Saturday, May 20, 2006

9 Days Or Less Until Logging Starts In Freshwater and Elk River

This past Friday Maxxam/Pacific Lumber notified the California Department of Forestry (CDF) that they will begin cutting two logging plans, one in Freshwater ("Upper McCready" 1-04-001) and one in Elk River ("Turkeyfoot 1-00-259").

The "Turkeyfoot" logging plan may still contain scattered patches of "Residual Old Growth", these are stands of ancient forest that were partially harvested in the past but still contain varying amounts of old growth trees. Since the plan was partially logged before operations were halted the big trees might have already been cut.

There are other logging plans in Elk River that target Residual Old Growth Redwoods. There are larger Residual Old Growth stands in "Below15 Thin" 1-02-005 and "Second Serving" 1-05-079.

PL will undoubtedly try and cherry-pick the old growth from these logging plans as fast as possible and not neccesarily cut everything given the current restrictions on acres per year (a maximum of 380 acres per year in Elk River down from the previous limit of 600).

This will be the first time that PL has been allowed to cut trees in these neighboring watersheds since June 16 2005.

Logging was stopped because PL stalled the process for creating special waste discharge permits which would address the high levels of dirt and mud deposited in these watercourses from excessive recent and historical logging.

Clearcutting and roadbuilding increased the runoff during rainstorms and the stream channels were choked with mud causing abnormal flooding during normal storms. In the first few months of 2005 the company's logging was slightly restricted and by June of that year all logging in Freshwater and Elk River was completely halted by lawsuits brought by conservation groups.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Grandfathered" Plans Require New Waste Discharge Permits

A "grandfathered" Timber Harvest Plan (THP) is a plan where logging was allowed under a waste discharge permit in the past, logging began and then was stopped when PL needed more adequate permits in Freshwater and Elk to address increased flooding.

In other words, it is a THP where logging has not been completed and is currently not permitted.

This applies to two classes of THPs:
1) THPs that were once covered, logging began and then was stopped by the water board. It was stopped (stayed) because Freshwater and Elk needed watershed wide permits (WWWDRs).
2) THPs that were given "interim enrollment" during the stay. Logging in these THPs was not necessarily completed because the court revoked the interim enrollments a few months later.

These THPs will have to go through the full permitting/enrollment process as the other THPs that have never been permitted. The "automatically grandfathered" language in the permit is somewhat misleading.

More on Threatened Elk River Old Growth

"We still dont know what parts of these 3 (residual Old Growth) elk plans are still standing." -anonymous regarding the logging plans Turkey Foot #1-00-259, Turkeyback Thin#1-01-004, Below15 Thin #1-03-005

"Grandfathering" of Logging Plans
The term "Grandfathering is at this point vague. It might mean that a plan was approved under the older waste discharge permits but not fully logged and now PL may be able go ahead and cut it without further approval from the Dept.of Water Quality.

More Proposed Old Growth Logging in Elk River
There are three residual Old Growth Redwood logging plans that have not yet been approved but that PL seems to frothing at the mouth over, these are Second Serving #1-05-079, Magnum Opus #1-05-131 and John Doe # 1-05-161.

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Here is some of the language from the Watershed Wide Waste Discharge Requirements regarding "Grandfathering".

F. Grandfathering

1. During the development of these watershed-wide WDRs, and in the absence of
watershed-wide WDRs, certain THPs were granted coverage under the General Timber
WDRs (GWDRs). Those enrollments were vacated by the State Water Board on June 16, 2005 (SWRCB/OCC FILES A-1683 AND A-1692). To continue operation on those THPs, the Discharger must now enroll those THPs into these watershed-wide WDRs, and all previously harvested acreage will be counted towards the annual receiving water limitations set out in provisions IV (A), (B), and (C) above. No new application fee will be required.



2. Except for the THPs set out in (1) above, previously enrolled THPs that have not yet
been fully cut as of the date of the adoption of this Order, and were previously enrolled
in either the old watershed WDRs (Order No. R1 2003-0118) or the GWDRs (Order
No. R1-2004-0030) shall be automatically grandfathered into these watershed-wide WDRs. No new application fee will be required. Any remaining cut on these THPs will be counted against the annual receiving water limitations set out in provisions IV (A), (B), and (C) above.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Approved Old Growth Logging in Elk River Under New Permits

The Situation
Now that Pacific Lumber has their new Waste Discharge Permits they can go ahead and log in Freshwater and Elk River. They are more limited in the quantity of logging but will still be logging Old Growth Redwoods in these areas. Since the company is restricted to logging a lower amount of acres they will likely cut the most profitable trees (the big ones) in any given logging plan and leave other areas for some future date. Clearcutting will probably be the logging method of choice in these watersheds due to the lack of incentive for PL to selectivly log.

Priorities
Pacific Lumber wanted to start operations on the plans with priority levels 0 and 1 on May 9th. Priority 2 THPs by May 22nd and priority 3 THPs by June 7th or within 10 days of plan approval.

A look at three of the approved Elk River logging plans;

Turkey Foot- Priority Level 0
#00-259 East of the North Fork Elk Marbled Murrelet Conservation Area. Contains some residual Old Growth Redwoods. Was “grandfathered” in which means it was approved before a certain date (that I currently can't recall).

Turkeyback Thin- Priority Level 3
#01-004 Adjacent to North Fork Elk MMCA. May contain residual Old Growth Redwoods.

Below15 Thin- Priority Level 1
#02-005 North of Elkheart Complex covering relatively large area of residual Old Growth Redwoods


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