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


Forest Update, February 2007

1. St. Francis THP Legal Action
2. Walsh-Fletcher Major Amendment
3. CDF response to Sierra Club Request for NTMP Accountability
4. SJWC Public Hearing – overflow attendance
5. Ainsley THP approved to haul through State Parks
6. RMC Approval Rescinded-Public Comment Closes Feb 20
7. New Redwood Empire THP-Corralitos Creek
8. CDF Climate Change Strategy Draft Policy
9. Salmonid Restoration Federation Conference - March 7-10
10. New State Fish and Game Commission Appointee
11. Petition to De-list coho, again! Hearing: March 1, Arcata

1. St. Francis THP Legal Action

In an about turn, it appears that CDF has decided to join in legal action against RPF Roy Webster over numerous violations identified on the, now expired, St. Frances THP up on Mt. Madonna. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the County of Santa Cruz are continuing their investigations into violations on the THP conducted by Webster and it appears that they will prosecute.

CDF had previously decided not to join in, but go after Webster’s license instead. This RPF has gained notoriety in the environmental community and among some agency personnel for a variety of questionable harvest practices over the past twenty-plus years in Santa Cruz County. Pulling his license now that he is on the verge of retirement would be more symbolic than anything and would emphasize CDF’s unwillingness to truly stop the bad apples and bad practices. CDF’s change of heart in this matter is a welcome move.

Problems with this logging operation were brought to my attention last summer by neighbors concerned about un-noticed helicopter operations, cutting down a 10’ diameter redwood and other problems. Their phone calls ultimately led to a full-scale investigation which has turned up additional serious violations including felling trees across the watercourse and probably over-cutting by Columbia Helicopters, the LTO for the helicopter ops. It is unclear whether Columbia will be held accountable for their involvement in the violations. Big Creek Lumber was also listed as LTO for the plan.


2. Walsh-Fletcher Major Amendment

ACDF finally agreed that a Major Amendment would be needed to amend the original RT Recommendations into this NTMP, after receiving multiple letters from Sierra Club bringing to light the fact that the RT Recs were never made part of the plan. Big Creek Lumber prepared the original NTMP in 1998 and continues to conduct operations for the landowner. However, various RT recs as well as other noticing measures originally included in the plan have never been followed. Seven entries have been conducted to date and apparently for each, except the first entry, agency notification required in advance of submission of Notice of Operations was never done. In addition, a raptor breeding survey, required by DFG in 2000 after sightings of a pair of golden eagles in the vicinity, was never conducted. While CDF has pushed for the Major Amendment as a way of correcting the short-comings, no violations have been filed against the RPF or the LTO for non-compliance with the terms of the plan.


3. CDF response to Sierra Club Request for NTMP Accountability

I submitted two letters to CDF on behalf of the Santa Cruz Group, Sierra Club, in September and November of 2006. These letters outlined a series of omissions and apparent violations related to the Walsh-Fletcher NTMP and the St. Francis THP.

Of major concern was the apparent lack of oversight and accountability from CDF to ensure that approved mitigations are carried out for long-term timber harvests. Our November letter gave CDF 90 days to take action to correct this serious problem. The response letter was handed to me in Sacramento by Crawford Tuttle, CDF Chief Deputy Director, on February 7 with profuse apologies for an unexplained delay. The letter had apparently been delivered to his desk for approval more than a month previously. While I have not had time to review the response in detail, here are a couple of highlights from CDF’s letter, signed by CDF Director Ruben Grijalva.

a) Since 2001 (the approval date of the St. Francis THP) CDF has “required that all changes be made on revised pages, instead of merely providing a summary list or sheet which documents the agreed upon recommendations...” Of course, mitigations that were incorporated into the original Walsh-Fletcher NTMP have never been adhered to since plan approval in 1998 either. Summary lists weren’t the problem.

b) When a plan is prepared for final approval, all responses to RT questions, PHI reports, etc. are “reviewed again by the Region Forest Practice Manager” “to ensure that all revisions have been physically incorporated into the plan.” We were not informed when this practice was first implemented. If this is a long-standing policy, it has not been satisfactorily effective. Nor does it address one of the problems we saw with the W-F NTMP – that is, that items physically incorporated into the plan were simply not followed.

c) The most significant response to one of my suggestions is this: CDF has “asked staff to craft a mitigation measure summary and implementation tracking process to be included in each NTMP file….”, including “a list of all required notification or survey requirements needed prior to timber operations.” “This list would be forwarded along with the Start of Operations Notification when received by CDF… Additional time is needed to fully develop this concept…”

We will continue to follow-up on CDF’s efforts to develop procedures for more oversight of long-term timber harvest permits.


