All Sierra Club
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Cemex and Big Creek
Recent news stories about the sale of the 8000-acre Cemex property between Davenport and Bonny Doon, have given many folks the impression that Big Creek Lumber has a history of logging the property. According to Jason Hoppin, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 12/09/11, "For half a century, the Cemex forests has been harvested by Big Creek Lumber Co, a locally owned operation with a reputation for environmental responsibility. Over three owners and five decades, Big Creek left in place stands of old-growth redwoods, pristine creeks and dense conifer forests."
It's a great story, but according to my research and that of my trusty informants, this just ain't true. Nadia Hamey, Big Creek RPF, did prepare a THP for the Cemex property in 2009. THP 1-09-045 SCR:
The plan was approved in July of 2009. The 230-acre plan was known as Dead Man Gulch in the San Vicente Creek Watershed. Locatelli was named as the Licensed Timber Operator. In February 2011, Nadia Hamey was removed as the RPF for the plan. Operations were taken over by Gary Paul, RPF for Cemex. I do not know how far along timber operations were at the time that Ms. Hamey left, but this is the only THP I am aware of over the last 40 years that involved Big Creek Lumber directly and in this case, it seemed to only involve one of their foresters.
Of course, Big Creek Lumber may have been the recipient of much of the lumber cut from the Cemex land over the years. But that is a very different thing than actually conducting operations. Therefore, it would be hard to make the argument that Big Creek was responsible for leaving 'in place stands of old-growth redwoods, pristine creeks and dense conifer forests.'
According to a 2009 Marbeled Murrelet pre-consultation letter from DFG for the Deadman Gulch THP, the following were observed:
Habitat Area A: "Approximately 15 mature and overmature Douglas-firs supported large limbs (greater than 8 inches wide) covered with epiphytic growth and moderate to dense amounts of overhead and lateral foliar cover."
Habitat Area B: 'DFG staff examined several scattered residual conifers located along the seasonal north ridge and spur roads. These large-diameter trees (eight Douglas-firs and one redwood) each supported at least one suitably-sized (greater than six inches wide) moss-covered limb. Several of these legacy trees appear to support one or more very large-sized (12 to 20 inches wide) mossy limbs. Most limbs appeared to be adequately covered with overhead and lateral foliage. Three additional mature conifers observed along the road supported smaller (three to four inches wide) horizontal branches and were surrounded by less dense foliar cover.'
Habitat Area C: 'Approximately four residual Douglas-fir trees were observed, each supporting one to several suitably-sized limbs.'
A more recent THP, 1-11-11 SCR was approved in May 2011 and the RPF of record for that plan is Joe Culver, an independent forester. Lone Star Timber Harvesting, Inc was listed as the LTO. In October 2011,John Jackson, of Hopkins Gulch fame, was amended in as the LTO responsible for work on three stream crossings. Logs were going to the Big Creek mill.
We believe that with the acquisition of the property by Sempervirens Fund and the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), all unfinished timber operations have ceased, other than required erosion control activities.
Previous THPs for Cemex were prepared by Gary Paul, Slim Butler and Ed Tunheim, all independent foresters.
I have attempted to contact the Sentinel reporter responsible for the story re Cemex and Big Creek, but he has not returned my calls.
Submitted December 28, 2012. The RPF is Matt Bissell. This very large THP is in San Mateo County in the Pescadero Creek Watershed and Oil Creek, along portions of Waterman Creek and Slate Creek. Pescadero Creek is 303d listed as impaired. The plan states that Redtree Properties has 'invested several hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last decade on projects to improve habitat conditions." Winter Operations are proposed.
There is a stand considered marbled murrelet habitat (the Saddle Creek Road Stand). No timber ops shall occur in the Saddle Creek Road Stand., or within 300' of the stand.
The THP area was last harvested between 1998 and 2001.
RPF is Steve Staub. Submitted January 4, 2012:
"The proposed THP covers a total of approximately 0.6 acre of land between existing buildings at the Central Heat Plant. The 0.6 acre includes 0.48 acre of land that is considered timberland; the remainder is developed land that would be used for tree removal operations. The tree removal would accommodate a new, 5,600-sf building to house to house a new, 4.2 megawatt combustion turbine generator and appurtenant equipment, that would provide backup power to existing buildings in the central campus and pre-heat water for campus boilers. Although the site is not used for growing timber, under California law, portions of it are considered "timberland." Therefore, the campus must obtain a timberland conversion permit as well as a THP for the proposed development projects. Trees will be removed only as necessary to accommodate the building footprint and foundation, concrete pads for equipment, and utilities to serve the new buildings."
