This week, EPIC staff and interns visited active and proposed timber operations on Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) lands in the Mattole Valley. Logging operations on HRC lands along the north fork the Mattole River have been at the center of recent protests and public scrutiny.
The controversy over HRC’s timber harvest operations on Long Ridge in the Mattole Valley has arisen out of concerns that the company is logging old growth and harvesting in unentered forest stands. HRC, for its part, insists that it is not logging old growth trees, and that harvesting in previously unentered stands will not alter the ecological function of those stands.
HRC agreed to a tour inviting EPIC, concerned members of the public and forest activists. Activists guided the tour, taking the group to the harvest areas of concern spending the entire day in the field viewing the active Long Ridge Cable and proposed Long Reach Timber Harvest Plans.
The group unanimously confirmed that the Long Reach THP intends to harvest in unentered stands of mixed age-class with varied types of hardwood and fir trees on steep and unstable slopes; however we saw no evidence that the company intends to log individual old growth trees or in old growth stands. The most unique, interesting and largest trees were marked with an “L” for leave and the late successional characteristics of the stand are to be preserved after harvest.
The question of whether or not previously unentered forest stands should automatically qualify as old growth or otherwise be protected is at the crux of the issues surrounding HRC timber harvest operations in the Mattole.
While HRC has a voluntary policy against the logging of individual old growth trees or in old growth stands, the company currently has no policy prohibiting the harvest of previously unentered stands if they do not meet the criteria of an old growth stand (age, size, structural component and density requirement of 6 or more per acre).
Also of great concern is the safety of forest activists while protesting in active logging areas. HRC has offered that forest defenders can observe timber operations from a safe distance and with appropriate safety gear.
EPIC commends Humboldt Redwood Company’s old growth protection, and efforts to continue working toward building positive community relationships. We are immensely grateful to the forest activists for their watchful monitoring, dedication to the protection of nature, and their ability to keep all parties honest and accountable.
We are committed to continuing to work with community members and Humboldt Redwood Company. Given the unique characteristics of the Mattole Valley, and especially Long Ridge, EPIC would like to see additional protection measures developed in the future for unentered forest stands.
For more information on this topic, tune into KMUD’s Environment Show on Tuesday, June 24th, from 7-8pm. We will be talking about the Mattole, Humboldt Redwood Company and taking calls from listeners.