Eye on Green Diamond: Future Clearcuts Planned

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Friday, August 6th, 2010

A bird's eye view of the Maple Creek watershed.

Green Diamond Resource Company (GDR) has been intensively working to churn out dozen of new logging plans for 2010.  Thus far in 2010, GDR has filed 37 THPs covering thousands of acres.  Nearly all of these plans call for a vast majority of logging operations to be conducted by clearcut.

Most of these proposed new logging plans are concentrated in a few, heavily impacted watersheds.  For example, six of these new THPs are slated to conduct clearcut logging in Little River, four of which are proposed in the Headwaters region, a watershed area that has been heavily impacted by past and current clearcutting. Little River Still provides habitat for salmon and steelhead populations.

In addition, GDR is proposing 12 new clearcutting THPs within the Maple Creek watershed. Maple Creek is a refugia for salmon and steelhead, which drains to Big Lagoon.  Many of the newly proposed logging operations in Maple Creek are in the lower part of the watershed where the potential to impact salmonids and the lagoon is highest.

This large-scale intensive logging strategy will impact critical habitat for imperiled species such as salmon, steelhead, Northern Spotted Owl, Pacific Fisher as well as various amphibians.  For example, a review of these newly proposed THPs indicates that Northern Spotted Owls are present either in or adjacent to a THP in 27 of the 37 cases.  Furthermore, 15 of these newly proposed THPs indicate that Pacific Fisher are present either in or adjacent to the plans.

While GDR proposes some no-harvest within some riparian management zones and habitat retention areas, the vast majority of the logging to be carried out under these plans is clearcutting.  Some of this clearcutting is proposed in and around wet areas, areas of disturbed ground, and potentially unstable areas.  Ground based selection logging is proposed within riparian management zones in many cases.

The 2010 GDR THPs also reveal a few other trends.  For example, 21 of the 37 new plans contain clearcut units that are constrained by lack of completion and stocking in adjacent THP clearcut units.  This means that trees in adjacent units are neither old enough nor tall enough to meet Forest Practice Rules tree stocking constraints required prior to clearcutting adjacent to regenerating units.

Furthermore, 23 of the 37 newly proposed THPs contain what is considered “oversized” clearcutting units.  This means that units contain greater than 20 acres of ground based clearcutting or greater than 30 acres of cable based clearcutting.  These extra large clearcut units are constrained by the Forest Practice Rules in order to protect natural resources such as soil, water, forest health, and wildlife.  Event though Cal Fire routinely approves the execution of these oversized clearcuts, the intent of the rules is to constrain the size and scope of clearcut logging to protect critical natural resources.