Eye on Green Diamond

Forest Products Marketing Firm Commits Major Blunder in the Redwoods

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
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FSC Certifies Clearcuts?

FSC Certifies Clearcuts?

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to certify more than 270,000 acres of climate destroying clearcuts in the Redwood Temperate Rainforest

On February 11, 2013, Green Diamond Resource Company (formerly Simpson Timber Company), SCS Global Services (SCS), and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) issued a joint press release declaring a major milestone in the progression of forest management on California’s North Coast.  Unfortunately, the only major milestone here is that a once respected forest certification standard, FSC, is now squarely in danger of losing a significant measure of credibility.

SCS Global Services, an international corporation that provides certification contracting services to a number of industries, conducted, on behalf of the FSC, the evaluation, or audit, of Green Diamond Resource Company’s logging practices.  SCS then published the partial results of the audit in the form of a public report, failing to disclose a significant amount of information about the process, information which at this juncture remains secret.  EPIC’s review of the public report reveals a number of serious weaknesses, enough so that EPIC now questions the decision making process that led to FSC certification for Green Diamond.  It is imperative that the public be given full and open access to the whole certification record in a timely manner.

By certifying over 270,000 acres of clearcutting in the redwoods, FSC has knowingly risked the credibility of its brand.  As a consumer reference, FSC has had a reputation for legitimately identifying forest products that are produced in a manner to reduce social, economic, and environmental impacts. The general weakening of FSC standards, and the deterioration of meaningful access and participation for local communities in the FSC certification process, are widespread criticisms of FSC at a regional and global scale.  What is particularly troubling is that such a mistake could have been made in the Redwood Temperate Rainforest of northern California.

“The spin doctors have once again succeeded in performing life-saving surgery on Green Diamond Resource Company, formerly Simpson Timber” remarked Andrew Orahoske, Conservation Director at the Environmental Protection Information Center.  “With the ongoing climate crisis, the restoration of the great redwood forests is absolutely essential to mitigating the negative impacts of global warming.  It is deeply disappointing that a forest products marketing firm like FSC is blind to these realities.”

Early indications leading to the recent decision to put an FSC stamp on Green Diamond clearcuts were evident long before the logging giant’s press release.  In the fall of 2011, EPIC submitted comments in opposition to a proposal to change FSC standards allowing for even-aged management (clearcutting) in Pacific Coast region, including the Redwood Temperate Rainforest.  EPIC sounded the alarm over where this train wreck was headed; however, FSC ignored our comments and quietly changed the standard to allow for more large industrial landowners on the Pacific Coast to take advantage of the FSC brand and access to markets.  During the Green Diamond audit in June 2012, EPIC again warned of the potential hazards of FSC lowering certification standards to accommodate Green Diamond.  There is little evidence that EPIC’s and other stakeholders’ comments were provided any substantial weight in the decision making processes, heightening concerns that affected local communities are being ignored globally.

EPIC is in the process of conducting a more thorough investigation of the decision to grant FSC certification to Green Diamond Resource Company.  Our initial review is summarized below:

Climate Ignorance
In the year 2013 FSC still fails to take the climate crisis and the essential role of the world’s forests in sequestering atmospheric carbon into account. This is particularly egregious when considering the Redwood Temperate Rainforest Ecosystem enormous potential for capturing carbon and sequestering for thousands of years is unparalleled.  By certifying clearcuts in the redwood forests, FSC is squandering an opportunity to encourage forest management that will assist our society in responding to the present climate crisis.

Endangered Species
By Green Diamond’s own admission, the so- called Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Northern Spotted Owl has clearly failed the species. The HCP has allowed the company to continue to destroy owl habitat, resulting in an undeniable decline in the number of owl nesting sites on Green Diamond property.  Nevertheless, FSC relies on this failed Green Diamond HCP as evidence of the company’s responsible forest management.

Toxic Legacy
Green Diamond has made a commitment to eliminate the use of atrazine, the pesticide likely to be banned nationally in the near future due to well-documented public health hazards.  However, in addition to thousands of pounds of atrazine used by Green Diamond on their property in the past, the company will continue to use many thousands of pounds of other harmful pesticides, such as 2, 4-D, imazpyr, and triclopyr. These substances threaten aquatic species and domestic water supplies, including the Mad River which provides municipal drinking water to tens of thousands of people.  In a 2011 Biological Opinion, the National Marine Fisheries Services has concluded that the use of 2,4-D jeopardizes the continued existence of Pacific Coast salmonids.

Community Conflicts
The award of FSC certification comes at a time of heightened local community conflicts over Green Diamond logging.  This includes the controversial plans to clearcut at Strawberry Rock near the town of Trinidad, and their proposal to clearcut in the immediate vicinity of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, further exacerbating conflicts with local residents threatened with flooding downstream from Green Diamond holdings on the Elk River.

Transparency and Accountability
In reviewing the public report questions have been raised as to how community concerns and comments were integrated and weighted in the audit process.  EPIC will demand access to the full record on deliberations that led to FSC certification for Green Diamond.  Guaranteeing full and open access to information is a key tenant of environmental democracy and EPIC will continue to defend this fundamental right.

EPIC encourages affected community members and stakeholders to ask questions about the process that led to FSC certifying Green Diamond clearcuts in the redwoods.  In the meantime, we will continue to oppose damaging logging and watchdog forest certification schemes in northern California.  Exposing greenwash and public relations spin campaigns that are designed to hide the true environmental and social costs of logging and other industrial activities in Northwest California is an increasingly important job for the organization. The award of FSC certification to Green Diamond has very serious implications for the future of the Redwood Temperate Rainforest, and suggests an unraveling of credible forest management certification processes.  EPIC is committed to exposing the weaknesses of these certification schemes, while advancing policies based on the best available science.

Local North Coast residents who may have feedback to share with Green Diamond should be sure to come out this Wednesday night, February 13, from 6:30 – 8:30 for a public meeting at the Bayside Grange on Jacoby Creek Road outside of Arcata.

Click here to learn more about how EPIC is keeping an Eye on Green Diamond.

 


Green Diamond To Host Public Meeting to Receive Community Feedback

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
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GDclearcutwebEPIC and others have recently received notice from Green Diamond Resource Company (ex-Simpson Timber) that the company intends to convene a public meeting to solicit feedback from the community on its forestry practices. The public meeting is to be held on Wednesday, February 13th, at the Bayside Grange (2297 Jacoby Creek Road), from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

This Green Diamond public meeting has been scheduled against a back-drop of growing discontent in the community at large with Green Diamond’s green-wash and double-speak.  While Green Diamond aspires to portray an image of itself as a responsible forest manager and upstanding member of the community, the company at the same time continues to propose forest management that completely contradicts the companies’ public relations statements.

Examples of this include a Timber Harvest Plan, approved in 2011, which would allow 80 acres of clearcutting outside of Trinidad along the popular and picturesque Strawberry Rock trail.

