Sonoma County Logging Plans


1-20-00084-SON  “Silver Estates”

Approval of the Silver Estate logging plan adjacent to the Russian River and near the town of Guerneville and home to the tallest redwood in Sonoma County has been postponed again.  The new date for CalFire’s Director’s decision is April 14.  This is the 6th postponement since public comment was closed.  It is still possible to submit public comment although CalFire is not required to respond to comments after the close of comment.  Learn more about this plan here.


1-15NTMP-007 SON “Kidd Creek”

This is a Non Industrial Management Plan (NTMP) is adjacent to the Jenner Headlands plan described below.  The plan includes a haul road along Kidd Creek near CazSonoma Inn that is literally falling into the creek thanks to its use in a previous logging operation.   In May, Fisheries Biologist Patrick Higgins did a site survey of Kidd Creekand found coho slamon in Kidd Creek.  Patrick’s site survey was submitted to CalFire,  California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB).  CDFW responded by sending a memo to CalFire that “As a result of the survey, additional protection measures may be needed.”  CDFW has not actually listed any suggested additional measures.  We will push for specifics.

Because of the presence of coho we were able to get NOAA to comment on this NTMP.  They stated that they had reviewed Patrick’s report and “his methods, analysis, and recommendations seem reasonable.  I encourage you to consider them.  If the road is relevant for the NTMP, then please consider the improvements he suggests.”  They then went on to list several other recommendations.

In late June, the RPF finally responded to the previous issue the we had submitted to CalFire: the lack of a detailed geologic survey that had postponed the April 21 Second Review.  The RPF countered with a geologic survey by his own consultant and addressed a couple of other minor points from the preharvest inspection, but ignored the documented presence of coho.   CalFire scheduled Second Review for July 21.

However, CGS responsed that the geologic survey the RPF had provided did “not appear to adequately address CGS PHI recommendations.”  They were concerned that the plan did not provide a map showing landslides, roads, residential structures, etc.  They ended with “If this basic information and evaluation cannot be supplied and clearly displayed, CGS recommends the plan be denied approval because of public safety concerns.”

NCWQCB, in preparation for the Second Review, went through all of the public comments (they specifically mentioned Patrick’s report) and the latest update from the RPF and said that “Based on this review, we believe that as currently written, the propose NTMP has not adequately demonstrated that measures to prevent or minimize impacts resulting from use of Kidd Creek Road during logging operations are sufficient to protect the beneficial uses of water outlined in the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Regions (Basin Plan).”  More succinctly, the plan violates the Basin Plan and cannot go forward until corrected.

Because of the feedback from CGS, CalFire postponed the July 21 Second Review.  There has been no new submission from the RPF since then, so currently we still have not had Second Review.

While waiting for the RPFs response:

The UCSD Extension program did their summer 2016 coho juvenile survey and for the first time reported the presence of coho in Kidd Creek.  They only saw 9 coho, but in a footnote on the Kidd Creek data they noted that “Greater numbers of coho observed by an independent fisheries biologist in May 2016, before extensive drying occurred.”  That biologist was, of course, Patrick Higgins.

Bart Sears has been collecting timelapse photos of Kidd Creek near his house, documenting creek levels.

When Patrick visited in May, he put three water temperature probes in Kidd Creek to check on the summer water temperatures.  The probes have retrieved and the temperature data downloaded.  It looks reasonable for coho.  Patrick is writing up a memo analyzing the temperature data and we will submit this latest memo to Calfire.

Kidd Creek was selected by the UCSD folks for coho Spawner surveys this winter.  They are walking the creek roughly once a week looking for the presence of adult coho.  The last I heard from them they had not seen any, but the prime season is from December 15 to January 15, so hopefully they will spot some in the next couple of months.

Bart also has an automated weather station at his house on Kidd Creek that posts to Weather Underground: .  This provides both rainfall data as well as outside temperature readings. This makes it easy to graph rainfall and then correlate the data to the timelapse photos and also the data from the water temperature probes.  Also Bart added a Webcam that posts realtime photos (once a minute) to Weather Underground.  On the section of his weather data that has the radar images, if you click on the Webcam tab you will see the latest image.  During most of the day there is a nice color photo.  If you click on the photo, you will get a higher resolution image as well as go to a page that lets you review past photos. The UCSD folks doing the winter spawner surveys were very happy to find out about this camera as it lets them check out creek levels before their visits.

