Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap

tel (707) 877-3551 - fax 877:1861 - msg: 877-3405 - ndevall@mcn.org - P.O. Box 106, Elk, CA 95432


Re: THP 1-97-352 MEN November 25, 1997

Tom Osipowich
California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
135 Ridgway Avenue/P.O. Box 670
Santa Rosa, CA 95402 and via fax to (707) 576-2275

Dear Mr. Osipowich:

I am writing to follow-up on the site visit that occurred November 19, 1997, to the Big Tree Creek area in Greenwood Creek watershed (THP 1-97-352 MEN), and to request a meeting with you regarding this timber harvest plan.

We were disappointed that you could not attend the site visit, as we understood you would be there. The CDF person who came, Jim Bawcom, was the inspector who originally approved this plan and whose cursory review of the issues led to such community concern in the first place. That Mr. Bawcom still approves of this plan is hardly a comfort to the community. That he came unprepared to explain certain questionable practices in this plan is cause for further concern, as it connotes a biasness.

A meeting with you is necessary in order to discuss those concerns that Mr. Bawcom was not prepared to address, and to discuss several other questions that both Mr. Bawcom and L-P personnel told us could only be answered by you.

I am presenting these questions to you in the general context of Louisiana Corporation's recent announcement of the sale of all of its northern California timber lands and most of its facilities--an event that raises additional questions about THP 352. Concerning this announcement of the L-P sale, CDF Director Richard Wilson stated the following:

"It's sad, but it really should be no huge surprise. Everybody knew they were cutting themselves out of business."
--CDF Director Richard Wilson, The Press Democrat, 10/28/97
According to the California State Board of Forestry, if a timber harvest plan submitter follows the Board's Forest Practice rules under "Option C," the result will be "maximum sustained production of high quality timber products" as mandated in the Forest Practice Act, or at least "maximum sustained production" of some kind of timber products--wood chips, paper pulp- as permitted by the Board of Forestry in their own interpretation of "high quality."

THP 1-97-352 was submitted as an "Option C" plan. Given CDF Director Wilson's judgement that L-P has been "cutting themselves out of business," I think it is fair to ask: Is this current clearcutting plan, THP 352, filed under the Option C rule, part of the process of "cutting themselves out of business"? Does THP 352 represent sustainable logging? Or is it the final parting blow to a watershed that has been unsustainably logged for many years?

How can Louisiana Pacific have "cut themselves out of business" using Option C? What about Board of Forestry assurances that Option C rules guarantee sustainability? How are we to view this statement of Director Wilson, faced, as we are, with yet another logging plan of L-P, filed under Option C rules?

We feel that these general questions about long term sustainability and about the Forest Practice rules need to be answered before THP 352 can be approved. In the Alternatives section of THP 352, the plan submitter states: "The landowner is not interested in selling the property proposed for harvest..." (p. 32). In light of the new information that L-P is, indeed, planning to sell all of its timber lands and most of its mills and facilities, questions about sustainability become even more acute. Such questions are pertinent to THP 352 since THP 352 itself, in the Alternatives section, raises the issues of supplying the mills and keeping the business going as the sole justification for the THP.

Our specific questions about THP 352 that still remain after the site visit of Nov. 19, are listed and explained below. The questions and comments are based upon reports from the following local field inspectors who were present as invited members of the inspection team:


In addition to Mr. Petty and Ms. Stenberg, those present on the November 19 site visit are as follows:


1. How was the average stand age of 65 years determined, particularly that of Unit 1? What is the basis of CDF's apparent acceptance of this average stand age? Does CDF have access to the formula and data by which the stand age was determined? Has CDF evaluated the accuracy of the data, and the reliability and acceptibility of the method?

On the site visit, we asked how L-P's plan writer, Mr. Garvey, determined the average age of the stand (for purposes of qualifying for a clearcut under Option C rules). Our concern has to do with the formula and data that went into Mr. Garvey's unusual "basal area mean weighted age method" of determining stand age. We say "unusual" because none of the other foresters, including CDF foresters, whom we have consulted has ever heard of it.

