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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sheephouse Creek Timber Harvest Plan withdrawn...for now

Sheephouse Creek Logging Plan Withdrawn

The Ricioli Ranch Non-industrial Timber Management Plan #1-08NTMP-004SON has been temporarily withdrawn from the California Department of Forestry’s review process pending revisions. Information uncovered by the “Friends of Sheephouse Creek” and other state agencies forced CDF to return the plan for revisions. The Friends also stirred public agencies into action and spread public awareness of the problems associated with the plan.

The Ricioli Ranch registered professional forester, Glen Edwards, originally submitted this open ended logging plan in February 2008. CDF returned it ten days later with 4 pages of errors and omissions. Resubmitted in December 2008, the CDF again returned the NTMP with 8 more pages of corrections. We are currently waiting for this plan to be resubmitted a third time. Like all NTMP’s, it receives but one review and approval and then runs in perpetuity without further approvals and with minimal monitoring and enforcement of standards.

The site of this logging plan is located about 2-1/2 miles west of Duncans Mills bordering Sheephouse Creek. It includes 43 acres of a Coastal Commission Special Treatment Area. This plan is based on a ten year harvest cycle, taking 800 million board feet of lumber per decade over the next 40 years.

The plan features moderate to high erosion areas, slopes steep enough to require cable yarding, extensive road reconstruction and new roads, as well as the use of heavy equipment on the existing seasonal roads within the Watercourse and Lake Protection Zone (WLPZ). The plan also sites a log landing within the WLPZ. The plan potentially threatens domestic water supplies.

The watershed is home to endangered Coho salmon, endangered Northern Spotted Owl, threatened Steelhead trout, rare Osprey and Coopers hawk, California Red Legged Frog and the Red Tree Vole.

The headwaters of Sheephouse Creek originate in the Jenner Headlands, recently acquired by the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District. The Department of Fish and Game has proposed multiple habitat restoration projects for the area in 2009 and the National Marine Fisheries Service has identified it as a Core area in their plans for Coho salmon recovery. This logging plan could jeopardize the existing tax payer funded, multi million dollar State/County Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock program which previously restocked Coho in Sheephouse Creek.

Senator Pat Wiggins, Chair for California’s Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, has agreed to send a representative to the site in the near future to meet with the “Friends of Sheephouse Creek” to look first hand at the issues surrounding this NTMP.

Thank you

- the “Friends of Sheephouse Creek”

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