This letter is in reference to timber harvest plan (THP) 1-97-352 MEN, a 116 acre clearcutting plan by Louisiana Pacific Corporation in Greenwood Creek watershed, associated with Big Tree Creek tributary.
The plan proposes to clearcut 80-90% of the existing Redwood and Douglas Fir trees, including a 150-200 year old Douglas Fir stand along the top of Cliff Ridge, a visual and historical resource that can be plainly seen from the Philo-Greenwood Road, a Mendocino County road that links the communities of Elk on Highway One and Philo-Boonville on Highway 128, and is frequented by both locals and tourists.
The plan also proposes clearcutting most of the tanoaks in the five logging units of tanoak dominated forest, and "controlling" other species, very likely with herbicides. It includes clearcutting the headwaters of a Class I Coho salmon/steelhead stream (Big Tree Creek), and clearcutting the ridge directly above "Two-Ponds" stream where there are two historical ponds that have become a wetland and wildlife area for great blue heron, river otters, ducks, fish and other wildlife.
This logging plan is adjacent to a plan approved in 1996 (THP 1-96-042 MEN) which includes removal of at least 50% of 100-200 year old Redwood and Douglas Fir, an 8 acre clearcut that is in very close proximity to the current plan (THP 352), and approximately two miles of new road construction with numerous stream crossings.
The total acreage of approved logging plans in this watershed in the last three years is approximately 1,300 (a total with this plan of 10% of the watershed acreage). The watershed was heavily logged in the 1980s and throughout the previous century. The watershed now contains 2% or less of late seral/late succession forest. There are at least four known Northern Spotted Owl activity centers in the watershed, and a State Dept. of Fish and Game Marbled Murrelet sighting in 1995, as well as one by the Audobon Society in 1990.
Greenwood Creek provides the sole source of water for the town of Elk. The Elk County Water Board sent Louisiana Pacific a letter dated December 17, 1996, stating several concerns about L-P's draft Sustained Yield Plan. (See attached Exhibit A). These concerns included the SYP's lack of standards and monitoring for water quality and water quantity, the use of pesticides, and other concerns. The Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap has sent several letters to L-P regarding the Sustained Yield Plan. (See attached Exhibits B and C.) Although L-P area manager Tom Schultz did attend an ECWD Board meeting, and L-P Western Division manager Tom Thompson did finally provide portions of the draft SYP, these letters from the community have remained essentially unanswered. (See attached Exhibit D, L-P's Sustained Yield Plan maps, and Exhibit E, a portion of L-P's Sustained Yield Plan entitled "WWAA 84--Greenwood Creek, p. 1-46 and map legend).
There is a history of conflict between L-P and the local community regarding L-P logging in the watershed. Two court cases involving timber harvest plans and exemptions have been unable to resolve the conflict between industrial logging and local concerns about drinking water and other forest resources. (See attached Exhibit F, which includes sub exhibits: Superior Court case no. 60728 court files 1, 2, and 3, and attachments: Acker A L, Walsh A-H, Seekins A & B. See attached Exhibit G, letter of ECWD to Gary Brittner, California Board of Forestry, 12/30/96. Incorporate by reference Superior Court case no. 68089 and all attachments.)
In recent years, the Gap Boycott formed the Greenwood Creek Watershed Project in order to involve all watershed community members, including L-P, in cooperative watershed study and restoration projects. L-P is a member of the advisory group. However, the recent filing of THP 352, and the lack of an approved L-P Sustained Yield Plan have revived local concerns about these resources. (See attached Exhibit H, 20 petition pages 9/16/97 9/19/97 to CDF, and 2 front sheets.)
The Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap opposes THP 1-97-352 MEN for these and the following reasons:
1. The THP is inaccurate and misleading in material ways.
THP 1-97-352 MEN fails to state the specific size of the clearcut units, but merely states that they will be from 20 to 25 acres, even though the size of a clearcut unit is critical information. The THP grossly mis-maps one of the units--the one with the old growth-- even though the location and size of an old growth unit is critical information. The road map has several important mistakes and omissions, and failed to record a road landslide. The THP states that it is going to contain 1600' feet of new road construction, though the new road construction on the THP map above the lower pond measures (to scale) much longer than that. The THP makes this mistake even though the new road mileage is a critical piece of information, particularly given the approximately two miles of new road construction in the adjacent THP. The THP fails to provide the formula, the data or the weighting factors in the "basal area mean weighted age method" for determining the age of the stand, mentioned on page 2 of the PHI report, even though this information is critical to an evaluation of the plan's compliance with the rules. It further fails to provide stand age information in each Unit, even though the PHI states that there is "considerable variability" over the five units of this plan.
