State still considering new logging rules
Salmon protections fading as State serves industry
In the last Ventana, we reported on the struggle between environmentalists and the logging industry over the protection afforded to fish by the State logging rules. As we go to press, the fight continues.
The California Board of Forestry is close to a final decision on changes to a group of Forest Practice Rules called the Threatened or Impaired Watershed Rules. These rules apply to watersheds in the geographic range of Threatened and Endangered salmon species. Santa Cruz County is within this range. The first version of these rules took effect on January 1, 2000.
At that time these rules did not effectively deal with logging’s effects on intermittent and ephemeral streams which are the small headwaters streams that only flow during the winter. During the dry season they are either without water or do not have enough water flow to support fish. Nonetheless, these small streams are important to larger fish-bearing streams. Logging around intermittent streams has major impacts upon salmon habitat.
The rule package currently under consideration still does not meet federal salmon protection standards. Additionally, the proposed new rule package continues to completely ignore cumulative watershed impacts. In other words the rules would not address the problem of how disturbed a watershed may be when each additional logging plan in that watershed is reviewed. Finally, these proposed rules would make stream-side protections weaker for the three redwood counties south of San Francisco, including Santa Cruz County, than for the rest of the California coast salmon habitat. These counties would get a narrower width protection on fish-bearing streams and almost no improvement for intermittent streams, even though our coho are listed as “endangered” and are on the verge of extinction. Coho are considered the most endangered species in California by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
This is a political process and salmon protection appears to be subordinate to political considerations. A decision could be made by the middle of August or early September.