Archive for November, 2010

Beaverslide Timber Sale Threatens Mad River Watershed

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
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The Beaverslide Timber Sale is located just south of Ruth Lake in the Mad River watershed.  The Six Rivers National Forest is planning to commercially log nearly 2000 acres approximately 560 acres with ground based equipment, 1350 acres of skyline and 380 acres by helicopter and would extract 22.4 million board feet of timber.   EPIC with Conservation Congress appealed the project months ago and in response the USFS has just issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.  A few changes were made but may not be significant enough to protect the wildlife and watershed. If you’ve read enough, you can skip ahead and submit your comments here.

Here are a few major details:

NSO- Northern Spotted Owl

The project area contains 13 Northern Spotted Owl nest sites and logging is proposed to degrade up to 345 acres of Nesting and Roosting habitat and 1651 acres of Foraging habitat.  The agency claims that 60% canopy will remain post logging, however, they did not consider the effect of clearing hundreds of swaths in forest stands for skyline cable logging and that NSO nest areas and home ranges are already deficient in suitable habitat.

Water Quality

The 13,241acre planning area lies within the Mad River Watershed, which has been listed as water quality impaired under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act for sediment and turbidity. A Total Maximum Daily Loads for Sediment and Turbidity Report (TMDL) was completed in December of 2007, recommending a reduction of sediment inputs from current levels.  While the agency did increase riparian (stream) buffers, the widths are still only half of what the Northwest Forest
Plan recommends.

The Mad River district is also planning Kelsey Peak Timber Sale, another 1521 acres of logging in the same watershed.  Approximately 271 acres are within Riparian Reserves, 1.4 miles of “temporary” roads and 4.3 miles of reconstruction are proposed.  Harvest volume is estimated at 15 million board feet.

Roads

“The Upper Mad River Watershed is a heavily roaded watershed, which contributes additional fragmentation to a landscape that is already fragmented by natural conditions and previous timber harvest units. Fragmentation reduces habitat for species that require large home ranges with continuous habitats, and species that use interior, non-edge influenced late-successional habitats.

-Upper Mad River Watershed Analysis p 72.

The agency does have an Alternative that would not build more roads, however the others propose over 5 miles of new “temporary” roads.  As we have seen “temp” roads exist on the landscape for decades and damage from compaction and soil damage is imminent.

We’ve made it really easy! Please click here, to write to the Six Rivers Forest Supervisor and the Mad River Ranger to voice you concern.


Comment Period Extended for Statewide Spray Permit

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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Californians concerned about pollution and health hazards created by the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides have until December 16 to submit comments to the California State Waterboard on the little known spray application permit being considered by the agency. To submit comments online right now,  please click here.

On November 2, while most people were consumed with the results of Election Day, the State Waterboard held a public hearing on whether to grant the US Forest Service and the California Food and Agriculture a “broad spray applications permit” that would make it easier for companies and agencies to apply pesticides and herbicides across California.   The general permit would allow “pollution discharge” and would streamline regulations that currently inhibit widespread spraying across the state.

During the hearing, the Board officially extended the public comment period for an additional 30 days, until December 16. If granted, the permit would give preliminary approval for widespread spraying opportunities across the State of California, by  pre-approving a pollutant-discharge into waterways. If taken, this step would allow operators to simply complete a short form as little more than a formality to dump pesticides into California’s rivers and streams.

“By allowing the large scale use of toxic chemicals across the state with less regulation, the Water Board is encouraging the widespread use of dangerous chemicals,” said Kimberly Baker, National Forest Advocate for Klamath Forest Alliance.

Toxic chemicals commonly known to consumers as Monsanto’s Round-up and Garlon 4 are included in the permit, and could be used across National Forests in addition to agricultural lands in stretching the entire length of the state.  In addition, chemicals found in larvacides and adulticides known to cause reproductive harm to fish, amphibians and bees could be sprayed in biologically sensitive areas without additional public input or notification. Many chemicals included in the permit are known to be “highly mobile”–and in aquatic environments are likely to drift into unintended waterways, causing harm to a region much larger than the actual spray area.

“We won’t even know where, when or how much of these dangerous chemicals will be applied to the landscape if this permit is approved,” said Kerul Dyer, of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “People, animals, fish and other species could face serious health risks, not to mention the health of the watersheds.”

