Endangered Species Habitat

(Last Revised 6/11/2004)

MRC has documented the following threatened and endangered species on the ownership: northern spotted owls (Strix caurina occidentalis), marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus), Point Arena mountain beavers (Aplodontia rufa nigra), king salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coho salmon (O. kisutch), steelhead trout (O. mykiss), and California red-legged frogs (Rana aurora draytonii). Other threatened and endangered species such as the lotis blue butterfly (Lycaiedes argyognomon lotis) have not been found on MRC ownership. Each endangered species has differing habitat requirements, although both northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets are generally found in areas with greater canopy cover and larger diameter trees.

Habitat for northern spotted owls is generally classified as nesting/roosting, foraging, or unsuitable. Nesting/roosting habitat generally has larger trees with greater canopy cover and more deformities that may be used for nests. Foraging habitat generally has lower canopy cover and is characterized by open areas frequently used by prey species such as woodrats. Currently, approximately 1/3rd of MRC land is comprised of nesting/roosting habitat and a majority is comprised of at least functional foraging habitat. Specifically, nesting/roosting habitat is likely to increase on MRC lands due to an uneven-aged management strategy. With the increasing use of uneven-aged management techniques, nesting/roosting habitat will increase over time while the foraging habitat will likely remain the same.

Marbled murrelets generally require old-growth coniferous forest located close to ocean waters with abundant near-shore food resources. The general characteristics of preferred nesting habitat in the Pacific Northwest include the dominance of old-growth trees in a multistoried stand with moderate to high canopy closure. Most murrelet detections on MRC lands have occurred in the lower Alder Creek watershed. Much of the suitable habitat in Alder Creek is atypical compared to what is commonly described as murrelet nesting habitat elsewhere in the murrelet's range (e.g. moss covered, decadent old growth trees). The unique growing conditions, rugged topography, relatively short distance to the coast, and minimal logging activity in many stands has allowed a murrelet population to persist in Alder Creek over the years. Most of this habitat is considered occupied and is currently off-limits to timber harvesting. In fact, any tree on MRC property that is deemed potentially suitable for murrelet nesting is retained under current policy.

Mountain beavers are a highly endemic species found in the Pacific Northwest. In general, they are associated with wooded coastal environments that are typically characterized by the following habitat parameters: cool moist environment, dense stands of perennial vegetation, high percentage of small woody material, well drained soft soil, north-facing slopes and gullies. Point Arena mountain beavers are found in a variety of habitat types including coastal scrub, coniferous forest (often early seral and canopy gaps), and riparian communities. Mountain beavers prefer dense, perennial vegetation, as large amounts of lush vegetation are necessary for their survival throughout the year. It is likely that this type of habitat will continue to exist in equal amounts on MRC lands in the future. Also since Point Arena mountain beavers are associated with early seral coniferous forests and recently disturbed areas on MRC property, it is suspected that some level of timber harvesting may prove beneficial for this species through the creation of more open habitat, provided that existing colonies remain undisturbed.

King salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead trout may be collectively referred to as salmonids. Salmonids utilize streams within MRC's ownership for spawning, summer rearing, and over-wintering. In general, high quality salmonid habitat consists of cool stream temperatures, moderate sediment loads, and adequate amounts of in-stream woody debris. MRC is improving habitat for salmonids throughout its ownership by conserving and developing streamside stands. This should increase the rate of woody debris recruitment to streams and decrease stream temperatures. In addition, MRC is improving its road network in order to decrease sediment loads. MRC is monitoring salmonid habitat conditions to ensure that management activities are resulting in improved habitat.

Red-legged frogs use a variety of habitat types, from aquatic sites for breeding to riparian and mesic upland forests used during the post-breeding season. These species breed in ponds, marshes and slow-moving backwater pools. MRC has identified 18 red-legged frog breeding sites throughout the ownership to date (2004). Of the 18 breeding sites identified, 2 sites support California red-legged frog reproduction, 11 sites support northern red-legged frog reproduction, and 5 sites support hybrid red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii X Rana aurora aurora) reproduction. Of these sites 44% are man-made ponds, 39% are vernal pools, and the remaining 17% are in-stream marshes.

MRC has developed conservation measures for red-legged frogs in conjunction with its HCP/NCCP. These conservation measures are focused towards maintaining or improving red-legged frog habitats and controlling non-native predators (such as bullfrogs). To date, 25% of MRC's ownership has been surveyed for red-legged frog distribution. The remaining 75% of MRCÌs ownership will be surveyed during the next few years.

Overall, Mendocino Redwood Company policy provides for the retention of old growth, as well as second- and third generation trees that posses characteristics beneficial to wildlife. A primary objective of MRC has been to maintain and recruit habitat for threatened, endangered, and sensitive species and to reduce the amount stream sedimentation. MRC is currently employing silvicultural techniques to rapidly reestablish a higher percentage of conifers across the landscape and is growing more trees than are currently being harvested. Thus at the current rate, MRC will double its inventory within the next 50 years. This means that not only will there be more redwood and Douglas-fir trees across the landscape, there will also be much larger trees as well. Rather than only enhancing the value of the timber alone, MRC follows a multi-pronged strategy that enhances wildlife habitat and aquatic resources. The efficacy of these policies will be assessed through scientific monitoring and adaptive management over time.