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

Forest Update, September 2007

1. UCSC THP on hold
2. SJWC NTMP hangs in limbo
3. Los Gatos Creek flows again
4. RE Olive Springs THP: PH Sept 20
5. New THPs/NTMPs
6. Waterboard Individual Waiver Approval
7. Society of Environmental Journalism (SEJ) Field Trip
8. Music for the Redwoods Sept 23
9. SRF-Fish Passage Schools in Santa Cruz Nov 7-9
10. Forest Ethics updates Sept 19

1. UCSC THP on hold

Judge Burdick (Santa Cruz Superior Court: City of Santa Cruz vs U.C. Regents) issued his final order on August 28 ruling that portions of the University’s 2005 Long Range Development Plan EIR are inadequate. The EIR will most likely need to be decertified and the LRDP invalidated. Cal Fire has issued a statement to the RPF dated September 7, which says the plan has been put on hold. The Timber Conversion Permit (TCP) was ‘tiered’ off (relies on) the EIR. With the EIR now invalidated, the TCP is considered “at risk” and, therefore, CalFire can’t move forward with the plan. Because the plan will not meet stocking standards (it is essentially a conversion), it needs a valid TCP to be in compliance with the Public Resources Code.

Just a note: if the public had not gotten involved in the review of this plan, it most assuredly would have been approved prior to the court hearing on the EIR. One can also assume that the logging could have been completed long before the judge had determined the EIR was inadequate. A small victory. The invalidation of the EIR is a much larger one.

2. SJWC NTMP hangs in limbo

Nearly seven months after NAIL provided CalFire with definitive information showing that SJWC owns more than 2500 acres of timberland and thus does not qualify for an NTMP, CalFire still has not made its own determination.

Several months following the NAIL disclosure, Big Creek finally provided some pretty pictures showing LiDAR overlays on aerial photos, claiming that SJWC owns less than the magic 2500 acres. Their figure was 2388 acres. No real data was provided, and no methodology was clearly delineated. Some of the data is suspect given the ‘chicken pock’ outlines drawn over the LiDAR images: individual trees were outlined reducing acreage by excluding areas in between trees from the overall timberland acreage calculation. Some of these scatter shot trees were 17’ feet from each other. And, since LiDAR is basically a height measurement, seedlings below the unspecified height cut-off were apparently not included in Big Creek’s calculations. LiDAR alone cannot be used in this fashion to identify species.

After finally receiving Big Creek’s delayed response to NAIL’s data, CalFire did a number of helicopter flyovers of their own, and weeks later is still ‘refining’ its response, which has yet to be made public. Watch and wait is the name of the game.

3. Los Gatos Creek flows again

Sometimes with enough pressure, things change. Over a period of several weeks, flows in Los Gatos Creek were low, intermittent and then suddenly in flood stage, only to stop 100s of yards before the reservoir once again, with no explanation. When the Creek flows stopped 400 yards from the confluence of the creek with Lexington Reservoir, a flood of phone calls and emails were made/sent by a number of people to DFG a variety of environmental scientists and multiple wardens plus the water rights specialist; the Santa Clara Valley Water District; the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board; and San Jose Water Company (SJWC).

As a result, SJWC contacted a NAIL member, and when asked directly what was going on, gave the following response:

«As you alluded to, San Jose Water Company is required by our California License #10933, For Diversion and Use of Water at Lake Elsman and Ostwald Intake, to release 2.0 cfs down Los Gatos Creek. We are committed to and make every effort to release this amount.

I hope the following information is helpful in explaining the flow fluctuations you described.

On 08/15/07, we flushed the pond at the Ostwald Intake because the algae count was high. There would have [sic] an observable increase in flow down the creek followed by a return to the normal release rate within four hours. This is a routine maintenance procedure during dry years which is performed seasonally on an as needed basis.

On 08/24/07, we found the flow rate had decreased to about 1.0 cfs; we immediately opened the valve 100% to flush mud and gravel out of the pipe. This debris apparently caused a partial flow obstruction. After flushing the pipe, we adjusted the flow rate back to 2.0 cfs. I believe this diminishing flow over a period of days was the cause for your concern.

On 08/27/07, we used a factory calibrated probe to determine the water velocity through a measurable cross section of the creek. This procedure verified the flow rate to be in excess of 2.0 cfs. This afternoon, we again used the probe to verify the flow rate was set properly at 2.0 cfs.