How many such factual errors and omissions are needed for a THP to be turned back for its inaccuracy and vagueness?
(For stand conditions in Unit 1, and the associated pond, see attached Exhibit I, 31 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.)
In addition, the THP fails to include a map of the full haul road (Maple Basin Road) and fails to discuss the condition of this haul road, which is just east of the plan (and just off the THP Road Mitigations map to the northeast), where Coho salmon and steelhead fingerlings were seen in a puddle in the road--by six people in April 1997--and where trucks have been driving all summer (1997) through a wet crossing. (See attached Exhibit J, 18 site photographs 1a-b, 2, 3a-b, 4a-d, 5, 5a-i, and Exhibit K, a fold-out map showing Maple Basin Road damaged Coho salmon crossings and other problems.)
L-P apparently rocked this fish crossing sometime in early summer, and then allowed a rocky berm to develop in the road, preventing fish migration, as trucks drove over this fish crossing. The situation at the entrance to Big Tree Creek is not much better. Last year, L P was required by NCRWQCB's Christine Wright-Shaklet to put a bridge at that crossing (for THP 1-96-042, adjacent to THP 352). On 9/11/97, the bridge was sitting there by the side of the road and vehicles had driven through the main stem of Greenwood Creek where fish are present. (See Exhibit J photos). (See attached Exhibit L, THP 1-96-042 MEN. See attached Exhibit M, THP 042, p. 27, Map 5, Appurtenant Roads and Map 4, Erosion Hazard Ratings. )
At second review, on September 18, 1997, the CDF review team chair was told of the omission of this section of the haul road from the Road Mitigations map, and agreed to include a fuller map in the THP that extends to the fish crossing just east of site no. 2 on the THP haul road map, including the two documented problem areas. (See attached Exhibit N).
CDF should include in the THP the entire haul road which extends to Signal Ridge Road, since there is at least one more fish crossing (Russian Gulch) with serious problems on the east end of this road. A re-inspection of this haul road would seem to be a minimal requirement of approving this THP. When it comes to Coho salmon migration, CDF should be making a maximum and not a minimum effort. (See attached Exhibit O, CDF's refusal to extend the public comment period, dated 9/16/97.) (See attached Exhibit P, six pages of EPIC homepage on Coho salmon.)
At second review, L-P plan writer Gerald Garvey was asked why the eastern part of this haul road was omitted from THP 352, when the adjacent THP 1-96-042, submitted and approved a year earlier, contained a complete haul road map. Mr. Garvey stated that at the PHI for THP 042, CDF inspector Mike McKay had told him that the eastern portion of the haul road did not qualify as an appurtenant road because the plan submitter does not own all of that part of the road and therefore does not control the road. Mr. Garvey therefore omitted the eastern part of the haul road from new THP 352 (which shares a road system with the previously approved THP 042). Discussion at second review clarified that there is no definition in the rules for an appurtenant road. Local knowledge of use of the haul road indicates that L-P has used this road for years, and regularly maintains it, since almost no one else uses it. (See attached Exhibit Q, Video tape "Second Review 9/18/97" )
The current THP (352) claims that there will be no cumulative effects from this 116 acres of clearcutting after mitigations. But there have already been significant impacts, and L-P hasn't even started to log. Given the plight of the Coho salmon, which was recently listed by the EPA as a threatened species, impacts to the first fish crossing (no. 1) may be irreparable. The impacts at the second fish crossing (no. 5) have only just begun. (See Exhibit J.) We haven't even gotten to the extensive internal road system, the near verticle slopes, the Big Tree Creek headwaters, and the old growth atop Cliff Ridge with its treasured view and historical value as the last of the old growth in our watershed.
The mitigations of this plan consist mostly of pathetically narrow stream protection zones, and numerous proposed mitigations in the as yet unfinished and unapproved Sustained Yield Plan.
2. The THP as an expression of the incomplete and as yet unapproved SYP
This clearcutting plan is an expression, not of the biological needs of the watershed or the area to be clearcut, but rather of Louisiana Pacific's unapproved Sustained Yield Plan (SYP), a document that is referred to forty-three times within the THP, ten of these references within the cumulative impacts assessment.
