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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
State considering new logging rules to protect salmon
Industry trying to weaken salmon protections; public comments critical
by Jodi Frediani
June 2009

The State Board of Forestry will hold a Public Hearing, June 24, in Sacramento on proposed rules to enhance streamside protection for endangered salmon. This meeting will be crucial for the future of imperiled coho salmon statewide and in our Central Coast streams.

Over the past two years the State Board of Forestry has engaged in an extensive review process to look at the sufficiency of current logging rules designed to protect coho salmon and steelhead trout. The Board hired a consultant to conduct a Scientific Literature Review. An oversight committee of agency staff, industry representatives, and the interested public participated in the literature review process and helped draft the new rule package, which, if adopted, would provide greater protection for coho salmon and steelhead trout.

Sand City dunes
When a creek contains excess sediment, cobbles and gravels necessary for fish to lay eggs and rear young are smothered in sand.
Photo Don Alley

The timber industry, in an effort to weaken the proposed rules, and after filibustering during months of additional review meetings, inserted 33 of their own proposed changes to the rule package. Some of the worst, if adopted, would reduce the required streamside canopy after logging below that which science deems necessary for salmon health. Riparian trees provide needed shade to keep stream temperatures sufficiently cool for coho. Streamside trees also stabilize stream banks to reduce sediment input and introduce large woody material into the stream system when they fall. Such wood helps create pools of cool water, meters sediment, and provides cover for the fish from predators.

Our local timber industry is also working hard to weaken the proposed rules. In an effort to convert the public process to a closed one, industry representatives hosted a field trip for agency and industry representatives from which the public was excluded. Local timber representatives are seeking exemptions from the new rules for the Central Coast district and are lobbying to keep status quo streamside regulations rather than accept the need for increased protections. Without massive public participation, they just may succeed.

The Board of Forestry members are appointed by the Governor and as such are politically motivated. Their monthly rule promulgation meetings are heavily attended by timber industry paid lobbyists. Due to minimal funding, only a handful of environmental fish and forest advocates, including Sierra Club, attend.

If you care about the health of our streams and don’t wish to see our endangered coho become extinct coho, get involved.

How to help

• Send a letter asking that the proposed rule package be adopted in its original form without any of the options. If you need help in composing a letter, check the Chapter website for a sample. The letter must be received by June 22. Write: Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, Attn. Christopher Zimny, Regulations Coordinator, P.O. Box 944246, Sacramento, CA 94244-2460; email:; FAX 916-653-0989. Tell the Board you are commenting on the “Threatened or Impaired Watershed” rules.

• Public input at the Board of Forestry hearing on June 24 will be critical. Please consider attending. Contact Jodi Frediani regarding carpool information.

• Contact Jodi Frediani, Forestry Consultant for Santa Cruz Group of the Sierra Club: , 426-1697 to receive an email with details about the hearing.

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