By Scott Thomas Anderson, Sacramento News & Review, September 23, 2020
Conservation groups sue massive logging project as violation of Endangered Species Act
For many, the lush, towering redwoods along Sonoma County’s Gualala River are vestiges of a once-unspoiled Golden State, the verdant vanguard of a century-old forest that cradles an undammed stream spilling from the coastal mountains into the rolling, white waves of the Pacific. The forest’s surviving tree cover and translucent waters below are teeming with life.
But it might not stay that way.
A logging corporation plans to start cutting through 342 acres of redwood forest near the edge of the river. Experts say that won’t just eliminate a section of brawny, aging redwoods; it will threaten the birds, fish and frogs that live in the Gualala River, which flows directly into a protected marine sanctuary.
Last week, a grassroots organization of Sonoma County residents teamed up with the Center for Biological Diversity to haul that timber company into federal court. They sued to stop the logging project on the grounds that it violates the federal Endangered Species Act.
In a time when catastrophic wildfires have state and federal officials agreeing on the need for better forest management, conservationists argue that the mature redwoods along the Gualala River are the exact kinds of trees that should not be cut because they offer all the benefits of oxygen production and wildlife habitat with a relatively low fire risk.
The lawsuit was filed by Friends of Gualala River, a group that for years has worked to protect wild aspects of the forest within the river’s lower watershed, improve public access to its tributaries and restore its threatened, natural habitat. For its members, there is no more pressing threat than the massive logging proposal from the Gualala Redwood Timber Company.
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Battle begins to save rare redwood forest in Northern California