Further evidence of Green Diamonds indignant disregard for ongoing stakeholder involvement in maximizing the conservation potential of globally important protected areas with the use of restoration forestry techniques is the companies’ proposal to clearcut 70 acres in the heavily impacted Elk River watershed within a short distance of the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

In response to the proposed Green Diamond clearcutting along the Strawberry Rock trail, a community-based group has convened a campaign to protect the site, and has proposed a public meeting to discuss possible options.  The Friends of Trinidad Forest Strawberry Rock meeting will be held on Saturday, February 9th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Trinidad town hall. Please attend this meeting to learn more about the threats to Strawberry Rock, and to prepare for the Wednesday, February 13th public meeting to be hosted by Green Diamond.

Green Diamond continues to operate under the bogus certification standard of the industry-driven Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). EPIC has worked vigilantly to expose the company and the SFI label as unsustainable and, ultimately, a national case study in “greenwash” contrived to hide the truth about the destruction of the redwoods on Green Diamond lands.

EPIC encourages the community to attend this upcoming Green Diamond public meeting and to tell the company exactly what you think of its forestry practices.  The company needs to hear loud and clear from our community that its antiquated and unsustainable practices are no longer tolerable.  We will see you there!

 What: Green Diamond Resource Company hosted Public Meeting

When: Wednesday February 13 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Where: Bayside Grange, 2297 Jacoby Creek Road, outside of Arcata

Why: To communicate concerns about Green Diamond practices, and to propose solutions that will reduce and eliminate the ecosystem and climate damage being caused by Green Diamond’s intensive clearcutting of the redwood temperate rainforest.


Action Alert! Tell Green Diamond: No Clearcuts in Elk River

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
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Green Diamond: Stop ClearcuttingTake Action Now! Green Diamond Resource Company (formerly Simpson Timber Company) is proposing intensive and damaging clearcut logging in the heavily impacted Elk River watershed.  Timber Harvest Plan 1-12-113 HUM “McCloud Creek East #5” proposes over 70 acres of clearcutting in the McCloud Creek watershed, a tributary to the South Fork Elk River, a stone’s throw away from the globally important Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Unlike other land managers in the Elk River watershed, Green Diamond continues to propose intensive clearcutting, road construction, and potentially the use of toxic chemical herbicides.  Clearcut logging as proposed will result in decreased canopy interception and transevaporation, resulting in increased water production and sediment transport to a watershed already suffering from intensive sediment impairment.  Please refer to our December 18th blog post for greater detail about the plight of Elk River and the destructive details of Green Diamond’s new McCloud Creek Timber Harvest Plan.

Take action now and you will be a part of the growing momentum to curb the greenwashing excesses of Green Diamond (ex-Simpson). Tell Green Diamond to stop clearcutting in Elk River and through out their properties.  Tell Green Diamond that intensive evenaged forest management in the Elk River watershed is no longer acceptable, a relic practice from the past that has been shown to result in intensive environmental damage.  Tell Green Diamond to manage for forest and watershed restoration recovery, not for intensive extraction and profit.  Tell Green Diamond to Be a Good Neighbor and to Respect the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Click Here to Take Action Now!


Green Diamond’s Holiday Gift to Headwaters: Clearcuts, Roads and Herbicides

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
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Atrazine_article_clearcut_south_of_korbel_sized

Atrazine applied on clearcut near Korbell. Is this what Green Diamond wants to do next door to Headwaters?
Photo by Jen Kalt

As the holiday season approaches, most of us are thinking about how we can give back to our friends, families, and communities. Apparently, Green Diamond Resource Company has something a little different in mind for the Elk River and Headwaters Forest Reserve. Instead of giving the landscape surrounding Headwaters much needed forest and watershed restoration, Green Diamond has opted instead to give clearcuts, roads, and herbicides. Comic Scrooge and Grinch-like characterizations of Green Diamond’s holiday behavior aside, there is nothing funny about the lump of coal that Green Diamond is stuffing in the holiday stocking of the ancient forest refuge of Headwaters with their new proposed logging activities in the Elk River watershed.

Specifically, EPIC’s monitoring of the timber industry on the North Coast of California reveals that Green Diamond has filed a new Timber Harvest Plan that threatens more than 70 acres of clearcutting in the upper reaches of McCloud Creek, a tributary of Elk River, and at a stone’s throw of the hard fought over Headwaters Forest. The destructive potential of this proposed industrial forestry operation merits a quick history lesson in the evolution of forest management in the Elk River watershed surroundings of the globally important Headwaters Forest Reserve.

The Elk River watershed, located south east of Eureka, is a tributary to Humboldt Bay.  The Elk River watershed has been heavily logged over the last century and a half, with only fragments of the original forest such as the Headwaters Forest remaining.  Though the Headwaters Forest Reserve provides protection for one of the worlds last remaining intact remnants of the ancient redwood temperate rainforest ecosystem, the rest of the watershed is a myriad of young, recovering forest and regenerating clearcuts.

In the 1990s, the now infamous MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Company began the process of liquidating the remaining old growth and mature second growth in the Elk River watershed.  This second cycle logging resulted in intensive road building, tractor yarding, and clearcutting throughout the watershed.  Eventually, with the advent of the 1996/1997 winter storms, the sensitive geology of the Elk River watershed began to unravel, suffering from the combined effects of weather and intensive logging.

1997 Flooding on the Elk RiverPhoto Credit: Salmon-Forever.org

1997 Flooding on the Elk River
Photo Credit: Salmon-Forever.org

It was not until after these historic storms of 1996/1997 that State agencies began to stand up and take notice of the damaging effects of the contemporary forest liquidation of MAXAAM/Pacific Lumber Company.  In fact, in 1997, an interagency team determined that Elk River, along with four other watersheds heavily managed by MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Company, were significantly, adversely, and cumulatively impacted, with timber harvest being a contributing factor.

The results of the intensive forest management of the MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Company, as well as other ownerships in the watershed, such as Elk River Timber Company and what was then the Simpson Timber Company (now Green Diamond), were significant landsliding related to both harvest and roads, and significant channel capacity modification in the Elk River itself, leading to high instances of nuisance flooding that threaten the health and safety of downstream residents.

 With the creation of the Headwaters Forest Reserve in 1999, a new management regime began to be employed in the Elk River watershed.  The BLM immediately began removing roads and selectively managing second and third growth forests in the Reserve in an effort to grow larger trees faster, and to manage for older forest to compliment the newly protected ancient groves.  After the MAXAAM bankruptcy of the Pacific Lumber Company, and the subsequent ownership change to the Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) in 2008, an even greater land base in the Elk River watershed would be managed selectively and for the purpose of growing older, bigger trees faster, with the goal of restoring the watershed to a more natural, unevenaged forest.

