This week in EPIC’s Eye on Green Diamond dispatch, Amber Jamieson and Rob Diperna have combined efforts to look at both the proposed development Green Diamond has put on the table in Humboldt County, but also approved Timber Harvest Plans just east of Eureka, in the McKay Tract.
One could point to the president of Green Diamond, William R. Brown, former Chief Financial Officer for Plum Creek timber, for the direction in speculative development schemes that may have originated from his experience on the east coast. Last fall, conservation activists from Maine contacted EPIC and asked of Brown’s direction of the company. They specifically asked the question whether the company would be transforming their forests into residential developments, based on those that changed Maine’s forests forever, under Brown’s leadership at Plum Creek. Of course we at EPIC are unsure of the inner workings or strategic plans of Green Diamond’s corporate leadership. One could draw some parallels, however, based on the proposals on the table in Humboldt County.
It is also interesting to note that in a recent flight over the McKay Tract, I noticed the blue tarps sheltering a tree village! After the flight, I looked up the Humboldt Earth First! website and found that they had information about the McKay 09 THP, a threatened mature forest within the McKay Tract, in the Ryan Creek watershed and adjacent to Cutten (Eureka). These dedicated activists are likely the only reason why this grove of forest has not been liquidated into quick profits for Green Diamond. I hope to spread the word of the stand that they are taking, to illustrate how dedicated people will sacrifice so much, to stand up for what they believe in.
While EPIC doesn’t do our advocacy from atop redwood trees, we want to bring to you, our readers, the sixth Eye on Green Diamond, to provide information about this important area. Next week we will focus on what people can do to get involved in this campaign and outline our goals and objectives, as we launch the next phase of our Green Diamond Stop Clearcutting Campaign.
Thanks for reading!
Kerul Dyer, Green Diamond Stop Clearcutting Campaign coordinator
Development within the McKay Tract?
by Amber Jamieson
Green Diamond has numerous large pieces of land that are being considered for rezoning from Timber to Residential. But earlier this year they and two other timber companies sent a letter to the County proposing a voluntary program to keep “the bulk” of their lands in timber production in exchange for weakening Timber zoning regulations. The letter never made it to the Board of Supervisors agenda, but it remains a concern to the environmental and regulatory agencies because it involves the County’s three biggest timber companies working together in an attempt to modify the General Plan outside the of public process.
On February 18th Green Diamond, Humboldt Redwood Company, and Sierra Pacific Industries collectively presented the County with a Declaration of Intent  to “maintain the bulk of [their] acreage as commercial forestland” in exchange for:
- removing any consideration of Industrial Timberland ‘IT’ zoning designation;
- removing Article II of the New Merger Ordinance  [which would merge contiguous parcels];
- maintain ministerial permit for a residence on all legal parcels zoned TPZ; and
- for the “County to actively support increased regulatory efficiency to facilitate cost reduction for permits associated with timber harvesting.”
If the timber companies really wanted to “maintain the bulk of their acreage as commercial forest land” then they would not be opposed to “IT” zoning designations for lands that have high quality timber production possibilities. “IT” zoning would keep industrial timber land from being used for other non-timber related uses such as residential developments.
The “voluntary program” would replace definitive enforceable policies with a toothless promise from the timber companies. Overall, this proposal is a bad idea for timberland within Humboldt County as it would facilitate subdivision and residential construction on some of the County’s most productive timberlands.
One of the areas Green Diamond is considering for Residential zoning is in the McKay Tract, on the west side of the Ryan Creek Watershed. The County has been petitioned numerous times to rezone portions of the McKay Tract from Timber Production (T) to Residential Low Density (RL). The proposed rezone would facilitate residential development in forested areas that exist outside of district and city boundaries. Although the County has not approved any General Plan Amendment to rezone the large tracts of timberland, large portions of them are proposed to be changed from T to RL under General Plan Alternatives B and C. This area is of particular importance because it is adjacent to the Ryan Creek Watershed, which is habitat to the Northern Spotted Owl and Coho Salmon. The image below shows some of the parcels that are proposed to be rolled out of T and into RM, most of which are owned by Green Diamond.
What’s at Stake in Ryan Creek Watershed
by Rob Diperna
In addition to proposed rezoning from Timber to Residential, the McKay tact on Green Diamond ownership holds two timber harvest plans that threaten large, mature second growth forests that are currently providing habitat for Nothern Spotted Owls, Steelhead, and Cutthroat trout, and Coho and Chinook in the downstream area. Ryan Creek has been heavily and intensively logged in both the past and recent past. According to THP 1-08-102, 50% of Ryan Creek watershed was logged by clearcut or shelterwood removal between 1975 and 1989. The plan states that logging has been reduced in recent years. However, a look at past projects shows that a whopping 2,145 acres have been logged over last 10 yrs.
The two THP’s in question, 1-08-102 and 1-08-155, both propose clearcutting that will total 82 acres. Selection logging is proposed in riparian management zones. However selection is also proposed for unstable areas. THP 1-08-102 contains a Channel migration zone class I, slope management zones, and Steep streamside slopes. Salvage is allowed within outer zone of RMZ. Steelhead and Cutthroat trout are known to inhabit Ryan Creek adjacent to the logging area.
The forests in question in 1-08-102 range in age from 85-100 yrs, and have an average DBH of 40″. The THP contains NSO, and no HRA’s are proposed to protect them. For THP 1-08-155, forests age from 65-80 yrs, and have an average of 24″DBH and these stands currently have 85% overstory canopy closer. Here too, the THP contains an NSO site, and a few acres of HRA will result in a very small amount of trees that will be retained. Cutthroat trout exist within this reach of Ryan Creek. Steelhead, Coho, and Chinook exist downstream.
Both THP’s propose logging on unstable areas. THP 1-08-155 will clearcut a vegetated scarp adjacent to an active failing scarp (small unstable area). These logging practices threaten to result in considerable sediment generation and delivery to Ryan Creek, which is covered under the Freshwater Creek TMDL, and is considered a 303(d) listed watershed due to sediment.
In all, Green Diamond logging on these plans will result in the loss of vital dense, old, mature second growth that provides vital habitat for NSO, and trout and salmonid species in and downstream of the plan.