Archive for March, 2010

Diminishing Coastal Fog: A Threat to Redwoods

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Coastal FogSummer fog has decreased along the California coast over the last century, threatening redwood forests and their dependent species, reports a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper’s authors, UC Berkeley scientists Todd Dawson and James Johnstone, say the mighty trees and the species that live in and beneath them depend on the cool, damp microclimate provided by the ubiquitous fog.

Dawson told the San Francisco Chronicle, “The redwoods along our coast are highly dependent on fog as a source of water during the summer when water in the ground is scarce. Foggy nights are needed to rehydrate the trees that can’t tolerate long droughts.” Even if established trees can tolerate the increased drought stress, the authors say, fewer young trees will be able to grow to maturity in the same areas where redwoods stand today.

Redwoods’ inability to regulate their water use as closely as other tree species is thought by scientists to be the key reason the enormous conifers are restricted to the cool, moist coastal belt that extends from the central California coast to just north of the Oregon border.

The study of summer fog decline is the latest to suggest that changes in the global and regional climate threaten the viability of familiar ecosystems. But it is among the first to point to specific climate-related concerns for the redwood forest.

Because redwoods are such long-lived organisms, and old growth redwood forests create their own microclimates, the news of their vulnerability may surprise the casual visitor. Advocates for redwood forest conservation have long argued that one of the key flaws in clearcut-based plantation forestry for redwoods is that it reduces the productivity of the overall forest by creating monocultures more vulnerable to drought and heat stress.

The Berkeley study notes several kinds of evidence of the close association between the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and summer marine fog, including biogeography, physiology, and paleoecology. It concludes that the frequency of coastal summer fog is an indicator that reflects key aspects of the coastal climate, including both the wind-driven upwelling system of the California Current and the broad ocean temperature pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

The study used the records of fog levels kept at local airports since 1951, including McKinleyville, then analyzed those data together with temperature records from 114 stations that go back to the beginning of the 20th century. The analysis showed that in the early part of the 20th century the California coast had about 30 percent more summer fog than has recently been the case. The foggiest year on record was 1951, with 62 percent of summer days seeing fog, while the least foggy was 1997, with only 27 percent fog through the summer.

By Scott Greacen

Proposed Legislation Addresses Cumulative Effects of Logging

Monday, March 29th, 2010

hellabadslideA new Assembly Bill introduced by Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata) would help to create a framework for evaluating cumulative effects caused by industrial logging operations on privately owned timberlands. The bill focuses on pilot projects that would map out how to do watershed scale planning. Chesbro is the new Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee (replacing Skinner).

AB 2575 “Comprehensive Forest Land Recovery and Restoration Act,” could ultimately improve evaluation of cumulative effects by requiring CalFire (California Department of Forestry), through pilot projects adopted under new CalFire regulations. According to bill proponents, the projects would: incorporate credible experts and representatives of industry, landowners, agencies, and the public; arrive at a process and produce guidelines; and ensure that California’s private and state forestland health — including vital economic, environmental, and social aspects — are recovered and restored for the long-term.

Chesboro’s Bill would also require CalFire to electronically publish timber harvest plans on a watershed basis, which would facilitate effective public involvement in evaluating and responing to cumulative effects of multiple logging operations in a watershed over time.  According to Chesboro’s AB 2575 Fact Sheet, “this is a process that has been sorely lacking, and that the normal California forest practice regulatory system has been unable to adequately come to grips with and achieve.”

Goals of AB 2575 are to: restore fisheries and wildlife habitat; reduce the risk of wildfire, recover forest characteristics, which will produce high-quality timber; reduce sedimentation and soil loss; achieve optimum carbon sequestration; and restore and recover unique attributes of a given planning watershed.

Assemblymember Chesbro is also the new Chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (replacing Wiggins).

Eye on Green Diamond: A Weekly Dispatch

Friday, March 26th, 2010
This map shows the 10yr logging history on Green Diamond lands in the Maple Creek and Little River areas near Trinidad. This pattern is repeated in watersheds all across the Green Diamond landscape.

This map shows the 10yr logging history on Green Diamond lands in the Maple Creek and Little River areas near Trinidad. This pattern is repeated in watersheds all across the Green Diamond landscape.

For over 15 years Green Diamond Resource Company (and formerly Simpson Timber Company) have been intensively clearcutting in the Little River Watershed.  That trend is continuing into 2010.  This year, the focus of Green Diamond’s logging operations in the Little River Watershed appears to be squared in the Headwaters.

