Still time to write a letter! Background: conservation groups have tried to buy property from owner who inflated the price beyond market value. He has a history of unpermitted actions…
“In the midst of this viral crisis, Humboldt County resident Ken Bareilles has re-filed Timber Harvest Plan 1-17-017 SON with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to aggressively harvest timber at the headwaters of Felta Creek, one of the last spawning grounds for wild Coho salmon in the county.“
Felta Creek: One of the last natural salmon runs in Sonoma County threatened by loggers
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We hope you are safe and healthy at home during this difficult time. We are sorry to burden you with one more thing right now but…
You are on this list because you have expressed interest in protecting our watershed, wrote letters or attended hearings in the past, or are friends who we think may be able to help our effort.
In the midst of this viral crisis, Humboldt County resident Ken Bareilles has re-filed Timber Harvest Plan 1-17-017 SON with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) to aggressively harvest timber at the headwaters of Felta Creek, one of the last spawning grounds for wild Coho salmon in the county.
CalFire is fully operational and the re-application is making its way through the review process unimpeded. We are doing our best, during this constrained time to monitor and manage our community’s right to review the plan and assure that it meets the law.
It is our understanding that legitimate efforts were made in 2019 to permanently protect the watershed by purchasing the property from Mr. Bareilles by a coalition of conservation minded buyers and non-profits. However, the asking price was vastly inflated and unjustified making a deal impossible.
Friends of Felta Creek won a lawsuit in 2018 against CalFire for approving a flawed plan. Legal fees were reimbursed and paid by CalFire with our tax dollars. We won on three points and they are pivotal to the re-application:
• Effects of the logging on the salmonids in the creek.
• Required engineering for our shared bridges (the only access)
• Need for a legitimate traffic study
Bareilles commissioned reports by professionals on each of the above points. They are under review and we will take issue with some aspects of each report.
The PUBLIC COMMENT period for the THP is now open only until May 7th. We invite you to review the case and share your thoughts with CalFire. We have no legal standing in the future on issues that are not addressed during the public comment period. So please elaborate all of your concerns.
Some points that we feel need the highest level of scrutiny include but are not limited to:
→ The Public Comment Period should be extended to 60 days given the constraints placed on our community at this time. We are unable to meet in person, visit regulatory agencies or organize as citizenry while sheltering at home. This is unjust as CalFire and the timber operators are able to work at full capacity.
→ Protecting the entirety of Felta Creek for the health of the watershed, the fish, wildlife and the people who live in it and enjoy its natural beauty.
→ The danger of using a fragile one lane road that hugs the creek to haul heavy equipment and logs estimated to be 20 trucks, plus staff and pilot cars for a total of 48 trips per day for 4-5 months. This is unprecedented and represents an exceptional overburdening of our road and watershed not to mention a dangerous impediment in case of an emergency.
→ Bareilles aggressively claims that the County of Sonoma has no right to require permitting for the modifications he will make to our bridges in order to let his trucks pass. We have been reassured that building permits are required but we must demand strict oversight and accountability for the safety of our bridges, roads, fish, wildlife, access and community members who enjoy the watershed.
→ The traffic study that was produced is lacking and flawed. It contains errors relating to speed limits, uses data from 2007, makes countless assumptions relating to road use and emergency access. Common sense and history dictate that Felta Creek Road is not appropriate for hauling logging equipment or logs in the quantities proposed.
What you can do:
❏ Write to CalFire and let them know your comments. Subject: THP 1-17-017 SON. Email attention: Dominik Schwab SantaRosaPublicComment@fire.ca.gov. All comments must be responded to and will be posted to Caltrees site (link below)* and available for public viewing.
❏ Read the Fish, Bridges and/or Traffic Reports and inform yourself. Click each subject for link to the reports.
❏ Access to all the THP documents are publicly available here. For assistance navigating the Caltrees* website let us know or please call (916) 704-7579 or firstname.lastname@example.org
❏ Come to walk the creek in the coming weeks. It’s never been more beautiful and will help heal your soul during this difficult time. Plenty of parking is available at the back of Westside School. If Blue, the black dog up by the barnyard tries to follow you back down, please be kind enough to put her in her yard behind the picket fence and latch the gate. There’s also a tie-up on the porch. She’s friendly!!
In health and community,
Quincey & Dan Imhoff
Friends of Felta Creek is a community organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the habitat, forest, infrastructure and community of the Felta Creek Watershed and its adjacent road systems. FFC operates as a non-profit with fiscal sponsorship from Forest Unlimited a 501 c 3. The advisory board includes: Forest Unlimited, Russian Riverkeeper, Dan and Quincey Imhoff & Lucy Kotter.