Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. SJWC NTMP Denied!!
On October 8, three years after submission of the first NTMP by San Jose Water Company (SJWC), the Board of Forestry voted unanimously to deny their appeal and kill the NTMP. SJWC's NTMP was denied last year by CAL FIRE which independently determined that SJWC owns more than 2500 acres of timberland. Big Creek Lumber, agent for SJWC, and SJWC's attorney Chris Carr (previously attorney for Pacific Lumber) unsuccessfully argued the definitions of 'timberland', of 'crop of trees', of 'commercially available for harvest' and anything else they thought would help their case. However, the definitions seemed to be clear to CAL FIRE, the Board of Forestry and to the citizens opposing this plan. To have limited the definition as SJWC requested would have meant that land once clear cut would no longer be considered timberland, land that had suffered catastrophic fire would no longer be timberland and land where conifers were regenerating but were not immediately harvestable as saw logs would not qualify as timberland either.
Here's a memo, from NAIL Steering Committee member Terry Clark to NAIL members:
"The result of the unanimous vote by the BoF is that this NTMP that we have all been fighting for three years is now off the table with no hope of resurrection. SJWC has indicated they will not appeal the decision in court. The door is still open down the road for shorter, 3-year logging plan applications on smaller parcels of land, but SJWC has not taken any action on this. IF that occurs, NAIL will be involved and vigilant in opposing any plan that affects fire safety, water quality, slope erosion, danger to wildlife and threats to our community.
Your NAIL Steering Committee members, some community residents, forestry consultant Jodi Frediani, members of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club, representation from Assembly Member Ira Ruskin's office and Attorney Tom Lippe, special counsel for Santa Clara County, all attended the hearing in Sacramento, opposing the permit.
SJWC and their timber contractor, Big Creek Lumber, were denied an application in September of last year based on the number of acres of timberland owned by SJWC. NAIL's challenge to the acreage report ed by SJWC forced CDF to conduct their own study to validate or refute NAIL's fi ndings and CDF's final results agreed with NAIL's assertion. The permit was denied and SJWC stated they would appeal.
After a 3-1/2 hour meeting before the 9-member, governor-appointed board, that included statements made by attendees, timber industry lobbyists and counsel representing San Jose Water's lumber contractor, Big Creek, the board voted unanimously to deny the appeal.
We would like to thank this entire community for the support it extended to fighting this wrong plan in the wrong place. Our redwoods and big trees will continue to grow and flourish. NAIL encourages SJWC to receive a fair market price for the forested acreage while retaining water rights to the land so it can be converted to open space public land and preserved for future generations.
NAIL has worked very hard on this and to achieve a unanimous vote by the board in the face of SJWC/Big Creek's pressure and high priced San Francisco attorney as well as logging industry lobbyists, was a coup for this community. You CAN make a difference as an individual, never forget this.
The story of the victory got excellent media coverage, appeared in the San Jose Mercury and was picked up by the Associated Press. The story appeared on the websites of the following outlets: CBS5, NBC11, KCOY (San Luis Obispo), KTVN Reno, San Bernardino Press-Enterprise, KESQ Palm Springs, Contra Costa Times, KMPH Fresno, BusinessWeek, Trading Markets, and The San Luis Obispo Tribune.
I'm assuming that nothing will happen until the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board issues a waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for the UC THP.
However, there is a big issue about storm water runoff that wasn't addressed during the THP review. Here are excerpts of some concerns expressed by CLUE (Coalition to Limit University Expansion) to Regional Water Board staff. CLUE has been involved in the law suit/settlement agreement, the THP review and many other aspects of the proposed UC expansion:
"I just received notice from Cal Fire that they have approved a UCSC Timber Harvest Plan that includes logging for the construction of the Biomedical Sciences Facility. I believe this is an approximately 80,000 sq. ft. facility. My understanding is that there will be a significant increase in post-development stormwater runoff volume from this project.
The CHY company which owns the Olive Springs Quarry in Soquel has resubmitted THP 1-08-131 SCR which was initially returned for incompleteness. Now, it appears the 235 acre plan may be returned again.* A memo from Jonathan Ambrose, NOAA Fisheries states that a significant inaccuracy exists in the plan: "the proposed THP indicate(s) federally endangered Central California Coast (CCC) Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) coho salmon were detected in Soquel Creek by NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SFWSC) staff this summer. These fish were all detected within, or immediately downstream of the proposed THP area." The memo goes on to "encourage CAL FIRE to carefully assess and evaluate all potential adverse impacts that may result from the proposed THP to CCC coho salmon." Of course, before they can do that, the plan must state that coho exist in Soquel Creek, which it currently does not.
The plan proposes two Class I stream crossings (temporary culvert installation) of Soquel Creek that could result in a take of coho salmon. NOAA Fisheries is concerned that the proposed culvert installation "may result in violation of the federal ESA."
