Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county
by Jodi Frediani
1. Eureka Gulch West Flip Flop
Well, it's hard to keep up with the ins and outs of Redwood Empire's Eureka Gulch West THP (1-09-159 SCR). Brief Synopsis: The County (and DFG) non-concurred because there was no winter cut-off for winter operations. Sierra Club asked the Board of Supervisors to appeal. The Supes voted to 'authorize' staff to appeal if the plan was approved. However, staff was already negotiating a set of conditions that would have allowed staff to conduct site visits during the winter period, among other things, in-lieu of a winter cut-off. Redwood Empire (RE) had agreed to those conditions, more or less. Sierra Club met with county staff and expressed concern that RE had only partly agreed to County conditions and expressed our concerns on what might be learned/gained from the random site visits and winter operations potentially throughout the winter season. County staff then asked RE for clarification on some of the conditions, including the ability to take turbidity samples during winter site visits.
The latest news (hot off the press, er ftp site) is that RE has now decided that negotiations with the County were 'fruitless' and "the plan submitter is interested in progressing past20this quagmire." RE further states, "The County's insistence of the cutoff as a blanket underground regulation on timber harvesting is not currently an issue that the landowner or plan submitter can afford to spend significant resources to resist." Remember, we've had winter cut-off dates and rainfall amounts as long as I can remember. And that goes back close to 30 years. And we still have them and they have them up north as well.
So, now RE, after claiming foul on the part of the County, has taken their ball and gone home. Sort of. They have removed all of the concessions they gave the County (i.e. using only two roads, landings and skid trails during the winter instead of 3; allowing the county to do winter inspections, etc.) and are agreeing to a part of the County's original request: They have agreed to halt ground-based yarding and hauling after 4" of cumulative rainfall following October 15. They have not agreed to a hard winter cut-off date. AND they say they will begin operations again by April 1, even though the winter period does not end until April 15 or May 1 depending on how you interpret the rules.
Will the County remove their non-concurrence now? We shall have to wait and see!
For the past two years the Board of Forestry has led a transparent stakeholder process to review the Threatened and Impaired Watershed Rules, which provide additional protections for 303(d) listed waterbodies and streams with threatened or endangered fish. A professional consultant was hired to conduct a Scientific Literature Review, a review committee was established, and recommendations for improving the protections were made based on the science. DFG, NMFS, and CDF seemed to be in agreement with the package that was brought forward to the BoF Forest Practice Committee.
However, industry (aka 'the regulated public') argued relentlessly about this and that. In April, the Committee sent the package to the Board with a recommendation that it be sent out for a 45-day notice, required for a public hearing. The rule package had been amended to include 30-50 'options' proposed by industry.
OK, you say, that's hardly a package ready for a vote. But that's the sane part.
At the end of April, the Board agreed to notice the proposed rule package. Then, at the May BoF committee meeting we were advised that a second 'alternative' rule package had been prepared by two Board members, Jim Ostrowski-industry rep and Gary Nakamura-public rep, and they wanted to see this package also go out on a 45-day notice.
Mark Stopher of DFG objected saying it looked as if there was 'pre-determination' by two Board members who had made up their minds about which portions of the package they liked and didn't like, before hearing testimony from the public. Others were equally astonished and dismayed.
By the next day at the full Board meeting, we were advised that that there was never any intention of noticing for a hearing the 'alternative' rule package. Face saving of a very ugly sort. We were told that the package would still be available for review, but have yet to see a copy.
We were also told that it was 98% the same as the noticed package, the only significant change being that it had deleted the Class II canopy retention requirements and possibly other Class II protections. MAJOR CHANGE.
A workshop will be held June 2-3 on the noticed package and a hearing will be held before the BoF on June 24. Plan to attend!
As if the Board shenanigans aren't enough, Big Creek Lumber has been involved in some of their own. Once again, Big Creek is trying to gut protections for endangered coho. They submitted a 2-24-09 letter to Mark Stopher, DFG, and the Board of Forestry objecting to several significant aspects of the proposed T&I rule package.
Specifically, they don't want the rules to apply to any streams that historically had coho prior to 1990. In addition, they claim that increased canopy retention (85% versus 50%) is not needed for the southern sub-district (SSD) (Central Coast area) because they claim our Class II streams are not temperature impaired. Big Creek states that "...thresholds are below lethal limits for listed salmonids within the SSD." Of course, since Class II streams, by definition, are not fish-bearing streams the statement is simply ludicrous, never mind that we shouldn't be regulating against only cooked fish. The data that Big Creek submitted (temp monitoring conducted by RPFs) apparently was not submitted for review during the lengthy Scientific Literature Review conducted on behalf of the Board of Forestry and overseen by a committee of agency and other stakeholder participants.
