‘best’ year class. But this problem is not confined to the Central Coast.

“Only 2 male coho salmon jacks have been observed on Scott Creek. No mature male or female coho salmon have been captured in the weir on Scott Creek, or been observed through snorkeling on Scott Creek or informal spawning surveys on Waddell Creek. Coho salmon populations are very low all up and down the coast, but it's unfortunate that it is impacting what had been our best year class. I do not have any numbers for steelhead, but from what I've heard from other areas, they have NOT been impacted by the same ocean conditions that devastated the salmon.” From Santa Cruz County Fisheries Biologist, Kristen Kittleson. 2-08

From Marin County:

Excerpt: FEWER endangered coho salmon are spawning in Marin this season than at any time in the past dozen years - and biologists don't know why.
What concerns fish watchers is that this year should have been a prime year for coho, based on their three-year life cycle. Yet the number of redds - clusters of eggs - is at an all time low.
"This year's count has turned the best year-class into the worst," said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director for the Lagunitas-based Salmon Protection and Watershed Network.
Coho salmon have a three-year life cycle. The 2004-05 winter was a banner year for the return of coho to spawn in Marin, meaning this winter - three years later - should be just as strong.
Instead, the numbers have dropped precipitously……

From Alan Levine, Coast Action Group, Point Arena:

“Low salmon run returns have been reported up and down the coast for both coho and chinook (King).

A hole in the Marin county returns is a bad sign for coho.

On the Sacramento the low chinook returns are making DFG and the SWRCB nervous. The causal factors for this fishery collapse can be many - or - cumulative. Large amounts of water diverted from the Bay Delta is one reason often pointed at. Another reason pointed at by Ag is the maintenance of large bass populations in the Delta. The bass love to eat the millions of chinook salmon fingerlings dumped in the delta every year. The finger also can be pointed out to loss of spawning habitat.

The one issue that is rarely mentioned is the reliance on hatchery fish for the Sacto salmon run. For many years DFG has dumped millions upon millions of hatchery raised fish in the delta. Hatchery fish are genetically and physically weak. Hatchery monoculture progeny are subject to disease and lacking genetically disposed skills for feeding and survival in various conditions. The hatchery fish, if they do return, compete with wild fish and alter wild fish genetics - thus imposing limiting factors on wild fish survival where enough problems already exist.

This hatchery problem extends to coho also - but to a somewhat lesser extent - as the practices are done on such a smaller scale.
Coho salmon need specific conditions for survival. If these conditions are altered - removal of riparian shade, warm water, and silted spawning gravels all will limit coho production, return, and survival. “
Other possible factors being considered by scientists include ocean conditions and climate change and its negative effect on upwelling off the Pacific Coast.

5. 26th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference March 5-8, 2008 in Lodi, CA

There’s still time for early registration (postmark Feb 15). This conference will be chock-a-block full of interesting presentations and field tours. Plus an outstanding salmon dinner, Wild and Scenic Film Festival, and silent auction with really cool items. Lodi’s not as far as you may think. Plan to attend for a day, if you can’t make the whole conference. Check out details at:

The 26th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference will be held March 5-8, 2008 in the northern San Joaquin Valley. The conference will feature all-day field tours of Tuolumne and Stanislaus River restoration projects, a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Systems Tour, a Fisheries Monitoring and Management tour, and half-day workshops and tours of fish-friendly vineyards, and the Cosumnes River Preserve.

Workshops will include Fins and Zins: Sustainable Agriculture and Watershed Management, Fish Passage: Managing Flows on Regulated Rivers and Streams, Floodplain Restoration, and Invasive Species. Concurrent sessions will focus on the policy and biological considerations in formulating the San Joaquin Restoration Program, Recovery Planning models, Central Valley Chinook and Steelhead, and Trout, Restoring Natural Hydrographs, Bay Delta Management, Dam Removal and Salmonid Recovery, Engaging the Community in Salmonid and Watershed Education, and Monitoring and Management issues in the Central Valley.

6. Pacific Lumber Reorganization Options

Three groups have now submitted competing reorganization plans to the bankruptcy court. Pacific Lumber's plan remains essentially the same. The main noticeable change is that they are now proposing that Marathon Financing, a major PL creditor, be given the Scotia Mill and other facilities. Marathon Financing and Mendocino Redwood Company have already made known their plan to reorganize PL by removing upper management at the company and transplanting Mendocino Redwoods logging practices to Humboldt. The Timber Noteholders represent a majority of the "timber notes" collateralized by forestland. They propose to auction off the company for between $550 and $600 million to "Qualified" buyers including Maxxam. The Noteholders didn't go for the plan proposed by the coalition including Bank of America, The Nature Conservancy and the Community Forestry Team. The Community Team is comprised of people involved with non-profit environmental, forestry and labor groups. Members of the Community Forestry Team have said that they will bid on the company if it goes to auction. From:

Folks on the north coast are waiting nervously to see what will become of the 100,000 acre holdings of Pacific Lumber.

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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