Agency Green-Lights Logging Plan in the Redwoods

Protest Rally July 16 on Gualala River

On July 1, state regulators approved the 402-acre “Dogwood” timber harvest plan (THP) to log in the sensitive redwood forest floodplain along the lower Wild and Scenic Gualala River, to the river’s mouth.  The redwood trees there, many a century old, are in recovery, regenerating after historical heavy industrial logging. The plan was filed by Gualala Redwood Timber (GRT), responsible for clearcut logging in the watershed on its over 30,000 acres of timberland.
Wild-scenic-Gualala-River-runs-thorough-Dogwood-5416-768x576California’s Forest Practice Rules were changed to expand protection of stream areas (known as Watercourse and Lake Protection Zones or WLPZ) from the devastating effects of logging and road building, and those rules should have triggered a rejection of this plan as written. In fact, skid roads (to haul logs out) are prohibited altogether in floodplains according to the state’s Forest Practice rules. But the approving agency, the Calif. Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) granted a special exception to the timber company, in effect denying protection due by law for the mature riparian forest.

GRT said they plan to start logging this summer—and soon.

Friends of Gualala River, Forests Unlimited and others plan a protest rally at 11 am this Saturday, July 16 at Gualala Point Reg. Park on the Sonoma County coast (about 2 ½ hrs north of San Rafael).  See rally poster at http://gualalariver.org/forestry/floodplain-logging/rally-river-saturday-july-16-11am/

You can support the effort to protect this ecosystem and these trees by telling your state legislators that making exceptions to rules specifically put in place to spare what is left of scarce redwood forests and floodplains defeats the rules themselves and serves only corporate profit, not the public interest or ecology. A sample letter follows this alert.

Friends of Gualala River and Forests Unlimited have filed a notice of intent to sue to block this logging plan. They maintain that the plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Forest Practice Act, Board of Forestry regulations, and that it failed to assess significant impacts to forest wetlands, rare plants, archeological resources and special status species without due consideration of reasonable alternatives. CALFIRE is not only ignoring its own rules, but also turning a deaf ear to over 100 public comments, expert testimony, and a petition opposing the plan signed by 1600 residents. It is interesting to note that GRT’s forest manager is Henry Alden, who was timberlands manager for Maxxam/Pacific Lumber back in the days of the huge Headwaters Forest campaign when he argued for liquidating the ancient redwoods of Humboldt County to pay off Charles Hurwitz’s junk bond debts (see Headwaters Campaign History).

Sample letter to elected representatives in Sacramento:
(You can add more details to this letter!)


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)

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