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‘Dogwood’ floodplain logging plan approved over extraordinary public opposition

On July 1, 2016, CAL FIRE approved the five mile long, 400+ acre “Dogwood” timber harvest plan (THP; logging permit) that lies entirely within the floodplain of the designated Wild and Scenic Gualala River.

Wild & scenic Gualala River runs thorough Dogwood - 5416
Wild & Scenic Gualala River runs through five miles of the Dogwood THP. But no need to worry: Gualala Redwoods Timber’s Henry Alden, the same forester who planned and justified the infamous historical Headwaters Forest old-growth redwoods clear-cutting, assures the public and CAL FIRE that nobody will even notice the five miles of riparian redwood timber harvest and water drafting from the river!

 

Under current California forestry regulations, the floodplain (riparian) redwood forest is supposed to be protected against all logging disturbances like skid trails and haul roads used to move logs out, but CAL FIRE waived those protective rules when asked to grant a massive “exception” to the rules.

Unless the approval is challenged and stopped, Gualala Redwoods Timber will proceed to cut 90-100 year old redwoods and build roads through floodplain wetlands and rare plants and in over five miles of floodplains – sensitive habitats and resources that have not even been surveyed in advance of the approval.

Dogwood riparian redwood marked for chainsaw - 5402
Riparian redwoods in the floodplain of the “Dogwood” THP are marked for the chainsaw. These trees can’t be harvested without skid trails for heavy equipment. Skid trails in floodplains are PROHIBITED by Forest Practice Rules. But Gualala Redwoods Timber asked for an “exception” – 300 acres of exceptions – and CAL FIRE obliged them. Unless their approval is challenged, the “protected” floodplain floor will be ripped up by heavy equipment to fall and haul out logs.

 

Who is doing this?

  • Gualala Redwood Timber – The only timber company in the region that routinely practices clear-cutting of the Gualala River Watershed, and on over 30,000 acres of timberlands.
  • Henry Alden – GRT’s forest manager, the same forester who planned and justified clear-cutting old growth redwoods of the infamous Headwaters Forest and other Pacific Lumber Company timberlands after it was bought out by junk-bond Maxxam Corporation.  Mr. Alden is coincidentally the vice-chair of the Gualala River Watershed Council, a non-profit organization that applies public funds for river and forest “restoration” to  GRT lands – without conflict of interest?
  • CAL FIRE (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) Director Pimlott who granted the permit and the special “exception” to floodplain protection rules that would otherwise have prevented this logging plan.
River recreation next to Dogwood - 5421
Gualala River recreation near the Green Bridge (North Fork mouth) will have a new background sound track if approval of Dogwood THP is not challenged: chainsaw chorus and heavy equipment moving fallen redwoods. GRT forgot to notify the campgrounds nearby of the timber harvest – and did so only when the public complained about the evasion. (GRT assured CAL FIRE the omission was an accident).

 

Friends of Gualala River, in collaboration with a coalition of dedicated conservation groups, is committed to challenge this unacceptable approval and precedent for the rest of the Gualala River floodplain. We will update our website with news as soon as possible.

When the Gualala River was threatened by the waterbag boondoggle, friends of Gualala River stepped up to protect the river. And we did.

When the Gualala River was threatened by the Preservation Ranch scam, Friends of Gualala River stepped up to protect the river. And we did.

Please step up and help Friends of Gualala River, and allies like Forest Unlimited challenge and stop the approval of the Dogwood logging plan.

Help us set new legal precedents to ensure that the full protection of California environmental quality laws and forestry rules to protect floodplains are not defeated by aggressive timber companies and permissive, lax regulatory agencies.

  • Donate to our legal defense fund to challenge the Dogwood timber harvest plan – and set precedents that prevent more floodplain logging plans like it in the Gualala River watershed and the rest of California.

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  • Write to your California legislators: CAL FIRE is making “exceptions” defeating forest practice rules that should protect floodplain redwood forests, contrary to the public interest, for the imbalanced benefit of one industrial timber company.
Addresses:

Jim Wood, Assembly
50 “D” Street, Suite 450
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Sen. Mike McGuire
50 D St., Suite #120A
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

 

Dear ________

CAL FIRE has abused its discretion in approving the “Dogwood” timber harvest plan over unprecedented public opposition.

The Dogwood Timber Harvest Plan approval will cause unacceptable harm to over 400 acres of sensitive riparian floodplain redwood forest along the lower five miles of the Gualala River.

CAL FIRE made an industry-biased, arbitrary “exception” to California Forest Practice Rules that otherwise would have protected the sensitive floodplain forest from logging disturbances.

CAL FIRE has acted against the public interest, under pressure from the local timber industry, Gualala Redwoods Timber.

Please hold CAL FIRE accountable, and demand that this approval be suspended or set aside administratively.

Sincerely,
(Your name here)

 

Dogwood - Flood silt-stained redwoods top of bank - 5474
Dogwood – Flood silt-stained redwoods top of bank.

 

There has not been a five mile long floodplain logging plan – extending along most of the lower Gualala River riparian zone – in modern memory. Previous smaller riparian zone logging plans were stopped even before the rules to protect them were enacted. CAL FIRE bought Gualala Redwood Timber’s argument that the short-term (2 yr old), much smaller “Kestrel” floodplain logging plan conducted during an historic drought proved the 5-mile long “Dogwood” logging would be harmless.

Drafting up to 25,000 gallons per day out of the river during the summer, even during a drought, was also considered by CAL FIRE to be insignificant, even when added to all the other thirsty ongoing and new logging plans and gravel processing and vineyards drawing water from the same aquifer.

Dogwood - Slough sedge wetland - 5459
Big and little wetlands, big and little lies. Gualala Redwood Timber says there are no seasonal wetlands in the Dogwood floodplains. But “obligate” (almost always found in wetlands) wetland indicator plants like slough sedge are widespread in Dogwood THP floodplain, and can even be seen high up on the banks, fed by seeps. The silt-stained redwoods on the banks show the floodplain goes under water more than 4 feet deep during high water – which floods and maintains floodplain wetlands like slough sedge meadows. Floodplain wetlands are supposed to be protected under many laws. The only way to evade protection is to deny they are there. Apparently, that’s not a problem for CAL FIRE and GRT. And apparently, it’s also not a problem for the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife to look the other way, and not even demand standard protocol wetland surveys in the floodplain where they are expected.