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

Forest Update, June 2007

1. TPZ Parcel size up from 5 to 40 acres
2. UCSC THP-public hearing June 13, 6:30pm BoS Chambers
3. YMCA NTMP has frogs
4. RMC/Cemex THP approval rescinded again
5. SJWC Acreage data jumble
6. Sentinel TPZ coverage
7. Sierra Nevada Clear-cutting continue
8. 10th Annual Coho Confab-August 17-19

1. TPZ Parcel size up from 5 to 40 acres

Congratulations and thanks are in order to all those stalwart forest advocates who researched, wrote letters and came out to speak at 3 Board of Supervisors’ public hearings. On May 22 the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved increasing the minimum parcel size for rezoning to TPZ from five to 40 acres. Of course, that is a simplification of what really took place. First, this was a ‘conceptual vote’ and won’t be final until the item works its way through the Planning Commission for hearings and then back to the Board for a final vote. Could be final as early as July or August. Additionally, when approved, if a landowner has multiple adjacent parcels, as long as the total comes to 40 acres, the County is bound by state law to rezone to TPZ. In addition, the Board voted to allow smaller parcels to come before the Board on a case-by-case basis. While this means that the Board may decide not to rezone some of the more problematic parcels, it also means that the public will need to attend hearings and make its voice heard where it has concerns.

Further, the Board voted to allow a grace period through December 31, 2007 for applicants to rezone under the current five acre minimum parcel size. Actually, applications must be in to the county by September 21 and found complete by December 31 to be processed under the 5 acre minimum.

I learned from Planning Staff that they currently have ten new rezone applications. Eight of those are for parcels less than 20 acres in size. I am not sure if these are in addition to the six new applications Planning had in mid-April, or if those are included in the ten. At the May 22 public hearing, Big Creek stated that they sent out 1600 letters alerting landowners about the hearing. We can expect that they will also be alerting their ‘landowner base’ regarding the grace period, so expect the number of small parcel rezone applications to increase.

I also learned from County Planning Staff that the county does not intend to do site visits for processing these applications. Their understanding is that since the state makes the definition of ‘timberland’ it is up to the forester to determine if the parcel(s) qualify and not up to the county to argue.

This is also true with the state required Forest Management Plan (FMP). An RPF is required to certify that the FMP is accurate. If it is somehow determined not to be accurate, then I guess someone would need to file an action against the RPF before the State Forester’s Licensing Board.

2. UCSC THP-public hearing June 13, 6:30pm, BoS Chambers


For more information contact: Don Stevens, 425-4721
Or email:

Public Urged to Attend Meeting to Comment on
UCSC’s Timber Harvest Plan

The California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) should hold off on approving the University of California-Santa Cruz’s logging any trees related to its Long Range Development Plan until the legality of the plan’s Environmental Impact Report is established in court, says Don Stevens, co-founder of CLUE, the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion.

The validity of the LRDP EIR is the subject of several court suits brought by the City and County of Santa Cruz, CLUE and other community groups. The first court hearing on the suits was scheduled to be heard in Santa Cruz Superior Court on June 11, but has been postponed until at least mid-July.

UCSC has submitted a Timber Harvest Plan to CDF to clear land for the first projects under the LRDP, a huge Biomedical building and a tower to provide building cooling. UCSC has claimed it has no obligation to provide an EIR for the projects, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), asserting they are covered by the LRDP EIR. CLUE’s position is that no work should be done on any of the projects under the LRDP until the legality of the EIR is established in court. “Once they are cut down, these trees can’t be replaced,” says CLUE’s Don Stevens. “If the EIR is decertified there is no legal basis for the timber harvest.”

UCSC eventually plans to log about 150 acres of trees for its expansion projects.

CalFire will hold a public meeting on the UCSC Timber Harvest Plan at 6:30 p.m.on Wed., June 13, 2007 in the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors chambers. People concerned about the issue should attend.

3. YMCA NTMP has frogs

The YMCA Camp Jones Gulch NTMP is still hung up in the CDF review process. Of course, it has had a little help from the public. Now it seems that there are California red-legged frogs on site. Even though the plan RPF hired a local biologist to look for the frogs during last August, guess what, he didn’t find any. But an interested forest advocate took a ‘legal’ hike on the YMCA property in April and found a very healthy red-legged frog near McCormick Creek, which runs through the Y 900+ acre property

Back to the drawing board it will be for Nick Kent, RPF for the YMCA NTMP. This new information will require additional mitigation including no winter operations in some areas. Of course, the many opponents of the plan are still hoping a conservation easement will be put in place instead of commercial logging, protecting, not only the red-legged frogs, but the large old trees, the un-entered old growth grove in the Southeast corner and the marbled murrelets which may occupy that stand. Marbled murrelets are known to use stands in the adjacent county park.

