Friday, March 31, 2006

Two New PL Logging Plans Bring Total to 535 Acres in Bear River

Pacific Lumber (PL) has filed two more large logging plans in Bear River. Bringing their total of proposed logging this year in Bear River to 535 acres.
One of the plans “Mas Patron” is closer to southern Rainbow Ridge in Happy Valley. This 134 acre logging plan # 1-06-036 includes127.5 acres of clearcutting.
The other plan is numbered 1-06-037 and covers 242 acres on the Monument Ridge side of Bear River near the Mt. Pierce radio towers. I will write more on this plan when information becomes available.

The picture above shows unit 7 of the Mas Patron plan which covers 22.7 acres next to Harmonica Creek near Happy Valley. The orange line shows the clearcut boundary and the red lines are proposed roads. The proposed roads begin in a recent clearcut but most of the open areas in the picture are meadowland.

As far as I can tell, the plans have been submitted but not yet filed. This means that public comment is probably not yet open.

PL admits there is oldgrowth Douglas Fir in the plan up to 300 years old. How much oldgrowth is included, and where it’s located, is unclear.
This plan also encroaches on the territory of a mated pair of Northern Spotted Owls. These owls depend on dense oldgrowth stands for hunting and protection from larger predators. Their offspring will need somewhere to live when it leaves the nest.

One of their main food sources, the rare Sonoma Red Tree Vole (Arborimus pomo), depends on large trees for food and shelter. These mouse like animals live entirely on conifer needles and spend most of their lives in the trees. They have a surprising method of evading predators. They can leap out of a tree up to 100 ft. in the air and free fall to the forest floor where they scurry into burrows that they prepare beforehand.

There are plans for road building and tractor yarding.
Tractor yarding is a technique where bulldozers drag logs from where they were cut to the “log deck” where they will be loaded onto trucks. This process is highly damaging to the soil and greatly increases erosion. They also propose Broadcast Burning (napalm) and Mechanical Site Prep which has been described as a “tractor derby” where bulldozers scrape the remaining organic matter from the clear cut forest into piles that can be burned later.

The Bear River watershed has endured widespread logging since late 1800s’, especially after World War II when caterpillar treads for tanks and bulldozers had been developed and mass produced. This lead to widespread unregulated logging and road building on steep hillsides where machines had never been able to penetrate before. This enabled the logging companies to virtually wipe out the Oldgrowth Douglas Fir and Redwood forests in many areas of Humboldt County.According to the THP document there have also been "repeated fire efforts to expand grazing" on the part of ranchers in the area.


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