Re: THP 1-97-352 MEN
This letter is written as a supplement to our letter of September 19, 1997, commenting upon THP 1-97-352 MEN. We would like to add three exhibits to our Public comment, and expand upon certain aspects of this timber harvest plan that were only briefly touched upon in our letter, due to the very short time allowed for review of a logging plan that, given its SYP implications, has the potential to negatively impact our watershed permanently. We also have new information.
THP 352 proposes to clearcut some of the last old growth trees in our watershed, the 150 to 200 year old Douglas Fir along the top of Cliff Ridge. The THP states, as one of its reasons for not considering this stand of trees to be a late seral/late succession forest that this stand is not so designated in L-P's Sustained Yield Plan. Apart from the curious logic of this statement, it would seem that the THP may be in error. In L-P's Map Atlas, on Map 15, there appears to be a small strip of dark pink just where these Douglas Fir are located on the THP map (and where they appear in aerial photos). Dark pink is designated as "late seral" in the legend of Map 15. Now it may be that L-P is not very serious about these designations of special treatment areas. Or it may be that L-P proposes to clearcut existing "late seral" forest, and start up young trees now for the growing of "late seral" forest later. But it would seem to us to be a reasonable procedure for CDF to review this map, and ask L-P what it means. The Gap Boycott and the rest of the Public also have a right to this information in order to conduct an adequate review of the THP. Is L-P going to clearcut an area it has designated as "late seral" in their SYP? What does this "late seral" designation mean? Why does the THP say that it is not "late seral"? Other reviewing agencies should also be apprised of the answers to these questions. The THP refers to the SYP 43 times, including this reference. Which references to the SYP are we to consider accurate and reliable?
We discovered this discrepancy between the THP and the SYP after second review, while reviewing the SYP maps and aerial photos. This discovery constitutes new information.
The first scoping session for L-P's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) recently occurred. We would like to state here that the long narrow strips of forest that L-P lays out in its SYP along the watercourses as wildlife habitat, and the few long narrow corridors over the ridges, is not sufficient habitat for many species, and will produce insufficient moisture and wind resistance for maintaining overall watershed health. The SYP does not qualify as a Habitat Conservation Plan, and has not been approved by the state. THP 352 should not be approved in the absence of an HCP, for THP 352 proposes to radically alter the ecology of the Big Tree Creek tributary without any guarantees about a balance created elsewhere in the watershed.
The first additional exhibit is the Letter of CDF's Ray Utterback to Tom Schultz of Louisiana Pacific on May 8, 1991. This letter should be considered as Exhibit T on our original list of attachments to our letter of September 19. (That list currently has no Exhibit T.) In this letter, Ray Utterback lays out the minimal elements of a cumulative impacts analysis. The letter was written with regard to the Albion River watershed, but is most certainly pertinent to Greenwood Creek watershed as well, particularly in the present circumstance, so many timber harvest plans later. Neither THP 352 nor its supporting document, the as yet unapproved Sustained Yield Plan, contains all of the information outlined by Mr. Utterback.
The second additional exhibit is two memos to the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap from Jesse Noell: Jesse Noell memo part no. 2 (four pages), and Jesse Noell memo part no. 3 (one). These memos are to be considered part of Exhibit Y of our letter of September 19, which contained the first part of the Jesse Noell memo. These memos state certain questions that we would like CDF to address in its consideration of THP 352. The four page memo asks questions about sediment delivery from winter operations, impacts on Coho spawning, impacts on the Marbled Murrelet, impacts from logging of old growth, seral habitat fragmentation, connectivity between stands, the alternative of restoring late successional forest habitat (particularly as regards the old growth Douglas Fir on Cliff Ridge), loss of fog drip through loss of large trees, the lack of data on water quality impacts, enforcement of the Basin Plan, and cumulative impacts on pools, gravels and other salmon-related impacts. Please consider all of the questions in this memo about these issues in reviewing THP 352.
Noell points out, in memo part no. 2 (four pages) that "Scientists say that more than one half the vegetative leaf area which existed in California forests is now gone. Oxygen production is about one half what it was one hundred years ago and atmospheric carbon production has doubled." Please address this and other large landscape issues as they relate to the forest practice of clearcutting. Is clearcutting appropriate today, with so much of the primeval forest gone in California and around the world? What will be the global impact not only of this clearcutting plan, but also of its embedded Sustained Yield Plan to clearcut 32% of L-P's Greenwood Creek watershed ownership over a ten-year period?
While the one-page memo was written in regard to Jordan Creek and the Eel River, we hereby repeat question nos. 1-3 as they apply to our watershed, in particular in regard to potential cumulative impacts on the Marbled Murrelet. This seabird/land nester has been documented in our watershed by State Fish and Game and by the Audobon Society, while yet our watershed affords very little welcome to this creature by way of commonly understood suitable habitat. Any potential habitat should therefore be preserved, and future potential habitat should be established. The clearcutting of relatively young redwoods in THP 352 without any guarantee of alternative habitat except for a narrow strip in the Class II riparian area, and while relying on SYP promises of habitat elsewhere in the watershed, would seem to pose serious jeopardy to this species. The SYP promises have not been properly evaluated or approved, and L-P is under no obligation to implement them. How will Marbled Murrelet habitat be preserved and created by this THP?
In addition, please answer the Noell Marbled Murrelet questions regarding recruitment of habitat, information in the plan and from consultations, breeding behavior and success in relation to landscape scale trends, the location and height of existing platforms, the slope position, drainage position and distance to the coast of existing structure, combined cumulative effects of this and other current THPs and operations that might jeopardize the existence of this species in our watershed, elimination of habitat that currently affords the potential for nesting, and elimination of stands that could become functional habitat within the 50-100 year window currently identified as critical to the recovery of the species. Noell's final question (no. 4) in the one-page memo should be re-stated as follows: Why is the review record and agency correspondence on L-P's Sustained Yield Plan for Greenwood Creek watershed not available for Public comment?
