Sierra Club
Jump to
Search Ventana Chapter All Sierra Club
Ventana Chapter  
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet  
Home
Home
Politics and Issues
Schedule
Chapter Organization
Join
Resources
Contact Us
National Sierra Club
California Sierra Club
Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

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


Forest Update, July 2007

1. RMC/Cemex THP approved for third and final time
2. UCSC THP Public Hearings
3. UCSC LRDP EIR Goes to Court, July 13
4. New Redwood Empire Olive Springs THP
5. Redwood Empire expands into plywood
6. SJWC NTMP update
7. Timber Waiver Update at CC Regional Waterboard Hearing
8. Bohemian Grove NTMP
9. 10th Annual Coho Confab-August 17-19

1. RMC/Cemex THP approved for third and final time.

(The plan was approved in January 07 and approval rescinded, then approved again in May and approval rescinded once again, after Sierra Club advised CalFire of serious ommissions.)

On June 27, CalFire finally approved the Cemex THP on a Class I tributary/branch of San Vicente Creek. During the extensive review, Sierra Club submitted multiple letters into the file about everything from incomplete road maps to no cumulative impacts analysis addressing the 303(d) impaired listing of San Vicente Creek for sediment. Other groups and individuals, including the Trust for Public Land which currently owns the adjacent Coast Dairies property, submitted comments as well.

The plan was approved with limited winter operations in spite of the fact that Davenport Sanitation District (responsible for Davenport’s water from San Vicente Creek) requested repeatedly that there be no winter operations.

However, in a surprise move after plan approval, Cemex sent a June 29 letter to the County removing all winter operations other than tree felling outside of the WLPZ:

“CEMEX hereby agrees to terminate all Timber Harvesting Operations including heavy equipment operations for the above referenced THP between October 15 and May 1. Landings and skid trails identified in the THP will be closed by October 15. In addition all erosion control measures will be installed on roads, landings and skid trails by October 15.

Cemex will continue to conduct timber falling activities outside of the WLPZ as described in the THP. These areas will be accessed by the ATVs and no heavy equipment will be utilized.”

In return, Cemex expects that the County will refrain from appealing the THP.

This is a major improvement, as the plan allowed for logging with multiple landings and skid trails open up till November 15. However, unless this ‘change’ is incorporated into the plan as a minor amendment, it is simply unenforceable. The County will be meeting with Cemex in the next week or so to ask that a minor amendment be submitted to incorporate the change.

The CalFire Official Response (OR) is 58 pages long and can be found at: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2006/1-06-080SCR/20070627_1-06-080SCR_OR.pdf. It is a masterpiece of obfuscation and ‘clarification’. Of course, according to the OR, much of the sediment was attributed to a PGE crossing of San Vicente Creek, but even so CalFire speculated that much of the damage was caused by illicit off-road vehicle use and horses. Oh yes, and feral pigs. As I recall, under California law it doesn’t make any difference who owns a right-of-way, ultimately the landowner is responsible for prevention and correction of erosion/water quality problems. Here are some excerpts for your amusement:

“As can be seen by the map on page 18.1 of the plan San Vicente Creek does not receive drainage directly from the plan area. The nearest plan boundary is located on the opposite side of the ridge from the creek.”

Uh, hello. The plan is adjacent to a Class I tributary/branch of San Vicente Creek. Maybe someone should alert CalFire to the fact that sediment travels downstream, not overland.

“The 303(d) listing references silviculture only as a potential source of sedimentation/siltation. The silviculture proposed is selection with watercourse buffers and limited winter operations. The plan does not require that winter operations take place. It is actually unlikely that winter operations would be needed.”

“For the period between November 15 and April 15, for all practical purposes, no operations would take place. The only harvest activity proposed between November 15 and April 16 is timber falling and that is restricted to outside of the watercourse and lake protection zones and above 1,400 feet in elevation. Timber falling does not generate sediment. With the crown of the tree on the ground there is greater soil cover and protection from erosion. There would be no incremental change in sediment yield from timber falling during the winter period, if any timber falling were to take place.”

Let’s see: Winter ops not required, ‘for all practical purposes, no ops would take place’, crowns of trees on the ground provide greater cover and protection from erosion, and logging is only a ‘potential’ source of sediment. OK.

Because San Vicente Creek is the sole water supply for the town of Davenport, never mind a coho/steelhead stream, the Davenport Sanitation District repeatedly asked that no winter operations be allowed. Early on, Cemex agreed to not do any winter ops in the WLPZ, but retained the right to keep landings and skid trails open until November 15, and to fall trees throughout the winter period.

We’ll need to make sure the agreement to limit all winter activities to only tree falling is made a part of the plan.

2. UCSC THP Public Hearings

The first of two public hearings was held by Cal Fire in the County Board of Supervisors Chambers on June 13. Members of the general public, students, UC personnel, the media and a Big Creek forester (disguised as a student) were in attendance. A handful of folks spoke, largely asking that logging not be allowed to commence until after the court rules on the validity of the LRDP EIR.

