Sunday, March 02, 2008

Newsies Need More Fact Checking

Looks as though a couple big city reporters to the south need to do a little more homework before reporting on the Redwoods. The following topics are very serious and I'm glad they are receiving attention but I think they merit a little more accuracy.


In an L.a. Times opinion piece, Patt Morrison looks at the history of Pacific Lumber and Maxxam. She writes about the hostile takeover of PL by Maxxam CEO Charles Hurwitz and the decline of the logging industry as he ran the company into the ground.

Unfortunately she starts off the whole article wih this statement-

"If things had gone according to plan, this year of grace 2008 would have been the year that the last privately owned virgin, old-growth California redwoods -- those older-than-Shakespeare, older-than-Jesus trees -- got axed."

That is a drastic oversimplification. Though Maxxam/PL probably has the largest remaining privately held groves of Old-growth Redwoods, there are other privately held pristine Redwood groves in California. Those that I know of are owned by ranchers in Mendocino County and in the Big Sur-Monterey area.

Near the end of the we find this paragraph-

"What could bankruptcy change? Options run from selling land for McMansions to an environmental buyout. The most plausible plan would save jobs and trees by restoring the careful logging practices of old. "

Careful logging practices of old? That's a hoot.


SF Chron: Increasing Wood Poaching in Redwood Parks

"Lumber thieves are stealing an ever-increasing amount of old-growth redwood from state and national parks, and rangers are having a hard time keeping up with the wily rip-off artists."

This story from reporter Peter Fimrite is very troubling. He details the theft of Redwood lumber from our public Parklands. This serious story deserves it's own post but I wanted to clear up one thing.

He makes the following statement-
"Most of the downed wood has been stolen from the Redwood National and State Parks, a vast forest of coastal redwood trees stretching along the coast from Willits (Mendocino County) to Crescent City (Del Norte County)."

In fact, most of this stretch is privately owned by lumber companies such as Mendocino Redwood, Maxxam/Pacific Lumber and Simpson/Green Diamond, as well as smaller landowners. The parks (pictured in green) are relatively few and far between. Fimrites statement fails to convey the scarcity of the remaining Old-growth Redwood forests.

Maybe I'm nitpicking but I think accuracy in reporting is important.

12 Comments:

At 3/03/2008 09:55:00 AM, Anonymous Bolithio said...

LOL I feel your frustration here. These articles also feed a much much larger base than our media. That means that major policy decisions which are made closer to the population centers are largely influenced by a mis-informed public.

One concept that even most people round here dont seem to understand is that those so called old-growth reserves (the murrlet ones) will NEVER be logged. It does not matter who owns them, if the ECP expires, or what ever. The only thing that will deem these "loggable" would be the de-listing of the murrlet (never going to happen).

So what these articles do is help people rally behind spending tax dollars to purchase these forests, absorb them into public land (state parks or whatever) for huge money. This will not only give hurwitz more money - but will waste money protecting something that doesn't need protection. (i.e. it ALREADY ID PROTECTED FOOOLS) P[l]aying right into "the man's" hands.

 
At 3/03/2008 01:40:00 PM, Blogger XANTAR!!!!! said...

Murrelet habitats(MMCA's) ARE logged during the winter, it's called an incidental take permit.

Section 6.1.2.2.2 of the HCP "specifically says in our HCP that `second growth stand components ... are to be managed to buffer old-growth and residual habitat'," Bullwinkel said. Management alternatives outlined include limited harvesting. (from http://www.northcoastjournal.com/112901/news1129.html)

"In fact, in order to meet minimum legal standards under the ESA, and HCP must "minimize and mitigate...to the maximum extent practicable" any damage to endangered species and their habitat. The only justification provided in the HCP for directly killing nesting murrelets is that Pacific Lumber might not make as much money by waiting until winter to log the occupied areas."
(http://www.wildcalifornia.org/pages/page-137)

I guess everything, including the truth, is open to one's interpretation.

 
At 3/03/2008 04:03:00 PM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

PL tried to log in one of the MMCA's a few years back (Allen Creek Grove) but was that was headed off by a lawsuit from EPIC.

The MMCA's (marbled murrelet conservation areas) were stands specifically designated for no logging to occur for 50 years after the signing of the so-called Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in 1998 or 99 (don't recall right now).

The groves of ancient trees (confirmed Marbled Murrelet habitat) that have been logged since then were considered sacrifice zones by the government under the same HCP. PL was given a permit to kill, harass and destroy the habitat of this endangered species as long as it was incidental to the logging operations.

 
At 3/03/2008 04:04:00 PM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

The permit is called an "incidental take permit" btw. Take meaning harass, kill, etc.

 
At 3/13/2008 08:37:00 AM, Anonymous Bolithio said...

Even with the ITP there operations in and within these "real" OG stands are nil. Im not talking about random residual or pre-dominate trees occurring across the landscape. Adjacent stands don't cont either. Remember - MM habitat - in the eyes of DFG is a large tree with large limb platforms. I have heard them argue that any large limby tree with a potential habitat is technically habitat and there fore should be protected...

So sure, you have an ITP as part of your HCP. All this is going buy you is the ability to log near MM stands, or take potential habitat in the form of isolated pockets of larger more decedent pre-dominate redwoods.

If they were allowed to do more under this permit, dont you think that they would have CC their remaining "real" OG stands?