This Sustained Yield Plan (SYP) document is not available to the public in final and complete form and has not been approved by CDF. The THP's thorough embeddedness in the SYP, and the true goal of the THP, are made quite clear in the THP's first paragraph on "Silviculture," as follows:
A THP is required to be accurate and complete. If the THP is going to make financial statements and set financial goals within the THP, then it ought to include sufficient financial information for the public to evaluate such statements and goals. For instance, what is the "investment" referred to in the above statement? Does the word "all" in "all company lands" include its inland timberland properties? Does it include L-P's inland timberlands that were recently put up to auction? (See attached Exhibit R, Sealed Bid Auction of L-P's interior timberlands, 23 pages.) (See attached Exhibit S: Public comment on L-P's Interior SYP, Dr. Fred Euphrat, 26 pp., Dr. Allen Cooperrider, 17 pp., Paul Carroll, Attorney at Law, 6 pp.)
In revealing L-P's intention to "produce quality forest products at a reasonable rate of return on investment," the THP deliberately leaves out the word "high" in front of "high quality timber products," leaving us with only "quality" timber products (if you consider 6- inch tanoaks quality timber products). It does not include "maximum sustained production" in this goal. This THP, and its supporting document, the SYP, thus re-write the Forest Practice Act and substitute L-P's purposes in place of the the biological and economic values that the people of California set forth in the Forest Practice Act.
All of the numerous references to the SYP, within the THP, concern substantial issues; all of them are used to justify and support this clearcutting plan. Many of them are used to create the subtle impression that the incomplete and unapproved SYP will mitigate the proposed THP.
The THP, and only the THP, is being considered for approval during this very brief public comment period, after which CDF and L-P will shut the door on the Greenwood Creek watershed community and the public at-large. The SYP is not up for approval here, and may never be, given the two years that have already gone by with no public hearing. (See attached Exhibit U, Schoen vs. Department of Forestry, 22 pp.) (See attached Exhibit V, KZYX Memo of the Week.)
And yet, the THP 352 refers to SYP goals, management plans and mitigations in connection with numerous critical issues in the THP area. These include, among others, justification of the silvicultural method (p. 30, para. 1, which is justified by reference to the SYP's goal of an evenaged forest for this watershed), protection of late seral/late succession forest (p. 29, paragragh 5, which justifies this clearcut because it has not been included in the L-P SYP as an area proposed for "Late Seral Retention/ Recruitment), and protection of Coho salmon (p. 18) which refers to a road maintenance program and other mitigations that are proposed in the SYP.
In addition, the THP makes subtle references to the SYP--references that include very little or no information from the SYP--but which are profoundly influential in the THP. For instance, the THP states on page 6 that
In the SYP, "Upper Greenood" is given a lower relative risk rating on beneficial uses than "Lower Greenwood." The relative risk rating system in the SYP is a complex and obscure affair, which requires extensive study and cross-referencing. It includes, for instance, evaluations of the relative risk from logging to Coho salmon and to domestic water use (such as the Elk County Water District wells in the lower watershed). Although the rating system is very difficult to follow, it is yet an important determinant of the level of mitigations that will be used in L-P THPs in this watershed. In the design of recent THPs in the watershed, it has had the result of confining clearcutting and the heavier logging methods to "Upper Greenwood," while instituting somewhat lighter cuts in "Lower Greenwood" (and only a salvage logging THP in the lower part of "Lower Greenwood").
This mention in the THP of the SYP's definition of "Upper Greenwood" contains no section or page reference, nor any explanation, nor any indication of its importance. And yet it is essential to understanding why L-P is proposing a 116 clearcutting plan in the "Upper Greenwood" watershed.
This division--and its different risk ratings--is performed despite the fact that the water in the upper watershed flows directly into the lower watershed, that Coho salmon and steelhead inhabit areas of the upper watershed (including Big Tree Creek) as well as the lower, and that the Elk County Water District's wells at the bottom of the Creek are influenced by all upstream activities.
Sediment does not recognize any artificial line between upper and lower Greenwood Creek. There is no less risk to Coho salmon in the upper watershed than in the lower.
The "relative risk rating" system is not mentioned nor discussed anywhere in the THP. We are never told what "Upper Greenwood" really means, or that it means anything at all. Understanding the reference is entirely dependent on SYP knowledge. The THP is thoroughly embedded in the SYP, in subtle and unsubtle ways. The two cannot be disentangled. The rationale for L-P treating the upper watershed differently from the lower watershed is not given, nor is there any hint that any such rationale exists. One must read the SYP to know of its existence and to understand it if you can.
In another instance of referencing the SYP with no page or section number, the THP states the following, on page 76:
And what would the public do if it wished to argue with one of these many SYP assertions that are made in the THP? If the public had an argument with the SYP rating system for Coho habitat, for instance, and it raised this argument in the THP process, CDF could say that the SYP is an incomplete document which is not up for approval, and any information in it is irrelevant.
Thus, the THP-writer can reference the SYP freely when it suits his purpose, and ignore it when it doesn't, and the public can never get a firm hold on numerous statements in the THP.
