This week in our Eye on Green Diamond dispatch, Rob Diperna has written about issues surrounding the vulnerable Pacific Fisher population within Green Diamond’s ownership boundaries. These small carnivores have become something of a mascot for our team at EPIC, as they have somehow survived a century of boom and bust logging. Without further protections like those provided through the California Endangered Species Act, the Pacific Fisher will likely face more of the same: loss of habitat and food sources.
Now is the time for Green Diamond to take actions to protect these important mammals, by improving their practices across the forests within their ownership.
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Green Diamond Stop Clearcutting Campaign
Green Diamond and the Pacific Fisher
by Rob Diperna
The Fish and Game Commission is on the verge of deciding on the listing petition to protect the Pacific Fisher as “threatened” under the California Endangered Species Act. This action is urgently needed as Pacific Fisher populations decline and there is currently no regulatory mechanism to protect them. The fisher is a specialized forest carnivore related to weasels and otters inhabiting mature and old-growth forests. They are arboreal hunters and are associated with dense canopy areas.
Pacific Fisher populations have been found throughout lands owned by Green Diamond. In the past, Green Diamond has taken no measures to protect Pacific Fisher habitat other than to protect nests if discovered during logging. Green Diamond does not survey for Pacific Fisher other than the use of track plates. This method does not provide an adequate mechanism to determine population size and trends. This method also does not suffice to protect Pacific Fisher in the absence of Timber Harvest Plan level surveys.
Clearcutting and roads have been found to be a significant threat to the survival of the Pacific Fisher. Studies in the coastal and interior of the Northwest California have documented that the majority of moralities are due to predation events, and these predation events on fishers occurred in or closely associated with regenerating clearcuts and roads.
Green Diamond is of course claiming that the fisher population is not declining, and that Pacific Fisher will thrive on intensively logged lands. The truth is however, that The Pacific fisher now occupies less than half the range it occupied in California 75 years ago.
Green Diamond also claims that the protection measures in its Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Conservation Plan, its voluntary deadwood management plan, and its Aquatics Habitat Conservation Plan are sufficient to protect fisher. However recent science suggests that there is not enough overlap between NSO and Pacific Fisher habitat and occurrences to ensure that protection for owls will be enough for the fisher.
The fact remains that on Green Diamond lands, large clearcuts and an extensive and ever-growing road system will continue to destroy fisher habitat and expose them to predators.
The Department of Fish and Game had issued an emergency regulation to protect landowners such as Green Diamond against take of Pacific Fisher, but these regulations have now expired. Thus Green Diamond no longer has protection against take of Pacific Fisher until the Fish and Game Commission decides on the petition.
Green Diamond may add the Pacific Fisher to its newly proposed Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Conservation Plan. This would mean that Green Diamond would acquire an Incidental Take Permit for Pacific Fisher.
Green Diamond’s standard logging practices of extensive clearcutting and endless road building pose a significant threat to the survival of the Pacific Fisher. At present, the populations are too small, too isolated and not genetically diverse enough to withstand much more pressure.