In addition to environmental concerns, the dangers to human health have gone largely untested for many of these chemicals, according to the Pesticide Action Network database, a “one-stop site for pesticide toxicity and regulatory information” available online at www.pesticideinfo.org.  Although preliminary studies related to chemicals listed in the permit include “suspected carcinogens that can cause chromosomal aberrations, DNA breaks, and other genetic mutations,” no mechanisms to protect human health and safety are in place. Farmworkers and other agricultural workers could face even more serious risks by exposure to the chemicals and their residues.

“It is essential that the public weigh in, not only to voice their concerns for the fish, wildlife and biological values across our National Forests,” said Baker, “but for human health across our food producing, agricultural state of California.”

In addition to immediate threats to life caused by the spraying, granting the permit would also likely weaken the enforcement ability of the Clean Water Act, a law commonly used by community groups to stop companies from dumping toxic waste into waterways.

We have created  a sample letter, and one click action here to submit comments!

Letters may also be submitted to the Clerk to the State Water Board via email at: commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov (if less than 15 megabytes in total size) or by fax at (916) 341-5620. Please indicate in the subject line: “Comment Letter – Draft Spray Applications Permit”.


Governor’s Veto Cripples DFG Timber Harvest Plan Review

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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In the midst of California’s dire financial crisis, Governor Schwartzenager has taken his pen and lined out nearly all the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Timber Harvest Plan (THP) review program.  While the Governor cites California’s need for additional general funds, the real benefit from this massive reduction in the DFGs budget will undoubtedly fall to big timber.

As part of approving the budget, the Governor vetoed $1.5 million of the DFG’s $2.3 million THP review program.  This action will effectively eliminate DFGs THP review in the Sierra’s and the Northern Interior Region, while leaving scant funds for the Department to carry out its responsibilities to protect anadramous salmonids on the coast.  While it is currently unknown exactly how many DFG THP review positions will be eliminated as a result of the veto, it is clear that the DFG will have to severely limit its THP review.

So what does this really mean?  It means that DFG will likely no longer be able to provide the ‘eyes and ears’ of the public in THP review on paper and in the field.  As the public has no rights to attend Pr-harvest Inspections (PHI), the DFG has been relied on to evaluate biological impacts to listed species, “species of special concern”, and old growth forests.  The DFG has been providing vital field review and making recommendations to protect public trust biological resources, and this loss will significantly hamper the public’s ability to review, comment on, and challenge THPs.

The DFG has been providing vital consultations to landowners designed to protect species that may be harmed by timber operations.  DFG has also been providing vital field review that includes assistance in classifying watercourses, evaluation of forest stands and structural diversity, and stream crossing evaluations.  The loss of the DFG in the field leaves only the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) to evaluate issues related to stream protections.

Another area of DFGs authority which will be significantly impacted by the Governor’s veto will be the consultations and protections for rare plants.  It appears that this responsibility will now fall into the lap of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), an agency with no regulatory authority or obligation to protect rare plants under the FPRs, and an agency that clearly lacks the technical and scientific expertise to adequately evaluate and protect such species.  Thus evaluation and mitigation for rare plants by the responsible agency will likely be completely lost.

The most obvious benefactor of these crippling budget cuts to the DFG THP review program is Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), California’s largest private industrial forestland owner, and one of the worst actors in the business.  SPI owns vast tracts of land, particularly in the Sierra’s and the Northern Interior Region, which includes Trinity, Shasta, and Siskyiou counties.  SPI can now rely on an inept and seemingly complacent Cal Fire to accept its junk science and paltry biological mitigations.  The cumulative effects of SPI’s rapacious logging practices on watersheds, wildlife, and plants will now go largely unevaluated, and unchecked by an agency (Cal Fire) that has demonstrated no inclination enforce its responsibilities under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to protect public trust biological resources in any meaningful way.

So then, what happens to the Marbled Murrelet, the Pacific Fisher, the Opsrey, the Willow Fly Catcher, the rare plants, and other public trust biological resources?  The Governor has basically forced the DFG to abdicate its statutory and regulatory obligations to protect these and other species. The state has both a statutory and regulatory responsibility under the Fish and Game Code, as well as CEQA to protect threatened, endangered, and “species of special concern.”  While the DFG has not historically been the most effective agency in terms of protecting wildlife and watersheds, no other agency has been doing the work to protect these resources.  Cal Fire does not have its own biologists on staff, other than one part-timer in Sacramento, who is mostly working on Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) issues.  Otherwise, Cal Fire is staffed with foresters who are largely inexperienced, and incapable of conducting meaningful biological analysis or providing adequate biological mitigations.  Cal Fire is a forestry agency, not a biological evaluation agency.

