Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Windmill Logging Plan Approved


Sierra Pacific Industries Windmill logging plan was approved yesterday. Logging could begin any time. The plan includes clearcutting Old Growth Douglas Fir near the coast, several miles north of Petrolia. I will recap on details of the logging plan today or tomorrow. You can use the blog search engine to find past postings on this subject. More info. in the side column.

The Plan
The 538 acre-logging plan was submitted to the California Dept. of Forestry (CDF) on December 23rd, 2003. A controversial plan from the beginning, it proposed extensive clearcutting and herbicide spraying on the most of the remaining Old Growth Douglas Fir forest in the Davis creek watershed.

Davis Creek
This area is home to rare creatures like Spotted Owls, Mountain Beavers and Sonoma Tree Voles. The Mountain Beavers are not actually beavers but a rare type of ancient rodent, a sort of "living fossil" like the coecelanth fish. The company was not required to identify what subspecies they are even though this was the first confirmed report of the creatures in the lost coast region. Clearcutting of the Mountain Beaver sites is likely to kill them. If they aren't crushed in the process they can be killed by the higher temperatures found after the shade from trees is gone.

The area is also very seismically active and sattelite photos shows multiple landslides originating in clearcuts. There are frequently small earthquakes in this area as it is near the junction of three tectonic plates.

136 Acres Off Limits to Protect Spotted Owls
On April 27, 2006 the Fish and Wildlife Service determined that approximately 136 acres had to be removed from the logging plan, otherwise the logging would result in “take” (illegal harm or killing) of the threatened Northern Spotted Owl. 136 acres makes up 1/4 of the original proposed logging area and includes 72 acres of oldgrowth. 129 acres of oldgrowth remain proposed for logging.

Herbicide Issues
On June 13. 2006 CDF reopened public comment for 10 days after Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) added a lengthy section to their THP regarding herbicide use and their scope of assessment of impacts to animals.
The addition of this information was clearly prompted by a ruling against two of SPI’s THPs in the Sierras. The court concluded that SPI’s herbicide assessment and “biological assessment areas” were inadequate. As outlined in EPIC’s public comments* the ruling applies to the Windmill THP.

Public comment closed on June 28th, the plan was approved August 8th, 2006.

[soon to come, a look at some of the public comments and how CDF responded.]

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