CDF's Jim Bawcom did not come prepared to core trees to test the method. When asked about it, he couldn't remember exactly how many plots were used. He admitted to relying on what Mr. Garvey told him of the method.

Ms. Stenberg pointed out that Unit 1 is comprised of young tanoak forest with a few, possibly 60 year old conifers in the WLPZ and on the ridge, and that there is insufficient timber in Unit 1 to make an average stand age of 65 years. She asked different members of the inspection team to point out the trees that were used to achieve an average 65 year stand age, and no one could do so. Mr. Garvey did not give a clear explanation of whether or not he averaged Unit 1 with the other older units, or how, indeed, he can claim a 65 years old stand age for Unit 1. He stated that he could not answer the following question: How many trees were cored in Unit 1?

We have requested of L-P's Tom Thompson that the formula and data for the stand age be provided to CDF and thus to us. If this request is not granted, we would like to know on what basis Mr. Bawcom can confirm a stand age of 65 years for Unit 1 of this plan? Does he have access to the formula and data that were used? Is he--and are you--merely accepting Mr. Garvey's word on this critical question?

Mr. Bawcom stated that the "basal area mean weighted age method" of determining the average stand age is a method that has been approved by CDF. Where and when did CDF approve this method? Is the approval documented? Can the public access this documentation? Do you approve of this method, and of how the method was used in this case?

2. During the site visit, Mr. Kendrick Petty of the Elk County Water District Board of Directors, pointed out that there are several stumps in the vicinity of this plan, of approximately 100 year old trees, that show a distinct change in the size of the tree rings around 1947, when the second wave of heavy logging took place. The tree rings become markedly tighter after this date. This cumulative effect has never been noted or discussed in Greenwood Creek THPs. What it may mean is that the microclimate of the Big Tree Creek area was significantly impacted by heavy logging in the 1940s, and that the trees are now severely restricted in their growth potential. It would seem to us quite critical to investigate this long term impact, in evaluating yet another clearcutting plan in this area.

Studies of fog drip (by Michael Morford, for instance) indicate that trees can accumulate up to 30% of the moisture in a watershed on their needles, leaves and limbs--moisture that is otherwise lost to the watershed. Clearcutting removes this reserve of water-accumulating foliage. What are the long term effects on timber productivity and on water quantity?

This important question is neither asked nor answered, in the THP or in the SYP. It is of vital concern to the ECWD, as well as to the future of the timber industry in this area. How can you approve yet another clearcutting plan--with L-P "cutting themselves out of business"--without, at long last, addressing the cumulative effects of overcutting?

Mr. Petty pointed out, during the site visit, that Elk County Water District concerns for water quality and water quantity cannot be disconnected from other timber harvest issues. A change in the microclimate is a good example of his point. The water that the town of Elk depends upon is created by an entire complex ecosystem that includes wildlife, fish, previous logging history, cumulative effects, road and hillslope erosion, forest composition and many other elements. These complex matters cannot be reduced to merely checking road erosion points or WLPZ protection. Neither CDF's Jim Bawcom nor Regional Water Quality's Elmer Dudik addressed these important cumulative effects issues.

A full discussion of these issues--which might be occasioned by the upcoming public consideration of L-P's Sustained Yield Plan--needs to take place before any further clearcutting is allowed in this watershed, and most especially a clearcutting plan such as THP 352 which announces the SYP goal of additional, intense clearcutting over a ten year period.



3.
An important component of this plan--and one that was discussed on the field trip--is replanting. Indeed, the justification for clearcutting Unit 1 is to remove the young tanoaks and to replant with conifers, according to L-P's Tom Schultz (although at another moment, he indicated that the tanoak might have monetary value to L-P). On the site visit, we asked how L-P's replanting efforts will be better than the failed replanting efforts of Masonite Corporation back in 1979, in THP 1-79-062M, after Masonite clearcut 1,337 acres. L-P personnel--Gerald Garvey and Tom Schultz, I believe--questioned whether Masonite clearcut the area, and questioned whether Masonite replanted, but did not answer the question: How will L-P succeed where Masonite failed?

