Gualala, CA. (April 13, 2020) –
Friends of Gualala River (FoGR) recently took legal action to appeal the decision on the Dogwood timber harvest plan (THP) to the State Appellate Court. In addition, FoGR sought an injunction on logging until the appeal could be heard. The court granted the injunction last week which temporarily suspends logging of Dogwood. Gualala Redwood Timber’s (GRT) logging of Dogwood could have commenced as early as April 15. A hearing date for the appeal is presently unknown.
The Dogwood THP includes logging 342 acres of second-growth and mature redwood forest within the sensitive floodplain of the Gualala River. The THP area is located close to the Sonoma County Gualala Point Regional Park Campground, extending up river to Switchville, at the Green Bridge, and continuing along the South Fork which flows parallel to The Sea Ranch and directly across from, and beyond, the “Hot Spot.” Additional tracts of land containing large redwoods are included in the expansive THP including units beyond twin bridges and along creeks in the Gualala River Watershed.
The THP abuts a portion of the main stem of Gualala River which is designated as a Wild and Scenic river by the State of California for its natural beauty and recreational value. The river is also listed as “impaired” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to excessive sediment and temperature.
FoGR first filed suit to challenge the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (Cal Fire) approval of Dogwood in 2016. FoGR prevailed in its initial and subsequent suit against Cal Fire on the grounds that Cal Fire failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.
FoGR opposes the current Dogwood THP asserting that Cal Fire is ignoring the cumulative impacts to endangered species and rare plants in the sensitive floodplain, a position supported by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW submitted a memorandum to Cal Fire on the current Dogwood THP recommending protection measures for the foothill yellow-legged frog, which is a candidate for listing under California’s Endangered Species Act. Cal Fire rejected CDFW’s and other expert input and approved the latest Dogwood THP.
FoGR maintains that the logging operation, large equipment activity, and felling and dragging trees through the floodplain forest, would damage the habitat that diverse and protected species rely on. Charlie Ivor, FoGR president and devoted fisherman, stated that “Coho salmon and steelhead trout, listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act, will suffer from habitat destruction and sediment run off from the logging activity if Dogwood goes forward as planned.”
The County of Sonoma has been interested in expanding the Gualala Point Regional Park from the park’s campground up river and along the South Fork, basically covering the Dogwood THP area, since the concept first appeared in County planning documents as far back as 1955. A local coalition introduced an effort over a year ago to gain support for the Gualala River Park launching a petition drive that gathered more than a thousand signatures. The coalition would still like to see this effort through, but GRT has shown no interest in selling any of the Dogwood THP area.
Jeanne Jackson, FoGR treasurer revealed to its membership, “There are other efforts being made that we hope to share more about soon. The Center for Biological Diversity is interested in our efforts, which is encouraging. We will have to see what develops.”
FoGR continues to post updates about Dogwood on its website at www.gualalariver.org.