Thursday, April 20, 2006

Maxxam/Pacific Lumbers Old Growth Redwood Logging Plans In Elk River

Within the original 60,000 acre Headwaters Forest lies the North Fork of Elk River. The NF of Elk River now contains Californias largest unprotected complex of "Class E" Marbled Murrelet habitat. "Class E" is the designation given to known nesting groves of this endangered sea bird. Marbled Murrelets are adapted to nest specifically in old trees with large mossy branches within 50 miles of the coast.

This part of Elk River has many names, Pacific Lumber calls it Turkey Foot, government agencies call it the Elkheart Complex, environmental activists have called it Boulder Creek Grove. In the past several years Pacific Lumber cut two logging plans named "Elkheart" and "Pass the Turkey" which removed 28% of this stand (150 acres) , leaving 395 acres. Much of this was selectively logged in the pre-Maxxam era (before the 1980s), however, approximatly 22.2 acres of pristine old growth forest containing the highest amount of lumber (board footage) of any other classified Marbled Murrelet stand are located within Boulder Creek Grove. The some of the "Class E" areas of Boulder Creek are not connected to the main stand which is why the contiguous Nanning Creek stand near the town of Scotia was considered higher quality until last year when Pacific Lumber logged most of the oldgrowth in the "Bonanza" logging plan. Several giant trees in Nanning Creek were protected by tree-sitters and seasonal logging restrictions currently prevent them from being cut. This protection will continue until September 15 when Murrelet Nesting season ends again.

A new PL logging plan "Second Serving" #1-05-079 proposes to decimate 78.6 acres of the "Class E" habitat in Boulder Creek Grove. This plan has not yet been approved and is still open for public comment letters (which California Dept. of Forestry (CDF) must respond to). Aside from eliminating crucial Marbled Murrelet nesting habitat, Pacific Lumber proposes to build 2,635 ft. of new logging road. They propose mostly tractor yarding with some cable/helicopter options. PL wants to use ground based equipment (bulldozers/cable yarders)during the winter period. Skyline cables are proposed across class I watercourses. There are 8 skid trail crossings (for bulldozers) over seasonal and year-round creeks. Tractor yarding and road building is especially destructive to the forest floor, causing compaction and increased water runoff during rainstorms in an area already afflicted by increased flooding of downstream communities.

"Second Serving" and the other two new logging plans "Magnum Opus"#1-05-131 and "John Doe" #1-05-161 include other groves of potential murrelet habitat that, although not surveyed to protocol, are assumed by officials to not be unoccupied by the birds. According to official paperwork some of these groves have comparable canopy closure and board footage per acre as many of the "Class E" stands.

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More info:



• Class A – Stands that were in approved logging plans before the HCP was signed. (not surveyed to protocol)
• Class B – Stands inspected by wildlife agency or PL personnel and determined to be unoccupied by murrelets and not murrelet habitat.
• Class C – the lower quality half of the unsurveyed habitat.
• Class D – – the higher quality half of the unsurveyed habitat.
• Class E – Stands that have been determined to be breeding groves through protocol surveys, assumed PSG protocol.

The following info was modified from a CDF logging plan status report. These three plans are all in the North Fork of Elk River.

1-05-079 (Second Serving) PHI held on 11/9 & 10/05 and completed on 1/13/06. Received CDF PHI report on 1/25/06. Received CGS PHI report on 1/27/06. Received WQ PHI report on 3/16/06. Need RPF response to PHI recommendations. Submitted as a HCP Option “A” THP utilizing the Elk River/Salmon Creek Watershed Analysis prescriptions. Note: Prior to 2nd review, the THP must be revised to include the final, approved Elk River/Salmon Creek Watershed Analysis Prescriptions


1-05-131 (Magnum Opus)
Recommended for approval with additional mitigation (AM1). Public comment period closed on 3/27/06
Director’s Decision Date: 4/18/06
WQ non-concurrence filed on 3/21/06.
A focused PHI is required to gather information on issues raised in the non-concurrence. Pending scheduling of focused PHI. Once focused PHI is completed and reports from participating agencies are received, the plan will be run through 2nd review and a new close of public comment date will be established.
Submitted as a HCP Option “A” THP utilizing the Elk River/Salmon Creek Watershed Analysis Prescriptions.


1-05-161 (John Doe) PHI held on 12/1305, 12/14/05 and 4/4/06. Received additional geology information on 3/17/06. Received CGS PHI report on 4/10/06. Received CDF PHI report on 4/13/06. Need WQ PHI report. Submitted as a HCP Option “A” THP utilizing the Draft Elk River/Salmon Creek Watershed Analysis Prescriptions. Prior to 2nd review, the THP must be revised to include the final, approved Elk River/Salmon Creek Watershed Analysis Prescriptions (approved on 11/16/05 – 8/12/05 version).

you can send comment letters on individual logging plans to California Department of Forestry at;

santarosapubliccomment@fire.ca.gov

or

California Department of Forestry
attn. forest practice
135 Ridgeway Ave.
Santa Rosa, Ca. 95401

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