A second hearing was held on July 5, because of inadequate noticing for the first hearing. The second hearing, held in the Felton CalFire office, was called for 9:00am. When no one showed after ten minutes or so, CalFire closed the hearing. At about 9:15am, five UCSC students showed up, but the hearing was not reopened. They were shown where to find the file and asked questions of CalFire foresters and the RPF hired by UCSC to prepare the THP.

The plan is still under review, waiting for the RPF’s response to PHI comments. Second Review has not yet been scheduled.

3. UCSC LRDP EIR Goes to Court, July 13

From CLUE (Coalition to Limit University Expansion):

Negotiations on an out-of-court settlement of the UCSC suits has reached an impasse. The suit on the validity of the LRDP EIR is scheduled to have its first court hearing this Friday at 8 am in Superior Court. The judge is Dan Burdick. Citizens welcome to attend.

One of three outcomes is likely:

1. He will issue a preliminary ruling in favor of the plaintiffs (CLUE etc., City, County) or UCSC, i.e., say the LRDP EIR is adequate or inadequate and allow it or toss it, and ask the attorneys to tell him why it is the right or wrong one.

2. He will segment out pieces of the EIR and say that if they are fixed, then the letter of CEQA will be met, and again ask the attorneys to tell him whether and why they disagree.

3. He will postpone any judgment until a later date.

The CLUE attorney seems committed to appealing any unfavorable decision as high up as necessary.

UCSC has submitted a Timber Harvest Plan to CDF to clear land for the first projects under the LRDP, a huge Biomedical building and a tower to provide building cooling. UCSC has claimed it has no obligation to provide an EIR for the projects, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), asserting they are covered by the LRDP EIR. CLUE’s position is that no work should be done on any of the projects under the LRDP until the legality of the EIR is established in court. “Once they are cut down, these trees can’t be replaced,” says CLUE’s Don Stevens. “If the EIR is decertified there is no legal basis for the timber harvest.”

UCSC eventually plans to log about 150 acres of trees for its expansion projects.

4. New Redwood Empire Olive Springs THP 1-07-093SCR

The new 398 acre Redwood Empire THP along Hinkley and Soquel Creeks has been accepted for filing by CalFire. CalFire has posed more than 40 first review questions needing answers. The plan proposes tractor and cable yarding and bridge construction across Soquel Creek. The NoI says the plan is 398 acres, but it appears that elsewhere in the plan higher figures appear.

Stay tuned. Could be an interesting one which would benefit from public scrutiny.

ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2007/1-07-093SCR/

5. Redwood Empire expands into plywood

Something to do with all those small diameter logs…..Kinda like making small fish into dog and cat food…

Passed on by Kevin Collins:

Pacific States Industries of San Jose, Calif., signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire Weyerhaeuser's plywood mill in Springfield, Ore.

The Springfield facility has been closed since December 2006. At that time, it employed 87 people and had the capacity to produce 114,000 million square feet of plywood annually.

Operating through its Redwood Empire division, Pacific States Industries operates two sawmills in Northern California. The company also owns Bald Knob Veneer in Creswell, Ore.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Weyerhaeuser and anticipate that the transaction will close in 30 to 45 days,” said Austin Vanderhoof, executive vp of Pacific States Industries, in a prepared statement. “The plywood operations at Springfield will complement our existing production of veneer in Creswell Oregon.”

http://www.retailnet.com/story.cfm?ID=39184

6. SJWC NTMP Update

Acreage

Just what is “timberland”? According to Rich Sampson of Cal Fire, the issue has CalFire “perplexed”. You’d think by now, CalFire would have figured out just what constitutes timberland, but apparently it’s all in how you define words. And how you define them seems to hinge on your intention. If you want the land to qualify, for instance, so CalFire can take authority over a conversion for vineyards, then a loose definition with few conifers works best. However, if your landowner has more than 2500 acres of this knotty problem, then perhaps some of those questionable acres should not qualify. Only time, and probably a court date will tell.

CalFire has begun their own analysis of how many acres of timberland SJWC owns, but to date has not received the parcel data from Santa Clara County, nor have they received a full accounting of landownership from SJWC. Originally CalFire intended to send down a GIS person from their FRAP division to help out. However, instead they sent an unnamed individual from the Jackson State Forest who is helping Rich Sampson, John Martinez and Scott Bulloch of the Felton CalFire office.

Water Quality

In addition, SJWC has taken a bold move, hiring Pacific Lumber Company’s attorney, Chris Carr, to harass the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board over the PHI comments submitted by Dave Hope and Dave Parsons. Carr didn’t like Hope’s ‘idiosyncratic preferences’. Nor is Carr happy with the prospect of the Water Board requiring Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs), more stringent than the waivers required in Santa Cruz, for keeping logging from making a mess of the streams.Too many WLPZ restrictions proposed by Mr. Hope. Carr has asked for an opportunity to meet with the Waterboard if they intend to include Hope’s recommendations in their PHI report (I thought that had already been done) so he can let the Waterboard know why the recommendations are inappropriate. I never cease to be amazed at what is called the ‘chutzpah’, or nerve, of corporate America.

