Archive for August, 2011

Help stop the Little Cronan timber sale on the Wild and Scenic Salmon River

Monday, August 22nd, 2011
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TAKE ACTION NOW!  The Klamath National Forest is proposing to log dozens of old growth trees on the Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River. While EPIC was able to stop this plan temporarily, for USFS failure to complete consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act, the Ranger has said that as soon as there is concurrence the timber sale will move forward. Please contact the Salmon/Scott River District Ranger and ask him to abandon plans to log irreplaceable old growth forests.

The 70 acre Little Cronan Timber Sale is being done through a Categorical Exclusion which does not provide an environmental analysis, even though the project would build landings, skid trails and a logging road over the Garden Gulch Trail in a Key Watershed that is critical for Salmon recovery.

Their Fire and Fuels Report claims that this forest is not a high-risk area for fire danger.  The purpose and need for the project is “forest health” and timber extraction.  We know there are thousands of acres of small diameter plantations that would be more appropriate for “thinning.” Old forests have intrinsic environmental benefits that exceed their value as wood products.

The Cronan Gulch watershed was designated as Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat in 1982.  The same stand was proposed for helicopter logging in the 90’s, which was litigated and dropped because of the designation.  In 2008, the Bush Administration eradicated thousands of acres of Critical Habitat and this watershed was one of them. EPIC challenged this plan in federal court, and even though the Fish and Wildlife Service remanded the ill conceived changes and is currently mapping revised NSO Critical Habitat, the Salmon River Ranger District is moving as quickly as possible to log the area before Critical Habitat is reinstated.

The North Fork of the Salmon River is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River system based on its fisheries values.  It provides 40 miles of habitat for Chinook and Coho salmon and many other native fish. This particular forest stand is an important wildlife corridor between the Marble Mountain and Trinity Alps Wilderness areas.

The Forest Service (FS) itself has already determined that this watershed is important to wildlife. “This watershed has habitat critical to wildlife and fish species that are listed or petitioned for listing through the Endangered Species Act.  Some of these habitat features may be at risk and need protection or enhancement.  Older, late successional forest stands and anadromous fish habitat are considered some of the most important features within the watershed.” – North Fork Salmon River Watershed Analysis 1-1

Take a moment to send a letter to the Forest Service expressing your concerns for this project.


State Legislature Holds Coho Salmon Hearing

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
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The State Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture held an informational hearing on the state of Coho salmon in California on Tuesday, August 16th at the State Capitol.

The informational hearing, dubbed “Coho salmon on the Brink”, featured testimony from several key agencies, including the Director of the Department of Fish and Game, and the Southwest Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Executive Officer of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The DFG and the NMFS presented compelling evidence that Coho salmon populations have substantially declined over the last 30 years, and that those declining trends show no signs of abatement.  Coho salmon populations have all but disappeared when compared with historic estimates, and many historic Coho streams are now considered either extinct or at risk of extinction, even in the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coho region.

Lack of adequate funding, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms to protect Coho, particularly on privately-held timberlands in California continues to hamper efforts to protect, conserve, and restore properly functioning freshwater habitat conditions.  In particular, 2010 budgetary cuts to the DFGs Timber Harvest Plan review program has left the Department hampered in its duties to conserve and recover Coho on privately-held timberlands, where the NMFS estimates approximately 90 percent of remaining freshwater habitat for this species resides.

Water diversions, both legal and illegal, also continue to hamper Coho conservation and recovery.  Once again, the lack of adequate funding for the DFG, and ultimately, the lack of adequate regulatory muscle for the Department continue to allow water diversions, both legal and illegal, to remove essential flow from Coho bearing streams in critical summer months.

The loss of adequate habitat structure and complexity in freshwater habitats for Coho was also identified as a primary limiting factor.  Lack of a streamlined regulatory process to allow for the placement of large woody debris in Coho bearing streams to provide habitat complexity to facilitate rearing and sheltering habitats continues to hamper efforts by the agencies and independent landowners to provide for these essential habitat elements.

Coho salmon are indeed on the brink, and the lack of adequate funding, regulatory mechanism, and enforcement mechanisms at the state level, these trends are likely to continue.  The State must act swiftly and decisively to provide adequate funding, regulations, and enforcement of such regulations if we are ever to hope to recover this iconic fading species and prevent its annihilation .  EPIC is dedicated to the conservation and recovery of this essential species, and will continue to advocate for adequate regulations, and adequate funding and enforcement of those regulations.

 Watch Videos of the Hearing Here


DFG Battles Cal Fire Over Potential Harm to Coho

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
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It is truly rare when the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) provides formal disagreement with Cal Fire over the approval of a THP, but that’s exactly what happened with THP 1-11-038SCR, “Victoria”.  The “Victoria” THP covers only 38 acres of selection logging in Santa Cruz County.  However the THP is located in Branciforte Creek, a tributary to the San Lorenzo River, where the state of Central California Coast Coho salmon is extremely dire.  The San Lorenzo Coho run is considered to be either extinct or on the brink of extinction,  and logging, along with other human-related activities, has been identified as the primary cause of habitat loss and degradation.