We all owe thanks to the group of neighbors along Kidd Creek who are taking protection of their watershed so seriously.  And a special thanks to Bart Sears, his geologist father and Patrick Higgens.  Bravo!

1-15-065SON  Jenner Headlands

For Forest Unlimited’s comments on this plan click: comments01-15-065SON

1-15-033SON “Apple”

This logging plan covers 106 acres, 89 acres of which is clear cut!  Seventeen acres is  selection silviculture and 15 acres will be left uncut.

1-15-042SON “Doogwood” and -033 and -042

This logging plan is 402 acres total, with 320 acres using selection, 12 acres using Special Treatment, and 70 acres left uncut.

033 and 042 will be treated together since they in many ways similar.  Both are in the Gualala River watershed.  This is a particularly beautiful part of the river as anyone knows who has seen it.  Both plans are submitted by the same landowner (Gualala Redwoods Inc.), both were prepared by the same forester and both have the same issues.

The 033 plan is particularly objectionable because it involves 89 acres of clear-cut.  This is the most destructive logging technique.

Both plans will introduce sediment into the Gualala River which is a Class I stream with salmonids and is listed by the EPA as degraded for both sediment and temperature.  Forest Unlimited has highlighted this in the comments submitted because failing to improve the water quality of the stream is in violation of Federal Law.  Both plans have numerous other legal flaws which Forest Unlimited has identified in detail including failure to analyze feasible alternatives properly, failure to address greenhouse gas emissions properly, failure to justify their claim of “no environmental impact” with data based analysis and failure to include critical information to permit public review in addition to conducting the logging in a way contrary to details of the Forest Practice Rules.

Forest Unlimited’s comments on these two plans follow:



Forest Unlimited has teamed with California Native Plant Society, Madrone Audobon Society, FoGr, and Northern California River Watch to comment further on these plans:

CAL FIRE THP Audubon CNPS FU RiverWatch Dogwood & Apple 1-15 042 & 033 SON Comments 072415(2)

1-15NTMP-001SON  “Browder”

Second Review for this plan was held and the review committee recommended approval. The public comments, including those from Forest Unlimited were not addressed at the time of the second review. The comments submitted by Forest Unlimited and others create a basis for a potential lawsuit to block or alter this plan.

NTMPs like this one are problematic because once approved they allow cutting trees indefinitely without additional review or approvals. This plan is designated 1-15NTMP-001SON (the “Browder” plan) and is for group selection on a total of 320 Acres 2.6 miles west of Occidental. Group selection can do a lot of harm to the forest ecology and can be very much like a series of clearcuts. This is in the drainage for Coleman Valley Creek on Coleman Valley Road. Although this part of Coleman Valley is not fish bearing due to a downstream blockage, it feeds Salmon Creek which has endangered salmonids. The salmonids downstream will be negatively impacted by sediment flowing downstream from the logging, herbicides and pumping water from the stream for dust abatement. These will be exacerbated in the current drought conditions.

The south end of the property proposed for logging extends to Fitzpatrick Lane close to the Grove of the Old Trees. It is possible some logged areas will be visible from Fitzpatrick Ln. on the way to the Grove. The NTMP claims only 2nd and 3rd growth trees are on the property but the tree survey provided by the forester has trees over 100” in diameter, larger than expected for any but old growth. There is no commitment to protect these large, ancient trees that provide wonderful valuable habitat for wildlife. Some of these large old trees will be cut. Forest Unlimited has reviewed the details of this plan and submitted extensive public comments on the aspects of the plan that are in violation of state law and contrary to the Forest Practice Rules.

Forest Unlimited comments 01-15NTMP-001SON

Note:  Calfire Website

Early in 2015 Calfire improved their website.  Old links to Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) and Non-Industrial Timber Management Plans (NTMPs) may no longer work.  The Calfire website can be hard to navigate so the best source for current links to California logging plans is via this website. Public interest and participation in the review process by offering comments is always the best way everyone can protect our California forests.  For more  information view Logging Plan Resources.


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