Though serious concerns remain related to the volume of HRC harvest in Elk River, the company has without question taken a sophisticated approach to restoration potential and selective forestry in the watershed, and has engaged in an open manner with local and statewide stakeholders with an interest in the long history of industrial forestry reform around Headwaters. In particular, HRC has been attentive to conservationist interest in maximizing the ecological potential of forest management activities in those areas closest to the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Headwaters Preserve

Headwaters Forest Reserve 2012

Unfortunately, Green Diamond has chosen to follow the destructive path of their Simpson Timber roots, and the ecologically and economically bankrupt MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Company, rather than the forward-looking and selective approach of HRC and the BLM.  In late November 2012, Green Diamond filed THP 1-12-113HUM “McCloud Creek East #5.”  In this THP, Green Diamond proposes to clearcut 70 acres within McCloud Creek, a tributary to the South Fork of Elk River.  The THP is located adjacent to a Green Diamond Northern Spotted Owl set-aside, which is adjacent to the Headwaters Forest Reserve.  Instead of managing to grow big trees faster, Green Diamond plans to intensively manage for young, evenaged homogenous tree plantations through the application of clearcuts. These practices can cause significant modification to drainage patterns in the watershed and will result in the generation of a significant amount of surface erosion.  These effects will in turn be felt downstream as channel capacity in the Elk River proper is continually compromised.

The State, for its part, has been shown to be complicit to Green Diamond’s plans to intensively manage its holdings in such a sensitive and cumulatively impacted watershed.  CAL FIRE has thus far shown every inclination that it will approve the THP as written.  Meanwhile, the Regional Water Board, in adopting Green Diamond’s property-wide programmatic Waste Discharge Requirement permit in the fall of 2012 (a permit that EPIC has challenged to the State Water Board), placidly accepted the fact that Green Diamond would intensively manage for clearcuts and short harvest rotations in its Elk River holdings near Headwaters. To add insult to injury, the permitting of this new Green Diamond THP will be financed by common consumers through the new lumber tax on retails sales of wood products in the state of California that the legislatures passage of AB 1492 made into law.

Despite Green Diamond’s appearance of compliance with the law through acquisition of Habitat Conservation Plans and other programmatic agreements, the company continues its rapacious march to convert recovering native forests into homogenous evenaged tree plantations.  The proposal by Green Diamond to clearcut in the direct vicinity of the Headwaters Forest Reserve is more evidence of how Green Diamond is a nationally relevant case study of “green washing,” and that underneath their public relations campaigns the company really has no inclination or commitment to becoming a responsible forest manager now or into the future—and that the State of California is a willing partner by playing along with their “green washing” politics by providing regulatory cover for their activities.

In conclusion, the filing of THPs such as the “McCloud Creek #5 East” show that Green Diamond is not sensitive to the needs of watersheds or its neighbors, and that the privately-held company is far more concerned with its short-term bottom line than with the long-term well being of the redwood temperate rainforest ecosystem.  EPIC will vocally expose the threat that this type of forest management continues to present to the public interest, to local residents, and to the ecological integrity of the most threatened temperate rainforest ecosystem on the planet. Stay tuned for more news and actions from EPIC’s Industrial Forestry Reform program as we prepare to challenge this destructive logging proposal, and to protect the integrity of the Headwaters Forest Reserve.

If it were not for EPIC, the destructive activities of Green Diamond Resource Company (ex-Simpson Timber) would go unexposed and unchallenged. No other organization is watchdogging the timber industry in Northwest California like EPIC does. Your year-end donation can make all the difference for giving EPIC the resources we need to keep up this crucial work to continue to defend Headwaters for the future generations. Please consider donating today!


Final Spotted Owl Critical Habitat Rule Restores Federal Lands, But Excludes Redwood Region

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
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Northern Spotted Owls, by Peter Carlson

9.6 Million Acres Protected as Critical Habitat for Northern Spotted Owls

Decision Reverses Controversial Bush Administration Cuts to Habitat

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups today hailed protection of 9.6 million acres of critical habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl across federal lands in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, but were deeply disappointed by the exclusion of all private and most state lands, resulting in a 4.2 million cut from the proposed designation. The owl has continued to decline since being protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1990, in part because of continued loss of habitat on private and state lands.

“The forests that owls depend on are the same forests we cherish for clean drinking water, habitat for salmon and other wildlife, and outdoor recreation with our families,” said Joseph Vaile, program director of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Ashland, Ore. “We need to focus on protecting and restoring our remaining mature and old-growth forests across all lands, so we can recover endangered wildlife and produce sustainable jobs in rural communities.”

Today’s designation replaces a 2008 designation by the Bush administration that had ignored years of scientific evidence showing that spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest needed more, not less, old-growth forest habitat protection, and had slashed a 1992 designation of nearly 7 million acres by more than 1.5 million acres. This cut of critical habitat was based on a recovery plan for the owl that was widely criticized by the scientific community and revealed in congressional hearings to have been the product of direct political interference designed to undermine the protective measures of the Northwest Forest Plan. Conservation groups successfully challenged the 2008 designation, resulting in today’s designation, which is a substantial increase from both previous designations.

“In restoring extensive protections on federal lands, today’s decision, protecting millions of acres of habitat for the spotted owl, marks the end of a dark chapter in the Endangered Species Act’s implementation when politics were allowed to blot out science,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is, however, deeply disappointing that the Obama administration has elected to exclude all private and most state lands, which are absolutely essential to the recovery of the spotted owl and dozens of other wildlife species.”

While the final rule restores protections to essential federal lands, it fails to fully account for and implement the recovery goal of critical habitat because it proposes to exclude far too much habitat on non-federal lands. Many of these lands provide essential habitat for the owl; many private lands in the “Redwood Coast” region, for example, are absolutely essential because the owl can nest in younger trees with redwoods and the owl’s productivity is consistently higher in the redwood zone as compared with the remainder of the range.

“The evidence is overwhelming that redwood forests are essential to the conservation of the species. Leaving them out of the final rule is a big mistake,” remarked Andrew Orahoske, conservation director for the Environmental Protection Information Center.

Conservation groups also remain concerned about statements in the proposed critical habitat rule calling for “active management” of spotted owl critical habitat, including logging. The scientific basis for logging existing spotted owl habitat to benefit the species remains questionable, at best, with numerous studies demonstrating the owl is sensitive to logging of its mature and old-growth forest habitat.

“The owl needs these areas of protected habitat to survive,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy. “We remain concerned, however, that Fish and Wildlife may allow increased logging in critical habitat, which could also imperil the threatened marbled murrelet, and help the spotted owl’s competitor, the barred owl.”

At most, 20 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s original old-growth forests remain. In addition to providing critical habitat for spotted owls, salmon, steelhead and other species, mature and old-growth forests are important sources of clean water and help reduce global warming.

“Independent scientific peer reviews have been crystal clear on owl recovery being tied to protection of old forest habitat especially as competition with the more aggressive barred owl increases and climate change further stresses spotted owl populations,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist and former member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2006-2008 recovery team who initially raised concerns about lack of habitat protections under the Bush proposal.