The Board of Forestry is proposing an Emergency Rule to implement State Responsibility Area (SRA) Fees. The item will be heard at the regular meeting of the Full Board on January 11 in Sacramento. The fee will be an amount "not to exceed $150 for each structure on a parcel." Start counting. (Language elsewhere defines 'habitable structures').
Given that the fees will not be used for fire fighting, the arguments for the fee are pretty interesting. This fee is being considered a 'fire prevention fee', and those of us who live in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) are presumed to benefit the most and therefore should pay the fee. (We already pay a fee for fire protection as part of our property tax. Here in Bonny Doon, in spite of paying such a fee, we do not have a Fire District and were not allowed by the County or LAFCO to create a Fire District. We essentially rely on a Volunteer Fire Team with some Cal Fire assistance.)
The findings also seem to think that fires in the SRA are started by habitable structures in the SRA. Hmm.
"As the Legislature found that structures within the SRA may pose an increased risk of fire ignition and increased potential for fire-related damage to the natural resources of the State, it was deemed appropriate to create a fee-based funding mechanism to support State fire prevention efforts in the SRA."
Not true for the most recent Lockheed, Martin or Summit Fires in Santa Cruz County. In fact, the Summit Fire was started by irresponsible land clearing and burning of vegetation that had been removed. The Martin fire was believed to have been started by a campfire and possibly the same for the Lockheed Fire, though Cal Fire has been reluctant to release any details.
We are also told the following: "The presence of structures within SRA can also impair wild land firefighting techniques and could result in greater damage to state resources caused by wildfires."
The money raised from the new Fee will be used for the following:
If someone understands how this section below works, please let me know. Seems that this fee is being used to make up a General Fund deficit, but here it seems to say for 'fire protection level of service', YET the fees collected will not be used for FIRE PROTECTION.
"The Department of Forestry & Fire Protection estimates that there are approximately 800,000 habitable structures within SRA. Based upon this estimate and the reported reduction of the Department's General Fund budget allocation by fifty (50) million dollars, the Board contemplated a maximum fee reduction amount. The Board determined that a maximum fee reduction of thirty-five dollars ($35.00) per habitable structure would still provide for a level of funding that is consistent with Department fire protection service level needs and would satisfy the intent of the statute."
AND THIS THREAT: "In the event the regulation is not approved for emergency implementation, the Department of Forestry & Fire Protection may be compelled to reduce its fire protection forces significantly due to the attendant State General Fund budget reduction."
For more info on the SRA documents: http://www.bof.fire.ca.gov/
For the January Board Agenda: http://www.bof.fire.ca.gov/board_business/meeting_agendas/
2012 Forest Practice Rule Book: The rulebook should be printed and distributed in January and February.
AB 2163 amended PRC § 4590 to allow longer and additional extensions of a plan's effective period. This bill went into effect on September 27, 2010. The portion that included the allowance for extending plans for an additional four one-year periods, if the plan expired or was extended in 2008 and 2009, is no longer effective. This change means that plans that expired or were extended in 2008 or 2009 will not be eligible for another extension in 2012.
Final statutory language going into effect on January 1, 2012 (or already in effect) can be found at the California Legislative Counsel's Bill Information website at:
Jim Hildreth is the RPF. The THP is 50 acres and located approximately 5 miles north of the town of Boulder Creek.
There is an unnamed Class II watercourse that flows from east to west through the middle of the plan area. There are also other unnamed Class II and Class III watercourses located within the THP area. All flow into the San Lorenzo River, which is approximately 2,000 feet downstream of the plan area.
Wow, I just looked at a THP on Cal Fire's ftp site and low and behold, there was a section for Public Comment. Finally. Thanks to folks over in the Sierra who have pushed for this. THPs for the Southern Sub-district can be found here:
This year the conference will feature workshops on topics including Fish Passage and Protection, Analytical Measures to Determine Instream Flow Needs for Salmonids, Restoring Floodplain Processes to Increase Salmonid Populations, Integrated Population Monitoring in California, and Community Partnerships to Promote Restoration. Field Tours will include Yolo Bypass Tour: Managing a Seasonal Floodplain and Tidal Marshland for Native Fish Habitat and Passage, Cosumnes River and McCormack Williamson Floodplain Tour, Restoring a Natural Hydrograph: Policy and Restoration on Putah Creek, and Suisun Marsh Fish Habitat Restoration & UC Davis: From Habitat Needs to Restoration.
If you are interested in presenting at the 2012 Salmonid Restoration Conference Poster Session, scheduled for Friday evening, April 6, please contact .
< back to all issues