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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

Forestry Updates

by Jodi Frediani
May 2008

1. Young THP
2. Redtree THP
3. Cal Poly NTMP Comment Closes June 6
4. Bohemian Grove NTMP
5. Roy Webster SMO THP Returned
6. Grizzly Flat NTMP Noticed in Paper
7. TP Rezone Applications
8. Jackson State Forest Update
9. Sierra Club California Advocacy Activities

1. Young THP 1-08-018 SCR

This proposed 38 acre plan is in the watersheds of Whalebone Gulch, Deer Creek and Starr Creek (tributary to Bear Creek, a steelhead stream) north of Boulder Creek. Gary Paul is the RPF. Apparently the private road to access the property and used by multiple neighbors is a disaster and gets graded with spoils delivered directly into Starr Creek. Never mind that a portion of the existing haul road on the property runs in the creek. Or does the creek run down the road? The plan proposes to upgrade and reconstruct 1,600 feet of the existing access road on the property and to construct 1100’ of ‘temporary’ road to reach the ridge top in order to access 4’ diameter redwoods that have grown up since the last harvest around 100 years ago. (Supposedly the residual old growth will not be cut, except for one leaning over the stream.) An additional 2,000 feet of temporary ridge top road is also proposed. Portions of the new road will be in the WLPZ. “About 150 feet of existing instream road that is in very poor shape and prone to erosion will be abandoned and the channel restored.” The plan proposes to haul 140 loads of logs over 28-35 days.

Here are some excerpts from the Engineering Geologist’s 40 page report:

“The unsurfaced dirt road climbs across locally steep 50% to 90% sideslopes, much of it paralleling Starr Creek. The road grade is locally quite steep with segments up to 25%. About 150 feet of the road extends up the axis of the stream on fill directly sidecasted into the channel.”

“The road crosses Starr Creek three times with an additional Class II and Class III tributary crossings. All of the crossings are unprotected fords of varying conditions. Beyond the water intake (for the cabin on the property) the road extends an additional 500 +/- feet and is unmaintained and is no longer passable due to a deep rut that has eroded into the road surface.”

“The road is presently poorly drained and subject to on-going erosion. In addition, it is too narrow and too steep for use in timber operations. The earth ford stream crossings are also unprotected and prone to washing out.”

Maybe someone can explain to me how a timberland owner who has allowed his existing roads to go to hell in a hand basket can be allowed to construct and reconstruct close to a mile of ‘temporary’ new road.

ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs2008/1-08-018SCR The geologist’s report can be found in Section II.

The PHI for this plan occurred on Friday, May 9.

2. Redtree THP 1-08-045 SCR Update

Redtree has a 60 acre plan under review in the upper San Vicente Creek watershed. Matt Bissell is the RPF. This plan is located off of and will haul logs out along a quiet, rural section of Bonny Doon Road. The good news is that the RPF is not proposing winter operations or operations within the WLPZ of Class II sections of San Vicente Creek. I believe he is also proposing a light cut. This proposed harvest is on some of the parcels that Redtree recently got ‘certificates of compliance’ for from the County and then put into separate LLCs. Whether they did that just for fun, or for future sale, remains to be seen.

3. Cal Poly NTMP 1-07NTMP-020 SCR Comment closes June 6

This 701 acre NTMP has been re-circulated for 30 days with a new Close of Public Comment, June 6, 2008. New information has been submitted on this plan including:

- Addition of a Chemical cumulative impacts assessment
- Additional evaluation of 2 road points performed by a Certified Engineering Geologist
- Additional discussion pertaining to the Tranquility Flat Sub-unit and sustained yield analysis
- Clarification of timberland delineation on the Cal Poly Corporation ownership.

Comments may be submitted to: SantaRosaPublicComment@fire.ca.gov

The plan can be found at: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/NTMPs2007/1-07NTMP-020SCR

4. Bohemian Grove NTMP update

The Bohemian Club, you may remember is the exclusive boys club for the likes of Misters Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney, along with a large number of other males. They own 2700 acres of land along the Russian River in Sonoma County, possibly the largest single redwood holding in that county and certainly the largest private ownership of old growth redwood. There are several significant groves of old growth redwood on the property. The Club has had a policy of logging their lands under the guidance of RPF, Ed Tunheim. However, recently the Club decided to increase the percentage cut and apply for an NTMP. I understand that Tunheim resigned after being asked to increase the percentage cut.

According to figures developed by Tunheim during his tenure as the Club’s RPF, the Bohemians own too many acres of timberland to qualify for an NTMP. The Club’s new forester, Nick Kent, has creatively reduced the timberland acreage by deleting 27 acres of roads and landings, as well as several other areas for which Tunheim had provided stand and volume figures.