Conservation groups, represented by Kristen Boyles, attorney with EarthJustice, successfully challenged the 2008 designation, resulting in today’s designation.

NSOCriticalHab_PR_11-21-12

Associated Press/Times-Standard article from Nov 22, 2012 – Feds aim to double habitat for spotted owl

Redding Record-Searchlight article from Nov 22, 2012 – Feds’ spotted owl ruling sparks criticism; 9.5 million acres for birds excludes private forest lands


Green Diamond Exposed as National Case Study in “Greenwash”

Thursday, November 8th, 2012
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The active summer of clearcut logging on Green Diamond private forestland holdings has raised the eyebrows and ire of many North Coast residents, as well as visitors to the area. The phones at the EPIC office often ring with questions, observations, and complaints about industrial activities from many different corners of our bioregion. The intensity of clearcut logging on Green Diamond lands in Northern Humboldt County has been the subject of several phone conversations with concerned locals phoning into the EPIC office with questions and concerns about what was going on “back there.”

Yet, it wasn’t until we had new photos from the air of Green Diamond holdings in upper Maple Creek and in the upper North Fork of the Mad River that we were able to fully confirm what many residents had been calling in to ask about–that the hardcore Green Diamond logging of the summer of 2012 was almost exclusively based in extensive fresh clearcutting of the redwood forest ecosystem.

We felt it was urgent to share the newest images of Green Diamond forest destruction with the broad community of people all around the state, the country, and the world that have communicated their interest in protecting the redwood temperate rainforests of the North Coast of California.

The photos rapidly caught the attention of our friends and colleagues at ForestEthics. ForestEthics is spearheading a national campaign to expose the “greenwash” of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification scheme. When we told them our story of Green Diamond’s SFI certified redwood forest destruction, the team at ForestEthics was, without a better way of saying it, absolutely disgusted. They decided to turn that disgust with SFI certified redwood forest destruction into action, and promptly published an action alert that features Green Diamond’s SFI certified clearcuts as a national case study in “greenwash.” 

In a blog post titled “Seeing Red: Green Diamond and SFI Greenwash Forest Destruction” the scandal of the SFI certified clearcuts of redwood forest on Green Diamond holdings in Northern California is denounced as an “attempt to mislead us when we as consumers are trying to do the right thing.”  This statement gets to the core of the insidious nature of Green Diamond’s misrepresentation of their forestry practices as “sustainable”–most consumers do not want to pay for forest products that come from destructive clearcut forestry. It is only through massive PR (i.e. “greenwash”) that Green Diamond is able to hide the reality of the impacts that their forestry practices have on endangered species and the most endangered temperate rainforest ecosystem on the planet, the redwood forest. The kind of national exposure that this recent ForestEthics action will give to the situation on the ground in the redwood forest will assist in unmasking Green Diamond and SFI as partners in “greenwash,” and help consumers across the country develop the skills necessary to decipher (and avoid) the destruction that is behind the false eco-labels.

Check out the ForestEthics blog and their new action — Seeing Red: Green Diamond and SFI Greenwash Forest Destruction — and stay tuned for more news from EPIC’s Industrial Forestry Reform Program.


Sacramento 2012 – Banana Republic Politics and California’s Timber Aristocracy

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
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California’s political establishment demonstrated a clear capacity in 2012 for crony capitalism environmental politics. The closure of the legislative session in Sacramento this year would seem to have been better set in a mythical country where societies biggest land owners, and the politicians that they own, conspire in back rooms to develop and pass legislation that consolidates the landowners power over public trust natural resources. Repeated votes past midnight on the last day that the legislature was in session, arm twisting by high end corporate lobbyists, water carrying for the rich by established career political operatives, and the crowing of the landed elite about the “significant reforms” contained in the new anti-democratically designed law are all elements of a scene from the most corrupt of countries. But this scene of banana republic politics is from sophisticated California, a scene from the land of wine and solar panels, a scene from Sacramento in all it’s self-important glory.

These banana republic politics are the backstory to what will become known as Governor Brown’s timber industry legacy giveaway, AB 1492, a law that extends the length of time for executing timber harvest plans and relieves big landowners from liability due to fires they start on their own lands. This new law also removes all permitting fees for timber harvest by the biggest landowners, while imposing a new 1% consumer tax on the retail sale of wood products in the State of California, regardless of their origin, to fund the permitting process. Governor Brown signed the law into effect this week, and promptly released a joint press statement with Red Emmerson of Sierra Pacific Industries, billionaire twice over and largest land owner in the state, to celebrate the Democratic governor’s legacy gift to the landed elite of the State of California.

While EPIC appreciates that this new law reduces timber harvest permitting costs for small and medium landowners and operators, the fact is that it is the large-scale intensive and clearcut dominated silviculture model that costs the state so much money for timber harvest plan review and regulation, as well as restoration. The cost of permitting and recovering from this damaging clearcut industrial forestry model is now passed on to the consumer more so than ever before, and the opportunity to use a fee schedule to reward small and sustainably envisioned timber businesses with permitting relief while forcing damaging industry to pay for their short sited and destructive practices has now been lost. Also, the way things are set up now, those land owners who choose to sell their raw logs for export will be totally subsidized by the regular consumer in California, further eroding the establishment of a sustainable and dignified timber industry in California. These are just a few of the reasons that EPIC opposed AB 1492, and did not turn a blind eye to the machinations of banana republic timber politics.

And we can say Banana Republic politics because, other than Sierra Pacific Industries and Green Diamond Resource Company, another clear winner with this Governor Brown give away to the landed timber aristocracy is the Fisher Family, owners of the Gap clothing empire (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic), and more than 400,000 acres of prime redwood region timber land in Northern California. Enshrining in law that the common consumer pay a tax on lumber to pay for timber harvest permitting is clearly a direct gift from the Governor to the Fisher Family. No other industry in the state enjoys this vaunted status of paying nothing for permitting fees.

As if this were not enough banana republic politics, it is important to remember that the California Natural Resources Agency will be the direct beneficiary of the revenue of this new lumber tax, even though one of the biggest financial scandals of the year was exposed within the Agency at State Parks, with millions of dollars of stashed cash appearing after illegal vacation payouts by top level staff were revealed by reporters at the Sacramento Bee–even as parks were being closed and services seriously reduced. This financial scandal and the absolute violation of public trust that it represents was not even sufficient cause for pause and reconsideration of the management of natural resources by the political establishment in Sacramento. Though some of the better news for EPIC in our efforts to advocate for sustainable environmental planning came in the form of bills that passed that will retain and develop democratic funding sources for our treasured State Parks, our organization is very disappointed in the lack of willingness thusfar from the Sacramento political establishment to address this inexcusable mismanagement issue in a holistic manner through the Natural Resources Agency. The parks finances scandal and the lack of a thorough response by entrenched interests in Sacramento is an indictment of the top heavy reality of the California Natural Resources Agency, a bureaucracy that shows no sign of willing reform.