As part of its Pre-harvest Inspection (PHI) for the “Victoria” THP, the DFG raised  substantial concerns over the reconstruction of a landing in a stream channel that drains directly to Branciforte Creek, where it is believed that Coho salmon may be hanging on.  The landing construction inside the watercourse channel, and the subsequent use of this landing and the road associated with it, raises significant concern over the potential for sediment to discharge into Branciforte Creek.  The Forester for the THP, the Cal Fire inspector, and the Cal Fire review team all disagreed with the DFG’s recommendation to delete the use of the landing from the THP. The construction of a landing inside a watercourse channel is contrary to standard Forest Practice Rules provisions, and a special dispensation and justification must be made in order to go forward with such a proposal.

The DFG provided a formal letter of disagreement with Cal Fire review team recommendations to approve the THP without incorporating the DFG recommendation to delete the use of the landing.  Cal Fire, for its part, remains complicit, and continues to rationalize away the potential dangers of reconstructing the landing inside the watercourse channel.  Cal Fire has merely required the plan submitter to provide more discussion to justify the use reconstruction of the landing, and subsequently recirculated the THP for 30 days (re-opening the public comment period).

The Cal Fire review team and the plan submitter are not required by the Forest Practice Rules to accept and incorporate all the recommendations of the DFG into approved THPs, and as often happens, Cal Fire is siding with the landowner, while disregarding the concerns of the DFG.  Cal Fire and the DFG have a long and sordid history of disagreement over recommendations made by the DFG, and in most cases, the DFG is forced to either formally disagree with Cal Fire, or simply let its recommendations go by the wayside.  The DFG is often reticent to provide formal disagreement with Cal Fire, as Cal Fire almost always gets their way in these disagreements.  This betrays one of the most fundamental flaws in the Forest Practice Rules;  Cal Fire and landowners are allowed to disregard the recommendations of other public trust agencies such as the DFG, while the DFG is forced to fight for its proposals at management level.

EPIC will continue to monitor this situation closely.  The DFG’s formal disagreement raises substantial concerns over potential harm to endangered Coho salmon, and we will continue to engage with the DFG and Cal Fire in hopes that an amicable resolution can be achieved.


Usal Conservation Easement Approved!

Sunday, August 7th, 2011
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At their July 26th meeting, California’s Wildlife Conservation Board approved 19.5 million dollars of funding for the conservation easement to ensure that the Usal Redwood Forest be protected in perpetuity as a functioning community forest.  The funding was awarded to The Conservation Fund, which will purchase and oversee the terms of the easement. There were more than 760 letters/e-mails in support and only 3 opposed.  Many of the letters in support of the easement were from people who responded to EPIC’s action alert.  Thank you for your participation, it made a difference in Usal!

The WCB vote was 2-0.  The Board Members were confident the easement had adequate scrutiny, was of high quality, and ready for approval.  Chris Kelly, representative of The Conservation Fund, the actual holders of the easement, answered an assortment of questions from the Board Members and from the Legislative Advisory members or their representatives.  Some specific issues included how the easement supported the Coho Recovery Strategy, how the easement would be enforced, the 2.9% per year cutting limitation, and prevention of road-related sedimentation.  Mr. Kelly referenced the requirements in the easement for application of the standards and procedures found in the Weaver/Hagans Forest and Ranch Road Manual.

Related matters and policy issues regarding the WCB Prop 84 Forest Conservation Program will be discussed at the next Wildlife Conservation Board meeting, which will probably be some time in September.  At that time, the Gualala Forest may be up for a conservation easement.


Richardson Grove Benefit Sept 4 at Beginnings

Saturday, August 6th, 2011
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Support Richardson Grove at Beginnings on Sunday, September 4

On Labor Day weekend we’ll celebrate our treasured Richardson Grove and the well-earned Preliminary Injunction to stop the road-widening project.

Help raise funds for the Dec 1 hearing when Richardson Grove goes to court!  EPIC’s lawsuit will drive home the solid science of the McBride findings.  We can win!  And it takes big bucks to go to court.

Enjoy wonderful music!  Marjo Wilson Band will climax the evening, rocking out & bringing all dancers to our feet.  Joanne Rand will play a set including her new Richardson Grove song.  The set by Jefferson Parson and his Raspberry Jam Band will include all 5 of his original Grove songs.  And hey, it’s Jefferson’s 70th Birthday — so it’s a double celebration.

Do come early for a marvelous evening.  Doors open at 5:00, dinner starts at 5:30 by Sue’s Organics.   Beer and Wine available.  Music during dinner includes other singer-songwriters with songs honoring the Grove: Jan Bramlett, Bud Rogers and Jessie Rubin.   Following an invocation by Native Elder Jene McCovey, Gary Hughes will give an update on the campaign to Save Richardson Grove.

Then it’s dessert — delicious tasty treats donated by the community.  Get your energy up while Joanne plays, then put on your dancing shoes for Marjo.

We look forward to building the spirit of the Grove with you and assuring success in court!

Thanks to everyone who helped us meet our $5,000 goal last month to pay our portion of the court ordered bond for the injunction!

We did it! With your help we can keep the momentum growing!