If Masonite failed to replant the area, then either CDF's Ross Johnson lied in THP 1-79 062M about the replanting, or was lied to by Masonite, and/or CDF failed to follow up on the replanting. We therefore add to the question, "How will L-P improve on Masonite's replanting efforts?" another question: "On what basis does CDF believe that L-P will replant, and how and when will CDF monitor the replanting?"

L-P's Tom Schultz stated that L-P chose to call THP 352 a "clearcut" in order to give itself five years to meet stocking standards. (The alternative categories require immediate stocking.) In saying this, Mr. Schultz stated that he was "putting everything out there on the table." If this logging plan is not really a clearcut, why is CDF allowing it to be called a clearcut, and thereby allowing such a generous replanting period? How will CDF enforce the stocking standard on this plan, five years down the line, with the new owner?

Tom Schultz discussed the Fashauer property replanting effort by L-P. After explaining why the first replanting effort failed, he said, of the newer replanting, "They're looking really good...we were surprised." Many people in this community who have driven by the Fashauer property replanting have noted the poor success of the replanting. What is the success rate of the replanting--both the first effort and the second? Does CDF agree with the reasons for failure of the first replanting?

4. We requested that a wild life biologist and a fisheries biologist be present for this Nov. 19 inspection. All of our questions regarding both site specific and cumulative impacts on the Coho salmon and steelhead fishery, and on other wildlife, could only be answered on a tentative basis by those present. Do you intend to approve this plan without a wildlife biologist and a fisheries biologist review of the following questions?

a. Are the mitigations in this plan adequate for the protection and recovery of the coho salmon in Greenwood Creek and its tributary Big Tree Creek?

b. Why weren't the President's Forest Plan stream protection no-cut zones considered as an alternative? (600 feet-Class I, 300 feet-Class II, and 100 feet-Class III, from the 100 year flood plain; or alternatively, a forumla using the lengths of site potential trees.)

c. What sort of fish are present in the two ponds near Unit 1? Rainbow trout? Steelhead? Coho? What evidence is there that the ponds are man-made? What evidence is there that the ponds are natural spring-fed ponds? When previous logging plans disturbed the stream from these ponds that flows into Greenwood Creek, did they also disrupt Coho or steelhead migration?

d. The THP proposes to clearcut part of an existing wildlife corridor, in Units 3 and 7, that is contiguous with other wildlife corridor forest on top of Cliff Ridge. What impact will this clearcutting have on existing wildlife, including threatened and endangered species? Was the survey for Spotted Owl adequate for protection of the species? Was a Marbled Murrelet survey done? If so, who did it, and were the survey protocols and procedures up to acceptable standards (say, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service standards)? The cumulative impacts statements in the THP on threatened and endangered species and species of special concern seem sloppy, slap-dash and in some cases illogical and plain wrong (Goshawk habitat, for instance). No listed cavity nesters and no listed plants were mentioned (hundreds of species altogether). Is it wise to wipe out 90+ acres of wildlife habitat without taking very special care not to impact any listed or candidate species?

e. Is there an osprey nest up on the ridge between THP 352 and THP 042? ECWD Water Board member Kendrick Petty found strong evidence of one. Both Mr. Petty and Ms. Stenberg asked the other inspection team members to investigate this possible nest. Water Quality's Elmer Dudik said that, although he is a biologist, he was not on the inspection in that capacity. Neither he, nor CDF's Jim Bawcom, nor the L-P inspectors would investigate the potential nest. There were four RPFs present, including CDFs, all of whom refused to investigate. This situation would seem to require that a qualified wildlife biologist be called in.

5. The THP proposes to clearcut part of an existing wildlife corridor on top of Cliff Ridge, in Units 3 and 7, and relies on the SYP to then create new wildlife corridors and "late seral" areas at other locations some time in the future. ECWD Board member Kendrick Petty asked, why clearcut an existing wildlife corridor? Why not preserve this wildlife corridor? The theoretical wildlife corridors proposed in the SYP have not been evaluated by independent biologists, nor by agency biologists so far as we know. The public has not had a chance to comment on them. CDF has not approved them. Are the proposed SYP wildlife corridors, referenced in this THP, adequate for the protection and recovery of endangered and threatened species, and species of special concern? This critical question needs to be answered before existing wildlife corridors are destroyed.