Corruption, mis-management, back-room deals, and late-night after hours legislative shenanigans, these are the watermarks of Sacramento in 2012. Those who are in the inner circle in Sacramento may applaud their cleverness and agility as they position and jostle within The Building to exercise their esoteric knowledge of how the system is rigged, but they are only pawns in the game. Governor Brown’s legacy timber industry give away only confirms who it is that the government in Sacramento is intent on serving. The real winners continue to be the landed timber aristocracy, and their business interests. The losers are the natural resources of this state and their protection for this and future generations.


Stop AB 1492 – Timber industry giveaway saddles Californians with an unnecessary tax

Monday, August 13th, 2012
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CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!  Please contact your California State Senators, Assemblymembers and Governor and urge them to vote NO on AB 1492.  This embarrassing piece of legislation is poised to fly through the California legislature this week without any substantive debate whatsoever.  It is clearly a cynical attempt by wealthy timber barons at Sierra Pacific Industries and Green Diamond Resource Company to hoodwink the public into paying for damaging logging plans and to tie the hands of prosecutors that attempt to bring claims against the timber giants for causing forest fires that threaten communities and California’s public forests.  Read what long-time forest activist Richard Gienger has to say about AB 1492.

EPIC has been tracking this atrocious proposal since its beginning at the Governor’s office, where we sent a formal letter of opposition.  Again, more recently, we expressed our opposition to the proposal with a letter to the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly.

Logging on private lands in California is significantly subsidized by taxpayers, because timber companies pay very little for public agency review and approval.  The value of these services is estimated at over $20 million dollars per year.

Now, the Legislature and Governor want to impose this expense on the consumer, by charging a tax on all wood products sold in the state. The timber industry will continue to receive free services from state agencies, while the homeowner and builder will subsidize the profits of logging companies.  To sweeten the pot, the bill also reduces fire liability to eliminate ecological concerns in determining the damage, a provision initiated by timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries.  Sierra Pacific recently settled a high profile federal prosecution for negligently causing the Moonlight Fire.  While SPI ultimately settled its obligations, it has secured favor with the Governor to insulate it and other large timber companies from similar liability in the future.

This timber industry give away is anti-democratic, restricts the public’s rights, and saddles Californian’s with an unnecessary tax.

Please take action now and tell your state legislators to vote NO on AB 1492!


Action Alert! FSC — Don’t Greenwash Green Diamond Resource Company!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
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Take Action Now!

Green Diamond Resource Company (previously known as Simpson Timber Company) owns over 400,000 acres of forested lands on the north coast of California in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.  These private lands surround Redwood National and State Parks, the Yurok Reservation, and the communities around Humboldt Bay, Trinidad, Klamath and Crescent City.  Therefore, these lands are critical to the integrity of our natural landscapes, water supplies, fish and wildlife, and productive communities.

Green Diamond is now seeking to certify its forest lands through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a non-profit organization that sets standards for forestry practices in an attempt to balance environmental, social, and economic values. While this could be a promising development, many questions arise because of Green Diamond’s aggressive clearcut logging, their legacy of toxic pollution, their decades long history of antagonistic relationships with local communities and civil society organizations, and their corporate culture of greenwash, impunity, and lack of accountability.

FSC is using a third party company, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), to conduct the audit of Green Diamond’s forest lands.  This process is open to public input and there was a public meeting on June 11th at the Bayside Grange near Arcata.  EPIC was there at this meeting, and the staff of our organization continues to believe that there is real opportunity in this certification process to bring about substantial changes in the manner in which Green Diamond (ex-Simpson Timber) treats public trust resources in our bioregion. We applaud the leadership at Green Diamond for endeavoring to enter into this process. Nevertheless, due to the dynamics at this meeting and concerns that FSC is not registering nor taking seriously the comments of the public, it has been become clear to us that there is a very real risk that the Forest Stewardship Council could provide certification to Green Diamond without bringing about the necessary transformation of their operations on the ground, and without seriously addressing the corporate culture that pays lip service to social and economic concerns while continuing to hide the impacts on our local landscapes and human communities that have resulted from decades of abuse by this privately held Seattle based company.

This is a critical moment in the work being done to establish an ecologically viable and socially responsible forest products industry on the North Coast of California. Take action today, and tell the FSC — Don’t Greenwash Green Diamond!

Read the Public Notification Letter about this process and for more information about how to submit your own comments or click here and take action today!


SB455 Abandons Overreach on Watershed Scale Logging Plans

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
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In a vital victory for EPIC and other conservation groups, the Watershed Timber Harvest Plan (WTHP) provisions of Senate Bill 455 have fallen by the wayside. Early versions of Senate Bill 455 would have created watershed-scale Timber Harvest Plan documents and longer Timber Harvest Plan permits.

SB455 now will focus on policy concerning requirements for landowners to mitigate greenhouse gas increases associated with converting forest land to other uses such as housing tracts or vineyards. EPIC from early on suggested concentrating on this element of the bill and pursuing other available means to addressing needed reform in timber harvest review and regulation. We congratulate sponsor Senator Fran Pavley for stepping forward to protect open space through out the state, and look forward to working with her office directly on future natural resource issues.

EPIC and other conservation groups opposed the WTHP language in early versions of SB 455 because the bill would have allowed large logging corporations such as Green Diamond and Sierra Pacific Industries to lock up entire ownerships within a given watershed in a long-term permit. These “watershed THPs” would have been locked in without the ability of agencies or the public to revisit the plans.  The plans would have allowed large timber corporations to concentrate harvesting activities in watersheds already severely impacted by logging and other disturbance, severely reducing opportunities for restoration.

There is little question that the current Timber Harvest Plan review process is in disarray, and that substantial changes need to be made to the current process before another long-term permit is created.  To this end, staff working in Wesley Chesbro’s office have been working hard to maintain a high level of participation in a Timber Harvest Working Group from a very diverse group of stakeholders. The decision of the proponents of SB 455 to focus on land conversion mitigation is a mature gesture that EPIC takes seriously. This is a welcome development, and it insures that our organization will come to the timber harvest working group table with the energy and expertise necessary to contribute to a cost effective regulatory solution for those operators and landowners who have a demonstrated commitment to sustainable forestry and a high quality wood product. Be sure to stay tuned for updates about this and other elements of EPIC’s Industrial Forestry Reform program initiatives.


Lawsuit Launched to Protect Rare, Mink-like Carnivore in California and Oregon

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
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Humboldt Marten at a bait station for observation in Six Rivers NF.

EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to make a listing decision on a petition to protect the Humboldt marten, one of the world’s most endangered mammals. “Fewer than 100 Humboldt martens are thought to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center. “This critically rare animal needs the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, right now, while there’s still time to save it.”