4. SJWC Public Hearing – overflow attendance

More than 18 months after submission of the first version of this 1002 acre NTMP running six miles along Los Gatos Creek and the San Andreas Fault Zone, CDF finally held their public hearing on January 31.

Held at night in the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Chambers and overflow room, people were still turned away at the door. More than 500 people turned out to show their strength in opposing this ill-advised and poorly put-together NTMP. More than 90 people signed up to speak; the majority voiced concerns about a wide variety of topics including increased fire danger, increased landslide and erosion potential, adverse impacts to water quality for 100.000 people served by water intakes in Los Gatos Creek and the Lexington Reservoir, traffic danger and improperly identified wildlife in the plan area.

Due to the diligent efforts of the local citizen’s group, Neighbor’s Against Irresponsible Logging, speakers were informed and articulate. Most notable among the comments was information prepared by Adelia Barber, UCSC PhD candidate, and presented by Google engineer, Rebecca Moore, outlining how SJWC owns too much timberland in the strictest sense to qualify for an NTMP. SJWC and CDF seem to be scrambling to come up with data of their own, which they hope will counter Barber’s rigorous and scientifically defensible efforts. We are currently waiting for SJWC to produce the data they used to make their initial claim that SJWC owns only 2002 acres of timberland. Barber’s efforts show that SJWC owns more than 2700 acres of timberland. In order to qualify for an NTMP as a ‘non-industrial tree farmer’ a landowner must own less that 2500 acres of land, or less than 2500 acres of timberland, depending on who you ask. CDF uses the timberland interpretation.


5. Ainsley THP (SMO) approved to haul through State Parks

Despite excellent comments submitted by Lennie Roberts, Committee for Green Foothills, CDF has approved the Ainsley THP in San Mateo which will use the Butano Fire Trail through Butano State Park as a haul route. CDF has somehow deemed that this locked, gated fire trail on public land qualifies as a ‘public road.’ Never mind that the public cannot drive on it and State Parks is expecting Big Creek to upgrade it after use.

CGF has submitted a Public Records Act Request to State Parks requesting disclosure of the process whereby State Parks gave permission to use the road for log hauling and requiring the LTO to upgrade and maintain the ‘public road’ within the park boundary after use. The timberland owner does not have an easement through the park. The cumulative impacts assessment neglects to discuss the impacts on hikers and bicyclists from log truck traffic on the fire trail.

It turns out that the timberland owner conducted ‘non-commercial’ tree falling and milling operations on the property prior to submitting this THP. In addition, a road was constructed into the WLPZ in an area adjacent to occupied marbled murrelet habitat. CDF took the position during the review of the plan that these non-commercial activities were not their oversight responsibility. The land owner has a portable mill on-site. However, he has apparently ‘tired’ of doing his own milling for personal use and CDF is allowing the commercialization through this THP of 50 conifer trees cut without any permits at all. I call this ‘having their cake and eating it.” I also call this an outrageous breach of regulatory authority.


6. RMC/Cemex THP Approval Rescinded-Public Comment Closes Feb 20

On January 3 CDF quietly closed public comment on the latest 535 acre RMC/Cemex THP in the San Vicente Creek watershed. A week later the plan was approved and the Response to Comments posted on CDF’s ftp site. Unfortunately, the County had missed out on the Second Review Team meeting because CDF used a year-old email address for notification. Even though the County was in communication with CDF following second review, the plan was closed before County final comments had been submitted.

I had spent hours during the Christmas holidays phoning CDF trying to find out if the RPF’s Response to Second RT comments had been submitted. I had missed the fine print that said public comment would close the day those comments were received, giving the public no time to respond, and no one at CDF during any of my phone calls brought that to my attention. I had made my intention to submit comments quite clear.

