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


Forest Update, June 2006

1. SDSF ‘Focused PHI’ 5/31/06 to look at illegally cut trees
2. San Jose Water Company resubmits NTMP
3. Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rule Update
4. Lompico Acquisition – June 17 Celebration Event!
5. New THPs
6. NMFS public workshop, Santa Cruz, June 18 on Coho Threats
7. Coho Confab in Point Reyes August 25-27
8. Stream bio-assessment/Macroinvertebrate ID workshop Santa Cruz Sept-23-24

1. Soquel Demonstration State Forest (SDSF): ‘Focused PHI’ to look at illegally cut trees

On May 31, 2006 CDF conducted a Focused Pre-Harvest Inspection on SDSF to see if the trees that were illegally cut would have an adverse impact on the timber harvest plan currently under review. We were told at the outset by Anthony Lukacic, CDF, that the violations would not be under consideration.` The violations are still under investigation. Review Team members from CDF, CGS, DFG, RWQCB, the County as well as three members of the public were present.

Seventy-nine (79) trees were cut at five locations within the plan boundary. 40 trees were felled at four locations in the plan area as part of the CDF Incident Command S212 Training session where CDF fire personnel learn to fall trees. 39 trees were cut in the vicinity of the leaning old growth redwood SDSF had finally decided they were required by law to protect.

Cut trees include redwoods, Douglas fir, Live Oak, Madrone and Bay Laurel. Nineteen of the trees were deemed to be ‘sub-merchantable’ as they were under 12” dbh. 18 trees were 26” dbh or larger; the two largest trees cut were 42” dbh. I have been told that additional trees were cut outside the plan boundary, but these are not being included in the violation notice (or PHI), as they were not considered for ‘commercial’ use.

Three trees were felled across a Class III watercourse, later bucked into lengths which fell into the stream channel along with slash from the tree cutting. I understand from questioning Ed Orre, Assistant Manger at SDSF, that the training class members were essentially given direction on what not to cut (not on roads or near watercourses), given additional instruction to only cut trees with blue ‘cut’ marks and to cut trees that could be easily accessed, and then were on their own.

Two CDF members were along on the PHI specifically to age the stem cut right next to the leaning old growth tree, determine if the stem itself could be considered old growth and if cutting it could adversely impact the old growth tree itself.

DFG expressed concern that at least one large old tree with a goose pen (fire cavity) was marked for cut. Additionally, DFG was concerned at the high percentage of large trees in the area under review that are marked for harvest.

A new Review Team will take place, but no date has been set. CDF’s PHI report says that ‘the tree felling did not appear to result in any adverse impacts.” Additionally it states that if the “plan is approved prior to October 15, 2006, the slash found in the watercourse…shall be removed no later than October 15. If the plan is not approved by then, the slash will be removed as soon as feasible in accordance with 916.4C(c)(3).

The SDSF report on the violation states that “no logs or products were produced.”


2. San Jose Water Company/Big Creek Lumber resubmits NTMP

On June 1 CDF stamped received on the new version of the SJWC 1002 acre NTMP in the Los Gatos Creek Watershed. Unfortunately, at just that time, CDF’s ftp website went down, so it was not possible to access the plan until at least 5 days later.

The plan underwent First Review on June 8, but was returned because it was lacking 39 pages of crucial stand and growth data. The missing information was faxed to CDF that same afternoon and the plan will undergo First Review again on June 15.

In the meantime, members of NAIL continue to be concerned about the adverse effects they anticipate from this harvest in perpetuity. The plan still proposed harvesting on large, active landslides below homes and down-cutting stream banks. This extremely unstable landscape is the site of the San Andreas Fault Zone. Increased landslides will not only threaten upslope homes, but promises to add additional sediment into Los Gatos Creek and the Lexington Reservoir. San Jose Water Company provides water to 100,000 residents from Los Gatos Creek. Fundraising efforts are underway. For more information: http://www.mountainresource.org/node/205


3. Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rule Update

The Board of Forestry held a special Forest Practice Committee meeting in Sacramento, June 5 to accommodate interested parties who might not be able to attend the monthly Board meeting held later that week in Pasadena. The discussion was a continuation to fine-tune details regarding the impending literature review relative to the Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rules.

NMFS, DFG, SWRCB, CDF, members of the ‘regulated public’ (read: industry) and members of the environmental community, as well as members of the Board of Forestry, participated in the discussion. Some of the more vocal participants at this meeting included Charlotte Ambrose of NMFS, Gaylon Lee of the SWRCB, Dr. Cajun James, Research and Monitoring Manager from Sierra Pacific Industries and Stuart Farber, Wildlife and Fisheries with Timber Products Company. Both NMFS and James/Farber brought documents with suggestions on factors to be considered, questions to be asked, and format of literature presentation.

Topics identified as relevant to the literature review include 1) Nutrients, 2) Bank and channel stability, 3) Vegetative canopy and vegetation shade affecting thermal loads and providing hiding cover and a food base; 4) Microclimates, 6) Sediments and turbidity, 7) Peakflows or large flood frequency and water drafting, 8) cumulative watershed effects, 9) Natural variation of riparian systems, 10) Affects of natural disturbances (fire, flood, pests, windrow, landslides), 11) Life cycle needs of anadromous salmonids.

Much discussion ensued and the first 6 items were deemed to be Primary Topics while items 7-11 will be considered Secondary and may be considered under further review by the Oversight Committee (OC). The OC is currently to be composed solely of Agency personnel, however, industry was lobbying hard to have members included on the OC.

It appears that the consulting firm the Committee had hoped would do the review under contract for the EPA is not available. A price tag was tossed around with figures from $50.000-$500.000. Industry indicated they would be willing to put in some money if the State paid for the bulk of the review.