The final additional exhibit is a printout of excerpts from "Final Rule: Endangered and Threatened Species; Threatened Status for Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast Coho Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) of Coho Salmon," 62-FR-24588, 12 pages, from the homepage of the National Marine Fisheries Service. This NMFS document discusses the needs and condition of the Coho Salmon, logging impacts on Coho Salmon, and the deficiences of the California Forest Practice Rules for the protection and recovery of the species. Specifically, the NMFS states that:
"Most reviews [of current CFPRs] have shown that implementation and enforcement of the current rules are not adequate in protecting coho salmon or their habitats."
We would like CDF to consider this NMFS criticism of California Forest Practice Rules in reviewing THP 352, specifically in regard to the adequacy of the width of Class II and III stream protection zones, the adequacy of canopy cover in view of the logging of conifers in the Class IIIs, sediment production from clearcutting and roads, and monitoring of Coho habitat during and after operations.
Lastly, we wish to comment on L-P's economic rationale for the Silvicultural Prescription (p. 30, para. 1) and for its "Analysis Of Alternatives To This Proposed THP" (p. 32). The "intensive even-aged management" (clearcutting) that L-P proposes for this watershed in the SYP and in this THP is justified almost exclusively in economic terms. In the "Alternatives" section, no other rationale is given, and no alternative logging methods are discussed. L-P has no choice but to clearcut this portion of Greenwood Creek watershed in order to "supply those mills" (p. 32). In the Silvicultural Prescription, L-P states in the opening paragraph that L-P intends to produce a "reasonable rate of return on investment" by means clearcutting this watershed.
We don't know when such a rationale became a guide for plan approval by the State, but since L-P raises the issue of economics in such a pervasive way in this THP's rationale, we believe that it is entirely appropriate, if their rationale is to be accepted by CDF, that you, and the Public, have the opportunity to consider their definition of "reasonable rate of return on investment," just as surely as the Public and the PUC review the fees and rates charged by the PG&E.
When a company raises the issues of economics and profits as a reason for a plan program and approval, we believe that the State department whose responsibility it is to either approve, deny or modify the request, has the responsibility to fully understand and weigh whether or not the "return on investment" or profit is within the parameters of the Public interest.
To reach any conclusion in consideration of adequacy, we believe that L-P must provide to you, and to the Public, their figures and estimates of what constitutes a reasonable return on investment. Herein lies the linch pin of the plan and the reason for there being one at all, and CDF has as much responsibility to understand and comment on this "reasonableness" as any other component given in the plan.
Norman de Vall, Co-Chair
Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap Steering Committee
enc. List of attachments - amended, 1 p.
Ray Utterback letter 5/8/91 (Exhibit T), 6 p.
Jesse Noell memo part no. 2, 4 p., Jesse Noell Memo part no. 3, 1 p. (Exhibit Y)
NMFS "Final Rule..." - the Coho listing, 62-FR-24588," 12 p. (Exhibit AA).
List of Attachments - amended 9/22/97 Gap Boycott Letter of 9/19/97 Re: THP 1-97-352 MEN
A: ECWD letter to L-P 12/17/96
B: Gap Boycott letter to L-P 6/13/96
C: Gap Boycott letter to L-P 6/23/97
D: L-P Sustained Yield Plan maps (intro and 18 maps)
E: L-P SYP WWAS 84-Greenwood Creek, p. 1-46
F: 1. Superior Court case no. 60728
2. Superior Court case no. 60728
3. Superior Court case no. 60728
attachments: Acker A-L, Walsh A-H, Seekins A&B
G: letter of ECWD to Gary Brittner, California Board of Forestry, 12/30/96.
H: Petition to CDF (20 pages) and 2 front sheets
I: 31 site photographs nos. 6, 6a, 7a-d, 8a-f, 9a-c, 10a-b, 11, 12, 13a-b, 14, 15, 16, 17a-b, 18, 19, 20, and 22
J: 18 site photographs 1a-b, 2, 3a-b, 4a-d, 5, 5a-i
K: fold-out map of THP region sites - Maple Basin Rd. (appurtenant road), wet Coho crossings
L: THP 1-96-042 MEN
M: THP 1-96-042 appurtenant road map and Erosion Hazard Rating map
N: Second review of THP 1-97-352 MEN amended appurtenant road map
O: CDF refusal letter to Gap Boycott 9/16/97
P: EPIC homepage on Coho, 6 p.
Q: Video tape, Second Review 9/18/97
R: Sealed Bid Auction of L-P timberlands, 23 p.
S. Public comment on L-P Interior SYP: Dr. Fred Euphrat, 26 p., Dr. Allen Cooperrider, 17 p., Paul Carroll, Attorney at Law, 6 p.
T: Letter of CDF (Ray Utterback) to Tom Schultz (L-P) May 8, 1991, 6p.
U: Schoen Vs. Department of Forestry, 22 p.
V: Memo of the Week
W: Agencies internal review of SYP, p. 1-92
Y: Jesse Noell Memo, 3 p.; Jesse Noell Memo part no. 2, 4 p.; Jesse Noell Memo part no. 3, 1 p.
Z: Letters of P. Carroll, 9/9/97, Kim Nelson, 9/11/97, Bruce Halstead, 8/29/97, 2 p., Hamer and Everett, 7/15/97, 3 p.
AA: NMFS "Final Rule..." - the Coho salmon listing, 62-FR-24588," 12 p.