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

1. Forest Carbon Sequestration lesson
2. Whitehouse Creek THP 1-07-143 SCR Dias
3. TP rezone applications – Planning Commission, March 12
4. Cemex Individual Waiver Hearing – March 21, Salinas
5. Legislative Analyst’s Office proposed DFG Fee Increases
6. Tree Top news
7. USDA’s Mark Rey nearly jailed – fish killer
8. Can’t see the forest for the sneeze

1. Forest Carbon Sequestration lesson

The following is excerpted from a presentation by Olga Krankina, professor of Forestry, at Oregon State University:
Trees are just so incredibly effective in capturing and storing carbon that it is hard for our technology to compete. Because of that most measures reducing timber harvest tend to create some increase in C stores on land.

Change in live forest biomass following timber harvest – probably looks familiar: it drops to 0 once the trees are cut, then followed the good old s-curve, the cycle repeats itself. Other major ecosystem components, however, do not change in sync with tree biomass or timber volume for that matter. Dead biomass receives a big influx of material following harvest, and this is not just needles, tops and branches – a large porting of it is stumps and roots. All this material decomposes and loses C gradually over many years and decades; the dead pool declines for a while then increases again as dead material inputs from the new stand exceed losses from decomposition. Soil C pool changes over time as well, but those changes are relatively minor at the time scale in decades. The total C pool in a forest changes similar to live biomass but there are some notable distinctions: live biomass is about one-half of the total C store; the other half is NOT in sync. Because of that total C stores decline for 10-20 years following disturbance and this means that the forest is a source of C even as new generation of trees actively accumulates C. The divergent dynamics of live biomass and dead organic material is key to understanding distinction between optimal management for timber production and the optimal management for C stores on forest land.

Those pesky dead trees. After a severe burn 90% of biomass stays, and Decomposes, surely but very slowly. And maintains high stores of C in the process.
Measures to accelerate the growth of trees may provide for faster uptake of carbon from the atmosphere. However, the effect on carbon storage may be smaller than the increase in growing stock volume if the wood density declines, or if the decay resistance of a faster-growing tree is lower, or if the product mix from fast-growing trees shifts towards shorter-lived wood products. Moreover, if the rotation interval is shortened as growth rate increases (a primary goal of increasing growth rates), then there will be little net carbon gain on-site.

2. Whitehouse Creek THP 1-07-143SCR, Dias, RPF

This THP near the northern border of Santa Cruz County has engendered much discussion among agency personnel due to a failing crossing dubbed M6. The 48” culvert is improperly angled ‘shot-gunning’ into the downstream bank, creating a large ‘plunge pool’ and widening the channel substantially. All agency reps feel the culvert is ready to fail. A car body is ‘keyed’ into the bank below the crossing but above the culvert outfall. Matt Dias, the RPF for the landowner has proposed replacing the culvert with some undisclosed type of bridge. The problem: the bridge is not intended for use as part of the timber harvest operations. This means that it should be installed according to county bridge design standards. Of course, the landowner does not want to do that. Hence the scrutiny. There is actually a Special County Rule which requires the RPF to notify the landowner of his obligation to get county permits if the bridge is going to be used for activities other than timber harvest.
Gaming the system:
After being called on this by Regional Water, along with other problems such as the creek alignment, necessity of satisfactory drawings of the culvert removal and replacement, Dias has now added this language to the plan:

“This crossing, as well as the proposed bridge, shall be used for access pertaining to timber operations for this harvest as well as future harvests. During the first summer season the crossing will be used for purposes including, but not limited to, erosion control, lopping, water quality monitoring visual monitoring. This bridge crossing will be used for a minimum of 5 years for water quality and visual monitoring. If timber operations are not completed during the first summer season the bridge crossing shall be used for access for falling, skidding, and all previously mentioned activities.”

At the Second Review Team meeting Wednesday, February 27, this crossing discussion went on and on. Regional water wants proper drawings and cross-sections of the creek, essentially leading to full disclosure. In addition, Regional water would like to have a fluvial geomorphologist review the crossing. However, DFG can’t provide one until mid-March and Dias nearly threw a temper tantrum, threatening to withdraw the crossing from the plan. He re-thought this approach after Rich Sampson said use of another Class III crossing outside the plan area would necessitate another site visit. Dias will be coming back with more drawings, showing footings, cross-sections, etc.