Furthermore, the THP and the SYP differ, or are inconsistent with each other, on several vital and material points as to cumulative effects. For instance, on p. 66, the THP states the following under the heading "Sediment":
In making this statement about "several natural origin slides and areas of bank erosion," and in suggesting that they may be "significant contributors" to the problem, the THP writer ignores a wealth of evidence that logging and road construction are the chief culprit and that "natural" erosion (which foresters used to call "background sedimentation") is very little to blame. The big mud plume out in the ocean off Greenwood beach after heavy rainstorms is not a natural phenomenon and does not occur to this degree in unlogged watersheds. This THP-writer fails to mention the numerous man-made erosion sites in this watershed, from both recent and old logging.
We have argued this point before in THP records. (See THP p.54-57, and incorporate
by reference the complete administrative records of all listed THPs.) The point is that
the reader of this THP is not deaing with a stable document. He or she is dealing with
two documents, one embedded in the other. Sorting out how they relate to each other,
particularly in the cumulative impacts assessment--whether in contradiction,
inconsistency, agreement, or selective referencing--is difficult.
On yet another vital watershed issue--Coho salmon--the SYP WWAA 84 states unequivocably, on p. 8, para. 2, that there are Coho salmon in Greenwood Creek. (See Exhibit E.)
To the question, are there Coho salmon in Greenwood Creek, one only gets this "fuzzy logic" answer, because we are dealing with two documents that are interwoven. One of them will be approved shortly by CDF. The other may never be approved. They are utterly dependent on each other in untold ways. Which one is reliable?
The SYP has not been approved by CDF or any other agency. The SYP's release to the public as a complete and stable document, for public comment or for a pubic hearing, has been repeatedly delayed over two years time, and no date has been set for its release. While portions of the SYP are made available to the public, the public is not able to review the SYP in its final and complete form, nor can the public access the L-P data and the computer software used to create SYP tables and maps, in order to verify the accuracy of these items. The information in the SYP is an end-product. It is not sufficient for analysis and informed criticism.
The references within this THP to SYP management objectives--such as late seral/late succession riparian areas, road monitoring and maintenance plans and schedules, protection of Coho salmon and steelhead habitat, and other issues--cannot therefore be evaluated by the public at this time, and must be discarded in any consideration of this THP.
Furthermore, since the SYP is only a proposed document, not an approved one, any
mitigations that it contains are not required to be carried out, and cannot be counted as
mitigations of this logging plan. Where the SYP calls for a road survey and a road
maintenance plan for Greenwood Creek watershed, for instance, in reality, L-P has delayed
that survey one year beyond the SYP projected date for it, and it still has not been done.
The THP, on the other hand, refers to an extensive road maintenance and monitoring program. The THP references to such a program give the impression that a lot is being done, but this is merely an assertion by the THP writer. Did the CDF inspector verify this assertion? Is there any documentation for it?
Where the SYP calls for wildlife corridors (in the riparian areas), there is no guarantee that these corridors will be respected in the future. By mentioning them, the THP gives the impression that these special wildlife corridors already exist and are functioning as late seral/late succession habitat, and that this SYP program will mitigate this THP. What is the current state of these wildlife corridors? How long will it be before they are "late seral/late succession" habitat? No information is given.
The SYP is a proposed project, not a final one. Any and all of its mitigations--and, indeed, the entire SYP document--must be ignored, and the THP must stand entirely on its own merits, including the merits of its cumulative effects analysis. And this the THP cannot do.
It is our contention that, without the SYP, the THP would be required to acknowledge significant cumulative impacts on several critical natural resources. The clearcutting of over a hundred acres on extremely steep slopes, and the associated road construction and reconstruction, will produce significant sedimentation and loss of topsoil. The loss of topsoil, combined with the loss of canopy and moisture, will in turn adversely affect regeneration. Young conifers have a poor survival rate in such conditions. Poor regeneration of conifers will have significant cumulative impacts in this area and throughout the watershed, including loss of moisture, loss of wildlife habitat, an increase in hardwoods, and a potential increase in invasive species.
The THP implies that the preservation of longer growing timber stands in the riparian areas that is proposed by the SYP will mitigate this clearcutting in the upper watershed. But L-P is under no obligation whatsoever to implement protections in riparian corridors elsewhere in the watershed.
Throughout the THP, in its 43 references to the SYP, there is the implication that these proposed but not-yet-implemented SYP mitigations will soften the impact of a 116 acre clearcut and make it insignificant. Everyone knows that clearcutting has serious impacts. That's why clearcutting has been curtailed in California, and why many knowledgeable people think it should be banned. To justify the clearcut, the THP repeatedly cites proposed SYP mitigations. But the SYP is not up for approval here. Only the THP is up for approval.