Big Creek asked for a special field trip to prove their point. DFG agreed to the field trip, which was not open to members of the public, to County staff or anyone Big Creek did not want to attend. We expressed our dismay to Stopher of DFG and to Stan Dixon, Chair of the BoF, stating that such a field trip should have been organized by the Board and open to all stakeholders, just the same=2 0as previous field trips held as part of the T&I rule development process. Stopher staunchly disagreed. Dixon acknowledged that the 'perception' of lack of inclusiveness was unfortunate, but took no action. Matt Dias, Big Creek Lumber RPF, responded to my email asking if I could attend, "No offense in intended [sic], but this is not a public meeting, and therefore you are not invited to attend." The field trip was held on May 7. Various agency personnel participated, as did a host of local RPFs and Board of Forestry staff. I've heard that as a result of the field trip Stopher feels that our streams have no problem regarding large wood or sediment.
Conversations with several informed folks indicate that a more complex plot is brewing. The word is that DFG will probably tell the Board that the 85% canopy retention requirements are not needed in the SSD with the goal of getting the vote of public member Pierto (heads Cal Poly's forestry program) for the rest of the T&I rule package. So much for our vanishing coho. (The North Coast Regional Waterboard gave a presentation at the BoF saying that a modeling study done in their region showed that 50% canopy reduction did not provide sufficiently cool temperatures for coho.)
In the months after UCSC researcher, Chris Wilmers, began his mountain lion tracking project in the Swanton/Bonny Doon area, Big Creek Lumber Co. has lost two calves to two different lions. The first lion was part of the collared study. The second lion is dead, trapped and killed by DFG. From the looks of the photos, it was an older lion, sporting lots of scars, missing parts of an ear with a small tumor on its face. It was probably having a hard time hunting down game. I wonder what effect bringing tracking -hounds into the lions territory may be having on the behavior of either the lions or their prey. At any rate, a good livestock guard dog will earn its way keeping predators at bay and allowing us to all share the same limited piece of planet earth.
PLAN TO ATTEND: Hearing, July 10, Watsonville. More info to follow when available.
Written comments need to be submitted by May 25 to be addressed by staff.
Comments can also be submitted later than that date.
From the Staff Report: "Staff reviewed compliance history of timber harvest operations, water quality impacts from reporting and field observations and thoroughly analyzed temperature and turbidity data. Staff found that timber harvest operations are generally not or only minimally impacting water quality. Additionally, Water Board staff incurred budget cuts in 2008 requiring a reduction of staff efforts on lower priority activities. Therefore, Water Board staff recommends modifications to the way the Water Board regulates timber harvest activities. Staff's goal is to continue to regulate timber harvest activities in the most efficient mann er possible to protect water quality."
Staff is proposing participating in only 3-5 PHIs per year. (Right now there are something like a dozen THPs under review at the Felton office.) RPFs will basically determine which category of waiver their plan belongs in and no inspections will be conducted by Water Board staff, either before enrollment, during or at completion of timber operations. Other 'modifications' are being proposed. Essentially, the modified program appears to be all about self-regulation by the timber industry.
I have a copy of the Staff Report, but it has not been posted on the Water Board website. You can either contact me for a copy, or Lisa McCann at the Water Board, since Julia Dyer, the designated Staff person, is out of the office until May 18. Lisa McCann: 805-549-3132. I am told in response to my request, it will be posted in the next couple of days.
The following info and workshop is courtesy of Monterey Coastkeeper and California Coastkeeper Alliance:
Thursday, May 21st @ the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Conference Room, 6-8pm
Thursday, May 21st, 6-8 p.m.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Conference Center
Every two years, by federal law, California must compile a list of the state’s "impaired," or seriously polluted, water bodies. These are waters that are now too polluted for activities that Californians used to enjoy, like fishing, swimming, boating or surfing, or that are too polluted to support fish, birds or other wildlife, or t hat are too polluted to supply drinking water without costly extra treatment. In California, the nine Regional Water Boards identify polluted waters and develop and approve a cleanup process for each water body. C2California adopted the last list of impaired waters in 2006, and Regional Boards throughout the state are currently in the process of updating the 2006 list. The public is encouraged to participate and to submit comments on waters that should be included on the impaired water bodies list. Your participation will ensure that polluted waters get cleaned up! CCKA and its member Waterkeepers are offering public workshops to inform interested parties on how to get involved with the process. Join us in the effort to clean up the water in the Monterey Bay Watershed!
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has released their draft 2008 list of impaired water bodies, updating the information on their 2006 list. This year’s update proposes over 500 new listings for the Central Coast; the majority of newly proposed stream impairments are in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. The expansion of this list will can go a long way in helping to address water quality impairments in the Monterey Bay watershed. However, important additions to the list can be controversial, and may meet opposition from polluters; the public’s voice will need to be heard to support them!!
