March 24, 1999

What is Mendocino Redwood Co. up to?

Submitted by Beth Bosk and Sal Eggelston

What is Mendocino Redwood Co. up to now? They went after the Spotted Owl habitat a week before the hooting season!

A week before the spotted owl hooting season began March 1 (and by law, logging must cease in areas where spotted owls are suspected), the Mendocino Redwood Co. (remember Sandy Dean) dispatched seven fallers to destroy owl habitat on the steep slopes of THP 98-350 MEN, also known as the Clearbrook Plan.

This is the forestland that drains directly into the upper Albion River.

MRC sent in their fallers, over a failed road, for a week's worth of work the very morning after CDF approved this THP, giving local forest defenders no opportunity to rebut information in CDF's official response, which was not even sent out to the public until after logging had begun.

THP 98-350 MEN is neighbor to Kaisen Gulch.

Sandy Dean has divided these vulnerable slopes into three units. In between each unit is forestland devastated 10 years ago by L-P. Sediment from the bared forestland is being carried down the hillside, across the badly maintained Tom Bell road, right into the muddied Albion where young salmon should rightfully be making their home.

One of the units contains young trees on land barely recovering. Why was permission given to butcher landscape struggling to heal itself?

Forestland defenders found waterbar after waterbar on their main road into the plan that had been squashed by the fallers' trucks causing water to divert down the road, causing rutting and sedimentation. It is the sediment from roads improperly maintained like this one that is smothering what coho salmon eggs were laid in the upreaches of the Albion River this year.

Not repairing water bars after each crossing when rainfall is forecast, as was the case the fortnight the loggers were in Clearbrook, is a violation of the timber harvest rules.

The Gap-linked company is racing after wood over ill-maintained roads and not abiding the timber harvest rules until complaints by forestland activists provoke inspections by CDF.

We also found attempts to use straw to cover up rutting caused by multiple vehicles on unrocked areas.

Slides! MRC is notorious for ignoring slides until they are reported by forestland defenders.

On the Clearbrook plan we found an area of main road that had been slid long enough to sprout new grass that had never been reported to CDF, which foresters and fallers alike, were gingerly driving by.

This slide, 75 to 100 feet long, is at the edge of this road and is obviously still eroding. It can't be fixed until the rains stop and the land has dried because heavy equipment will just make matters worst. So again, as was the case in Kaisen Gulch, they start falling trees before they have a way to haul the fallen logs out, as a way to beat Spotted Owl protections.

Remember the slide first reported by forestland defenders in the Kaisen Gulch Old Growth plan?

Despite MRC's mitigations--and they didn't do what they first said they would do, because, they said, "it was too expensive"--sedimentation from that slide is washing down the rest of the slope, across MRC's road and directly into the Albion River.

In the end, "mitigaitons" turn out to be a little netting, a little straw, some seed that's not taking and a sediment capture pond that isn't working.

And forestland defenders are still determined to keep the old growth area standing and unrocked.

Down by the river...,

The river road is causing major sedimentation.

Water is running down and across the road, picking up muddy sediment and then going directly into the river in many, many places. We found an area where water ran down the road for approximately 300 feet! The stretch of road that follows the Albion River between the Tom Bell Flats and the South Fork is three miles long. We've learned that three different California Department of Forestry inspectors are responsible for three different segments of that road. And nobody is taking responsibility for any of the road, including Andy Baker of Water Quality Control, who is relying on CDF's assessment, and in unwilling to take a look of his own.

This road needs to be put to bed, made off limits for driving and hauling.

Mendocino Redwood Co. claims to be an environmentally conscientious company.

From beginning, they were not!

Racing after wood over ruined roads is not good for the forest, not good for the salmon.

Cutting spotted owl habitat a week before spotted owl hooting indentifies nest sites is not good for the owl.

Sandy Dean is destroying the last of our forestlands.

What the Gap-linked Mendocino Redwood Co. says, and what they are actually doing now, is contradictory.

The California Department of Forestry was informed by forestland defenders of the condition of the waterbars, the failed road, and the destruction of the owl habitat. Only the month before, three activists were approached by a spotted owl in this vicinity.

CDF sent an inspector, Mike McKay, after our call. He required MRC to file an amendment with several changes to the plan, but did not cite MRC for any violations. He came on a day when the sun was shining and although there was evidence water had run down the road because of the maimed bars, no water was running down he road at the time of the inspection. We need protocols that result in stricter enforcement. We need public pressure.

Call these people and express your concern.

CDF * Mike McKay 895-2604 (He needs to be writing violations)

Water Quality * Andy Baker 576-2690 (He needs to stop these plans that send sediment into our rivers)

Fish & Game * Carl Wilcott 944-5525 (Fish & Game is responsible for re-certifying this plan for Spotted Owl compliance. Tell them you don't want MRC to get away with what they did.)

And if you would like to become another pair of eyes in the forest and learn what to look for call us at 937-5703.

Copyright 1999 Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate

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