Standing alone--stripped of its SYP references and proposed mitigations--this THP makes very little sense. The only timber of any value is the 150-200 year old Douglas fir which are described as "wolfy." The rest are puny trees on a ridgeside that is nearly vertical. Clearcutting the area and re-planting will be a disaster. There will be significant landslides, particularly if El Nino storms materialize in the next few years. The scrub and tanoaks will grow back.
While the THP purports to be an "Option C" plan--which means that it has to contain a certain minimum amount of timber to justify a clearcut--it is, in actuality, an SYP or "Option B" plan, which cannot be approved until the SYP is approved. The even-aged management goal that is used to justify this clearcutting plan is a goal set by the SYP, as this THP admits. (See Silviculture, p. 30, para 1.) The THP cannot justify clearcutting apart from the SYP, since the THP itself does not contain sufficient information about the watershed to evaluate cumulative effects, nor does it contain sufficient actual mitigations.
The SYP combines even-aged management with the creation of late seral (late succession) corridors along the riparian zones and a few other places, and proposes to confine wildlife habitat and fisheries values to those corridors. It thus implies that sufficient old trees will eventually grow in these special areas to offset the impacts of even-aged management which, by definition, cannot produce late seral (late succession) forest (that is, forest with multiple canopy, large woody debris, and the presence of wildlife species that prefer old growth).
But this balance of even-aged management with late seral corridors has not been approved by CDF, nor has it been subjected to the scrutiny of independent experts and the pubic at large in a public hearing. How is the public to gain an understanding of agency opinion on this balance? Is it a truly sustainable balance, consistent with the Forest Practice Act? Normally, the public can benefit from the public record on such a document as the SYP, where agency personnel and independent experts debate the merits of the plan. In the case of this SYP, there is no public record. CDF's opinion of the SYP is a secret, as are the opinions of other agencies, and there has been no opportunity for independent expert comment. (See attached Exhibit W, an internal agencies review of the draft SYP that is not generally available to the public, pp. 1-92.) (See attached Exhibit X, "CDF Says Logging Had Adverse Effect," Humboldt Beacon, 9/11/97.)
The THP's mention of the SYP's proposed late seral/late succession riparian areas is truly
ironical in view of the fact that the THP proposes to clearcut ONE OF THE LAST
REMAINING OLD GROWTH STANDS IN THE WATERSHED. In second review, the five
mile corridor of old growth Douglas fir was dismissed as non-contiguous forest because the
trees are in a long thin line (along the ridge). The SYP's proposed late seral/late succession
riparian areas and wildlife corridors are also long thin lines (along the watercourses).
The THP includes the SYP mitigation of a no-cut zone for the Class II watercourse, but includes no information or analysis of the sufficiency of this no-cut zone over against a clearcut of 100+ acres. The THP has 8 acres in more or less protected zones. Is this enough to offset the water quality and other impacts of a 116 acre clearcut?
Rather than addressing this critical question, the THP attempts to give the impression that this clearcut will have no significant impacts, by using numerous references to SYP mitigations elsewhere in the watershed that may never be implemented.
As for evaluating the cumulative effects on water quality of a 116 acre clearcutting plan, what is required is monitoring data, such a sediment load, stream flow measurements, and water testing for pollutants such as turbidity, over time, in the plan area and elsewhere in the watershed. Neither the THP nor the SYP contains such information.
Finally, in a section called "Future Projects," the THP quotes the SYP, on page 59, as
The cumulative effects of logging 32% of this watershed with "an intensive, even-aged silvicultural system" (i.e., clearcutting) over a ten year period will be devastating.
3. Meaningless Analysis of Alternatives
The THP section called "Analysis of Alternatives" gives no analysis whatsoever. It merely states what management wants to do and its economic motives for doing so. There is no consideration of environmental alternatives or forestry alternatives.
In the "Analysis of Alternatives" section (p. 32), the THP justifies this clearcut because the land in question is TPZ land, zoned for timber production, and because "To delay this project would cause hardship to the log supply of the sawmills." It discusses the "operating elsewhere" alternative in generalities, with no specific information about the reasons for this clearcut as opposed to logging some other area or logging less. Could the reason for not logging some other area be that L-P's lands do not offer other options due to their depleted condition? If so, this information needs to be stated, in order to assess cumulative impacts.
The alternative of logging less, or in some lesser impact way, is not discussed. Why not make very small clearcuts where regeneration (young trees) would have shade, wind protection and moisture in the air? Instead of clearcutting and replanting, which has a poor success rate, why not provide better care for the existing small trees and plant a few more, leaving the balance of the area to heal? Why is clearcutting the only alternative?
