Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. AB 1066 moves to Senate
AB 1066 the 5 year THP bill, which also allows for two one-year extensions making THPs good for up to 7 years, passed the Assembly late last month on a vote of 53-12 (17 abstaining).
Originally proposed as a 10 year (+2) THP bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Mendoza of Los Angeles, the bill was amended in a compromise in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. Mendoza's wife is from Santa Cruz and rumor has it that she has a family member who works for the local mill.
Local Assemblymembers Monning, Beall and Ruskin opposed AB1066, thanks in part to calls and letters from their constituents.
Environmentalists still oppose the bill that would increase the time a timber harvest permit is valid from 3 to 5 years. While this helps timberland owners by allowing for 'market-timing' and submission of larger THPs, it only increases the risk of cumulative impacts to watersheds, fish, wildlife and neighborhoods. And it can't be good for loggers, log haulers or mill workers.
The Bill will next be heard in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, where our local Senator sits. Please give Joe Simitian a call and ask him to OPPOSE AB 1066.
Plan to attend! The Board will hold a public hearing starting at 8:00 a.m., on June 24, 2009, at the Resources Building Auditorium, 1st Floor, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento. We need a ground swell of watershed and fish advocates to let the Board know we want strong new protections, before our coho expire! Comment letters must be received by 5:00pm, June 22.
Here is a brief overview of the proposal as it will affect the Southern Sub-District (SSD):
Class I Watercourses in the Coho ESU (as far south as the San Lorenzo River)
We will lose 50' of WLPZ protection, both in increased canopy retention and limiting of roads.
Class I Watercourses outside the Coho ESU (from SL River to Pajaro River)
From the Initial Statement of Reasons: "The primary positive economic impact results from increasing the land available for timber management in Class I WLPZs. This is due to the reduction in width of the WLPZ in Class I watercourses where there is no evenage harvesting adjacent to the WLPZ or reduction of WLPZ width to 100 feet for all Class I WLPZs in the non coho watersheds. In some situations, this increases the land in the riparian area available for harvest by 33% to 50% compared to the exiting T/I rules."
We lose big time. DFG and NMFS want to extend the ESU rules to the Pajaro, however, they somehow missed this problem until two weeks ago. Now it will be a fight to get a change and probably will be part of some negotiation to reduce protections elsewhere.
Class II Watercourses in ESU
This is an increase in protection, though it only applies to Large Class IIs and the distinction process is currently muddled and somewhat arbitrary.
Class II Watercourses outside the ESU
Standard Class IIs
Class III Watercourses
Big Creek 'special consideration':
So far DFG seems to be willing to make an exception for the SSD. Bye-bye coho! Even though DFG said in a Conference Call last week that the reduced protection in the outer zone for Class Is will be made up for by increased protections along Class IIs and IIIs. I guess the Southern Sub-District doesn't count.
Plan to attend: The hearing will be heard in Watsonville at the City Council Chambers. Mark your calendar now and save the date. More details on location and time, closer to the date.
This is a complex subject. Sierra Club comments objected to the lack of an Initial Study and appropriate CEQA document (i.e. mitigated neg dec). The North Coast Water Board just revised their timber waiver under a Mitigated Negative Declaration after preparation of an Initial Study. Not sure why our Staff who are planning on essentially gutting the program think they do not need to acknowledge CEQA, never mind follow the rules of engagement. (They didn't even pretend they qualified for an Exemption.)
We found the staff report to be unclear, disorganized, more focused on efficiency for staff, rather than on protection of the natural resource. We found no quantitative summary of the Current Waiver program results. We saw no discussion of violations which we know occurred. We saw very little data provided and disagreed with most of the conclusions drawn.
It appears that the baby will be thrown out with the bath water. What is being proposed is largely self-regulation.
From our perusal of the Staff Report the following is being proposed:
• Staff will no longer review Notice of Intent Enrollment Applications for accuracy or completeness
• Discharger will determine Tier Level required
• Discharger will decide if an Individual Waiver is required
• Enrollment in General Waiver will be automatic
• MRP will be automatically terminated, without any site inspection
• Repeat "visual" monitoring (i.e. site visits by the Discharger), as well as temperature and turbidity monitoring may be required by the Executive Officer "as appropriate". There are no criteria set to define "appropriate".
The North Coast Water Board staff proposed that NTMP Erosion Control Plans apply to the entire area, not just that currently being operated on. In addition, they want to see roads on THPs and NTMPs be hydrologically disconnected from streams. In order to meet temperature objectives they have found it necessary to require 85% overstory canopy within the first 50' of watercourses that have cold-water beneficial uses or are within 1000 linear feet of a fish bearing stream, and 65% retention within the remainder of the WLPZ.
