What You Can Do To Help Stop the Timber Harvest Plan
in the Floodplain of the Gualala River, THP 1-15-042 “Dogwood”
This may be the last call for urgent action on the “Dogwood” Timber Harvest Plan (THP), which is now (end March 2016) in the final stages of a permit decision by CAL FIRE.
On Thursday, March 17, a community meeting was held by the Gualala Municipal Advisory Committee (GMAC) regarding the Dogwood Timber Harvest Plan (THP). Henry Alden, the manager of Gualala Redwood Timber (GRT), was there and spoke to the crowd.
When challenged with the basic issue of why GRT is proposing to build skid roads and log over 300 acres of floodplains and wetlands when they are supposed to avoid them under current Forest Practice Rules, Mr. Alden changed the subject. He told us they were going to log “only” 17% of the trees, which he said was considered light harvesting.
This is a red herring. Mr. Alden gave no explanation of why they are not avoiding altogether the building of skid roads and logging disturbances in protected floodplains and wetlands along 5 miles of the lower Gualala River.
This riparian corridor is precious to people as a future Sonoma County Park expansion area planned for decades. And it is precious to fish and wildlife for its special protected floodplain and wetland habitat that GRT’s Dogwood plan threatens with inappropriate logging.
CAL FIRE is currently deliberating on Dogwood, but time is short. (Apple, the other THP we are concerned about, has been approved for logging.) While CAL FIRE is deliberating Dogwood, we ask that you contact your elected officials and ask for their help .
State Senator Mike McGuire can be reached through his aide Kerrie Lindecker at Kerrie.Lindecker@sen.ca.gov.
Assemblyman Jim Wood can be reached on his website at: asmdc.org/members/a02/ Click “Contact Jim” [in the upper right].
Here are some talking points if you would like help getting started. Pick the ones that resonate the most for you, write your officials, and ask them to query CAL FIRE about your concerns. Please be respectful and thoughtful when asking for their help.
- The floodplain forest is sensitive habitat for steelhead and coho salmon, and is supposed to be protected from logging disturbances like skid road building and haul roads. No skid roads (logging roads) are supposed to be constructed in flood-prone forests. GRT is asking for approval of an “exception” to the forestry rules to disturb over 300 acres of flood-prone forest with skid roads they haven’t even mapped in the plan. This proposed “exception” swallows the rule to avoid logging disturbance in flood-prone forests. It should be denied.
- The THP allows for 25,000 gallons of water a day be pumped from the river in the summer months for washing down logging roads. The THP states this pumping will have no effect on steelhead in pools. Where is the science review by qualified independent experts in hydrology to verify the assumptions and analysis behind this claim?
- There are rare plants in the floodplain of the river: California bellflower, California sedge, Fringed Corn-lily, Coast Lily, and others. All are known to occur in the Gualala River floodplain. GRT is substituting decades-old general surveys of all their timberlands, instead of performing up-front rare plant surveys specific to wetland-rich Dogwood THP floodplains, to get approval to log in the floodplain. Why is GRT being allowed to postpone surveys of rare plants, and skip survey of wetlands in the floodplain logging area?
- California Red-legged frogs are known to be present in the THP area. Where are the expert surveys for adult frogs in the floodplain, and where are the up-front plans for protecting them?
- Dogwood THP has no restrictions on herbicide use in or bordering the floodplain itself. The only herbicide restrictions proposed are application with 300 feet of “suitable habitat” for rare Red-legged frog breeding pools. Where are the plans for herbicide use in the floodplain of the river? Why are unspecified herbicides being allowed in or near wetlands?
- Western Pond Turtles are known to be present in the THP area. Where are the surveys for adults in the floodplain, and where are the plans for protecting them?
- Marbled Murrelets have been reported upstream of the THP area. As Dogwood contains mature redwoods 90 to 100 years old, where are the protocol surveys for Marbled Murrelets?
- There are publicly known archeological and cultural Pomo locations within the Dogwood THP area. They include an old camp site, and two old village sites, near the south bank of Rockpile Creek at its confluence with the river, and near the east bank of Gualala River upstream from the confluence of Rockpile Creek. The Dogwood THP does not even disclose to the public that these sites exist or what they will do to protect them, or consult with tribes. Why have they not been identified and where are the plans for their protection?
- Previous smaller logging plans for the Gualala River floodplain forest were denied after challenges from resource agencies and lawsuits. What has changed to allow this unprecedented logging in the floodplain? Is the river healthier, and are the steelhead and coho more abundant? The answer, of course, is no.
- The Dogwood THP would log from the boundary of the campground of Gualala Point Regional Park. This area has a beautiful floodplain forest full of stunning, healthy mature redwoods. Many locals call this the mystical forest or the enchanted forest. The Dogwood THP would continue more than five miles up the river. Below is a map of the proposed THP, Dogwood, which is marked in solid red. Note: It also shows the Apple THP, which has recently been approved by CAL FIRE for logging.
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Ask for a public meeting with CAL FIRE, held by our elected officials. CAL FIRE has discussions with Gualala Redwood Timber LLC, but not with the public despite the unprecedented magnitude of public comment and interest in Dogwood THP. CAL FIRE declined to attend the only public meeting, last week’s GMAC community meeting.
Ask that the Dogwood THP permit decision be elevated to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection for all of the many reasons delineated above.
Please write today, as time is of the essence. Join Friends of Gualala River, Jeanne Jackson (Mendonoma Sightings author), Forest Unlimited, California Native Plant Society, Northern California River Watch, and others working to stop this unacceptable, unprecedented oversize floodplain logging plan on the Gualala River.