The plan and agency and RPF review documents can be found at: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2008/1-08-131SCR/
*Curiously, the plan was accepted for filing 10-10-08. This means that a host of 'change pages' will have to be submitted to correct the 'no coho' claim, update the cumulative impacts assessment, etc. Of course, having a bunch of change pages makes it exceedingly difficult to keep track of the most updated version of the plan. However, if the plan had been returned, the submitter would have had to notice it in the newspaper again. I'm told this costs aro und $600, and of course, we wouldn't want to burden them with such excessive costs. On the other hand, if the industry knew they would have to re-notice when such significant info is incorrect, they might do their homework in advance. Sierra Club and CCFW will continue to monitor this plan carefully.
In 2001-2002, CRFM filed suit against CAL FIRE and Don Campbell, landowner, for what CRFM believed was an illegal minor-amendment to allow harvesting of snags on the Campbell property along Baldwin Creek adjacent to Wilder Ranch State Park. In 1992, Campbell got the first NTMP to be issued in Santa Cruz County. It covers his 600 acre property in the Baldwin Creek watershed and specifically prohibits snag harvest. Prior to the lawsuit, Campbell had illegally cut multiple snags, including old growth redwood, in the stream channel of Baldwin Creek. The minor-amendment was CAL FIRE's (Nancy Drinkard's) way of 'correcting' the violation. The amendment claimed that since there would be a lot of snags on the adjacent parklands, then Campbell no longer needed to retain snags on his.
Ultimately, under pressure of further legal action, Campbell withdrew the amendment. However, since then, he has continued to harvest on his property under multiple Dead, Dying and Diseased (DDD) Exemptions. The majority of trees proposed for harvest under those exemptions have been Douglas fir and redwoods. Sounds a lot li ke snags to me. His September 2007 Exemption for 40 acres specifically mapped a 4' diameter downed Douglas fir in the riparian corridor. At Sierra Club's request, CAL FIRE did an inspection and told Campbell he could not commercialize the downed wood and snags adjacent to Baldwin Creek.
However, that Exemption was 'amended' in December of 2007 to harvest during the winter period and increased the area to be harvested to include 200 acres of hardwood. Wow, not only were winter ops allowed, but the DDD Exemption magically morphed into a Fuelwood Exemption.
To continue the free-form 'harvest permit vehicle,' Campbell submitted a new DDD Exemption September 2008, this time without a required map. CAL FIRE asked for a map to be submitted (after the map absence was brought to their attention) and apparently Campbell emailed the original map from Sept 2007, with no changes noted, even though he admitted he had completed part of that harvest. Hmm. The 200 acres have now magically disappeared, and the 4' diameter old growth Douglas fir snag in the WLPZ is still mapped for harvest.
After speaking with DFG about this problem, they followed up with CAL FIRE. It now appears that CAL FIRE will tell Campbell he cannot harvest snags on his property. Not under his NTMP, nor under an Exemption. However, I was told that he will still be allowed to continue harvesting under Exemptions, rather than utilizing his NTMP. If you are as confuse d as I am, raise your hand. Clearly this is a way for Campbell to avoid having an RPF oversee his logging activities, avoid having CAL FIRE conduct regular inspections, avoid having to post Log Truck signs along his haul route, etc. And it is not clear if his activities are in conformance with the objectives of his non-industrial timber management plan.
On October 4, the Environmental Committee of the San Lorenzo Valley Women's Club hosted a meeting with PG&E representatives to get answers to questions about recent tree trimming and felling along Graham Hill Road and Mt. Herman Road.
The timber industry is at it again. They have challenged the Endangered Species Act protection of the last of the murrelets, wonderful little seabirds which nest high up on large, old growth tree limbs, and produce a single chick fed with fish caught out at sea by the parent:
News of the Week
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed last week to review the protected status of the marbled murrelet, a sea bird that nests in the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest. The move comes in response to a timber industry-led petition claiming that the bird does not meet key provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). But opponents cry foul, arguing that the industry petition hinges on a flawed analysis. What's more, other, more recent studies show that the population is in rapid decline, some scientists say, and any change to its status could be disastrous.
Here is an excerpt from Stametz' excellent book, Mycelium Running:
"Forests are Not America's Renewable Resource": "Faced with the corporate logging propaganda promoting the idea that 'trees are America's renewable resource,' I wondered: with hundreds of tons of trees harvested per acre in one week from soils that have been built in the last 10,000 years, how could this loss of biomass be called renewable in our lifetime? This philosophy defies common sense. Carbon cycles that fuel the food chain and build the forest soils move at a much slower pace than logging companies. With each generation of trees we cut, soils increasingly shallow and we further jeopardize the health of the forests. The richness and depth of soil is one legacy from centuries of mycelial activity. And with each harvesting and replanting, the soil loses nutrients and gradually becomes overtaxed, no longer able to support the growth of healthy trees. Trees prematurely climax, falling over as the root wads can't hold the trees upright. Current 'sustainable' logging practices strive to balance the impact of overharvesting with ecological restoration, potentially irreconcilable objectives. The bottom line is that we need to focus on carbon cycles and raise the nutritional plateau in timberlands by accelerating decomposition of wood debris and restarting plant cycles."
Stametz recommends reseeding with native species of fungi.
More next month. You can catch Stametz at the Bioneers' Conference in Marin, Friday, October 17. www.bioneers.org.
< back to all issues