It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. However, in the instance of the timber industry on the North Coast of California, it is not surprising to our team at EPIC to find Green Diamond Resource Company and Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), two of the state’s worst industrial timber sector actors, joining forces to destroy old growth redwoods and harm native species. Despite all the green-washing rhetoric spewing from the public relations and perception management departments of each company, both are revealing their true nature as they hold hands conspiring to violate the law and harm spotted owls and native forests in the recently filed “Nacho Libre” THP.
Timber Harvest Plan (THP) 1-12-114HUM “Nacho Libre” was recently filed jointly by SPI and Green Diamond. The property is located in the Cannon Creek state planning watersheds high up in the Mad River basin. SPI owns the land, but Green Diamond recently bought the timber rights. The THP covers 87.4 total acres, including 58.8 acres of proposed clearcutting.
Of particular concern is Unit A of the plan, a proposed 38.1-acre clearcut threatening to eliminate a Northern Spotted Owl activity center. Spotted owl activity center HUM0301 “Freeman” is contained within this unit. This owl site has been active since the early 90’s with several nesting trees located in the clearcut unit. While the individual nest trees will be left, the rest of the unit is to be clearcut, which will result in “take” of spotted owls as admitted in the THP itself.
How is this possible, you ask? The answer is quite insidious. Since Green Diamond bought the timber rights to the unit, they and SPI are claiming that the Green Diamond Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) can be employed in order to invoke the company’s Incidental Take Permit (ITP), thus allowing the companies to “take” the owl site. Activity center HUM0301 “Freeman” to this point has been protected from outright “take” by SPI, as SPI has never complied with federal law to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for their extensive properties in California. Now, SPI intends to use Green Diamond’s ITP to drive the birds from its property.
If this weren’t bad enough, a pre-harvest inspection conducted by CAL FIRE discovered that Green Diamond and SPI hid the fact that there is a substantial old growth component to the unit. In fact, CAL FIRE indicates that the unit in question likely qualifies as “Late Successional Forest” under the Forest Practice Rules definition. It also turns out that the unit may provide suitable Marbled Murrelet habitat in addition to providing essential habitat for Northern Spotted Owls.
Logging of old growth and “taking” Northern Spotted Owls is completely contrary to the public statements made by Green Diamond indicating that the company would not log old growth and that they are committed to maintaining owls on the landscape. Furthermore, teaming up with the likes of SPI further damages the public credibility of Green Diamond and shows the true “profit by any means necessary” philosophy of both companies.
EPIC staff will continue to monitor the progress of the “Nacho Libre” THP as a key element of our work to expose the green-wash hypocrisy and underhandedness of Green Diamond and SPI’s behavior. Stay tuned for more updates as we involve our members in protecting wild forests and endangered species on the North Coast of California.