Thus it appears that the Governor’s veto has given SPI and other large, industrial timberland owners license to gloss over issues pertaining to public trust biological resources without any agency to provide meaningful checks-and-balances.  The loss of DFGs review of THPs threatens to have a significant negative impact on listed species, as well as “species of special concern”.  This loss also will negatively impact the public’s ability to adequately review and comment on potentially significant direct, or cumulative impact to such species.


EPIC Holiday Book Sale & Arts Alive December 10th

Sunday, November 14th, 2010
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EPIC recently received a generous book donation of hundreds of brand new, hard back, botanical and animal related coffee table books with full color illustrations.  These books would easily be worth 30 or 40 dollars in a store (and some are listed for up to $150 new on Amazon.com) but we are offering most of them for a donation of $15-30!  Books make great gifts and proceeds go to a good cause.  So come down on December 10th from 6-9pm during Arts Arcata, have a glass of wine, check out some our featured artists and their photographs of the beautiful places we work to keep wild, and go home with some awesome books for your family and friends!  Our new office is located at 145 South G Street, Suite A in Arcata.  See you there!

Books We Have Available:

2850 House & Garden Plants
A Redoute Treasury
An English Florilegium
An Inroduction to Bonsai
Art Nouveau
Bonsai
Botanical Prints
Classic Natural History Prints: BIRDS
Classic Natural History Prints: FISH
Duck Stamps and Prints
Edward Lear’s Birds
Garden Rooms
Glen Loates: A Brush With Life
Glorious Flowers
Ikebana
Ikebana (Blue)
John Gould’s Birds
Menaboni’s Birds
Romantic Rooms
Small Garden Design
The Apple Book
The Art of Botanical Illustration
The Art of Natural History
The Botanical Atlas
The Cactus Handbook
The Encyclopedia of Flower Arranging
The Handbook of Cacti & Succulents
The Most Beautiful Flowers
The World Atlas of Birds
Twentieth Century Wildlife Artists
What Flower is That?
What Shrub is That?
World of Birds
Mary Anne’s Garden
Wild America
Essential Annuals
A Book of Lilies
The Annual Encyclopedia
The Oriental Carpet
The Plant Kingdom Compendium
The Wading Birds of North America
 

Thanks to Everyone Who Supported EPIC’s Annual Dinner

Monday, November 8th, 2010
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The Environmental Protection Information Center celebrated 33 years of advocacy work on the Northcoast November 5, when hundreds gathered at the Mateel Community Center to dine, dance and participate in EPIC’s annual membership meeting.  As a highlight to the evening, the 2010 Sempervirens Award was presented to Richard Gienger for lasting achievement in environmental advocacy.  Gienger’s work includes over 35 years working to effectively protect and restore the forests and watersheds in Sinkyone and beyond.
In addition to receiving EPIC’s highest honor, Gienger was also presented a unanimous Humboldt County Supervisors’ resolution, honoring his work. The Supervisors’ resolution thanked Gienger for his “tireless work to protect and restore our environment for the benefit of all species, human and otherwise, that depend upon it.”
With authentic sentimentality, Gienger received the awards and presented a characteristic and humble speech of gratitude. Also during the awards ceremony, Susan Nolan was granted the 2010 Volunteer Award, for her “considerable energies, keen insight, and deep knowledge of persistent environmental issues to the Herculean task of reordering EPIC’s files.”
A program report during dinner let EPIC supporters know about all four major program areas, including Clean Water, Biodiversity Protection, Public Lands Advocacy and Industrial Forestry Reform.
Kimberly Baker, EPIC’s National Forest Advocate reported on this year’s effective work, including the protection of thousands of acres of old growth forest stands across four National Forests and EPIC’s ongoing participation in collaborative, interagency and Tribal planning processes. Rob DiPerna, EPIC’s Industrial Forestry Reform specialist, reported the ongoing and strategic monitoring of logging operations and wildlife management strategies on privately owned timberlands.   To view the slideshow presented at the event, please visit www.wildcalifornia.org.