In 2010, the Center and EPIC petitioned for the protection of the marten under the Endangered Species Act. The Service determined in January that the marten “may warrant” protection as an endangered species, but has failed to make a required 12-month finding to determine whether protection is warranted.

A cat-sized carnivore related to minks and otters, the Humboldt marten was once relatively common but is now found only in coastal old-growth forests in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon.

Because almost all of its old-growth forest habitat has been destroyed by logging, the Humboldt marten was believed extinct for 50 years. It was rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996, and in 2009, the first marten to be photographed in recent times was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera. The historic range of the marten extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. In Oregon, the marten lives in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw national forests.

These extremely secretive animals are known for their slinky walking motion and ability to prey on porcupines by biting them on the face. Typically about two feet long, with large, triangular ears and a long tail, they eat small mammals, berries and birds, and are preyed on by larger mammals and raptors.

“There’s no question that the Humboldt marten needs and deserves Endangered Species Act protection,” said Curry. “We hope the Service will issue a proposed listing without us having to actually file a lawsuit.”

“Clearcut logging and short rotation forestry has replaced diverse native forests with oversimplified tree plantations across thousands of acres of industrial timberland, driving the Humboldt marten to the brink of extinction,” said Andrew Orahoske, conservation director at EPIC in Arcata. “In order to save this unique carnivore from oblivion, we need to ban this damaging forestry practice and promote the restoration of native forests immediately.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 350,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) works to protect and restore ancient forests, watersheds, coastal estuaries and native species in Northern California. EPIC uses an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy and strategic litigation.

Humboldt Marten 12 month NOI

Click to see previous article: ESA Protection Closer for Humboldt Marten

 


UPDATED! Stop SB 455 – Save Our Forests

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
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UPDATE: Everyone’s efforts paid off, as we clearly changed the dynamics surrounding this bill. It did pass out of the California Senate, but with the bare minimum of 21 votes. We sent senators hundreds of email messages, and demonstrated leverage in Sacramento. This means that we are much better positioned to stop this bill in the assembly and promote a legislative proposal that offers true advances in the legal framework that guides forest management. Stay tuned as we keep working on this issue in our Industrial Forestry Reform Program.

Thanks for taking action to stop a dangerous new bill in the California Senate: SB 455 (Pavley).  This bill would dramatically expand the specific 3-year timber harvest plan required under current law, giving logging companies the option of preparing a very general 20-year plan covering up to 100,000 acres.  Astonishingly, the bill proposes no increased protections over existing law, no restrictions on clearcutting, and fails to meaningfully address cumulative impacts to watersheds and endangered species. Furthermore, the bill fails to provide for necessary public participation to ensure that our forests are managed in compliance with the law.  As EPIC and our members know well, but for the public’s watch-dogging efforts, hundreds of thousands of acres of precious native forests would be lost due to the lax oversight by regulatory agencies.  Nor does the bill provide the kinds of enforcement and monitoring provisions that would protect against abuse.  In exchange, industrial timber giants like Green Diamond Resources Company and Sierra Pacific Industries would be able to lock in 20-year plans for aggressive clearcutting across hundreds of thousands of acres in California.

Richard Gienger, longtime forest activist from southern Humboldt/ northern Mendocino, provided EPIC with his dire assessment of SB 455:

“SB 455 is misguided in so many ways – and takes energy away from the major, and often quite simple, reforms that need to happen on private and state forestlands in California. Instead of making sure that information is usefully organized and easily accessible to actually respond to legacy cumulative effects on all California forestlands, it empowers the large companies to make their own environmental documents in a process that is largely out of reach of the public and public trust agencies. Each huge so-called “watershed THP” would last for a human generation. Instead of improving existing long-term planning processes like the flawed Sustained Yield Plan process, a whole new ‘wheel’ is invented that facilitates a plantation-styled forestry that dooms vast acreages to homogeneous tree farms – with no forests being older than 45 to 55 years old. SB 455 does not ensure a sustained yield of high quality timber products, nor does it provide for recovery of invaluable wildlife, water, and fisheries resources. This is all being pushed forward under the guise of improving “carbon sequestration” on California’s timberlands – with the actual benefits being highly speculative, abysmally small or actually negative, and are not even enumerated in the version being considered by the State Senate on Monday. Despite ostensible good intentions of SB 455 supporters, the contents of the bill are a half-thought-out mistake, which may easily be construed as pandering of the worst sort. The people, forestland, and legislators of California deserve a better effort.”


Green Diamond Poised to Log Mckay THP

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
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On Friday, July 8th, Green Diamond filed a notice with Cal Fire that they intended to begin logging operations on the “McKay 09” THP in Ryan Creek, near Cutten, in Eureka.  This notification means Green Diamond could begin timber falling anytime in the proceeding 15 days.  Green Diamond has already begun road clearing operations in preparation for potential logging. The “McKay 09’” THP proposes to log 60 acres of mature second growth and residual old growth redwood forest that supports threatened species such as the Northern Spotted Owl. Ryan Creek is also known to support threatened Coho salmon.  Green Diamond intends to clearcut 37 acres of this forest, while selectively logging 21 acres in riparian management zones.   Behind the clearcutting and forest conversion looms the specter of permanent conversion for residential development.

According to a March 11, 2008 letter from Green Diamond to the County, the Company has 442 acres of suitable development property in the Mckay Tract, 256 of which is already zoned for that purpose.  However, a 12/15/10 article in the Eureka Times Standard indicated that Green Diamond is working with the Trust for Public Land to craft a plan to protect the 7,500-acre McKay Tract next to Cutten and virtually the entire Ryan Creek watershed from development. So now as the chain saws are set to run, the question begs whether Green Diamond wants a community forest, or residential sprawl for the McKay tract.  Resorting to clearcutting some of the last remaining mature forest in the Ryan Creek watershed would send a message of Green Diamond’s intent. Despite all its posturing of good will, it is now unclear that Green Diamond prefers development over conservation in the McKay Tract. EPIC will continue to monitor the situation in the McKay Tract closely.  Please stay connected to www.wildcalifornia.org for more updates.


Information Vacuum: Green Diamond in Maple Creek Part 2

Saturday, July 9th, 2011
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While Green Diamond continues its onslaught of intensive industrial forest liquidation in Maple Creek, the company is doing very little monitoring or research to discern the consequences of these practices for public trust resources.  We know very little about conditions in the Maple Creek watershed, and Green Diamond Timber Harvest Plans recently submitted for Maple Creek are virtually devoid of any data or other meaningful information.  What data does exist is very limited in scope and size, thus rendering it impossible to discern any real patterns or implications from such data.