In connection with this wildlife corridor, Mr. Petty has a new set of mounted photographs which he wishes you to review, regarding the wildlife and aesthetic values of the Cliff Ridge tree line. The photographs illustrate the importance of the upper areas of Units 3 and 7 as part of a contiguous forest environment of several miles in length. The shape of this forest, long and thin, is comparable to the wildlife corridors that L-P SYP proposes to create in riparian areas and in long thin strips over the ridge, some time in the future. Nature itself, and history, have already created such a corridor. The beauty of this existing wildlife area needs to be considered. It has special aesthetic and historical value to the community.

The removal of Unit 6 was welcome news in this community. However, since Units 3 and 7 are part of that same, contiguous Cliff Ridge wildlife corridor, serious questions still remain about wildlife protections, long term planning and sustainability, and aesthetic and historic values. It would be futile to hold a discussion of these issues after the trees are cut. This discussion, which has SYP aspects to it, must be take place now, before the plan is approved. The THP itself raises the issue of the SYP in numerous instances within the text. (We counted 43 references.)

6. During the site visit, Mr. Kendrick Petty asked L-P's Tom Schultz about the dark pink areas on the SYP Map 15 ("Silviculture for All Periods), which are designated as "late seral." Specifically, Mr. Petty asked, does the dark pink mean that [late seral is] there, or will be there in a hundred years? Tom Schultz replied as follows:

"...we're still having problems with that because that was generated by a computer and we still can't figure out what in-put it used to go ahead and generate that. We go out in these areas that are shown as late seral stage and there are no big trees....I'm having trouble within the company on those areas and determining why they identified them that way."
Despite this unreliability of SYP data, THP 352 refers to the SYP extensively, and uses the SYP to mitigate this clearcutting plan in at least three instances, as follows:

p. 41: Coho salmon. "The prescribed road mitigations and the ongoing road maintenance program throughout the watershed will reduce the potential for road related sediment delivery to watercourses. Fish habitat improvement measures will be implemented as discussed in L-P's Mitigation and Monitoring Plan for Coho Salmon (Appendix C of Volume 2, Sustained Yield Plan: Coastal Mendocino County)."

p. 45: Marbled Murrelet. "L-P Resource Management Guidelines proposed in the SYP will increase late seral and snag habitat components and thereby increase potential murrelet habitat."

p. 49: "ADDENDUM ITEM #35 - OTHER PROVISIONS FOR WILDLIFE PROTECTION." This section of the THP refers specifically to "The Forest Resources Management Guidelines developed by Louisiana Pacific for their recently submitted Sustained Yield Plan (SYP)" which have been incorporated into the proposed THP "where applicable." This selected application of SYP Guidelines in the THP includes such matters as "late seral stage forest, snags, large woody debris (LWD), and hardwoods." Under "Late Seral Stage Forest Habitat," the THP discusses SYP Guidelines for the recruitment of late seral stage characteristics "within approximately 10%-15% of the area of [L-P's] managed forest lands.." The THP further states that, "These late seral stands will be located in special management areas primarily along riparian corridors, but also in some upslope areas," and states that these areas will be managed for "multi-species stands (69%-70%) with live conifers greater than 21" DBH, minimum canopy closure of 60%-70% composed of trees with a mean DBH of 24" or more," and other such characteristics.
THP 352 is clearly using these SYP Guidelines, and other SYP documents, as mitigations of the current clearcutting plan. For instance, in item no. 1 above, protection of the Coho salmon, the THP states that "the prescribed road mitigations and the ongoing road maintenance program throughout the watershed will reduce the potential for road related sediment delivery to watercourses." (my emphasis) The "ongoing road maintenance program throughout the watershed" is thus given great weight as a major Coho mitigation.