When even Kent’s figures seemed unlikely to do the acreage trick, the Club approached their friends at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) with a request that RMEF hold a conservation easement on 160 acres of the Grove. The RMEF expressed great interest in doing so, yet the easement has not yet been produced. Various members of California’s state legislature, along with Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, have written letters to the RMEF asking that they not acquire an easement as the 160 acres are already protected from logging by DFG marbled murrelet and Northern spotted owl restrictions. The easement would simply allow for cutting the rest of the property in perpetuity.

CBS 5 TV ran as their lead on the 6:00 o-clock evening news in San Francisco a story about the logging complete with ugly footage of over-wide roads and heavy firewood harvesting.

http://cbs5.com/video/?id=33588@kpix.dayport.com

After you watch the video: contact the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, tell the Foundation that you saw the Bohemian Club story on the TV news and are troubled that the Elk Foundation is aiding in the destruction of forest lands.
Toll-free: 1(800) CALL ELK (225-5355)and/or email Sr. Regional Director Mike Ford at mford@rmef.org

5. Roy Webster 1-08-063SMO THP Returned

Roy Webster, RPF, recently submitted a THP in San Mateo County that was returned May 2, 2008 after First Review. Apparently Mr. Webster took a draft copy of an old THP for the property and submitted it without even incorporating changes that had been required during review of the previous plan. He forgot to even number many of the pages. First Review included six pages of questions needing to be answered before resubmission of the plan. These concerns were raised by CALFIRE, DFG and CGS. Here are just a few to sample (emphasis added):

1. The property was harvested under THP 1-91-351 SMO. Page 2 of the 1991 THP states, "No slides were observed and with a few exceptions equipment will not operate on steeper slopes." CDMG (now CGS) Engineering Geologist Review of that plan by Michael M. Manson documented five landslides during the preharvest inspection and recommended changes to the THP to address slope stability concerns. These recommended changes, including showing the unstable areas on the THP map, were incorporated into the 1991 THP by RPF Roy Webster (See attached map). Page 10 of THP 1-08-063 SMO, also by RPF Roy Webster, states, There are no known unstable areas." and none are shown on the THP maps. Because the unstable areas identified by CGS in 1991 are not disclosed in the current THP, nor are any additional, more recent landslide areas identified, CGS is concerned that we may not have enough information to properly evaluate this THP as submitted for the first review. CGS would like to defer our review until the property has been evaluated by a licensed Professional Geologist, and the finding of that professional are included in the THP. CGS

2. ...during First Review of the plan, it has been determined that the Notice of Intent map does not meet the requirements of 14CCR 1032.7(d)(8) which requires that the NOI map provide the approximate boundary of the THP area. Instead, the NOI map identifies the plan as a large dot.

Some may recall previous THPs prepared by Webster in which property lines were incorrectly delineated on the ground. I guess if you start with a ‘large dot’ it is easy to make mistakes.

6. Grizzly Flat NTMP Notice Published in Paper

The Grizzly Flat property belongs to the City of Watsonville. It was previously logged and challenged, unsuccessfully, by Sierra Club. The property contains sag ponds because of its proximity to the San Andreas Fault. An NTMP has been in preparation for months by RPF, Gary Paul. The plan was noticed in the paper several weeks ago, but has not yet been submitted to CAL FIRE.

7. TPZ Rezone Applications

I continue to field phone calls from frustrated members of the public who suddenly learn that a neighbor has applied to rezone property to the Timber Production Zone. Most of the concerned calls have focused on smaller properties that submitted applications during the ‘grace period’ after the County raised the minimum parcel size for rezoning to 40 acres. Nearly all of those applications have gone smoothly through the Planning Commission and some have already received final approval from the Board of Supervisors.

Two stand out as items of note. One such rezone application on Old Santa Cruz Highway was withdrawn by the applicant, without explanation after a host of his neighbors showed up at the Planning Commission hearing to protest. It appears that while the County may not be willing to stand in the way, good ole public pressure may still be effective.

A second parcel (34 acres) has been recommended for denial by Planning Staff. It is located on Hubbard Gulch Road in Boulder Creek and has a contractor’s equipment storage yard on site that is not considered a ‘compatible’ use in the TP zone district. APN 089-081-21 Special Use (SU), Property located on the east side of Hopkins Gulch Road (900 Hopkins Gulch Road) about % of mile north from the intersection with Bear Creek Road. Property owner is John Jackson.