The "Alternatives" section does not raise, let alone answer, these questions. It merely makes statements such as, "This project is one of many necessary to supply those mills. Alternative uses would not be feasible for the landowners."
A little restoration would not be feasible for L-P? That's hard to believe.
4. Insufficient agency review - insufficient cumulative effects information
There was no inspection of this THP area by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, despite the fact tha the plan incudes clearcutting and road construction on steep slopes in a watershed that supports a public water district (for the town of Elk) and which also supports Coho salmon and steelhead.
There was no inspection by the California Department of Fish and Game, despite the fact that the plan raises serious questions about late seral/late succession forest and the cutting of old growth, and potential impacts on numerous listed or sensitive wildlife species, including the Coho salmon, Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl.
The Coho salmon was recently listed as a threatened species by the EPA. The steelhead is
a candidate for listing. Northern Spotted Owl live in the watershed. Marbled Murrelet
have been sighted in the watershed. A total of 15 listed or sensitive species are briefly
discussed and dismissed. The THP states that a 116 acre clearcut plan incuding
clearcutting of old growth trees will have no impact on any of these wildlife species. (It
does not list plants.)
5. The THP is vague, uninformative, contradictory and/or misleading on several critical issues:
The THP is divided into five units: nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 (nos. 4 and 5 were deleted). The units are described as being from 20 to 25 acres in size, but no specific acreage per unit is given. The size of the units is a critical piece of information in judging the THP's conformance with rules having to do with clearcutting, late seral/late succession retention, cumulative effects and other rules.
The THP answers question no. 34 (Will any late seral/late succession forest be logged?) with a "no." Yet the THP answers all of the questions in Addendum question no. 34, which seek to determine if late seral forest is present, with a "yes." The THP then denies that the Unit 6 stand qualifies as late seral. It claims that the stand is under 20 acres and that late seral/late succession characteristics such as large down woody debris are present only "to a limited degree." The THP does not define the phrase "to a limited degree." In fact, there is a very large blowdown of large old trees in the plan area which is not mentioned. The THP does not reveal the actual size of the stand, nor the size of the logging unit.
In photographs of these old legacy trees along the top of Cliff Ridge, submitted into the THP record by long time Elk resident and business-owner Kendrick Petty, the nature of this stand is more truly revealed. It is clearly part of a larger stand that stretches for four to five miles along the top of the ridge. To call this stand "non-contiguous," as does the THP, is very misleading. It may not be a round or oval stand, but it is, indeed, a stand, and its function both as a valuable visual and historical resource, and as wildlife habitat, has not been sufficiently analyzed by the THP.
There is no discussion of redwood or other conifer components of this potential late seral/late succession stand in Unit 6. Although the THP states that Douglas Fir comprises 15% to 85% of the conifer component of the THP areas, no account is given of the remaining conifer component of Unit 6 or other units. No account is given of the redwood component in the other four units, in areas between units, or in the adjacent 142 acre logging plan.
There is no discussion of, and no detail given for, the stand components in units 1,2,3, and 7. The adjacent plan (THP 042) provides a detailed description of its stand of 100-200 year old Redwood and Douglas Fir and other components. The stand description in THP 352 is vague and uninformative.
The THP states that old growth Douglas Fir (150-200 year old) stands are present in "a series" of such stands along Cliff Ridge Road near Unit 6, and claims that these stands are non-contiguous, yet does not discuss the potential impacts of the 8 acre clearcut along Cliff Ridge Road adjacent to the plan area to the east. There is no discussion of this 8 acre clearcut (in THP 042) as to impacts that may combine with THP 352 Unit 7, or that may combine with the total of ten units in the two THPS.
The THP does not discuss the nature of forest components between the five units of the plan, nor between this logging plan and the plan to the east. To review the THP's assertion that the Douglas Fir stands are not contiguous, for instance, the THP needs to fully discuss all forest components in the Big Tree Creek watershed.
The THP describes goshawk habitat on page 42, as "mature Douglas fir stands with a scattered hardwood component," which sounds very much like the habitat in Unit 6. The THP then dismisses this as goshawk habitat in part "due to the dense understory." The understory is described as having "gaps" elsewhere in the THP, and this area in particular (Unit 6, old growth Douglas fir) is described as "park-like." These statements are confusing and contradictory. Unit 6 needs to be properly evaluated for goshawk habitat. Although Marbled Murrelet were sighted in the watershed in 1995 and 1990, no Marbled Murrelet survey was conducted for this THP.