4. RMC/Cemex THP Plan Approval Rescinded – again: Public Comment Closes June 14

Public Comment now closes on June 14 for the Cemex/RMC THP 1-06-080SCR in the San Vicente Creek watershed.

Letters should be sent to CDF at: .

Once again, CDF neglected to keep public comment open for the requisite 30 days after new information was submitted by the RPF and they approved the plan in error. A letter I submitted on behalf of Sierra Club got CDF rethinking their oversight, and the plan approval was rescinded and the amended plan re-circulated for 30 days. In addition to an incomplete map of the new roads and how they are integrated into the existing road system (a Santa Cruz rule requirement), the RPF submitted additional information claiming once again that logging doesn’t cause turbidity/sediment problems, rather than explaining how this plan will avoid adding sediment into the system now that San Vicente Creek has been 303(d) listed as impaired for sediment, source ‘silviculture’. To ‘prove’ his point, the RPF averaged data taken from Cal Poly’s monitoring study on the South Fork of Little Creek nearby and then tried to compare it to single data samples gathered by Public Works on San Vicente Creek. He tried to show that this reach of Little Creek which hasn’t been recently logged was ‘dirtier’ than San Vicente Creek. Never mind that Cal Poly has had to reject the data from the South Fork as their ‘background’ data because of an active, legacy landslide upstream in that reach.

In the meantime, the boil water order for the town of Davenport has been removed for the summer and the county may soon begin construction of an improved filtration system that will be better able to handle the strong winter turbidity. This may help the Davenport citizens, but not the coho and steelhead who propagate in San Vicente Creek.

5. SJWC Acreage data jumble

Big Creek Lumber Company RPF, Matt Dias, finally submitted acreage data to CDF three months after NAIL, neighborhood plan opponents, submitted data showing that San Jose Water Company owns too many acres of ‘timberland’ to qualify for an NTMP. Of course, Big Creek determined that SJWC owns less than 2500 acres of ‘timberland’, the cutoff figure for non-industrial timberland owners, under CDF’s interpretation of the language in the Forest Practice Act. (Other interpretations argue that the cutoff is 2500 acres of land regardless of whether it qualifies as timberland or not.) Big Creek’s figures show SJWC short by 112 acres. Not much if one has any margin of error.

Big Creek’s data is ‘high tech’ using LIDAR imagery in an attempt to identify vegetation types. This is a use that LIDAR is not particularly suited for. Big Creek’s data is flawed in ways too numerous to mention here. For instance, they have drawn polygons around individual trees, some just 20’ away from other trees and not counted the area in between as timberland.

To make matters more bizarre, CDF says that Santa Clara County will not release digital parcel shapefiles to CDF for the lands of SJWC because of Homeland Security issues. Of course, this same data was released to the public (NAIL members) months ago. CDF says they cannot compare the data from both parties until they get an ‘unbiased’ set of parcel shapefiles from the county. Wow, how long might that take? Do we need to finish the war in Iraq first and vanquish Al Quaida?

DFG has finally submitted a powerful, highly critical 60 page PHI report. It is not yet posted on CDF’s ftp site, but should be shortly. Check here for an informative read:

6. Sentinel TPZ news coverage

As those of you following the TPZ furor are aware, the Santa Cruz Sentinel is not capable of objective reporting, particularly regarding forestry matters. Some would say on all topics. Neither are they capable of properly scrutinizing and culling out Letters to the Editor for publication. In response to the Sentinel’s thoroughly biased Editorial on the rezoning issue, Kevin Collins, submitted the following Letter which was published on May 31, 2007. No problem here. However, the following attack letter from Colin Lovett is disturbing. We have no problem with differences of opinion. That’s life. But the Sentinel should not be in the business of printing ‘hate’ mail. Fostering such enmity within our small community is simply wrong. Giving a free forum to personal attacks should not be tolerated.

I would love to see a flood of letters to the Sentinel challenging their false claims about local logging matters and calling them to task for printing personal attacks.

Letters, May 31
Santa Cruz
Enough Is Enough
When you question whether "local citizen interest groups are qualified to make decisions about the future of forests.." you are talking about me. I am not empowered to make county policy, but I know more than you can imagine about logging practice. Your familiar argument that the "forest needs management" is the core of this disagreement. The more often a forest is subjected to the gentle attentions of bulldozers and chain saws, the closer this "need for management" argument comes to reality. Roads need maintenance and French broom and logging slash are fire hazards. Redwoods are among the oldest conifer families on Earth. Second-growth forests like Lompico headwaters are returning to old-growth conditions. They produce the cleanest water and shelter the vanishing wildlife everyone claims to care about. This county has over 100 square miles of forest zoned for timber production - 1/4 of its land area. This is enough.

Mr. Lovett refers to a comment made by Kevin at an earlier Board of Supervisors meeting about logging practices in Washington State. Kevin testified that in Washington they have a Habitat Conservation Plan for state regulated logging which provides better riparian protection, whereas in California, the timber industry has consistently fought greater watercourse protection rules.