There are currently three more logging operations filed for the Headwaters Little River Planning Watershed. Three Timber Harvest Plans (1-10-011, 1-10-014, & 1-10-015) will combine to operate on 380 acres in the Headwaters Little River Planning Watershed, which totals 8,988 acres in size. Of this, a total of 291 acres combine will be clearcut. The rest is selection near watercourses, road construction, and small habitat retention areas.

Clearcutting has been the prefered method of logging in the Little River Watershed over the last 10 years. Within the 27,703 acre Little River Watershed, of which Green Diamond owns 26,041 acres, approximately 2,015.5 acres have been clearcut over the last ten years. This does not include any other type of logging that has been conducted in the last 10 years. A view of the ten-year cumulative impacts analysis map reveals a patchwork of clearcuts dominating the landscape. (more…)

Thank You EPIC supporters!

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

pisces-tiny-blueEPIC would like to thank everyone who attended the Pisces Party fundraising event last weekend at Beginnings in Briceland.  A huge thank you goes out to the following businesses and individuals who contributed to a successful event: Del McCain, Ken Jorgenson and the Falling Rocks, Sue’s Organics, Sylvia De Rooy, Nat Pennington, Frey, Tasha McKee, Green Living Center, Baroni Designs, Arcata Outdoor Store, Bubbles, Mad River Nursery, Garden Gate, Caravan of Dreams, Zendik artists, Humboldt Glass Blowers, Gold Rush Coffee, Mateel Café, Moonstone Crossing, Chis Turner, Shop Smart Redway, Rays Garberville, Chautauqua, Frey Vineyards, Redway Liquors, and everyone who attended.

As a non-profit organization we rely on contributions from within the community to make our work possible and we couldn’t do it without your much appreciated help. Thank you all again!


EPIC staff

Off Road Vehicles: A Threat to Our National Forests

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Off-road_vehiclesPlease take a moment to comment on the Off Road routes in Six Rivers National Forest. The Forest Service must manage public lands in an ecologically sustainable manner that protects soil and water resources, streams, stream banks, shorelines, wetlands, fish and wildlife, and the diversity of plant and animal communities.  The Travel Management Rule of 2005 mandates all National Forests to A.) Determine the minimum road system needed and to “right size” the road system in order to keep only the roads that they can afford to maintain and B.)  Designate roads, trails and areas that are open to motor vehicle use, which would be added to the National Forest Transportation System.
The Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests have recently released their plans for adding and designating OHV routes in our watersheds. (more…)

Chemical Warfare on Native Species

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Atrazine-3D-ballsNew research from UC Berkeley molecular toxicologist Tyrone Hayes highlights longstanding concerns over the effects of the herbicide Atrazine on frogs and other wildlife.

The study “Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis)” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hayes’ lab found that 10 percent of male frogs treated with low doses of the herbicide became physically female, while the other 90 percent suffered lowered testosterone levels and fertility. Compared to a clean control group, the treated frogs were less successful in mating.

The ‘feminized’ male frogs were fully capable of mating with male frogs, producing eggs that hatched only males – because both parents were genetically male.

In an interview with the SF Chronicle, Hayes suggested that atrazine may not only be implicated in worldwide declines of amphibians, but other species as well. “There is more and more evidence from other researchers,” he said, “that Atrazine is also damaging the immune systems of fish, reptiles and birds.”

A recent article by the California Native Plant Society’s Jen Kalt in NEC’s EcoNews notes that, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation records, an estimated 12 tons of atrazine was used in Humboldt County forests over the last six years.

Atrazine is heavily used in corn production. In a response to the frog study reported in the Washington Post, Lynne Hoot, with the Maryland Grain Producers Association, noted that atrazine use by corn growers, because “about 70 percent of corn and soybeans grown [in Maryland] are now genetically designed to work better with the herbicide Roundup.

Reassuring? Not so much.

Another recent study identified, for the first time, long-suspected synergistic effects from the key ingredient in Roundup and fish parasites. Fish treated with levels of the herbicide previously believed safe and exposed to common parasites at the same time suffered much higher rates of infection than fish not exposed to the herbicide. To cap it off, the snail species that is host to the parasite produced significantly more parasites when exposed to higher, but still moderate, levels of the herbicide.

The study’s abstract concludes, in uncharacteristically strong language for science, “This is the first study to show that parasites and glyphosate can act synergistically on aquatic vertebrates at environmentally relevant concentrations, and that glyphosate might increase the risk of disease in fish. Our results have important implications when identifying risks to aquatic communities and suggest that threshold levels of glyphosate currently set by regulatory authorities do not adequately protect freshwater systems.”

Related Links:

Study: Weedkiller in waterways can change frogs’ sex traits

Synergistic effects of glyphosate formulation and parasite infection on fish malformations and survival

Wikipedia: Atrazine