Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Redwood Park Closures May Leave Ancient Redwoods Vulnerable

The closure of four State Parks that protect Old-Growth Redwood groves is especially troubling in light of increasing poaching of Old-Growth Redwood logs and burls. The poaching has already been happening in parks that are regularly patrolled and have many visitors. What will happen when the parks are closed to visitors and rangers aren't around?

Of major local concern is Grizzly Creek State Park. Wikipedia puts it this way, "The park is so secluded due to its location off the major regional artery, US 101, that on a weekday a visitor can be the only person in any one of the several groves."

Even with the drop in overall lumber value the price of Old-Growth Redwood remains high at around $5 per board ft. A board foot measures 1ft. by 1ft. and 1in. thick. A 6 ft. long 2 by 6" contains 6 board feet. With the depletion of standing Old-Growth Redwood trees on private lands comes an increased demand for Old-Growth lumber obtained through unconventional means.

The means I'm aware of are as follows; salvaging of beams from old structures, permitted salvaging of logs that were cut many years ago (sometimes over 100) and left behind, and poaching which could mean anything from illegally salvaging logs to the cutting of burls and trees. A few years ago in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, two moderately sized redwood trees were cut down just for burls that were growing high up on the trees according to a park official.

These parks should remain open for the mutual benefit of the forest, the local economy and park visitors.

From the Contra Costa Times-
Last year, 6,514,989 people visited the 48 state parks that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed for closure. That's more than the combined annual home attendance for the Giants, 49ers, Raiders and A's.

San Francisco Giants 3,223,202
Oakland A's 1,921,844
San Francisco 49ers 595,207
Oakland Raiders 467,964
Total: 6,208,271


At 3/26/2008 10:35:00 AM, Anonymous Bolithio said...

Perhaps if the State Parks took a more utilitarian approach to managing their parks they wouldn't be facing budget deficits. I agree it is troubling. The attendance stats are interesting. That is a lot of people. How many of them would pay a dollar to enter the park?

The state parks spend tons of money filling useless positions like landscape architects and tons of biologic positions draining away from there budget. (Why have these positions when there management policy is no-management?) There refusal to do anything useful with downed trees is even more ridiculous. Check this out:

A few summers ago me and some friends had a party at one of those group camp grounds out of Bull Flat - is it Prairie Creek? Cant remember - its the one just past Rockefeller grove on the way to Honeydew. Anyways at the main camp ground they sold us firewood. It was like 15$ to fill the back of a pick-up. Guess what it was? Thats right OLD GROWTH redwood. I almost @#$* my self. It was shingle quality. They guy was like: "Ya well - they dont want anyone using the wood when the big trees fall so they cut it up..."

Wow. That my friends is a waste. Maybe there would be less poaching if they had a lottery for downed burl? It would also generate revenue for the park. Not to mention the tons of second growth acreage they have acquired. They want to manage for Late Succession. Thats fine. But whats wrong with active management (logging) to not only get to that state faster (under story thinning) but also generate income?

The state park system is a classic example of how bureaucracy is turning humans into Vogans (ref hitchhikers guide to the galaxy)

At 3/30/2008 12:30:00 PM, Blogger John Doe #86 said...

I caught the Vogan reference. I agree that it's crazy to sell Oldgrowth Redwood as firewood.I think the wood that they take is usually a section from a tree that has fallen across the road during storms. I thought they used the high quality wood for building park structures like fences and buildings. I've heard that all Ca state parks are mandated to use split Oldgrowth Redwood for it's fences due it's rustic look, regardless if it is a redwood park or not. I also heard that some people have stolen the fences and sold them back to the park.

I agree that some areas in Humboldt Redwoods State Park should be thinned to prevent a catastrophic fire. These areas were clearcut and have grown back so densely that they would probably burn to the ground. (Prairie Creek is in Redwood National Park, I think you were at Albee Creek) The areas I have in mind are not redwood however so it probably wouldn't make any money for the park. They'd have a ton of firewood though. I don't see how they can justify selling oldgrowth as firewood but not as lumber. I'm don't think they go around collecting down wood to keep it out of the hands of poachers.

I believe that there should be some areas of forest that are not logged at all. It makes perfect sense to me that these would be the largest remaining oldgrowth areas like Humboldt Redwoods. From a forestry perspective, how are we to recognize good forestry without a control group?

I don't really agree that there should be an entry fee to go into a park. The camping fees are bad enough. Maybe the state should aquire more second or third growth redwood lands and generate revenue with sustainable forestry. They could also have guided wilderness hikes or canopy walkways.

At 4/01/2008 12:45:00 PM, Anonymous Bolithio said...

I believe that there should be some areas of forest that are not logged at all. It makes perfect sense to me that these would be the largest remaining oldgrowth areas like Humboldt Redwoods.

Oh ya - most definitely. I think most sane people agree with this.

From a forestry perspective, how are we to recognize good forestry without a control group?

First you have to define "good". That is the biggest challenge. Personally I do my best to rely on available science and published studies to aid my decisions. There is of course the personal bias - but I do o.k. at keeping that in check. From a policy standpoint I would offer this:

CA has enacted the Forest Practice Act, Water Quality Act, CESA, CEQA, etc etc... through these legislative rules, practices have been defined as "best" and "adverse" and so on. Words like "significant", "measurable", "sustained", and the like are used to define timber management practices. So from a CA state policy standpoint - assuming that your project is using Best Management Practices to the greatest extent feasible, and is maintaining or improving the Sustained production of the timber land, AND is not creating or adding to any significant ongoing adverse effects to the environment... then by default the permitting process should ensure good forestry.

Currently the control group consists of: CDF, WQ, DFG, USFWS, CGS, and the Public. Occasionally you may also see NMFS or the army corp get involved - but thats rare up here.

While a philosophical debate on what is "good" will most likely never be reconciled - i guess there will always be the agree to disagree thing...

I really like the canopy walkway idea - that would be rad. Still - if 6 million people come to these parks is a dollar person too much?

Oh and the thing about the state acquiring land to manage for income? Have you heard of the Jackson State Forest? The state used to do this - but thanks to people like these: http://www.forestsforever.org/jacksonpage.html
They will be tied up in lawsuit for the rest of eternity.

Well at least another second growth forest (aka ecological gem) is being preserved!


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