Essentially, the Central Coast Timber Waiver Program is being gutted in the interests of Staff efficiency. We are advised that there is insufficient funding to adequately manage the program. When the Waiver Program was originally developed, we recommended that fees be established to cover costs of administering the program, or at least to partially offset the cost. The North Coast Water Board currently issues primarily Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) for timber harvest plans in their region and assesses fees for the review. North Coast Staff are now recommending implementation of a fee for Waiver processing. We continue to urge our Board to require a fee for Waiver processing.
DFG and NMFS have submitted a joint comment letter indicating that the temperature standards being use d by the Board were inappropriate and that in fact, we do have temperature problems in our local streams.
Did we mention that Staff noted that the Road Management Plans (RMPs) that were submitted by landowners were "consistently inadequate". They were to have been approved by the Executive Director, so we are not sure why they weren't required to be made adequate. The solution to consistently inadequate RMPs? Abolish the RMPs and instead require one self-inspection per year. Possibly two.
This 53-acre THP prepared by RPF Jim Hildreth for timberland landowner Hen Truong has already caused a stir and Second Review hasn't even been scheduled yet. The plan area contains Class II and III tribs to Trout Gulch Creek and will haul over two private roads, sole access for about 40 neighbors. The previous plan for this property was prepared by Staub, but operated by Webster. Truong, who does not pay into the road association funds, had agreed to post $15.000 into an account towards roadwork for the previous plan. However, he then withdrew the funds prior to timber operations.
A series of lawsuits ensued with Truong ultimately footing the bill to do some major improvements to Larsen Road and paying attorneys fees after he sued a number of the neighbors in apparent retaliation.
Again, the neighbors simply want their road protected. (Well, the neighbor who had his spring filled with mud would also like his water supply protected.) The FPRs are inadequate and even though CDF can require a bond be posted under a special Santa Cruz County rule, the dollar amount is insufficient and CDF is reluctant to do so.
CDF and Hildreth have refused to conduct a PHI walking review of the two private haul roads, allowing the road association representative to attend. And the LTO, Tim Peet, graded roads on the property a couple of weeks ago, while the plan was still under review. He essentially conducted timber operations prior to an approved THP. A 'focused PHI' will be conducted tomorrow to see the results. CDF has opened an investigation, but we remain highly skeptical that anything will come of it. (See St. Francis below.) The road association designee has20also been refused permission to attend this focused PHI, even though special Santa Cruz rules allow for such participation.
Webster attended the public hearing for this THP, which was also attended by a couple dozen neighbors.
The neighbors have hired attorney Bill Parkin to help ensure their road, their sole access route, is not damaged.
Remember the Roy Webster THP on Mt. Madonna, where he forgot to notice the neighbors about helicopter operations and Columbia Helicopters dropped trees into the creek and over cut? The THP CAL FIRE brought to the District Attorney's office. The one where CAL FIRE agreed not to pursue action against Webster because he agreed that he would not submit THPs anymore.
We followed the case for a couple of years, asking for more info whenever we had the chance. We were told repeatedly that they were 'negotiating' with the landowner. Well, CAL FIRE finally let the statute of limitations expire and their case evaporated. Webster? He has continued to submit THPs and when we brought that to CAL FIRE's attention, we were told that they would have to get it in writing the next time.
The Water Board also brought an action against the landowner after a Second Notice of Violation of the Waiver was issued: Photo-point monitoring was not conducted as required, inspections were incomplete and improperly timed, turbidity monitoring was not conducted in December 2006 following the completion of operations as required, and the revised monitoring map was inadequate. The first Notice of Violation cited 11 violations. While the Water Board was going to be filing its own case, we have not heard the outcome, if any. We do know that there was no mention of these violations (or any others) in the Staff Report on the Waiver Modification proposal to be heard on July 10.
Your tax dollars hard at work.......
1-09-027 SCR, Salvation Army, Culver-RPF, Bean Creek, 45 acres
1-09-032 SCL, Cortez, Bishop-RPF, Little Arthur Creek, 57 acres
1-09-035 SCR, Redtree Properties, Bissell-RPF, SL River, 75 acres
1-09-038 SCR, UCSC, Staub-RPF, SL River, 4 acres
1-09-043 SCR, Wicht, Culver-RPF, Jones/Amaya Creek, 23 acres
1-09-045 SCR RMC/Cemex, Hamey-RPF, Deadman Gulch/Big Creek, 230 acres
1-09-047 SCR Patton, Hildreth-RPF, Branciforte Creek, 30 acres
1-09-064 SCR Redwood Empire, Duffy-RPF, Soquel Creek, 396 acres (Highland Way/Aptos Fire Trail)
1-09-068 SCR, Mosko, et al, Paul-RPF, Whalebone Gulch, 59 acres
NEWS - From the June 01, 2009 issue of High Country News
"Embers get into attics through unscreened vents or into the crawl space, or they get into a woodpile stacked against the house or into a pile of leaves under the deck," says Max Moritz, a fire ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley who helped Sapsis develop the new model.
Burning Questions, Why the National Fire Plan is a Trojan Horse for Logging, George Wuerthner
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