Currently the process will proceed as follows: The final details will be sorted out including the consultant to do the review. Then a request for submission of literature will go out. Possibly a team from University of Washington or other university will then do the review under an oversight committee of agency personnel (DFG, SWRCB, NMFS, CGS, etc.). A summary will be presented to the Board and then a Technical Specialist Forum will be held. Consideration and action by the Forest Practice Committee and the Board will follow. This may include abandoning the T&I Rules, making them permanent rules or amending them.

Documents can be found at: http://bof.fire.ca.gov/board/board_proposed_rule_packages.aspx


4. Lompico Acquisition – June 17 Celebration

The following invitation is from Sempervirens:

Sempervirens is closing the deal on Lompico Headwaters!
It's time to celebrate!

The Lompico Headwaters has been saved!

Sempervirens Fund, the organization that saved the ancient redwoods of Big Basin a hundred years ago, has announced that they will close escrow on the Lompico Creek Headwaters Forest on June 15th.

Join us at a party to celebrate this victory, and take part in the next phase of this unprecedented campaign to finish buying back our community forest.

Date: Saturday, June 17, 2006 Place:  Trout Farm Inn, 7701 E. Zayante Rd, Felton

Time:  5:00-7:00 pm Cost:  $10 per person

Sempervirens Fund
Preserving redwood forests since 1900
(650) 968-4509
http://www.sempervirens.org


5. New THPs

The 69 acre Soper-Wheeler (1-05-226 SCR) plan along Bonny Doon Road (West Lidell Creek) was accepted for filing May 4, 2006. The plan submitter excluded the 20 acres that were zoned SU and this time the plan was accepted for filing. Currently it has language that says they may use chemical stabilization of soils along creeks. Hopefully, this is simply boiler-plate language and will not be utilized in our area. We hope that plan review will uncover the answer to what is actually being proposed in this regard. Apparently there may be some karst concerns for this property as well. Sinkholes can develop over karst terrain and there is the possibility of surface connectivity with nearby streams. The City of Santa Cruz gets water from Lidell Creek.

The plan does not propose winter operations nor does it propose building any new roads or landings. However, it says they will harvest ‘over-mature’ trees, even though it says they do not meet the requirements of late seral habitat. Reading between the lines, it appears that there are some old growth Douglas firs on the property.

The 535 acre RMC/Cemex plan (1-06-080 SCR) (to be harvested in two years) in the San Vicente Creek watershed has been resubmitted. This plan underwent extensive review, but was withdrawn after multiple culverts were identified on PHIs that RPF Gary Paul had failed to identify in the plan. The most recent PHI was held June 13. Apparently the RPF has agreed to move a road and landing away from a significant wet area and has agreed to no winter operations will be held at elevations below 1400’. The Davenport Sanitation District, responsible for providing drinking water to Davenport from San Vicente Creek, had asked for NO winter operations at all, as they have been experiencing turbidity problems. Apparently the RPF feels the problems are not coming off RMC/Cemex’s lands.

There is also a 35 acre THP 1-06-082 SCR for the lands of Wilson, Patrick and RE, Big Creek RPF with Andy Morse at the helm, adjacent to Spring Creek under review.

For those in San Mateo, the YMCA of San Francisco has submitted a 904 acre NTMP, on McCormick (, a tributary to Pescadero Creek. This plan proposes group selection, cutting all trees in a half area radius, mechanical site preparation (ripping with a bulldozer after clearing of hardwoods) on slopes of High EHR above a Class II stream, winter operations including mechanical site preparation.


6. NMFS public workshop, Santa Cruz July 17 on Coho Threats

NMFS will be holding two public workshops (afternoon and evening) on July 17 (not June 13 as previously reported) on local threats to coho. NMFS wants to hear from us about current threats to coho salmon in the Central Coast. The workshops will be held in downtown Santa Cruz at the Veteran’s Hall. Stay tuned for times and other details. Mark your calendars now.


7. 9th Annual Coho Confab at Point Reyes National Seashore August 25-27

Salmonid Restoration Federation, Trees Foundation and Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) will sponsor the 9th annual Coho Confab August 25-27, 2006 at the Clem Miller Education Facility in the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County. The Confab is a hands-on symposium focused on exploring the restoration of our local watersheds and learning techniques to enhance the recovery of critically endangered salmon and steelhead and their habitats.
 
The Confab brings together community members, landowners, activists, scientists, students, and restoration ecologists for a weekend of innovative skills-building workshops, hands-on tours of restoration projects, community networking, and fun.
 
Participants will learn an array of cutting-edge restoration techniques, including road decommissioning, biotechnical streambank stabilization, water quality monitoring, native plant propagation, underwater fish identification, and more.
 
To learn more about this year’s Confab, to inquire about scholarship opportunities, or to register for the Confab, please visit www.calsalmon.org or www.treesfoundation.org or call SRF at (707) 923-7501 or Trees Foundation at (707) 923-4377.


8. Intro to Aquatic Ecological Workshop, Santa Cruz Sept-23-24

CRFM will be offering this workshop on developing Biological and Habitat Assessment Techniques for Watershed Coalitions and Citizen Monitors. The two day hands-on course will be taught by the thoroughly knowledgeable and entertaining Jim Harrington, Department of Fish and Game environmental scientist.

Enrollment is limited so stay tuned for further details.

The course will include a classroom session on Saturday morning to learn about concepts of Freshwater Ecological Assessment. Participants will learn what to look for to identify natural states of streams and rivers and sampling strategies for detecting impairment.

Saturday afternoon and all-day Sunday will include field sessions to practice habitat assessment and macro-invertebrate identification. For those who attended the October 2005 Healthy Rivers, Happy Fish Watershed Conference, you will remember Jim’s lively teaching style, chock full of useful information presented in an easy-to-learn fashion.

 

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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