The Unit 1 clearcut will drain into the lower pond which is adjacent to the NE corner of the clearcut unit. The THP contains very little information about this pond and the upper pond that is connected to it. Local knowledge indicates that there is fish in both ponds and that the lower pond, combined with the "Two Ponds" stream that originates in Unit 1 and that drains into Creekwood Creek, has become a wetlands/marsh area favored by great blue heron, river otters, ducks and other wildlife. The upper pond was at one time ten feet deep (in the 1970s) and has since silted up and is now only 4-5 feet deep. It would appear that sediment is a serious concern with regard to this wetland/wildlife area. The THP states that there will be no impact from clearcutting the Unit 1 area directly upslope from the lower pond, yet does not discuss or mention these wetland and wildlife factors.
The lower pond in Unit 1 surely needs Class I protection, at least.
The THP states that there will be 1600 feet of new road construction in this plan, yet the Road Mitigations map indicates a section of new road construction (2A) that measures longer than 1600 feet. The THP does not acknowledge that 1.5 to 2 miles of new road construction has occurred recently in the adjacent logging area, nor does it adequately discuss the cumulative effect of 1600 feet or more of additional road construction. The total road construction in the area will amount to a 3 to 4 acre cleacut. The total new road construction under approved THPs in the watershed over the last 3 years, including this THP, is about 15,000 feet, that is, approximately 3 miles of new road, or a 5.5 acre clearcut.
6. Many other questions that need to be answered before this THP can be approved
L-P has already set its percentage of cut as 32% in the first ten years, according to the THP. Has this management goal been evaluated by CDF for "maximum sustained production of high quality timber products"? Is the MSP goal based on inventory and other watershed conditions as they existed at the start of the SYP implementation period? What is the start date for implementing the SYP?
If you begin a program with an MSP goal, it would seem necessary to have base line information, that is, a starting point at which conditions are known. Is the starting point 1995, when the SYP was first submitted to CDF?
Is the THP's description of the old growth forest in Unit 6, on p. 48 and 49, accurate as to the size, composition and connectivity of the stand? What about the linear contiguity of the stand along Cliff Ridge? If the THP boundary is ignored, what is the size, composition and nature of this old growth forest in the biological assessment area, and is the THP accurate on this matter?
In justifying its description of this old growth forest as not meeting "the definition for consideration as a late succession forest stand," the THP states the following, on p. 29: "None of the plan areas or the areas adjacent to them have been identified within the L-P SYP [Sustained Yield Plan] as proposed for "Late Seral Retention/Recruitment...". Is L P's choice of "late seral/late succession" areas now to be the standard for defining "late seral/late succession" stands? Have these choices been approved by CDF?
What difference does it make that L-P has identified other areas for late seral/late succesion, in a Sustained Yield Plan that CDF has not yet approved? How has this non-approved SYP become part of the definition of late seral/late succession retention requirements?
Is the THP accurate as to the presence of, and potential wild life habitat for, listed species- for instance, the Red Tree Vole (Add. p. 47), Cooper's Hawk (Add. p. 45) and the Northern Spotted Owl (Add. p. 45), and the others mentioned in the THP? (With the contradictions and confusions regarding the Northern Goshawk, this question is particularly important.)
With Northern Spotted Owl present in the watershed, why wasn't cumulative effects analysis done for additional NSO needs such as a reduction in the dispersal success of both juveniles searching for their own home range and older owls displaced by timber harvest? (See attached Exhibit Y, Memo of Jesse Noel to Gap Boycott, 9/8/97, 3 pp.) Considering the Marbled Murrelet sightings in the watershed, why was no Marbled Murrelet survey done? (See attached Exhibit Z: Letters of Paul Carroll, 9/9/97, 3 pp., Kim Nelson, 9/11/97, 3 pp., Bruce Halstead, U.S. Dept. of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, 8/29/97, 2 pp., Hamer and Everett, Pacific Seabird Group, 7/15/97, 3 pp.)
Have cumulative effects been evaluated for late seral dependent species such as fisher, humboldt marten and all 50 species of cavity nesters. (See 919.16 (1 thru 5).)
Will this 116 acre clearcut produce any impacts on wildlife or steelhead and coho salmon, or on wildlife or fish habitat, within the THP itself, within the biological assessment area and within the watershed as a whole?
What is the function of these the Cliff Ridge Grove as to watershed requirements such as fog drip and stream flow regulation? How were these functions evaluated?
Given the 150 year history of heavy-duty logging in this watershed, the notorious overlogging by L-P during the 1980-90 decade, and the currently active and approved logging plans on the following list, will THP 352 produce any cumulative effects at all, on any natural resource?
