Action Alert: Timber harvest plan in fragile area of Sonoma County.

The deadline for action was June 26th. We will keep you posted for future actions. In the meantime, your supervisors need to know we will not allow bad projects like this to continue to devastate our watersheds and environment. Many thanks to all who participated.

Robert Swan: “The Greatest Threat to Our Planet Is the Belief That Someone Else Will Save It”

Wine and Water Watch has been watching pro-timber harvesting Cal Fire, the government organization that is supposed to protect the environment with reasonable and thorough  timber harvest plan,s is set to approve another bad project. This land was sold by previous owner who also wanted to log the forest but sold instead. New owners, a lawyer and aggressive logger according to press release, thinks he can push this plan forward.

We have seen Cal Fire work behind closed doors (Dogwood) to approve bad timber harvest plans (THP) in the past against widespread local opposition. Some years back  after Paul Hobbs, without permit, clear cut over 10 acres in Pocket Canyon. Cal Fire slapped a $5,000 fine and the lumber sold from illegal logging netted Hobb’s over $100,000, vineyards planted. We also attended the Dogwood hearing where Cal Fire was admonished by the Judge for lack of detail and no cumulative impacts in their approval. We ask, who are you working for Cal Fire? Please take the time to email Cal Fire and be part of the public record against this ill advised plan. The press release below spells out the many problems.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Critical Wild Coho Salmon Watershed

Threatened By Aggressive Logging Plan

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Documents related to the plan can be accessed at

ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs/THPs2017/1-17-017SON/

Public Comments can be submitted until June 26 at santarosapubliccomment@fire.ca.gov.

Tax exempt donations can be made to Forest Unlimited for the “Friends of Felta Creek.”

Contact 707.303.6091 for more information.

June 21, 2017, Healdsburg, CA — As wild Coho salmon have disappeared in every tributary of

the Russian River watershed over the past decades, Felta Creek remains the rare exception.

Even in the low fish years of 2006 and 2008, endangered wild Coho salmon survived in the

shady pools of this boulder strewn west county stream. This spring, UC researchers discovered

multiple spawning beds, or “redds,” in the creek’s gravel bars. But the fate of this fragile habitat

now lies in the hands of an absentee landowner with an aggressive logging agenda.

In late 2015, Humboldt County resident Ken Bareilles bought a 160-acre Timberland Production

Zone property that includes a core section of Felta Creek’s headwaters. Bareilles, a logger and

lawyer, filed a Timber Harvest Plan with CalFire (the California Department of Forestry). It

appears CalFire is poised to approve the plan — THP 1-17-017 SON (Fox Meadows).

The fact that Bareilles’ plan progressed this far this quickly has alarmed both professionals and

community members. Of the 160-acre property, registered forester Randy Jacobszoon’s plan

calls for logging on 146 acres. Of that, 130 acres are slated for Group Selection and Transition

Harvest — essentially, multi-acre patch cuts. According to the California Geological Survey, “site

slopes range from 10 to 80 percent gradients … geologic mapping identifies dormant and active

deep-seated landslides as underlying the plan area.” How will heavy equipment, logging and

hauling affect a slide-prone landscape?

“I have reviewed logging plans in Sonoma County for over 20 years, and this is one of the

worst,” says Larry Hanson, president of Forest Unlimited. “There is the delicate and biologically

important stream that runs through it. And there are critical safety issues related to school

children and to local residents who use the one-lane gravel Felta Creek Road to get in and out

of their homes.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service, recognizing the need to protect this watershed,

recommended a more selective approach to limit erosion and preserve more of the forest

canopy. In a public meeting on Thursday June 15, 2017, it was noted that one of NMFS’s

primary recommendations made it into the final plan. Anthony Lukacic, the CalFire official in

charge of recommending the proposed timber harvest plan for approval, said he considered but

rejected others, deciding that CalFire’s Forest Practice Rules would suffice if adequately

implemented.

According to Russian Riverkeeper, the stakes couldn’t be higher. “Losing one of the single best

juvenile Coho salmon habitats on Felta Creek that get baby Coho through the hot summer

months would be a massive blow,” says Don McEnhill, the group’s president.

Community members and county officials are also alarmed by the scope of the proposed

hauling operation. The landowner claims an easement to use Felta Creek Road, a private onelane

gravel road that winds immediately adjacent to Felta Creek. Four full-time families reside

there amidst some grape cultivation. The use and maintenance of this rural road have been

sufficient to balance light traffic and the health of the fishery. But Felta Creek Road has never

been used for hauling of the proposed scale of this timber operation.

The plan does not disclose or limit the number of logging trucks or the time of day that logging

trucks will use Felta Creek Road. There are sharp turns around big trees, few turnouts, waterfall

crossings and seeps, a mile-plus section of road susceptible to sedimentation of the creek. At

the bottom is West Side School, with over 170 students, some who walk down Felta Creek

Road to attend classes. Most students and families commute via Felta Road, a publicly

maintained county road where school traffic is already congested.

No traffic impact or safety studies of the hauling operation were completed as part of the timber

harvest plan. At the June 15 public meeting, CalFire’s Lukacic asserted that the hauling

operation was a civil matter. A licensed structural engineer requested that a lower wooden

bridge be inspected to assess its structural integrity. And numerous concerns about

sedimentation of the creek as well as fire and public safety issues have all been filed during the

public comment period, set to close on Monday, June 26.

What could all this mean for the one of last recognized refuges for wild Coho salmon in the

entire Russian River watershed? One local timber operator who reviewed the plan predicted:

“this is going to be ugly.”

One official at the CalFire meeting, expressed her agency’s concern about the THP applicant’s

record: a cleanup and abatement order with the Regional Water Quality Control Board in 2002,

as well as previous CalFire violations.

The 160-acre TPZ-zoned property also happens to be for sale. This means a buyer, or coalition

of buyers, could potentially prevent logging in this critical watershed.

“There has to be a better way,” says Felta Creek Road resident Dan Imhoff. “Deforesting the

hills around one of Sonoma County’s finest creeks makes no sense.” Imhoff and his wife,

Quincey Tompkins Imhoff, helped organize “Friends of Felta Creek” to advocate for the health

and protection of the watershed and surrounding community.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Documents related to the plan can be accessed at

ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs/THPs2017/1-17-017SON/

Public Comments can be submitted until June 26 at santarosapubliccomment@fire.ca.gov.

Tax exempt donations can be made to Forest Unlimited for the “Friends of Felta Creek.”

Contact 707.303.6091 for more information.

 

 

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