Last month, EPIC asked our members to tell CAL FIRE not to proceed with the Mitchell Creek Timber Harvest Plan (THP) or any THPs in the heavily used western portion of Jackson Demonstration State Forest. Despite hundreds of you writing in to tell them not to, CAL FIRE has decided to move forward with a nearby THP that could be even more destructive. CAL FIRE needs to know that we are watching them and that these plans are opposed. Take action today!
The Mendocino Woodlands Outdoor Center was constructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. It’s purpose was and remains to “enable the children of the state to better comprehend the outdoors, particularly the social and economic importance of the study, conservation, protection, and utilization of natural resources.” Today, Mendocino Woodlands has over 10,000 attendees each summer. Groups of children and adults use the space to connect with nature and learn about the importance of California’s Coastal Redwood forests.
CAL FIRE has proposed the Little North Fork Big River THP for the area immediately to the East of the Woodlands. During timber operations, “campers in the Mendocino Woodlands Outdoor Center will experience the acoustic effects of logging including falling trees, chainsaws and yarder whistles.” The timber operations will also shut down many of the trails leading out of the Woodlands into the surrounding forest. Popular trails like the “Eagle’s Roost Trail”, the “Marsh Creek Trail”, and the “Big Tree Trail” will be closed for months at a time. Originally, CAL FIRE tried to claim that their logging would have no visual or recreational impacts after the operations were completed. But, when it was pointed out to them by the Department of Parks and Recreations that this was impossible, CAL FIRE amended their position. Now, CAL FIRE claims that “[n]ewly constructed roads and evidence of other timber harvesting activities will be directly adjacent or overlap trails within the the planned harvest area… but are not expected to create a cumulative visual impact.”
The THP area was last harvested 90 years ago and since then has developed into a healthy, second growth forest. CAL FIRE claims that this is a young forest that needs thinning but research has shown that second growth coastal redwood forests develop better without human intervention. The reason is that even single-tree selection logging carries with it a host of associated impacts that negate any benefit conferred by thinning. For example, the THP calls for 3.5 miles of new roads. These new roads will contribute to sedimentation of the Little North Fork Big River and disrupt wildlife. The THP will also disturb 484 acres of high quality northern spotted owl nesting and roosting habitat. Because the area has not been harvested in 90 years, the THP area is one of the best places for Northern Spotted Owls left in JDSF. CAL FIRE claims they are conducting this Timber Harvest Plan to promote the development of late seral forest habitat, but is it worth it to harm northern spotted owls when they could just let nature regenerate on its own?
CAL FIRE just moved this THP into “second review” which means the deadline to submit public comments on this project is fast approaching. Let CAL FIRE know that this 90 year old second-growth forest that is beloved by campers and hikers should be allowed to naturally regenerate without human intervention!