Maple Creek is known to support both resident and anadromous fisheries, but Green Diamond does not appear to be conducting any monitoring of these species in Maple Creek.  The aquatic monitoring data that does exist represents a small sample size over a small period of time, and the results are wildly variable.  No information about the conditions of habitat for resident or anadromous fish is provided in Green Diamond’s THPs, leaving a massive informational gap that hampers both agency and public evaluation. The only mention of monitoring activities conducted by Green Diamond in its THPs for Maple Creek indicates that recently-implemented headwaters stream monitoring is showing erosion impacts resulting from existing roads, though this data is also limited.

The fundamental requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act to make decisions based on substantial evidence appear to be largely disregarded by Green Diamond and Cal Fire. The virtual informational void in Maple Creek as evidenced by lack of any data or quantitative analysis in Green Diamond’s THPs makes approval of these plans as written suspect at best.  Cal Fire has systemically failed in its responsibility to make determinations based on substantial evidence in light of the record presented. This fact betrays a lack of regulatory mechanisms and controls over potential impacts to fish and other threatened species.

These disturbing information gaps are part and parcel of the ongoing liquidation practices of Green Diamond. EPIC is working hard to expose the activities of this company in order to leverage on the ground changes that protect natural resources from over-expoitation, and to foment company wide reform. The efforts that Green Diamond makes to hide their destructive practices from a forest products market that is increasingly sensitive to sustainability issues made up a big part of our last edition of the EPIC Environment Show on KMUD radio.


Trinidad Community Forum: Green Diamond and Industrial Logging

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
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The high rate and intensity of logging on Green Diamond/Simpson lands is visible from space. GIS credit Lindsey Holm

You are invited to join EPIC’s staff to discuss the impacts of industrial logging operations in the watersheds surrounding our towns in Humboldt County. Please join us at the Trinidad Town Hall on Wednesday July 13 at 6 pm for a Community Forum.

Simpson Timber, the parent company of California Redwood Company and Green Diamond Resource Company, owns roughly 400,000 acres of some of the highest producing lands in the redwood region. There is very little older forest on these lands, and forest resources on Simpson lands are in various states of recovery from past logging and current Simpson activities.

The rate and intensity of logging on Simpson lands is high and very disturbing. High intensity management practices which rely heavily on clearcuts, chemical herbicides, extensive roads, short rotations and plantation forestry betray a flaw in the paradigm of industrial forestry practices, as well as a pervasive lack of government regulatory control.

EPIC wants to hear your vision for a better future on forests and lands in our region. We advocate for the restoration of our forests and watersheds. Intensive industrial forestland management which relies heavily on clearcuts, chemical herbicides, extensive road systems and sterile plantations should be a relic of the past.

EPIC seeks to encourage a discussion around the principles of ecological restoration forestry, and seeks alternatives to the dominant management regime found on many private industrial forest landscapes. EPIC wishes to engage with the community and neighbors of these industrial logging giants to develop a new and more ecologically centered forestry for the future. Come join us on July 13 at 6PM at the Trinidad Town Hall.


Liquidation logging—The story of Green Diamond in Maple Creek

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
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Green Diamond Resource Company (aka Simpson Timber) owns approximately 400,000 acres of highly valuable and productive redwood forest on the North Coast.  Despite the green-washing of the company name, the intensive and damaging logging practices of the old regime has not changed.  The Maple Creek watershed serves as a stark and grizzly example of intensive and systematic liquidation of forest resources as practiced by Green Diamond/Simpson.

Maple Creek is a perennial fish-bearing stream that drains to Big Lagoon, and then the Pacific Ocean. Maple Creek supports threatened populations of Coho and Chinook salmon, as well as anadramous Steelhead trout. The Maple Creek watershed has been subjected to a high and rate of very intense harvest over the last 13 years. The Maple Creek watershed totals 16,841 acres . According to Calfire’s GIS database of logging plans, between 1997 and 2009, 63 percent of the watershed has been logged. Over the next ten years, Green Diamond/Simpson plans to log 5,063 more acres, or 30 percent of the Maple Creek watershed.  This would bring the total logging in the watershed to 93 percent over a 23-year period.  Approximately 75 percent of the total logging over that time will be clearcutting.

The intensive and systematic liquidation of forest resources in the Maple Creek watershed left the watershed devoid of a variety of forest ages and types, and has resulted in the loss of habitat structure and complexity necessary to support the variety of wildlife that once inhabited the watershed.  In particular, the intensive rate of clearcutting in Maple Creek has lead to large-scale conversion of recovering forests to moonscapes and plantations. 

The Maple Creek watershed is just one of many examples of Green Diamond/Simpson’s overall management goals– intensive evenaged management that relies heavily on the application of clearcuts and herbicides, short forest stand rotations, and ultimately, forest liquidation. Public agencies such as the Department of Forestry (Cal Fire) and the Department of Fish and Game have utterly failed to uphold the law and applicable forest practices regulations in the context of the high rate and intensity of logging in the Maple Creek watershed.  These agencies have failed to enforce meaningful limits on logging rate and intensity in Maple Creek, resulting in the accumulation of logging impacts to fish, wildlife, streams, and forests. 

Green Diamond/Simpson’s heavy-handed approach reveals a fatal flaw in the paradigm of private industrial forestry; Logging without limits leads to watershed liquidation, and subsequently, harm to fish, wildlife, streams, and forests.  The rampant and pervasive use of clearcutting, herbicides, short rotations, and plantations on Green Diamond/Simpson lands betrays a lack of adequate regulatory methods and control, as well as exposing the wizard behind the curtain: A large out-of-town corporate entity that disregards the law, the viability of the forests, and the recovery of fish and wildlife in favor of conversion, liquidation, and sterilization of forest resources. 

EPIC is committed to confronting the intensive industrial management of our forest resources and changing the dominant management paradigm on Green Diamond/Simpson lands.  Restoration forestry, community forests, and ecologically justifiable forestry are all viable alternatives to the intensive, whole-sale liquidation of forest recourses in the Maple Creek watershed.  We will continue to advocate for these and other ecologically viable alternatives in hopes of creating a new management regime that will be more viable now and into the future.

Save the Date: June 16th Presentation on Green Diamond.  Join us in Trinidad- Location TBA

Green Diamond Planning Watersheds: Cear-cuts Near Maple Creek and Little River.


Green Diamond HCP delayed by Humboldt Marten concerns

Monday, December 27th, 2010
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The new Green Diamond Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Conservation Plan proposal has been delayed. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Green Diamond has decided to consider including the Humboldt Marten in the HCP. This is likely a reaction to EPIC’s recent petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Humboldt Marten under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Inclusion of the Humboldt Marten in the HCP would allow Green Diamond what is called take means habitat destruction for and what are considered otherwise lawful activities, i.e. logging.

Green Diamond is also still in the process of gathering information on Barred Owls, a habitat generalist that compete with NSO for habitat, and are known to harass NSO. Addressing the complex problems that Barred Owls pose to the conservation of the Northern Spotted Owl will be an important issue to follow in the new Green Diamond NSO HCP proposal.