In a rather animated phone conversation with Leslie Markham on January 17, I brought to her attention that the County had not received notification of the Second RT meeting (of course this info had already been submitted in writing by the County), and Ms. Markham followed-up and took the remarkable position of rescinding approval of the plan on that basis.

Public Comment has been re-opened until February 20. One of the issues that the RPF had not addressed was the listing of San Vincente Creek as impaired for sediment during the review of the plan. However, Gary Paul, RPF, produced a quick and dirty response the day following reopening of the plan blaming the sediment problems on the upstream homes and downstream cattle. While this sparring goes on, Davenport residents continue to drink bottled water. For the second winter, their tap water is under a ‘boil water’ order.

Comments on this plan, THP 1-06-080SCR, may be submitted to CDF at:


7. New Redwood Empire/Big Creek Lumber THP-Corralitos Creek

THP 1-07-017SCR for 161 acres in the Eureka Canyon/Corralitos Creek watershed was submitted by Redwood Empire’s new RPF, Michael Duffy. Mr. Duffy appears to also be new to the southern sub-district, as many of the more than 50 First Review questions are no-brainers. In spite of so many items needing review, clarification and/or correction, CDF has accepted this plan for filing. Questions include clarification of the length of WLPZ road segments, ‘yes’ answers where ‘no’ appears to apply and ‘no’ answers when ‘yes’ seems more appropriate, seven un-mapped geologic restrictions, and 800 feet of unmapped WLPZ road. This plan proposes hours of operation from 6:00am-7:00pm weekdays and 8:00am-6:00pm on Saturdays. Big Creek is listed as a timberland owner, but it unclear whether they will be harvesting trees from their lands (currently being rezoned to TPZ) or just providing road access to Redwood Empire.

The plan can be found online at: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2007/1-07-017SCR/


8. CDF Climate Change Strategy Draft Policy

Now that the Governor has elevated Climate Change aka Global Warming in California’s agenda, CDF is hopping on the bandwagon. CDF’s Working Draft2 has some interesting figures and more interesting proposed solutions.

“Forestry and agricultural operations emit about 8%” of California’s greenhouse gases. “Forestry and agriculture …emitted an average of almost 6 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents from 1990-2004.” “On the other hand, forests and agricultural lands stored almost 21 tons. Therefore they act as a net sink to reduce greenhouse gases.”

Various strategies and actions proposed include:

•Work with Board of Forestry to develop policies that encourage biomass production.

Reduce or prevent emissions from forests:
•Reduce wildfires, forest landfill waste and slash burning by using fuels and harvest slash for bioenergy.
•Reduce vegetation removal from type conversions and development by permanently dedicating land to forest use.
•Manage existing forest to store more carbon (improve forest health and stand productivity, grow bigger trees, dedicate more acres to older trees).
•Reduce energy demand and use (are conditioning) in urban areas by establishing urban forests that shade buildings and other infrastructure.


9. Salmonid Restoration Federation Conference-March 7-10

Updated SRF Conference Agenda Now Online at www.calsalmon.org
25th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference at the Wells Fargo Arts Center in Santa Rosa, California, March 7-10, 2007.

The conference includes full-day workshops on dam removal and FERC relicensing, fish passage barrier removal tools and estuary and lagoon restoration. Field tours include visits to sustainable grazing sites in southern Sonoma and western Marin counties, Sonoma vineyards with salmon friendly agricultural practices, a rivermouth to ridgeline tour of Dutchbill Creek watershed, steelhead habitat restoration projects on Upper Sonoma Creek, bioengineering and in-stream restoration projects, a tour of cooperative approaches to restoration in the Austin Creek watershed as well as a short tour of restoration projects in the Prince Memorial Greenway. Participants in the Vineyard and Grazing tour can each receive 6 Continuing Education Units.

Concurrent sessions focus on environmental, biological, and policy issues that affect Salmonid habitat restoration and recovery of native fish populations. Concurrent sessions include water diversions and the associated water quality and quantity issues on the North Coast, the Coho Recovery Program, the economic, cultural and recovery impacts of the Chinook fisheries closures, coastal watershed planning and restoration, salmonid and watershed environmental education, Salmonid recovery downstream of large reservoirs, measuring watershed condition and management performance, fluvial geomorphology, and regional land use planning and implementation strategies in aquatic conservation.