7. Timber Waiver Update at Regional Waterboard

On July 6 the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board met in Watsonville and heard a 2 year status report from staff on the Timber Waiver program.

The staff report was very generalized and presented no data to speak of gathered from the last two years of the monitoring and reporting program. We did learn that staff had issued three violations. Two of those were on the St. Francis property in Watsonville. Those problems came to light when neighbors contacted me to complain about excessive helicopter disturbance in their neighborhood. Turns out that Roy Webster, RPF for St. Francis, had neglected to properly notice neighbors of impending helicopter ops. per Santa Cruz County Forest Practice Rules. Additional noticing problems were identified on the adjacent Walsh-Fletcher NTMP. During the investigation, more violations were uncovered on St. Francis including over-cutting in the WLPZ, falling trees into the creek and cutting an old growth tree that was to have been retained. (CDF refused to make that last violation stick.)

A handful of foresters and timberland owners testified at the Watsonville hearing and Kevin Collins and I testified on behalf of the public. Amazingly we were all in agreement that the Waterboard needs more staff to handle the waivers and to get out in the field and do site inspections. Even I think it takes too long for landowners to get their waivers from the Waterboard. One Board member suggested that industry and enviros contact Assemblymember Laird and ask for help in getting funds to hire additional staff.

We also asked the Board to direct staff to participate fully in THP review, not just attend PHI inspections. The current staff person has never written a PHI report or attended a second Review Team meeting. This lack of transparency is problematic for the public, who cannot comment on the Waterboard’s thoughts as they are never made known to the public during the CEQA THP review process. The City of Santa Cruz submitted comments also expressing concerns that staff does not fully participate in THP review.

The Chair did direct staff to post monitoring and reporting data on the web,in reponse to a request we made to have access to the data.

8. Bohemian Grove NTMP

Nick Kent, the RPF for the contested YMCA NTMP is also the forester for the Bohemian Club’s Bohemian Grove NTMP. This NTMP, too, is highly contested. The article at the following link is excellent and is very comprehensive. More of the same, just further north. Got to cut those redwoods or we’ll all burn up, just like in Tahoe.

http://www.metroactive.com/bohemian/07.04.07/bohemian-grove-0727.html

Oh yes, it appears that the Bohemian Club may also own more than 2500 acres of timberland which would disqualify them from an NTMP. The RPF states that they own 2470 acres of timberland, just shy of the magic 2500 threshold. It also appears that the public has uncovered ‘flexible’ total acreage numbers for the Club and will attempt to discover the ‘truth’. Previously, the Bohemian Club logged their holdings under individual THPs, because as they said to one member, they did not qualify for an NTMP. Hmmm.

9. 10th Annual Coho Confab-August 17-19

If you’ve never been, now’s your chance. These are really fun and educational weekends with great people: an easy way to learn more about forests and watersheds through hands-on field classes. There’s something for everyone including an outstanding wild salmon feast, followed by good music and comraderie around a campfire.

10th Annual Coho Confab

August 17-19 in the Mattole Watershed

The 10th Annual Coho Confab will be held in the beautiful Mattole Valley on the North Coast of California. This landmark event is sponsored by Salmonid Restoration Federation, Trees Foundation, Sanctuary Forest, Mattole Restoration Council, and the Mattole Salmon Group. This year's Confab will feature restoration tours highlighting sudden oak death, road decommissioning, the Mattole Canyon Creek Delta restoration, installing instream structures, and a headwaters of the Mattole tour addressing water conservation, sediment reduction, conservation easements, and acquisitions. Other field tours will visit Wild and Working Lands sites, instream structures in the lower Mattole to the Estuary, and Mill Creek. Workshops will focus on underwater fish identification, riparian invertebrate monitoring- stream health assessment, and high-tech water quality monitoring. Open forums and resource workshops will include stories and songs of salmon with author of Totem Salmon, Freeman House, singer-songwriter Joanne Rand, co-author of Salmon Nation, Seth Zuckerman, and David Simpson and Jane Lapiner of the theatrical troupe, Human Nature. Saturday night will culminate with a wild salmon feast, a cabaret, and the Joanne Rand band. The Sunday morning workshops include amphibian monitoring, flow monitoring in the Mattole, and “how to build a successful watershed group.”

For more information about the Confab, please visit www.calsalmon.org or www.treesfoundation.org macro-invertebrate sampling, headwaters to mouth restoration tours, underwater fish identification, water conservation techniques, bioengineering projects, hands-on opportunities, networking, great music and food.

Fee: $100-125 includes all food and lodging. Limited scholarships and work trade positions are available.



Jodi Frediani
Chair, Forestry Task Force
Ventana Chapter, Sierra Club
1015 Smith Grade
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
ph/fax 831-426-1697





< back to all issues

In This Section