This week in our Eye on Green Diamond dispatch, Rob Diperna reports that Green Diamond applied for a new “Habitat Conservation Plan” in an effort to obtain a new 50 year Incidental Take Permit for Northern Spotted Owls that live in the forestlands on the Northcoast. Don’t be fooled! The Orwellian language used in this process can be confusing, if not misleading.
An Incidental Take Permit is like a hunting permit for endangered species. If granted, this new permit will offer Green Diamond the opportunity to “take” more owls, without fear of violating laws protecting threatened and endangered wildlife. In addition to owls, the plan may attempt to get the green light on other wildlife species, like the Pacific fisher.
The documents can be daunting, and the process exhausting, for everyone involved.
Although Green Diamond uses antiquated logging practices like clearcutting, they work with credible, skilled biologists and other scientists in their planning processes. EPIC and our allies acknowledge that most of Green Diamond’s staff and contractors do cutting edge work in an attempt at understanding redwood forest ecology and to minimize impacts of logging operations.
Unfortunately, much of the conservation effort from within Green Diamond’s labyrinth of fish and wildlife research is overshadowed by the company’s continued dependence on liquidation logging practices, heavy use of herbicides and short rotation cycles. We at EPIC must hold the Washington state-based decision-makers (and profit-takers) at Green Diamond/California Redwood Company/Simpson Timber accountable for their irresponsible and destructive priorities, but want to commend local workers, scientists and contractors for their ongoing efforts to perform responsible forestry.
Thanks for everyone’s comments on the Eye on Green Diamond dispatches. With diligence, communication and open-eyes, we can find common ground and solve the problems that plague our environment and our economy on the Northcoast.
Thanks for reading!
Green Diamond Campaign Coordinator
Eye on Green Diamond: Week 5
by Rob Diperna
Green Diamond has applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service for a new Habitat Conservation Plan. According to the Federal Register notice dated April 16, 2010, the new HCP will cover Northern Spotted Owl and potentially Pacific Fisher. To read the documentation, click here .
The proposed HCP would cover Green Diamond lands in both Humboldt and Del Norte counties. The purpose appears to be to obtain a new 50-year Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for the Northern Spotted Owl. Just three years ago, Green Diamond received an extension on its existing NSO HCP, and was given authorization to take eight more owl pairs.
The proposed new HCP could open up areas set-aside for the Northern Spotted Owl in the original HCP. Green Diamond is contending that some of these set-asides do not support active NSO sites, and that the development of suitable habitat in RMZ’s through it’s AHCP would help off-set logging in previously set-aside areas.
Green Diamond has been contending that the provisions of the existing NSO HCP along with its’ voluntary deadwood management plan would provide sufficient habitat and habitat structure for Pacific Fisher. Now however, with the prospects of listing for Pacific Fisher growing, Green Diamond may also seek an ITP for Fisher as part of the new HCP.
There is no denying that the existing NSO HCP, which was issued in 1992, is inadequate, and scientifically and regulatory antiquated. However many of these issues could have been addressed with the extension of the existing permits and HCP. Instead, FWS and Green Diamond intend to start from scratch based on data that Green Diamond has been collecting throughout the life of the existing HCP.
The new Green Diamond HCP proposal is in the scoping stage. Public scoping meetings will not be held, but public comment is being accepted by the FWS until May 17th. To find out more about the project, call Ray Bosch, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office at (707) 822-7201 or e-mail at [email protected] .
Public comment on the scoping documents may be submitted to the FWS at [email protected] A draft EIS is not expected to be available until at least November.