Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Sempervirens Fund Purchases Lagomarsino Old Growth Redwoods
Sempervirens closed escrow on the 35 acre Lagomarsino property in San Mateo County on September 23. This is a huge victory! This property has at least 13 acres of old growth redwood - 63 large old trees, with 2/3 clustered on 10 acres and the remaining large trees scattered throughout. A timber harvest plan, THP 1-08-063 SMO, prepared by Roy Webster, RPF, was approved by CAL FIRE on May 18, 2010. On the same day DFG submitted an 11 page Memorandum explaining their Non-Concurrence. ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2008/1-08-063SMO/
The victory was a multi-pronged effort. DFG continued to find fault with the plan from the get-go. The DFG Findings Memo (May 18) explains in detail their concerns, but earlier during Plan review, DFG suggested that a Conservation Easement be put on the old growth. During Plan review, I alerted the Center for Biological Diversity. They in turn submitted some excellent letters challenging the THP. Sierra Club and CCFW submitted extensive comments. I alerted Committee for Green Foothills who contacted the Midpeninsula Open Space District, which also submitted comments of concern. Sempervirens Fund was notified of the threat to old growth and was able to begin negotiations with the landowners. MidPen expressed interest in ultimate acquisition of the property, and now that Sempervirens was able to successfully negotiate a purchase, MidPen will take ultimate possession.
Another victory is near at hand. Hopefully! On September 22, another heavily attended site visit was held on SDSF. This one was not part of the Fern Gulch THP, but rather was organized by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Something like 19 people attended including folks from CAL FIRE (at least 6), the Department of Fish and Game (3), the California Geological Survey (2), the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District (RCD) (3), the County (1) and NMFS (at least 4). Folks present from CAL FIRE included CAL FIRE's Chief Deputy Director, Crawford Tuttle, the Deputy Director of Resource Management from Sacramento, Bill Snyder, one of the two heads of the State Forest program, Russ Henley, Acting SDSF Manager, Rich Sampson, Assistant SDSF Manager, Ed Orre, and CAL FIRE's hydrologist, Pete Caferrata. That's some pretty big guns, so I'm hoping they were paying close attention and that the other attendees understand from their presence that this is important business.
NMFS has been eager to see large wood installed in Soquel Creek as a demonstration project for some time. In April 2010, NMFS sent a letter to SDSF requesting CAL FIRE do a large wood installation demo project in Soquel Creek on the Demonstration Forest. As readers of this newsletter are well aware, large wood (LWD) provides needed habitat for coho and steelhead and improves stream conditions in a variety of ways, from helping to scour pools, to providing shelter for fish.
NMFS has continued to urge SDSF to undertake such a demonstration project, which fits in nicely with the "intent of the Legislature" under AB 1965, the enabling legislation that established this State Forest. Section 4660 of the PRC states that "It is the intent of the Legislature, in establishing the Soquel Demonstration State Forest, to provide an environment that will do.... the following: (a) Provide watershed protection for local communities and base-line monitoring and studies of the hazards, risks, and benefits of forest operations and watersheds to urban areas."
During the site visit, the various fisheries biologists and geologists discussed possible locations and willingness to participate in future discussions of where and how to place large wood. The RCD expressed willingness to assist in obtaining the needed permits through an expedited process and asked that a team from CAL FIRE be created to work with them. Snyder agreed to designate a team that would likely be led by Pete Caferrata to work with the RCD, CGS and DFG.
The RCD believes they can get the necessary permits within 6 months, so installation could be possible as early as next year. Of course, a key outstanding issue to be resolved is where funding for the project will come from.
The state of California must accept bids for the timber harvests on state-owned forests. The Timber Sale for the 158-acre Rim THP on the Soquel Demonstration State Forest is accepting bids for approximately 1,826 MBF (net) of timber until 1:30 pm, October 11, 2010.
"The minimum bid rate per thousand board feet for redwood is $355. The fixed price for Douglas-fir is $20 per thousand board feet (3.3 MBF)." I wish someone would calculate the value of standing Douglas fir in a forest for wildlife habitat, watershed protection, aesthetics, old growth recruitment, carbon sequestration, etc. Wow folks, we're talking about $66 for the Doug fir to be harvested from the Rim THP! Does it make sense to anyone to cut down the Doug fir at that price? I can only imagine there is some twisted thought that it must be removed as a weed so that more redwoods can thrive. It's got to cost more than that to log those trees. Estimated value for the whole sale is $647, 231.00. Let's see, with that income they could repair the failing access road, install the LWD that NMFS wants in the creek and maybe put in a permanent bridge, or some combination, there of.
A one-day pre-bid field tour was held on September 23. Winter Operations are not allowed, so logging will presumably commence next spring.
Here are a few tasty excerpts from a reply brief by Sierra Club and Save the Bohemian Grove attorney Paul Carroll:
Refusing to concede error, Cal-Fire and the Bohemian Club (BC) are forced to create evermore bizarre arguments in defense of the NTMP.
No California agency has tried as hard to avoid CEQA’s mandates, and none has lost as many times in the courts of appeal. Indeed, in virtually every published decision in which Cal-Fire has resisted compliance with CEQA, it has lost. Recently, the First District Court of Appeal took Cal-Fire to task for its specious reasoning in trying to evade CEQA’s mandate that significant new information about a project requires recirculation for public comment:
"Nevertheless, CDF has continued to resist complying with CEQA by advancing increasingly contorted interpretations of settled law. We urge CDF to heed the law as consistently interpreted by the courts of this state, and to commit its time and resources toward the more productive end of conforming its “process” to comply with CEQA."