3. TP rezones before Planning Commission, March 12

On March 12, the Planning Commission (PC) will approve an additional 33 applications to rezone land into the Timber Production (TP) zone district. Additional applications will go to the PC on March 26 and April 9 totaling 90 remaining rezone applications submitted to the county and deemed ‘complete’ by December 31, 2007. These are the balance of the properties rezoned to TPZ under the county’s ‘amnesty’ program before the minimum parcel size was changed to require a (collective) 40 acre minimum parcel size.

Those on the March 12 agenda can be reviewed here.

Since 1998, the County has received 163 applications for rezoning to TPZ covering 271 parcels and 6,597 acres. Of those, 114 applications covering 181 parcels and 3,198 have been submitted in 2007. One can assume that most of the 2007 applications were submitted after the County Board of Supervisors voted to raise the minimum parcel size to 40 acres from the absurdly small size of 5 acres.

According to conversations with planning staffer, Maria Perez, the County is only concerned that the applications meet the minimum ‘amnesty’ 5-acre parcel size (i.e. cumulative size for adjacent parcels) and that the Management Plan prepared by a Registered Professional Forester meets the minimal requirements set by the Timber Productivity Act.

4. Cemex Individual Waiver Hearing – March 21, Salinas

If you have concerns about additional logging in the upper watershed of San Vicente Creek, plan to attend the Waterboard Hearing in Salinas on March 21. And/or submit comments in advance to:

Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Individual Waiver for RMC 2006 - 2007; Order No. R3-2008-0013

Comments submitted by Close of Business, March 7 will get into the Board agenda packet. Comments after that date will go into a supplemental packet. Unfortunately, the Agenda is not yet posted and the Board website is under construction. For more info or questions, contact Julia Dyer at: 805-594-6144 or

For location and directions, and hopefully to review the agenda, check:

"The RMC 2006-2007 Timber Harvest Plan (THP) lays out a 535-acre selective harvest to take place over two harvest seasons within the San Vicente Creek Watershed, using a combination of tractor, rubber tired skidder, and skyline cable yarding. San Vicente Creek is listed on the 303(d) list as impaired for Sedimentation/Siltation, with silviculture listed as a potential source."

This plan ranked as Tier IV requiring an Individual Waiver issued by the Board, rather than a General Waiver issued by Staff. The plan had a high Cumulative Effect Ratio, with 39% of the watershed harvested in the past 15 years, a high Drainage Density Index as a result of perennial and ephemeral streams in and adjacent to the plan area. It also ahs a Medium Soil Disturbance Factor.

Staff is recommending some additional requirements, in addition to the usual monitoring and reporting program. Such as:
q. The Discharger shall evaluate all existing through cut roads. Any through cut road identified during the evaluation to pose a potential threat for discharge of sediment or siltation to waters of the sate, shall be realigned and properly drained.
r. All trees marked for harvest near wet areas shall be directionally felled away from the wet area.

5. Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) proposed DFG Fee Increases

It’s about time somebody noticed. In addition to a recommendation to increase the Timber Yield Tax to fully fund the THP review program, the LAO has recommended a ‘player pay’ program for DFG revenue.
“Because the department’s efforts in these programs are driven directly by the activities of the regulated community, we think it is appropriate that the regulated community pay the full cost of operating these regulatory programs.”

Excerpt: “In particular, the administration proposes to reduce the department’s review of California Endangered Species Act permits, Natural Communities Conservation Plans (NCCPs), and timber harvest plans (THPs). The administration also proposes to eliminate 38 Fish and Game warden positions.

“As is shown in the figure, the budget–balancing reductions will impact a number of program areas, including regulation and enforcement of existing environmental and natural resource laws. In particular, the administration proposes to reduce the department’s review of California Endangered Species Act permits, Natural Communities Conservation Plans (NCCPs), and timber harvest plans (THPs). The administration also proposes to eliminate 38 Fish and Game warden positions.

“Recommend General Fund Reductions for Regulatory Programs Be Offset With Increased Existing and New Fee Revenues. Several of the program areas proposed for reductions are regulatory program activities that currently receive some fee–based support or could be supported with revenues from new fees. In particular, the following program areas have existing fees or could be supported by fees:

THP Review. We discuss the department’s role in the review and enforcement of THPs in our “Funding Timber Harvest Plan Review and Enforcement” write–up in the “Crosscutting Issues“ section of this chapter. In current statute, there is a fee charged by the department for THP review – although the fee does not cover the department’s full cost of carrying out review activities. “Currently each of these programs is either partially supported by fees or could be, based on the “polluter pays” principle and the “beneficiary pays” principle. In each case, the department is responding to proposals by the regulated community that impact natural resources. Because the department’s efforts in these programs are driven directly by the activities of the regulated community, we think it is appropriate that the regulated community pay the full cost of operating these regulatory programs. Additionally, approval by the department benefits the regulated community by allowing revenue–generating projects to proceed. Therefore, we recommend that the Legislature:

Increase the department’s expenditure authority to allow it to spend $3.5 million in additional fee revenues from a new special fund to support the review of THPs (we discuss the legislation required to create the new fee and the special fund in our “THP” write–up in the “Crosscutting Issues” section of this chapter) and decrease the department’s appropriation from the Fish and Game Preservation Fund by $443,000 to reflect a shift in funding for this activity to the new fund.