The new target date for release of the Green Diamond NSO HCP Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is May or June of 2011. EPIC will continue to notify the public of important developments, and important dates related to the Green Diamond NSO HCP.


Eye on Green Diamond: Forest Stand Descriptions

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
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Green Diamond’s methods for disclosing pre-and-post logging stand descriptions are by far the most informative descriptions provided by any large industrial timberland owner.  However, the generalized discussions of vegetation and stand conditions provided in Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) are very vague and potentially materially misleading.

Green Diamond usually discloses the average age of stands to be logged as well as pre-and-post harvest stocking information.  However Green Diamond’s method, which is dictated by the Forest Practice Rules, fails to bring out large, old trees, or residual stand components.

The Forest Practice Rules only require disclosure of what are considered to be “late successional forests”, which are defined as areas of 20 acres or greater.  Thus large, old trees or residual stands or stand components are not expressed in the THP stand descriptions, and because Green Diamond averages out the basal area over entire units, these components are hidden behind the guise of the young, monoculture stands that now dominate Green Diamond lands.

Recently Cal Fire has begun asking landowners to address what are considered “late seral” stands and late seral stand characteristics, if Cal Fire inspectors designate them as such.  However, Cal Fire has thus far not made such recommendations to Green Diamond, although it is clear that some large, old trees and “late seral” stand conditions still exist in some watersheds.  In Jacoby Creek for example, Green Diamond is currently operating on a plan which it states contains stands of very young growth, even though it is clear from the logs coming out of Jacoby Creek that some large, old trees and “late seral” components exit and are being removed.

Green Diamond is able to mask its destruction of “late seral” forest characteristics under the guise of stand descriptions that do not bring out such stand components.  In the end, this allows Green Diamond and other large industrial landowners to employ aggressive evenaged management practices without regard for essential forest elements and “residual” forest characteristics.


Eye on Green Diamond: Wildlife Gets Hit Hardest

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
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While Green Diamond’s forestlands are quickly being converted into evenaged, young, monoculture stands, threatened species and their critical habitat continue to suffer. Although much of Green Diamond’s wildlife protection measures are dictated by its Northern Spotted Owl and Aquatics Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs), the species covered under these plans are subject to “incidental take”, while non-covered species are threatened with outright habitat destruction.

Green Diamond relies heavily on voluntary measures such as its terrestrial deadwood management plan, which is supposed to leave remnant habitat structural elements to support species such as NSO and Pacific Fisher. However there are no enforceable standards associated with this plan that the Department of Forestry can gauge and measure during site inspections.

Green Diamond does not actively survey for species such as Pacific Fisher, relying instead on track-plate detections, which is a poor method for determining location, status, and habitat use for this species. Other non-covered species such as the Red and Sonoma Tree vole, which are a regular part of the diet of NSO, are generally unprotected by Green Diamond during logging operations.

In terms of aquatic species, even though Green Diamond has an AHCP with prescribed mitigation measures to avoid impacts to aquatic wildlife, these measures are generally inadequate. Protections such as so-called “equipment exclusion zones”(EEZ) associated with watercourses are misleading and inadequate to prevent sediment and temperature impacts. In truth, the EEZs are not EEZs at all, but rather are more accurately “equipment limitation zones”, and there are barely any restrictions for which there are not exceptions. Green Diamond regularly conducts ground-based yarding operations in riparian management zones (RMZs), even where steep-streamside slopes exist.

The result is that incidental take of aquatic wildlife such as salmonids and amphibians does occur, and habitat for these species continues to be degraded. Green Diamonds aggressive logging approach, even where selection in RMZs occurs, can and does affect sediment levels and stream temperatures.

Finally, Green Diamond does not consider or address the potentially significant impacts of its intensive and wide-spread herbicide use, particularly on aquatic species. Green Diamond’s own research suggests that herbicides can and do persist on the landscape and in affected watercourses, and research suggests that herbicides can and do affect critical life history stages in some aquatic species. The impacts of herbicide use on terrestrial species is not really understood at all, and Green Diamond does not conduct research on the impacts of herbicides on terrestrial species.

In sum, while Green Diamond’s HCPs regulate to some extent the methods and manners of logging operations on its lands, covered as well as non-covered species remain subject to significant habitat destruction as a result of intensive clearcutting that continues virtually unabated.

In this regard, the California Forest Practice Rules are vastly inadequate to protect threatened species and species of concern as the emphasis in the rules is not on wildlife protection, but rather on cutting as much as possible, as fast as possible. The Department of Forestry largely ignores the paltry provisions of the FPRs that vaguely state that sufficient habitat for resident wildlife be preserved.

The rub is that this provision targets habitat retention for within watercourse zones, and provides no particular standards or targets for habitat retention as a general part of planning of logging operations. Thus Green Diamond and its liquidation of suitable habitat for threatened species and species of concern is enabled by a Department of Forestry that is driven by the charge to approve THPs, rather than protect wildlife.


Eye On Green Diamond:Current Logging in Maple Creek Watershed

Monday, September 20th, 2010
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Green Diamond filed start-up (logging commencement notice) on two Timber Harvest Plans this week.  Both plans are in the greater Maple Creek watershed.

THP 1-08-098 lies in Maple Creek proper.  It covers 131 acres, 90.7 clearcutting, and 22.4 selection. The plan area contains suitable habitat for Northern Spotted Owls, and Pacific Fisher, both of which are known to occur in the THP area. This plan will conduct cable selection logging on steep streamside slopes on Class II (non-fish bearing, but amphibian bearing stream) watercourses.  As with most Green Diamond THPs, this plan has adjacency constraints. This means that operations were restricted from occurring before now because adjacent stands were not either five years old or five feet tall at the time of plan approval.  The forest to be clearcut is extremely young, 50-55yrs old. The plan area drains downslope into Maple Creek, a stream that provides habitat for threatened anadramous fish.

THP 1-09-059 lies in Pitcher Creek and Mc Donald Creek. THP area covers 96 acres, 71 acres clearcutting, and 25 selection. The THP area contains suitable habit for Northern Spotted Owl, Pacific Fisher, Osprey, Southern torrent salamander, tailed frog and red-legged frog, all of which are known to occur in the THP area.  The plan proposes potentially damaging ground based yarding in Class II Riparian Management Zones (RMZs) in some areas. Units A,B,C are oversized, meaning units greater than 20 acres for ground based yarding, or 30 acres for cable yarding.  This plan was also constrained from immediate logging due to adjacent previous clearcutting operations. The forest to be clearcut under this THP averages 60 years old, also representing a very young forest, subject to very fast and intensive rotation.

These THPs represent the Green Diamond pattern of clearcutting, burning, spraying herbicides, and then quickly re-entering stands before any true ecological value to species can accrue.  Species such as Northern Spotted Owl and Pacific Fisher are systematically being forced to abandon suitable habitats for younger and younger forests, forests that do not generally provide the kind of structure and ecological value that would facilitate the survival, and ultimate recovery of these species.