Hawthorne/Campbell Logging Plans Threaten Mendocino Coho

By
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Photo Courtesy of NOAA

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The Hawthorne/Campbell logging plans in Mendocino County threaten to impact critical habitat for endangered Coho Salmon in the Ten Mile River watershed.  THPs 1-10-078MEN, “Starvation Red” and 1-10-093MEN “Davis Yellow” threaten to directly impact Coho through misclassification of watercourses and subsequent application of inappropriate protection measures for streams that influence fish-bearing streams.  These plans also threaten to combine with a high rate and intensity of harvest to create cumulative impacts to Coho and Coho habitat.

These two THPs are implementing what is known as the “Anadramous Salmonid Protection Rules” adopted by the California Board of Forestry in 2009.  These rules have been decried by the NOAA Fisheries Service as inadequate and unlikely to avoid harm to listed fish species in Northern California.   In the case of “Starvation Red” and “Davis Yellow,” Hawthorne/Campbell is fundamentally misinterpreting  these already inadequate rules for the purpose of providing less protection to streams that influence flow, sediment, large wood, and nutrients in fish-bearing streams.  The end result could lead to direct impact to Coho and Coho habitat. The Department of Fish and Game has recommended correct classification of these streams and application of appropriate protections.  Hawthorne/Campbell has thus far refused to incorporate the DFG recommendations into these plans.

The Ten Mile River watershed is listed as impaired under the Federal Clean Water Act due to excessive sediment and temperature.  Coho are known to be hanging on in the Ten Mile, though recent surveys for Hawthorne/Campbell Timberlands is lacking.  The Bald Hills Creek region of the Ten Mile River basin, much of which is owned by Hawthorne/Campbell, has been subject to a high rate and intensity of harvest over the last 10-15 years.  The Department of Fish and Game field staff has expressed serious concerns over the combined impacts of these plans when recent past and future logging is considered, and has made recommendations aimed at lessening the potential for these combined impacts, including changing logging from clearcut to selection in some areas.

Coho salmon in the Central California Coast are on the brink of extinction.  According to Ms. Charlotte Ambrose of the NOAA Fisheries Service, the Coho are now going the way of the Condor.  Coho are so threatened as a wild population in the Central California Coast region that captive breeding and release may be the only way to save the Coho from complete extinction. 

Logging as proposed under the “Starvation Red” and “Davis Yellow” THPs threatens to directly, as well as cumulatively impact critical Coho habitat by increasing surface and ambient temperatures and increasing sediment to fish-bearing streams and non-fish bearing streams which contribute flow, sediment, large wood, and nutrients to fish-bearing streams.  These impacts will exacerbate already high temperature and sediment levels in the streams associated with these plans, particularly if the non-fish bearing streams are misclassified.

EPIC has petitioned the NOAA Fisheries Service encouraging them to conduct a field inspection of the “Starvation Red” and “Davis Yellow” THPs to assess whether or not the on-the-ground protection measures will be adequate to avoid harm to Coho and Coho habitat.  We have also petitioned the Department of Fish and Game, encouraging them to support the recommendations of its field staff during the THP review and approval process.  We will continue to monitor these, and similar THPs which threaten to impact the critically endangered Central California Coast Coho.