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


Forest Update, May 2006

1. CDF issues Notice of Violation to SDSF
2. San Jose Water Company re-notices NTMP
3. Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rule Update
4. Lompico Acquisition – Fundraising Continues
5. New THPs
6. NMFS Denies Petition to Delist Coho South of San Francisco
7. NMFS public workshop, Santa Cruz June 13 on Coho Threats
8. Coho Confab in Point Reyes August 25-27
9. Stream bio-assessment/Macroinvertebrate ID workshop Santa Cruz Sept-23-24

1. CDF issues Notice of Violation to Soquel Demonstration State Forest (SDSF)

On May 4, 2006 CDF issued possibly the first violation ever against one of their own state land foresters. A Notice of Violation was issued against SDSF Manager, Thom Sutfin and SDSF Assistant Manager Edgar Orre for violations of the Forest Practice Act and the Forest Practice Rules. Trees were felled in at least three locations without an approved timber harvest plan and within the plan area for the proposed THP currently under review by CDF. In addition, trees were felled across a Class III watercourse and slash and debris was not immediately removed as required by CCR 916.4 .

It is unclear how many trees were felled (figures have ranged from 10 to less than 40) including conifers 20” - 30” dbh.) Most were cut during an Incident Command System S212 training course for CDF fire personnel, who were learning how to use a chain saw for felling trees.

The remainder of the illegally cut trees were adjacent to the leaning old growth (OG) tree that the SDSF THP has proposed to be felled for public safety purposes. In May 2004 CRFM submitted its first letter stating that we did not believe the enabling legislation or the management plan allowed for felling the OG tree. During the November 2005 Review Team meeting, SDSF staff were advised by CDF Review Team members that since the SDSF General Forest Management Plan required protection of “all” old growth redwoods and doug firs, they would need to find an alternative method of protecting the loggers and road builders from the perceived threat posed by the tree, other than cutting the tree down.

SDSF RPFs decided that a cable system would be adequate and had taken a contract engineer onsite to determine how and where to rig the cable system between the leaning OG and and adjacent old growth redwood. Trees were felled adjacent to the leaning old growth tree, including two stems from the OG root system, one of which is 125-140 years old and sporting a significant fire scare. According to the fire history, the last fire to spread through that area occurred about 70 years ago. Additional redwoods and hardwoods were felled adjacent to and downslope from the OG tree so the consultant could see the top of the tree to guage where on the stem to place the cable system.

The matter is currently under investigation. The NoV cites PRC 4581 Necessity of timber harvesting plan, PRC 4516.6 Delay between approval and commencement of timber operations…, PRC 4527 Definition of Timber operations and CCR 916.4 Watercourse and Lake Protection and may be amended depending on the outcome of the investigation.

An additional focused PHI will be conducted most likely within the next two weeks so that the Review Team may view all areas with cut trees to determine if any changes need to be made in the plan itself.

SDSF also hosted crews from the California Department of Corrections (Bonny Doon camp) who helped in broom removal projects. During the past winter one of the crew members went AWOL, leading to an extensive search by authorities. The escapee has not been found, but it was subsequently learned that he headed uphill, broke into a house adjacent to SDSF whose owners were on vacation, left his orange jumpsuit and boots on the back porch and left, presumably sporting ‘borrowed’ clothes, after helping himself to some pricey liquor from the homeowners stash.

2. San Jose Water Company/Big Creek Lumber re-notices NTMP

On May 2 Summit area neighbors received a new Domestic Watersupply Notice and Notice of Intent to Harvest Timber from Big Creek Lumber and San Jose Water Company for their 1000 acre proposed NTMP along Los Gatos Creek above the Lexington Reservoir. The previous version of the plan was withdrawn in November 2005, at the request of CDF.

In the interim SJWC has had TSS Consultants working on a fire assessment and fuels management component for the NTMP. Word has it that the NTMP will be resubmitted to CDF on or about May 22. Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging (NAIL) are gearing up for round two. Hundreds of residents live upslope from the proposed harvest and many others live across Los Gatos Creek from the six mile long harvest area. Concerns about helicopter logging, noise, exacerbated landsliding in this area along the San Andreas Fault Zone, impacts to wildlife, county roads and drinking water supplies as well as increased fire hazard are on the minds of the hundreds of neighboring residents.

3. Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rule Update

At their May meeting at Lake Tahoe, the Board of Forestry voted 7-2 to extend the Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rules for a one, two or three year extension while a literature review is conducted. The T&I Rules are set to expire December 31, 2006. These rules provide additional canopy retention (and other protections) along streams with listed salmonids and/or streams that are 303(d) listed as impaired for sediment or temperature. It has been agreed upon by all that a literature review should be undertaken to determine if the T&I Rules are scientifically defensible.

NMFS, DFG, SWRCB (plus the Central Valley and North Coast regional waterboards) and CDF have all gone on record stating they believe the rule package should be extended.

The Forest Practice Committee has proposed hiring Tetra Tech, a large consulting firm currently under contract to the EPA, to conduct the literature review. The cost would be absorbed by the EPA. It is not known at this time whether Tetra Tech is available. Also to be determined is further refinement of the topics to be addressed and the process of the review itself.

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. Tetra Tech (or someone else) 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.

4. Lompico Acquisition – Fundraising Continues

The Redwood Empire Lompico/Islandia THP continues to remain on hold while Sempervirens Fund fundraises toward the total $5, 600,000 purchase price for the Lompico/Islandia property and the Malosky Creek lands, currently owned by Roger Burch. You can still make a contribution by going to www.sempervirens.org or contacting Kevin Collins at 831-335-4196. Or better yet, host a fundraiser or get your employer to offer a matching funds grant. Your donation will give you the satisfaction of being a part of this important local land preservation effort, plus it will get you an invitation to the Sempervirens Fund members’ picnic May 20th.

5. New THPs

The Soper-Wheeler plan along Bonny Doon Road (West Lidell Creek) is back. 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.

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.

An additional THP has been noticed by Big Creek Lumber. I do not have additional details available at this time.

6. NMFS Denies Petition to Delist Coho South of San Francisco

From NMFS:

“Attached is a link to Federal Register notice 71 FR 14683 where NMFS recently denied a Dec 2003, petition to redefine the southern boundary of CCC coho salmon. The petitioners argued CCC coho were not native to coastal San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties and therefore, the boundary should be adjusted to areas north of San Francisco Bay. The petitioners initially presented four arguments to support their assertion coho salmon were not native to the area: (1) coho salmon are not found in the archaeological record, (2) early fish biologists failed to document coho salmon in the area, (3) the climate, hydrology, and geology is too extreme to maintain this species (4) coho salmon in the area were the result of out-of-basin hatchery plants from Lake Baker, WA. The petitioners argument changed somewhat over time and they also referenced NMFS' ESU policy and asserted fish in the area should not be listed because populations in this area were a "sink" and provided nothing to the population as a whole. The FR notice provides NMFS' response. 
 
http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/psd/14683.pdf 

7. NMFS public workshop, Santa Cruz June 13 on Coho Threats

NMFS will be holding a public workshop in early June on the local threats to coho. NMFS wants to hear from us about current threats to coho in the Central Coast. Workshop location and other details are still being worked out. Mark your calendar and stay tuned.

8. 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.
 
Workshops include:
Underwater fish identification in Lagunitas Creek with Eric Ettlinger who is an Aquatic Ecologist with Marin's Municipal Water District.

Maureen Roche from the Mattole River offering her popular workshop entitled, “Tales from a Hidden World,” where participants will have a chance to snorkel and see coho salmon.

Jim Harrington, aquatic bioassessment pioneer, will teach how macro-invertebrate sampling can be used as a tool for assessing creek health.

Native plant collection and propagation with Circuit Riders Productions Inc.

Fish rescue and relocation with SPAWN.

Brannon Ketchum from Point Reyes National Seashore will lead a tour of the new Giacommini Wetlands restoration project where participants will learn about and assist with invasive species removal.

The Confab will also include a Bioengineering workshop where participants will have an opportunity to build organic structures with native materials to help stabilize eroding banks led by the local RCD.

Jim Locke, a local geology professor from Marin College will teach “Salmon Population Response to Geologic Factors.”

David Lewis from UC Cooperative Extension will lead a Tomales Bay Watershed Management workshop and sustainable farm tour that addresses water quality priorities and techniques.

Bird response to riparian restoration with Point Reyes Bird Observatory.

Estuarine Restoration
 
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.

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

CRFM is excited to offer 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 throroughly knowledgable and entertaining Jim Harrington, Department of Fish and Game environemental 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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