Jackson has hired Dennis Kehoe (sometimes attorney for Big Creek Lumber) to argue that Jackson’s equipment storage meets the definition of the “work incidental to the growing, harvesting, cutting and removal of timber and other forest products.” “In conclusion the holding of a General Engineering Contractor’s License and the Use Permit associated with that license do NOT constitute an incompatible use when the primary work performed under that use permit and license is the “work incidental to the growing, harvesting, cutting and removal of timber and other forest products” per county code 13.10.372.”

I believe the county made its determination of incompatible use based in part on the fact that Mr. Jackson advertises his business in the Yellow Pages under Excavating Contractors (bulldozing, septic installation and repair, graders, backhoes, bull-dozers, cat excavator, etc.) You get the picture. Mr. Jackson claims that 85% of his business is for the timber companies. You’d think he might mention that in his ad, but then maybe word of mouth is all he needs.

Most of his equipment (ascertained by County aerial photos on their website) seems to be spread around in his cleared/grassland areas. At a minimum, this case indicates that the County should not be rezoning land that grows heavy equipment and not trees. This will simply incentivize others to turn forest and grassland watershed lands into equipment yards and graveyards.

This item will be heard again before the Planning Commission on Wednesday, May 14 around 9:00am.

8. Jackson State Forest Update

From Vince Taylor, who with the help of a lot of people changed the direction of forest management on this state forest. They were inspired by the work in Santa Cruz to re-direct forest management on the Soquel Demonstration State Forest away from ‘cash-cow’ management:

“You helped to get us to this point in time, to where we have an independent advisory committee that will work over the next three years to develop a new long-term plan for Jackson Forest. I want to keep you informed about developments and progress…..

"Noteworthy was the first public information about plans for the two timber contracts that were the focus of the lawsuits of the Campaign from 2000 forward. These two plans, one in Brandon Gulch and the other in Camp 3, are on almost 1000 acres of forest that has not been entered since the initial logging in the early 1900s. Such unentered old second growth stands are rare in Jackson Forest, and these particular stands are in the heart of the major recreation area of Jackson Forest. These stands are highly valuable for habitat, recreation, and human enjoyment.

I'm happy to report that the state appears on course to change the objective of these plans from logging for the sake of revenue to moving these stands toward old growth conditions. This is good news indeed, as restoration toward old growth has been one of the centralAs the plans are still under negotiation among the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, Cal Fire, and the contract holders, not all details were released, but the broad outlines were given.

"Both plans will be designed to accelerate "late seral conditions" (the technical term for the forest conditions found in old growth stands). Camp 3 will have an experimental design and have baseline measurements of biological and timber inventories. Brandon Gulch will demonstrate late seral development, but will not have an experimental design"

More information and latest news at www.jacksonforest.org

9. Sierra Club California Advocacy Activities

The following are activities recently undertaken by Sierra Club California regarding forestry and fisheries issues:

"Forestry: Pacific Lumber Company

As you are probably aware, Pacific Lumber is currently in bankruptcy court in Texas. Sierra Club and EPIC are on the Unsecured Creditors Committee, because PL owes us approximately $6 million in legal fees. As the largest unsecured creditor, we had a vote in choosing plans, and we cast our vote for the Mendocino Redwood Company/Marathon Investment proposal. It’s not perfect, but was far and away the best option. The next court date in the case is May 15, and it is quite likely that Mendocino Redwood Company could take over the operation of Pacific Lumber within the month. This will certainly be an improvement over PL’s past management.

In other Pacific Lumber legal news, just shy of ten years after filing the case, our challenge to the state permits in the Headwaters Deal was heard before the California Supreme Court on May 8. At this point the trees are long gone, but there are some important legal questions remaining. Although it’s hard to know how the court will rule, the hearing went very well.

Salmon

In December the Department of Fish and Game approved new regulations that make it easier for timber companies to get permits to kill endangered Coho salmon when logging. This new approach misses a key opportunity to improve logging practices to help recover salmon, instead prioritizing convenience for the timber industry over protecting habitat.

In January, Sierra Club California joined with the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) and CalTrout to challenge these regs. We have since stayed the litigation due to reasonably positive settlement negotiations. We are primarily focused on applying the new protection standards more broadly in order to recover habitat. We plan to introduce an emergency rule package to implement our desired rule changes within the next month, and given the collapse of salmon over the past year, I’m modestly optimistic that we’ll have a better reception at the Board of Forestry this time."


Jodi Frediani
Director
Central Coast Forest Watch
ph/fax 831-426-1697

Jodi Frediani
Chair, Forestry Task Force
Ventana Chapter, Sierra Club
ph/fax 831-426-1697




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