On a recent, exceptionally clear day, I was driving from Eureka to Arcata and looked up into the hills to see what appeared to be numerous clear-cuts. I have definitely been noticing more logging trucks barreling through town and was wondering 1) is there more logging going on right now or am I just noticing it more? And 2) how can we track and monitor the logging that is happening on private lands? I know that there are processes and laws in place to protect our public lands, but what about the lands held by private timber companies like Green Diamond or Humboldt Redwoods Company?
A concerned tree-lover
Hi Tree Lover,
Although it is hard to tell, we here at EPIC have not seen a noticeable uptick in logging and logging along the North Coast has been relatively consistent in the past decade, according to data from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. That said, your local area may be seeing an increase in logging. Some timber companies will focus their efforts on smaller portions of their ownership, as they will typically need to sink money into road upgrades before they can log. Green Diamond, for example, seems to be upping the cut from their Klamath holdings.
We think that it is great that you want to start reviewing local timber harvesting. We encourage people to adopt a watershed and comment on Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) in that watershed. You can find THPs and other documents at the CalTREES website: https://caltreesplans.resources.ca.gov/caltrees/. You can search for THPs in your area, either by using the Township and Range Survey System or the Hydrologic Unit Area. You can even sign up to get notified whenever a THP is filed in your area! The website isn’t entirely intuitive, so we recommend that you skim the CalTREES User Guide first.
Next, get to reviewing! Sections II and IV of a THP are the most useful to identify potential issues, if you are time-limited. Look for answers to basic questions, like: Is the THP in an area with endangered species? If so, what is being done to mitigate impacts? Are there unstable slopes? Will new roads need to be punched in? Do you know of other projects nearby that might also affect the environment? Once you have digested and ruminated on the THP, put together your comments and shoot them over to CALFIRE. (The THP file will have information about the earliest date comments may be due and who to send them to.) Effective comments will point out logical inconsistencies, missing or abused science, or other considerations that may not have made it into the analysis.
The more THPs you read, the more you will understand, with the added benefit of getting to know your watershed more intimately.
Hope this helps,
Tom Wheeler, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Information Center.