The plenary session will feature prominent keynote speakers including UC Davis Fisheries Professor Peter Moyle who will address Climate Change and the state of California salmonid recovery efforts, Restoration pioneer Liza Prunuske who will give a talk entitled, "Taking Wood Out and Putting it Back in Again: A Generation of Salmonid Restoration in in Marin and Sonoma Counties", Nat Scholz from NOAA Fisheries who will present on Coho Salmon recovery issues, and Freeman House, author of Totem Salmon will address climate change and watersheds. Salmon champion Congressman Mike Thompson is also invited to speak. Seth Zuckerman, co-author of Salmon Nation, will facilitate the Plenary.

Other highlights of the conference include the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, SRF's annual meeting, a poster session and reception, and a cabaret, a Copper River salmon banquet, and a lively dance party with Latin-dance band Sambada.

This conference is always an outstanding event. Learn more than you imagined possible, meet great, like-minded people, have fun and support your local fish. See you there. Jodi


10. New State Fish and Game Commission Appointee

Fish and Game Commission

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07:001 Feb. 6, 2007
Contact: Adrianna Shea, Fish and Game Commission, (916) 653-4899

R. Judd Hanna Appointed to the Fish and Game Commission

R. Judd Hanna, 65, of Mill Creek, has been appointed by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger to the California Fish and Game Commission. For the past 16 years, he has been self-employed as a rice farmer and real estate developer. Hanna previously served as regional vice president for the Grupe Development Company from 1984 to 1990 and vice president of the land and farming corporation, the Novato Center, from 1980 to 1984. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1964 to 1978, retiring as lieutenant commander. Hanna is a founding board member of the Mill Creek Conservancy and serves as secretary for the California Wildlife Foundation.

The California Fish and Game Commission has been involved in the management and sustainable use of California's fish and wildlife resources since 1870, and in 1940 the people provided for a Fish and Game Commission in the State Constitution (Article 4, Section 20).

The Commission holds at least 11 public hearings each year to promulgate and amend proposed regulations, and publicly discuss environmental quality, species protection, permits, licenses, natural resource management policies and the and rehabilitation of depleted populations and habitat to provide the optimum use of renewable wildlife resources for a variety of consumptive and nonconsumptive
uses. It also holds a variety of special meetings to obtain public input on items of a more localized nature such as the formulation of fishery management plans, requests for use permits on certain waters, and the establishment of new marine and ecological reserves.

Mr. Hanna replaces Michael Flores, whose six-year term expired on Jan. 15, 2007. Members do not receive a salary. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Upon Senate confirmation Mr. Hanna’s term expires on Jan. 15, 2013.


11. Petition to De-list coho, again! Hearing: March 1, Arcata

CALIFORNIA FISH AND GAME COMMISSION
NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION OF PETITION
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that, pursuant to the provisions of Section 2073.3 of the Fish and Game Code, the California Fish and Game Commission, on June 25, 2004, received a petition from the Central Coast Forest Association and Big Creek Lumber Company to delist coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) south of San Francisco from the Endangered Species list.

Pursuant to Section 2073 of the Fish and Game Code, on July 2, 2004, the Commission transmitted the petition to the Department of Fish and Game for review pursuant to Section 2073.5 of said code. The Department's evaluation and recommendation relating to the petition were received by the Commission at its February 3, 2005, meeting in San Diego. At that meeting, the Commission found that the petition to delist the Coho Salmon south of San Francisco as an endangered species did not provide sufficient information to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted. At its March 17, 2005, meeting in Oakland, the Commission ratified its findings of February 3, 2005, to reject the petition to delist coho salmon south of San Francisco as an endangered species.

As a result of court action [ by Big Creek], the Commission was directed to reconsider the petition. The Commission will reconsider the petition and the Department’s evaluation and recommendation at its March 1, 2007, meeting in Arcata. Interested parties may contact John Carlson, Jr., Executive Director of the Commission for information on the petition or to submit information to the Commission relating to the petitioned species.

 

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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