These are your waters. You know them better than anyone. The Central Coast Water Quality Control Board needs to hear from you! Bring other members of your organizations! Bring your friends!
Feel free to contact Monterey Coastkeeper Steve Shimek ( ) or California Coastkeeper Alliance’s Tom Lyon () s with any questions.
Hope to see you on the 21st!
Tom Lyons, Program Coordinator
tel: (415) 810-2960
The proposed list can be found here:
Cemex has submitted a 230-acre THP (1-09- 45 SCR) prepared by Cemex's new RPF, Nadia Hamey. I understand the THP is very straight forward, no slide areas, no problems, no harvesting of the old growth Douglas-fir scattered throughout the plan area. (It costs more to harvest Doug-fir than can be recouped from its sale.) Apparently Cemex wants some income now and they don't want a delay.
I also understand that no one knows what the price of redwood is these days. Local foresters and landowners are waiting for Redtree and Cemex to harvest and establish the price, before they go ahead and cut. Usually, the price is known by March of each year.
Curiously, Cemex noticed the plan as being "approximately three air miles southwest of the town of Boulder Creek." Given that the town of Davenport is essentially next door and gets it's drinking water from San Vicente Creek of which Deadman Gulch, - 500 ' downstream of timber operations - is a perennial tributary, this notice seems not to comply with the intent of the noticing rules.
The Eureka Gulch NTMP (aka Grizzly Flat) of the City of Watsonville is at a standstill. The RPF, Chris Hipkin, needs to answer a host of questions before review of the plan can continue. In addition to the issues we addressed in our April Forest Update, the RPF has labeled all of his crossings "c" and all of his slides, circle "k". He has been asked to submit new maps and apparently has argued that he does not need to provide different letters to differentiate his crossings from each other as he plans to deal with them all the same. Ditto for his slides.
I also understand that most if not all RPFs are currently getting paid on an hourly basis. I wonder if the City of Watsonville is aware of the apparent cash flow down the drain being caused20by the actions of their forester
AB 1066, the 10-year THP bill, finally was passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee as a compromised 5-year THP bill. In its current form, THPs would be good for five years instead of three and still be up for two one-year extensions. Next step is for the bill to go to Assembly Appropriations. If it passes out of Approps, it will go to the Assembly Floor. There is concern that the bill will make it out of the Assembly where it would go to the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Can the bill be killed? No one seems to know for sure. Additional amendments below have been added with restrictions for two one-year extensions:
(2) A timber harvesting plan on which work has been commenced, but not completed, may be extended by amendment for a one-year period in order to complete the work, up to a maximum of two one-year extensions, if (both) all of the following occur:
(A) Good cause is shown.
(B) All timber operations are in conformance with the plan, this chapter, and all applicable rules and regulations, upon the filing of the notice of extension as required by this section.
(C) The department finds both of the following:
(i) Listed species have not been discovered since approval of the timber harvesting plan.
(ii) Significant physical changes to the harvest area or adjacent areas have not occurred since the timber harvesting plan’s cumulative impacts were originally assessed.
(b) The extension shall apply to any area covered by the plan for which a report has not been submitted under Section 4585. The notice of extension shall be provided to the department not sooner than 30 days, but at least 10 days, prior to the expiration date of the plan. The notice shall include the circumstances that prevented a timely completion of the work under the plan and, consistent with Section 4583, an agreement to comply with this chapter and the rules and regulations of the board a s they exist on the date the extension notice is filed.
(c) Stocking work may continue for more than the effective period of the plan under subdivision (a), but shall be completed within five years after the conclusion of other work.
(d) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), a timber harvesting plan on which work has commenced, but not completed, may be extended by amendment for up to a maximum of four one-year extensions if the plan expired in 2009, and if the plan complies with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) only.
For more info go to: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/ and type in AB 1066
Sierra Club continues to oppose the bill.
4th Annual Spring-run Chinook Symposium
July 23- 24 on the Salmon River
Following the annual Salmon River dives, SRF and Salmon River Restoration Council will host the 4th Annual Spring-run Chinook Symposium featuring rafting tours of Creek Mouth Enhancement Projects on the Mid Klamath tributaries, field trips to fish passage projects on the Salmon River; hands-on restoration workshop about invasive species control and panel discussions on the Klamath Dam removal process. Please check out the agenda and registration form at the SRF website.
12th Annual Coho Confab
August 28-30 on the Big River on the Mendocino Coast
SRF, Trees Foundation, the Mendocino Land Trust and Jughandle Farm will host the 12th Annual Coho Confab featuring tours of Caspar Creek fish ladders and road work, underwater fish identification, macro-invertebrate sampling and other habitat restoration tours along the Coast.
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