Bear Creek Logging Plan Threatens Water Quality, Marbled Murrlet Habitat
Pacific Lumbers "Pitchfork" logging plan (#1-06-098) in Bear Creek will go to second review again this Thursday. There have been major concerns by the Water Quality Board over threats that this plan poses to water quality. The Board has raised major concens not only about this specific logging plan, but about all future logging in this watershed. The proposed cutting on steep and unstable slopes in the "Pitchfork" plan is just another page in the history of irresponsible logging that has cumulatively impacted the watershed.
Bear Creek has seen high amounts of landsliding in recent years. Tons of sediment have been deposited in the creek bed burying salmon habitat and destroying the riparian zone along the creek. These "cumulative effects" are what concerns the Water Board the most.
In June the Water Board asked PL not to pursue the approval of any new logging plans in Bear, Jordan or Stitz creek. They wanted PL to wait until a plan to cleanup, minimize, and prevent (CMP) sediment discharge into the creeks was agreed upon. Without such a plan Water Board staff said there is no way for them to fully and adequately review any logging plans. The staff also pointed out that any THP [logging plan] that is approved in the meantime would have to be re-reviewed once a sediment CMP plan is in place. The sediment CMP plan does not yet exist. The Water Board has been trying to get PL to come up with such a plan since 2003. They can't issue waste discharge permits for any logging plan in Bear, Stitz or Jordan Creeks until this is resolved. Without a waste discharge permit for a logging plan PL cannot legally cut.
Aside from Water Board concerns, much of the plan area contains suitable Marbled Murrelet habitat that has not been adequately surveyed. These seabirds are nearing extinction yet Pacific Lumber continues to destroy their habitat. These birds nest exclusively in large old trees. According to the plan documents, the Murrelet habitat in "Pitchfork" is comprised of trees "100+ years" old with trunks up to 6 feet wide at the base.