6. Tree Top News

If you haven’t read Richard Preston’s book, “Wild Trees” yet, it is now out in paperback. Highly recommended. Gives a glimpse into the upper canopy of old growth redwoods. A whole world up there, largely unexplored.

More about forest canopies:
4) On January 11th, Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, faculty member in environmental studies at The Evergreen State College, treated members of the Seattle Science & Technology Discovery Series to a fascinating and inspirational look at life at the top – treetop, that is – in temperate and tropical forests. Dr. Nadkarni spoke about efforts to “explore, connect and reflect” – explore the forest canopy ecosystem, connect people to the forests, and encourage reflection on the importance of the canopy to our natural world. Innovations in non-destructive methods of accessing the canopy have enabled researchers to explore the diversity of wildlife among the trees and analyze the impact of disturbances – both natural and man-made – on the canopy ecosystem. Dr. Nadkarni’s research examines the role of canopy-dwelling plants and how nutrients cycle through the ecosystem, with a particular focus on how the canopy draws nutrients from atmospheric inputs like rain and mist.

Calling the plants that dwell in the canopy “the canary in the coalmine,” Dr. Nadkarni noted that these organisms are an early warning system for large-scale environmental changes. Did you know? 1) The canopy has its own soil. Called arboreal soil, it is very acidic, experiences severe dry-downs, has a slow decomposition rate, and harbors very different microbial populations than terrestrial soil. 2) Moss harvesting for horticultural use is a $265 million-per-year industry and growing, a grave concern to researchers due to the key role it plays in the canopy in drawing nutrients from the atmosphere and the fragility of the canopy ecosystem. For example, in one experiment researchers removed a quantity of moss to gauge how well it recovered; 35 years later, only 25% of the missing moss had returned. 3) The International Canopy Network was formed to communicate the importance of preserving the canopy and connect people to the forests. Among the novel ways in which ICAN is reaching out to a larger audience: the introduction of TreeTop Barbie.

7. USDA’s Mark Rey nearly jailed – ‘fish killer’

Ducking Donald: U.S. forest official will not be jailed over fish-killing flame retardant

The U.S. Forest Service turned in a court-ordered environmental analysis of a fish-killing flame retardant 2 1/2 years late, and only after the agency's top official was threatened with incarceration for contempt of court. But the USFS did ultimately conduct the environmental review of ammonium phosphate -- which was dropped on an Oregon fire in 2002 and subsequently killed 20,000 fish -- so U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy elected Wednesday not to send Agriculture Undersecretary and USFS overseer Mark Rey to the slammer. Nonetheless, said Molloy, the agency's lack of action was "shameful," "unreasonable," and showed a "systematic disregard of the rule of law." Ah, just another day in the Bush administration.
sources: Missoulian, Associated Press From: "Grist"

8. Can’t see the forest for the sneeze

Can't See the Forest for the Sneeze: Kleenex boxes infiltrated by anti-logging leaflets
Planning to buy some tissues for your February sniffles? Be forewarned: Menacing notes have been found in Kleenex boxes across the U.S. and Canada. "Wiping away ancient forests," says a leaflet found by a reporter in a Kleenex box purchased at a New York drugstore. "Here's a little secret that Kimberly-Clark, the largest tissue maker in the world and parent company of Kleenex, does not want you to know." Kimberly-Clark has long been under fire from Greenpeace for logging Canadian boreal forests and eschewing recycled fibers; while the leaflets purport to come from Greenpeace, a spokesperson for the group says the stunt is not an official Greenpeace gag. So the perpetrator remains a mystery, as does the when, where, and how of the Kleenex-box infiltration. Says a Kimberly-Clark spokesperson, "For the life of me, I guess I'm struggling to figure out how anything ... will get inside a Kleenex box."
source: The Washington Post, see also, in Grist: A Greenpeace campaigner answers questions about Kleenex

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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