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CAL FIRE and Water Board to Approve Green Diamond Clearcuts in Elk River

The California Department of Forestry (CALFIRE) has recently indicated that it will move to approve Green Diamond’s plans to conduct damaging clearcut logging in the heavily impaired Elk River watershed.  Timber Harvest Plan 1-12-113HUM “McCloud Creek East #5” was recommended for approval at the local level on Thursday May 2nd.

Unlike other land managers in the Elk River watershed, Green Diamond continues to propose intensive clearcutting, road construction, and potentially the use of toxic chemical herbicides.  Clearcut logging as proposed will result in decreased canopy interception and transevaporation, resulting in increased water production and sediment transport to a watershed already suffering from intensive sediment impairment.  Please refer to our December 18th blog post for greater detail about the plight of Elk River and the destructive details of Green Diamond’s new McCloud Creek Timber Harvest Plan.

The recommended approval of the “McCloud Creek East #5” THP comes as a result of the near complete capitulation of the Regional Water Quality Control Board to Green Diamond’s contentions that the Company’s Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and property-wide waste discharge requirement waiver agreement will ensure that no adverse impacts occur as a result of the proposed logging.  The Regional Board’s staff had requested that Green Diamond provide quantitative data to address how the harvest plan will avoid contributing to the ongoing significant adverse and cumulative watershed effects in the Elk River watershed.  Green Diamond failed to provide any data, and instead simply provided a narrative argument describing how its HCP and WDR order would avoid significant impacts to beneficial uses of water and water quality.

The recommended approval also comes in light of the impending release of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) document by the Regional Water Board.  A TMDL is required by the federal Clean Water Act when water quality and beneficial uses of water are impaired due to some anthropogenic cause.  In the Elk River, excessive sediment generated as part of intensive timber harvest and other timber management activities has resulted in significant impairment and has lead to substantial increases in nuisance flooding of downstream residents’ property.

Once again, the State of California and its regulators are found to be complicit to the likelihood that the “McCloud Creek East #5” THP will add to the already impaired conditions of Elk River, and will likely continue to impede the slow recovery of the system.

EPIC will continue to challenge this damaging THP and others like it, and will continue to advocate for restoration and recovery in the Elk River watershed.


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