Instead we see them trying to sell them in these crazy proposals. What I was trying to say is that a common trend in the media is to fail to realize that you cant just go and log a MM occupied stand. With or without a ITP.

 
At 3/14/2008 09:44:00 AM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

You're right that there is no logging allowed in the MMCA's these days.

However, the ITP has allowed logging of significant old-growth redwood groves that rivaled the size and quality of some of the MMCA's. In particular, there was a grove of magnificent residual old-growth upstream from Grizzly Creek State Park that Maxxam/PL logged about five or six years ago. The logging plan area was close to the size of the nearby park.

 
At 3/14/2008 09:48:00 AM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

Forgot to mention, it was confirmed by regulatory agencies that Marbled Murrelets nested in that grove upstream from Grizzly Creek. Forest defenders call that grove "Avalon" because it was often cloaked in mist and fog that seemed to emanate from within it.

 
At 3/14/2008 09:48:00 AM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/17/2008 04:05:00 PM, Blogger XANTAR!!!!! said...

MRC's Option A from their site states:

Option A

Wildlife Habitat Old Growth

MRC will not harvest old growth as defined below:

Terrestrial – Un-entered stands of more than 20 acres.

– Stands of 5 acres or more with an average of 6 old growth
trees per acre or more (old growth trees defined as trees over 250
years old and 48 inches d.b.h. or larger) .

– Individual residual old growth trees with significant wildlife
value (eg. large limbs, cavities, nesting platforms, limited available
structures).

I have to ask:

-Can the MRC log "entered" stands containing old-growth?

(Most TPZ's have been entered, in fact, I'd like to see an unentered stand that is not a park or refuge)

-Can the MRC log old growth stands less than 20 acres?

(Most of the old growth stands left in TPZs are very small residual groves)

-Can the MRC log stands of old-growth that are more than five acres containing 5 or less old growth trees per acre?

(An acre is a very small piece of land, how many old growth trees can you fit in an acre? To achieve this requirement, 30 OG trees would have to exist on 5 acres. Furthurmore, residual Old growth trees and groves are extremely rare on TPZs, and the chance of finding 6 or more OG trees on one acre is extremly low).

-Who determines the "significant wildlife value" of residual old growth trees? (Besides wildlife surveyors, who else but the MRC?)

Our old growth may be safer if MRC takes over, but they better get up, walk, and clump together in a central location. Saftey in numbers, right?

 
At 3/17/2008 09:34:00 PM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

Good points. The more I learn about Mendocino Redwood the less I want them around these parts.

 
At 3/18/2008 12:51:00 PM, Anonymous Bolithio said...

I have to ask:

-Can the MRC log "entered" stands containing old-growth?

Yes; when they dont meet the definitions you provided above.

(Most TPZ's have been entered, in fact, I'd like to see an unentered stand that is not a park or refuge)

Its true. Your are going to have to dig deep for those. Most likely they will exist within inholdings on national forests.


-Can the MRC log old growth stands less than 20 acres?

Yes, assuming the stands dont meet the 5 or more requirements you posted above.

(Most of the old growth stands left in TPZs are very small residual groves)

These groves may not be considered "stands" then.

-Can the MRC log stands of old-growth that are more than five acres containing 5 or less old growth trees per acre?

Yes. But it sounds like they will retain any decedent trees with wildlife value.

(An acre is a very small piece of land, how many old growth trees can you fit in an acre? To achieve this requirement, 30 OG trees would have to exist on 5 acres.

Hmmm. Don't understand the second part. An acre is 200x200 ft. According to the L&P stand tables - a 100y stand on a moderate site will have an average of 150 trees per acre. So if we are going to use the definition of OG as provided above (250y and <48" DBH), than you could feasibly have around the same number (150). I bet cheatum grove has a ton of trees to the acre. (70+)?

That is not to say that this occurs on PALCO lands (or anywhere else) currently - but the question was how many could you hypothetically fit...


Furthurmore, residual Old growth trees and groves are extremely rare on TPZs, and the chance of finding 6 or more OG trees on one acre is extremly low).

That is not necessarily true. I see pre-dominate OG alot. Not to say that it is common, its not, but it is scattered across the landscape. The good news is that - in general - these trees are rarely worth harvesting due to defect. In other words there usually is a reason they are still there.


-Who determines the "significant wildlife value" of residual old growth trees? (Besides wildlife surveyors, who else but the MRC?)

CA Department of Fish and Game. Also CDF will chime in on this - but will leave the ultimate ruling up to DFG.


Our old growth may be safer if MRC takes over, but they better get up, walk, and clump together in a central location. Saftey in numbers, right?

Who knows. I think OG is a non-issue. The laws and current framework for enforcement and regulation of timber harvesting will prevent any detrimental effects of logging to OG. Scattered residual trees without wildlife values are not significant in the whole of the landscape. The option A seems like a good approach.

 
At 3/19/2008 10:42:00 AM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

Went to the Mendo Redwood presentation yesterday. After the whole thing, I talked to MRC Chairman Sandy Dean who told me that any tree that fits their definition of Old-Growth will not be cut down for lumber. They may cut old-growth to build a road or if they consider it a "hazard" but they leave it there. Otherwise, he said anyone who cuts or marks old-growth for logging wouldn't last long at the company. If he's telling the whole truth then that is great news.

We'll see what happens...

 

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