Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Holderman NTMP is back - DFG Concerns
Wow, this NTMP was first submitted in 2003 and is still under review. One would think that any studies would be out of date. A new 'focused' PHI was conducted recently, but DFG is still unhappy with the contents of this plan and it's ability to mitigate potential environmental damage. DFG non-concurred in March, 2008 and apparently many of their concerns have still not been fully addressed. Because this plan is so old, it cannot be found on the CAL FIRE ftp site. To review documents, you will need to visit the Felton CAL FIRE office.
DFG's concerns include additional sediment input into Brown's Creek, inadequate protection measures adjacent to the Class II watercourses in the plan area, a landslide which has not been fully addressed, nearly unrestricted use of heavy equipment within Equipment Limitation Zones, a need for surveys prior to each entry for Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks, adequate protection for non-listed raptors and their nests (per DFG regs), declaration of survey methodology for future plant surveys, agreement to not use persistent and invasive non-native grasses, agreement to recruit and retain sufficient conifer and hardwood snags, nest and den trees, appropriate mitigations for red-legged frogs, and more.
The plan apparently continues to "focus on harvesting the largest trees first" according to DFG's 11-2-09 PHI letter. Mr. Holderman, property owner and RPF for this plan, has prepared an explanation of his proposed silvicultural method entitled, "Maximum Sustained Production Using the Percent Cutting Method". This has been revised several times at the request of CAL FIRE and other review team members. I must confess, it makes little practical sense to me. The author informs us that cutting timber is as easy as mowing a lawn. Unfortunately, the calculations appear to be extremely simplistic and do not appear to take into consideration the tremendous variability one finds in an organic system. The original proposal specifically included only harvesting the larger size classes on each entry. I am not clear how that has been altered in the most recent version.
Review of this NTMP continues.
As we noted in our October, Forest Update, this THP has come under major scrutiny largely due to the ten-plus acres of late-seral and old growth forest, some of which is proposed for harvest. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Santa Cruz Group, Central Coast Forest Watch, Committee for Green Foothills and possibly others submitted extensive comments. As a result, the RPF has been asked to address at least the most significant concerns, clearly indicating that the plan was deficient. Once those comments are received and reviewed by CAL FIRE , the plan will need to be re-noticed for another 30 day period.
In the meantime, San Mateo County staff submitted a letter to CAL FIRE on October 20 in support of DFG's concerns about the harvesting of old growth on the property. For some unknown reason, CAL FIRE has decided they do not need to post these comments from a Review Team member on their ftp site. Outrageous!
For more info on this plan, see our October Forest Update or check out the plan, agency documents (minus those from the San Mateo County Review Team Member) and RPF responses at: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2008/1-08-063SMO/
In 2004, the Soquel Demonstration State Forest submitted a THP to construct a controversial haul road and harvest significant acreage in the Fern Gulch area of the Soquel Creek watershed. The plan underwent extensive review including a two-day PHI site visit. The plan was deficient in a number of areas, including the need for an Option A plan, required by timberland owners with more than 50,000 acres (the State of CA, in this case). In addition, the plan proposed felling an old growth redwood leaning in the direction of the proposed new haul road. Sierra Club submitted comments referring to the enabling legislation that created this state forest, as well as the management plan, both of which require protection of all old growth redwoods.
The review came to a halt after these efforts to protect the old growth redwood, went awry. A smaller stem from the same root system was cut so an engineer could get a clear view of the remaining stem to try to determine where to locate a cable to support the tree so it would not fall onto the road. At about the same time, Ed Orre, the SDSF RPF who ill advisedly allowed for the OG stem to be cut, made an even more egregious error. He allowed a CDF chain saw training class to fell dozens of large trees inside the THP boundary. Of course, the THP had not yet been approved, so falling trees was not authorized. Mr. Orre was put on probation and as we reported in our March 2009 newsletter, the plan was withdrawn.
As of October 21, a new version of the plan for 201 acres was published in the newspaper, and adjacent property owners have received a Notice of Intent in the mail. The plan has not yet been submitted to CAL FIRE. Rumor has it that SDSF is also preparing a second timber harvest plan for the Demo Forest. Stay tuned.
1-09-087 SCR, Bushnell: Paul, RPF 12.2 acres, San Lorenzo River (resubmitted)
1-09-091 SMO/SCR, Redtree Properties: Bissell, RPF, 875 acres, Pescadero Creek
5. Petition to Save Richardson Grove
Stop a Highway Project Through the Ancient Redwoods
"Ask any visitor to California's North Coast who has driven the Redwood Highway north from San Francisco, and they'll be able to tell you exactly where they passed through the fabled “Redwood Curtain.” At Richardson Grove State Park, just north of the Humboldt County line, Highway 101 narrows to a two-lane road winding through a dim, lush grove of ancient redwoods. These huge trees provide crucial habitat for endangered birds like the marbled murrelet; threatened salmon and steelhead still return each year to spawn in the creeks running through the park.
This iconic gateway to the redwoods is now gravely threatened by an ill-advised and unnecessary highway project. Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are on the brink of approving a proposal to widen and realign the portion of Highway 101 passing through Richardson Grove. Construction of the new road would cut through the vital root systems of the ancient redwoods, threatening the integrity of the grove and further jeopardizing the imperiled species that rely on old-growth redwood forests for their survival.
The point of the project is to make it possible for larger trucks to access this portion of Highway 101. Powerful business interests itching to bring big-box stores and runaway urban development to Humboldt County desperately want those larger trucks on the highway. This just adds insult to injury: The project will not only blow an even bigger hole through Richardson Grove, but could also spur new development that will forever alter the character of the North Coast. Behind the future Redwood Curtain, travelers might find just one more big subdivision and one more big-box strip mall.
Please take a moment to tell Caltrans and the highway administration not to approve the Richardson Grove Improvement Project. Thus far, these agencies have ignored the project's threats to endangered wildlife and ancient redwoods, failed to look at other alternatives, and downplayed the growth-inducing effects of opening Highway 101 to oversized-truck traffic. This cathedral grove is far too important to both vanishing forest species and human visitors to be sacrificed for the short-term gains of a few powerful commercial interests in Humboldt County."
Sign the Center for Biological Diversity Petition at this link:
Problems with fish farms continue to come to light. The following blurb found its way to my inbox:
"Yesterday (Oct 25) I examined 20 escaped farm salmon. They were caught over 40 km away from the escape site, Marine Harvest fish farm Port Elizabeth in Knight Inlet in a gillnet. One these farm salmon had captured and eaten a salmon smolt and some other fish that was too digested to identify, but had fine bones like a herring. If an escaped farm salmon can find and capture a young wild salmon in the ocean at this time of year, when there are very few smolts around, it seems extremely likely that they are capturing and eating young wild salmon trapped in the pens. I recently laid charges against Marine Harvest under the Fisheries Act for illegal possession of young wild salmon in the nearby Potts Bay farm.
"According to Marine Harvest these fish escaped on Wednesday, and the escaped farm salmon I looked at had been caught two days later, 40 km away. It was in the company of many other farm salmon. This does make a person think this fish had experience capturing live prey. I have received many reports of wild herring, rock cod, salmon, black cod and capelin in the farms over the years. The herring in the Broughton have never rebounded despite decades of no fishing and so along with it being illegal, we have to know how many wild fish are in the pens to be able to manage these stocks. You can’t have an unknown illegal harvest going on if you are trying to manage any wild fish stock. DFO seems unwilling to do anything about this."
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