In reading this sentence, one cannot easily disentangle the "prescribed road mitigations" within the plan area from "the ongoing road maintenance program throughout the watershed." The two things are meant to be read as one co-mingled effort, which has the effect of distracting the reader from the fact of additional road construction which will certainly not benefit the Coho salmon, and from the details of the actual road mitigations in the THP and their adequacy. Further, the THP never addresses the cumulative impact of this THP's new road construction with the two miles of new road construction in the adjacent THP 1-96-042 MEN. The SYP mitigation is a ruse--a proposal for some future time--which has not been evaluated or approved by CDF.



The THP goes on to reference the SYP "Mitigation and Monitoring Plan for Coho Salmon" as yet a third vital element of Coho protection. The total effect is to give the impression that quite a lot is being done to protect the Coho, re: roads, when, in fact, what is really happening is a lot of new road construction in the watershed which will not benefit the Coho.

Given the THP's reliance on these SYP documents to give the appearance of mitigating on going impacts from new road construction, clearcutting and other management activities, CDF is obligated to answer the following questions before approving this plan:

a. Has CDF evaluated L-P's "ongoing road maintenance program throughout the watershed"? Will this program "reduce the potential for road related sediment delivery to watercourses"? What will be the cumulative effect of new road construction in this plan, in the adjacent THP 1-96-042, and in other plans throughout the watershed? On balance, will the entire program of new road construction and mitigation reduce, or increase, sediment delivery to watercourses? How will this information be obtained?

(Note: Jim Bawcom stated that he has not reviewed L-P's watershed-wide road maintenance program, except for areas of current THPs that he has inspected. He therefore is not well enough informed to evaluate what is proposed in the THP as a major Coho mitigation--that is, the road maintenance program "throughout the watershed.")

b. Has CDF reviewed and evaluated L-P's SYP "Forest Resources Management Guidelines," the SYP "Mitigation and Monitoring Plan for Coho Salmon," and other such documents that are referenced in the THP? If so, where is that review/evaluation documented for the public?
c. On the field trip, Tom Schultz described the SYP as a "work-in-progress." If the SYP is a "work-in-progress" and not a complete and final document, how is CDF or the general public to evaluate the SYP mitigations that are referenced in this THP?

7. An additional comment of Mr. Schultz on the SYP was this: "We're finding some problems with making it operable." Is CDF permitting the SYP to become operable before the SYP is subject to public comment in its final and complete form, undergoes a public hearing and is approved by CDF? This is a major problem we have with THP 352--it is an implementation of the SYP without a public hearing or approval. The THP describes itself as a expression of the SYP and as an implementation of the SYP goal of clearcutting 32% of L-P lands over a ten year period. Yet this conversion of Greenwood Creek forest to "even-aged management" has had no public discussion. Does CDF approve of this conversion? How is it possible to review THP 352 except in the context of the SYP?

8. If the SYP is approved by CDF prior to the sale of L-P lands, is the SYP transferable and obligatory to the new owners? If the SYP is not approved by the time L-P sells its timber lands, will the new owners have any obligation at all to the SYP?

Richard Wilson has stated publically that the SYP is not transferable and that CDF has wasted $200,000 of the taxpayers' money in reviewing it. Jim Bawcom and L-P personnel stated, on this site visit, that it is transferable, although L-P's Tom Schultz used the careful wording that the SYP will be "available" to the new owners. What is your opinion of the transferablility of the SYP to the new owners, and of the obligation of the new owners to carry out the SYP? What is your opinion based upon?

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the necessity for a meeting with you regarding THP 352. I would also like to request that the meeting be in Elk, if possible. I will be in New York in the beginning of December, and will be returning and available for a meeting between December 11 and 16. If you need to get in touch with someone while I'm gone, please contact Anna Marie Stenberg at (707) 964-9109 (stenberg@wco.com), or Mary Pjerrou (707) 877-3405 (pirohuck@mcn.org).

Sincerely,





Norman de Vall, Co-Chair

cc: Tom Thompson, Richard Wilson







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