Going forward, SJWC will verify the flow rate at least weekly and make adjustments as necessary to ensure a 2.0 cfs release. Field staff have been notified of your concerns and will refocus their attention on providing the desired flow rate. »

Never mind that the flows were interrupted repeatedly. Never mind that SJWC should have been checking weekly all along that they were meeting their flow mandates. However, I have been informed that now that SJWC is ‘on it’, the flows are much stronger than they have been all summer. I am sure the trout, the federally threatened California red-legged frogs and the beavers are pleased.

4. RE Olive Springs THP:_PH Sept 20

The Redwood Empire Olive Springs THP public hearing date has been set for September 20, 10:00am at the Felton Office. The PHI has already taken place. DFG and County PHI reports aren’t available yet. Cal Fire’s, CGS’ and the Department of Parks and Rec’s (adjacent to Niscene Marks) PHI reports are up on the ftp site. Plan # THP 1-07-093 SCR.

This plan proposes 28 new landings and a temporary bridge crossing Soquel Creek. I highly encourage anyone interested in the welfare of Soquel Creek to get involved.

5. New THPs/NTMPs

Big Creek (Nadia Hamey, RPF) is preparing an NTMP for Cal Poly. It will be submitted in October.

Big Creek has also submitted a THP on Whitehouse Creek. It’s on the Santa Cruz/San Mateo County line up near Ano Nuevo. It goes to First Review this Thursday, when it may or may not get accepted for filing. The creek and the road are one in some places, I am told. The property is owned by Sterling Trust and Big Creek Lumber. THP 1-07-143 SCR.

From the Notice of Intent to Harvest Timber/Domestic Water Supply Inquiry on a proposed THP of 50 acres in Whitehouse Creek sub-watershed (tributary to Gazos Creek). The owners are Big Creek Lumber and Sterling Trust Company Trustees. Forester is Matt Diaz. Location is Santa Cruz County, Portions of Sections 9 and 10 T9S - R&W MDB&M. Whitehouse Creek traverses through the entire project area and is a Class I watercourse (notice says it is the uppermost perennial portion of Whitehouse Creek). The Notice says that the plan will be submitted on or after August 27th.

For more info on plans, check out the Cal Fire ftp site:

6. Waterboard Individual Waiver Approval

On September 7, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board chose to approve the individual waivers as submitted by Staff for the Fourwaters NTMP and the Eureka Gulch I THP. Kevin Collins and I drove down to San Luis Obispo to testify after submitting letters on behalf of the Lompico Watershed Conservancy and the Sierra Club (respectively) objecting to the inadequacy of the waiver monitoring and reporting programs (MRPs). Letters of concern had also been submitted by the City of Santa Cruz Water Department and the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD). The Fourwaters NTMP is upstream from the Loch Lomond Reservoir, water storage for the City of Santa Cruz and back up storage for the SLVWD.

The Fourwaters NTMP has a significant failing cutbank slope at the beginning of the haul route on the property, situated between two stream crossings on Newell Creek. This slide has been active since prior to 1988. In 2000, CGS recommended bioremediation which they anticipated would lead to 80% canopy cover from trees and brush within five years. The slide was to be monitored on an annual basis.

Monitoring photos in the CalFire file show the 200’ long slide area essentially bare in February 2007 with just a covering of straw. Photos displayed by the RPF and Staff at the hearing showed a good grass cover from later in the season. (The site had been covered with grass in the summer of 2006 as well.) However, there are still essentially no shrubs or trees colonizing the site, we are told, because of the volcanic ash. Didn’t know there was any volcanic ash in Santa Cruz. At any rate, we testified that a ‘structural fix’ should be required, per CGS recommendations. This was ignored by the Board.

Board Member, Daniel Press, tried to make a motion to prohibit cross-falling of trees along Newell Creek, something the RPF said he did not intend to do this entry. The NTMP says up to 51 trees will be cross-felled during each entry. Vaughn, the RPF, did argue that it was not the Waterboard’s purview to make such changes, but Press and the Board’s attorney assured him they did have such authority. However, they apparently did not have the guts to do so. Press could not get the votes lined up for such a symbolic move. In fact, Chair Young, looking directly at Press, said something like “We need to be careful as we’ve had things come back to bite us before”, at which Press said he’d withdraw his motion. Young then added that he had not said he would not vote for it, but the motion had already died. Previous to this discussion, Board member Shallcross had whined that doing so might set a precedent. I agree, but think doing so would have been a good thing. At any rate, one can only assume these appointed Board members are more concerned about their political careers than our water quality. We’re not even talking fish here folks, but drinking water for us humans.

Missing out on the opportunity to get a structural fix for this slide, improved monitoring, no cross-falling should the RPF change his mind, no winter operations, etc., the Board voted unanimously to approve the MRP as proposed.