For more info, go to http://www.bohemiangrovelogging.org/
In 1982 when the State took away local control of logging and gave it to CAL FIRE, they threw a bone to counties. Counties can propose rules for local needs and the Board of Forestry can adopt them if they deem the rules necessary. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. At any rate, two such rules exist for Santa Cruz, San Mateo Marin, Lake and Monterey counties prohibiting logging and log hauling on national holidays. Of course, there is always the wiggle room language, which says that if the Director deems it won't be a problem then logging and hauling can occur on such days.
Apparently, local foresters routinely request for permission to conduct timber ops on Columbus Day, because it comes close to the end of the season prior to the Winter Period. And they routinely get granted the exception. Since most plans have winter operations, I am not sure why this is needed. Apparently "95% of all approved harvesting plans in the counties of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Mateo include an allowance for operations and hauling on Columbus Day." (from the BoF ISOR) The unanswered question is: How many of those plans actually complete harvesting prior to the onset of the winter period? At any rate, now Central Coast foresters are contending that it is too much paperwork and cost to have to submit a request and have it approved so they can conduct ops on Columbus Day. Since it's not a state holiday, they feel logging should be allowed defacto.
Not sure I have a problem with Columbus Day logging, but I am concerned that this proposed rule has been discussed in Committee at the BoF and may be moving forward to the full Board for a hearing and vote, yet the affected Counties have not even been notified of the proposed change. Seems that at a minimum it would be a courtesy to let the local governments that requested the limitation rule in the first place participate at the committee level if they so choose.
Now it turns out that this proposal also includes an Alternative that would allow logging on all holidays not observed by the State of California. Hmm. Does that mean if Montana has a Holiday on Saturday, then our locals can log on that day? Who can designate these Holidays? This year, the feds have declared December 24 a Holiday because Christmas falls on a Saturday. Under this Alternative, logging could occur on similar national holidays without an exception needing to be granted. (Of course, if adopted, this rule will not go into effect until next year.)
Of more importance, is how counties are notified of proposed changes to County Special Rules. Can the Board of Forestry make such changes without them being proposed by the counties themselves? If so, shouldn't they notify the counties up front so they can participate prior to full massaging of the proposed rule in committee. Hoping to have some answers soon and to get Santa Cruz County to communicate their concerns to the Board of Forestry.
The Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project hired an interim Hatchery Manager on September 13 after Carla Moss, previous Hatchery Manager resigned. The new Hatchery manager is Russell Enriquez, a graduate of Humboldt State with a degree in Biology. He has experience in fish culture and trapping Chinook Salmon while working for the CDFG.
Leadership of MBSTP is also undergoing change. Al Smith is about to retire and Matt Rowley and Bob Anderson are taking over as Co-Chairmen of MBSTP.
The MBSTP is a 'nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the restoration, conservation, and enhancement of native wild silver (Coho) salmon and steelhead populations and their coastal and marine habitats from San Mateo to the south Monterey Bay area." They run the Kingfisher Flat Hatchery. Interestingly, to use MBSTP's website and see their newsletter, you need to sign up to become a member and log in first. For years much of their funding has come from the Department of Fish and Game. The Santa Cruz County Fish and Game Advisory Commission has funded projects of the MBSTP for a number of years. I would think such a publicly funded non-profit would make its business more publicly accessible. http://www.mbstp.org/
In the "this-isn't-really-happening-category": A number of groups, including Sierra Club California and EPFW, with assistance from the Center for Biological Diversity, have continued to attempt to get clearcutting removed from the Climate Action Reserve's forest protocol as an acceptable logging method for receiving carbon credits under California's AB32. Needless to say, industry has thrown their weight around to great effect to keep clearcuts in the carbon credit mix.
Here are some of the issues outlined in a recent letter signed by concerned groups and sent to the CA Air Resource's Board and the Climate Action Reserve.
Under the Climate Action Reserve’s forest protocol:
"Of the top 10 private landowners in the U.S., more than half are in it for the money. Coming in right behind [Ted] Turner, for example, is billionaire Archie (Red) Emmerson, a onetime sawmill operator who has amassed 1.9 million acres of timberland in California and Washington. Emmerson's family-owned Sierra Pacific Industries is a $1-billion-a-year business, not a weekend indulgence."
And SPI continues to clearcut their major land holdings.
From the interview "Farmed Out" of Wes Jackson by Fred Bahnson. Jackson holds a PhD in genetics and is an author and founder of the Land Institute in Kansas. He established one of the first environmental studies programs in the country at California State University, Sacramento. The following is excerpted from The Sun: http://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/418/farmed_out
"So the soil was the first great carbon pool that made civilization run. About five thousand years ago we began to tap into a second great carbon pool: the upland forests of the Mediterranean. The onslaught against the forests is not given enough attention in history books. The carbon from those trees was used to smelt metals, advancing civilization to the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age. You can read about it in the Bible: Solomon struck a deal with the King of Tyre to buy the cedars of Lebanon to build the temple.......So you see, it's been a nonrenewable economy for a long time.
Just 250 years ago came the third carbon pool, coal, which fueled the industrial Revolution. And the fourth pool arrived in 1859, when Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in Pennsylvania. Natural gas, a fifth pool, had already been in use for lighting and such, but it soon was employed in electricity production."
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