Do CDF and other reviewing agencies agree with the Sustained Yield Plan (upon which this logging plan is based) that "Upper Greenwood" watershed ranks lower in relative risk factors than "Lower Greenwood" watershed? Is this division of the two parts of one watershed into separately considered units reasonable and defensible in terms of biology and water quality?
In designating the Upper Watershed as lower risk in the SYP, the SYP then permits clearcutting in the Upper Watershed, whereas it has prescribed lesser impact cuts in the Lower Watershed. Given the extensive reliance of the THP upon the Sustained Yield Plan in this and in numerous other matters, what is CDF's opinion of the as-yet-unapproved Sustained Yield Plan?
Has CDF formulated an opinion on whether or not this SYP satisfies the requirements of the Forest Practice Act and other applicable statutes such as the federal Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act? If so, what is that opinion? If no CDF opinion is available on these matters, what CDF-SYP review documents are available that would help the public to evaluate this THP in its SYP context, and that would enlighten the public as to the status of the SYP in its final form?
When will CDF's opinion of L-P's Sustained Yield Plan for this watershed be available to the public?
When will L-P's revised and complete Sustained Yield Plan for coastal watersheds be available to the public for public review and comment?
During the internal state agency review of L-P's coastal SYP that has been going on for two years, has CDF or other agencies formed an opinion of the SYP with regard to "maximum sustained production of high-quality timber products" or any other issue?
If an opinion has been formed on this or any other SYP issues, by CDF or any other agency, how may the public access that opinion in order to evaluate this timber harvest plan in its SYP context?
The THP claims that it will proceed in the context of an extensive L-P road monitoring and maintenance plan. Did the CDF inspector investigate this plan? If so, what is his opinion of it?
COHO mitigation in the SYP -p. 18 [provisions for coho protection include "an extensive roads and erosion control structures survey on this plan and elsewhere within the watershed" -- [fish surveys, resultant mitigation measures and] "the submitter's own extensive road repair and maintenance program (including off-site improvements) are believed to provide more than adequate protection to the species and the ESU. Please refer to Add. Item 32 in Section III. [see p41 - coho mitig. then refers to SYP, that is, to "L-P's Mitigation and Monitoring Plan for Coho Salmon (Apprendix C of Volume 2, Sustained Yield Plan: Coastal Mendocino County).
"extensive road repair and maintenance program" in the watershed is never detailed or explained - refers to SYP - SYP is not an approved or complete document.
Have the cumulative impacts of the road plan in this THP, combined the adjacent THP 042, been properly evaluated?
How many board feet of timber has been removed in the course of road construction, road reconstruction, and landing construction, on L-P lands in this watershed over the last four years? How many more board feet of timber is slated to be removed in the course of road construction, road reconstruction and landing construction in currently approved THPs that have not yet been logged? How many board feet of timber will be removed in the course of road construction, road reconstructon and landing contruction in the current THP and the adjacent THP 042 combined?
Without this information, how can cumulative effects be analysed?
What is the sediment load in this watershed, and within the Big Tree Creek sub watershed? Will this THP increase the sediment load, and if so, by how much? What is the water quality standard in this watershed? What are the water quality goals? How will the water quality impacts of this plan be monitored?
If this watershed contains only 2% late seral/late succession forest, as stated in the THP, what percentage will be left after the old growth in this THP is logged? What reduction in the 2% figure would represent a cumulative effect, in CDF's view?
Is clearcutting of old growth an appropriate prescription for this watershed?
Are "winter operations" appropriate in this very steep and unstable area with its many road erosion problems?
Does CDF agree that this THP's cumulative effects analysis must stand on its own merits, apart from L-P's non-approved Sustained Yield Plan? If CDF agrees with this premise, please discuss how CDF will disentangle this THP and its cumulative effects analysis from its supporting document, the SYP?
Please evaluate the SYP's even-aged management goal for this watershed, as this goal is expressed by, and embedded in, THP 352. Are the SYP projections of future timber growth accurate and reliable? Are they consistent with the Forest Practice Act?
Are the SYP shallow landslide maps accurate and reliable?
Should this THP be approved in the absence of an evaluation of L-P's Sustained Yield Plan for this watershed by CDF and other reviewing agencies?
Should this THP be approved in the absence of an approved Sustained Yield Plan for this watershed?
Norman de Vall, Co-chair
for the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap Steering Committee
List of Attachments
Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap 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.
No no. T
U: Schoen Vs. Department of Forestry, 22 p.
V: Memo of the Week
W: Agencies internal review of SYP, p. 1-92
Y: Jesse Noel Memo, 3 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.