They also did the same with the Eureka Gulch I THP which will be re-constructing 160’ of road which previously failed during 1997098. Of course, it won’t be a problem, since they will ‘deconstruct’ the road after completion of operations. I was unable to get a straight answer from Staff on what deconstruction entails. This is not a word ordinarily associated with logging roads. Roads are either ‘put to bed’ (ie, water bars, slash covering) or ‘decommissioned’ (ie, regarded to the original slope).

7. Society of Environmental Journalism (SEJ) Field Trip report

About 45 journalists participated in the Sustainable Forestry and Organic Farming field trip in Santa Cruz on September 6 as part of the SEJ conference being held that week at Stanford. Mark Rey, USDA/USFS, was the key speaker, but he was joined by Bud McCrary (Big Creek Lumber) and John Buckley, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC), as well as some organic farmers for the farm part of the tour.

The Sierra Club, Santa Cruz Group, Forestry Task Force prepared three info sheets on the impacts of selection logging on drinking water supplies, fish and wildlife, and fire risk. They were sent to John Buckley who made them available to the environmental journalists participating in the tour, along with brochures on the SJWC NTMP prepared by Big Creek.

Here’s an excerpt of John’s experience of the day:

We went to the mill and had a tour. If you've visited one mill, you've seen them all, but the reporters were definitely interested. Then we went to a lightly logged area that had been cut four years ago, and we never really got off the dirt road that was in the midst of the no-cut riparian buffer. The reporters never saw a fresh stump or a skid trail. But Paul did make sure that I got a full chance to get in the conservation perspective, and I definitely got across that local activists would be showing the reporters a completely different show and tell tour than what they were seeing thanks to the Big Creek company show me.

Mark Rey is obviously very good at speaking and he shrewdly focused most of his attention on the Farm Bill, but I used my time to discuss devastating logging on private forestry lands across California and the West, overly aggressive wise-use policies on national forest lands, and the cumulative watershed impacts caused not only by logging and skidtrails, but also by livestock grazing and OHVs. Mark got somewhat defensive, but I was allowed to get in my respectful criticism of him being the fox in charge of the hen house, and I had many reporters say afterwards that they appreciated my information.

Our thanks to John Buckley and CSERC for presenting the ‘rest of the story’ about logging on private and public lands. The program for the field tour was put together by San Jose Mercury environmental reporter, Paul Rogers.

8. Music for the Redwoods Sept 23

Join Sempervirens Fund and Take Back Your Forest at Don Quixote’s in Felton for a benefit concert to raise money and awareness to protect the remaining redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Rock out to great live music featuring outstanding local musicians. All the proceeds from this event will be donated to Sempervirens Fund’s campaign to save the Lompico Headwaters.

What: Benefit Concert for the Lompico Headwaters
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2007
Place: Don Quixote's Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9, Felton CA
Click here for directions
Time: 7:00 pm
Musical Guests: Diane Patterson, Ariel Thiermann and Amy Obenski
Cost: $20 adv/door, call 831-603-2294 for tickets
Read all about Music for the Redwoods

9. SRF-Fish Passage Schools in Santa Cruz Nov 7-9

2007 Fish Passage Short Courses

November 7-9 in Santa Cruz, November 13-15 in Sonoma County

CSRF, DFG, and FishNet 4C will offer two intensive workshops for engineers, hydrologists, biologists, and environmental planners, and other staff who are involved in the design and implementation of fish passage projects. Each workshop will cover the design and implementation process, including biological considerations, site surveys and geomorphic assessment, state and federal fish passage design guidance, stream simulation design, grade control techniques, retrofitting existing crossings, contracting and implementation, monitoring and adaptation. Instructors include Mike Love, Ross Taylor, and Ken Kozmo Bates. In addition, DFG staff will provide instruction on the DFG/NOAA design standards, and local county staff will be available to present case studies. The workshops include two days in the classroom, comprised of presentations, group exercises and local case studies and a third day will feature field visits to local projects, and a specialized half-day workshop targeted specifically for engineers to explore in more detail the calculations used to develop successful designs.

For more info or to register, please click here.

10. Forest Ethics Wine Tasting for the Trees, Sept 19

Our 3rd Annual Wine Tasting, Auction & Party, Under the Canopy, is right around the corner. This year's fabulous event features live and silent auctions, tasty appetizers, hosted beer and wine bars, exciting performances, a lively program, and wine tasting from top wineries. Please join us Wednesday, September 19 at the supperclub in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket today, they are going fast!

Check out Forest Ethics campaign to end clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada:

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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