Letters Sunday June 4
Santa Cruz
'Expert' only rants
The Sentinel was dead right to question the influence of "interest groups" on county forest policy. Kevin Colins (sp), a self-proclaimed local forestry expert, recently suggested that Washington state has more restrictive forestry regulations than Santa Cruz County. This is the same Washington state that allows 250-acre clear cuts. With experts like this, it's no wonder Santa Cruz forest policy is a mess.

Mr. Collins is not a forestry expert. He is an anti-logging activist. As far as anyone can tell, Mr. Collins has no professional or scientific forestry credentials. He is part of a small group of politically connected radicals who have systematically opposed and attacked even the most benign and responsible timber harvests in the county. Worse, their undue influence has contributed to ill-conceived ordinances that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars in county legal fees, administrative costs and staff time.
Colin Lovett

7. Sierra Nevada Clear-cutting continues

From Earth Tree News:

9) California is losing more and more of its forests due to rampant clear-cutting, and I am concerned that the public is not getting an accurate picture. The “Speak Your Piece” by Mark Pawlicki, director of government affairs for Sierra Pacific Industries (April 15), misleads the public into believing that our forests are being “managed” in a healthy manner when in fact they’re being clear-cut and essentially destroyed, while producing potentially very harmful consequences. More and more people are seeing the devastation that clear-cutting entails and expressing their outrage. Apparently Sierra Pacific Industries can’t make enough money through selective harvesting of a forest. So Sierra Pacific cuts wide swaths of a forest to the ground, leaving only tree stumps, thereby destroying the basic concept of a forest. A denuded forest allows for extreme erosion that can send massive quantities of silt into waterways. Authentic forests serve as natural reservoirs, one of their most importation functions. With clear-cutting, people have to look at devastation, while animals, birds, insects, and all other forms of life have to seek life-supporting habitat elsewhere in an ever-diminishing natural world. Contrary to Mr. Pawlicki’s letter, there is nothing “measured” or “gradual” about Sierra Pacific’s methods. Sierra Pacific’s practice is to remove almost every tree in large areas, followed by liberal dousing of herbicides and fertilizers. According to the state’s database, Sierra Pacific and other timber companies used 57,355 pounds of herbicides for forestry in 2005 in Shasta County alone. That is the highest anywhere in California and way ahead of second place Humboldt County, with 31,920 pounds. Lassen County was a distant third with 15,112. Where do all of these chemicals wind up and what damage do they do to humans and other living organisms? The argument that if we don’t cut down the forests they will just burn anyway is simply wrong. If that were true, there would have been no forests when the pioneers came to California. Yes, Sierra Pacific does plant a lot of small trees to replace the larger and older specimens it cuts down, but the forests that return someday will not be the diverse natural forests we are losing. They will instead be Sierra Pacific tree farms. Moreover, immature tree farms are more susceptible to catastrophic fires than older forests.

8. 10th Annual Coho Confab-August 17-19

If you’ve never been, I encourage you to go. These are really fun and educational weekends with great people: an easy way to learn more about forests and watersheds through hands-on field classes. There’s something for everyone including an outstanding wild salmon feast, followed by good music and camaraderie around a campfire.

10th Annual Coho Confab
August 17-19 in the Mattole Watershed
The 10th Annual Coho Confab will be held in the beautiful Mattole Valley on the North Coast of California. This landmark event is sponsored by Salmonid Restoration Federation, Trees Foundation, Sanctuary Forest, Mattole Restoration Council, and the Mattole Salmon Group. This year's Confab will feature restoration tours highlighting sudden oak death, road decommissioning, the Mattole Canyon Creek Delta restoration, installing instream structures, and a headwaters of the Mattole tour addressing water conservation, sediment reduction, conservation easements, and acquisitions. Other field tours will visit Wild and Working Lands sites, instream structures in the lower Mattole to the Estuary, and Mill Creek. Workshops will focus on underwater fish identification, riparian invertebrate monitoring- stream health assessment, and high-tech water quality monitoring. Open forums and resource workshops will include stories and songs of salmon with author of Totem Salmon, Freeman House, singer-songwriter Joanne Rand, co-author of Salmon Nation, Seth Zuckerman, and David Simpson and Jane Lapiner of the theatrical troupe, Human Nature. Saturday night will culminate with a wild salmon feast, a cabaret, and the Joanne Rand band. The Sunday morning workshops include amphibian monitoring, flow monitoring in the Mattole, and “how to build a successful watershed group.”

For more information about the Confab, please visit or macro-invertebrate sampling, headwaters to mouth restoration tours, underwater fish identification, water conservation techniques, bioengineering projects, hands-on opportunities, networking, great music and food.

Fee: $100-125 includes all food and lodging. Limited scholarships and work trade positions are available.


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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