River Watch Header Image

Battle Creek Clear Cutting Endangers Salmon Recovery Project

Battle Creek clear cutting endangers important salmon recovery project.

For Immediate Release Monday, August 29, 2011 Contact: Jack Ellwanger, 831 667 2025

Forest protection and fish restoration advocates demanding a stop to the massive clear cutting of the Battle Creek watershed received a boost this week from a respected fisheries advocacy organization.

A long hoped for salmon recovery project is at risk because of a government snafu that has allowed forest clear cutting in the Battle Creek watershed, reported a coalition of natural resource support groups. Armed with the report by California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) the group has stepped up its call to the California Secretary of Natural Resources to halt the logging and conduct a thorough study of inter-agency regulations and process that allowed the logging.

CSPA analyzed data collected by Battle Creek Alliance volunteers and found “evidence of adverse changes in water quality conditions attributable to clear-cutting activities …” CSPA staff, including a Professional Geologist and Certified Hydro-geologist and a Professional Civil Engineer prepared the report.

They are calling on the California Secretary of Natural Resources and the Regional Water Quality Control Board to undertake a comprehensive investigation to establish whether sediment discharges from Sierra Pacific Industries‚ (SPI) logging operations are causing violations of water quality standards and the extent that such violations threaten the eventual success of the restoration project.

“The $128 million recovery project,” said Jodi Frediani, a fish and forest advocate, “has been in the planning for 20 years and is California’s best chance for restoring the once-great salmon Chinook run in the Sacramento River. The recovery project involves the State of California Dept. of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, all taxpayer funded.

“The enormity of the clear cutting is staggering,” said Mauro Oliveira, co-founder of Battle Creek Alliance, “and clearly against the spirit and intent of all California and National environmental law.

“By tricky interpretation of forest policy,” he continued, “California is allowing watersheds to be re-defined so that all the tributaries to a single watershed are NOW considered watersheds themselves….which basically allows checkerboard clearcutting from one side of Battle Creek to the other, and in six years they are allowed to remove all the remaining checkers on that board at the expense of the taxpayers restoration of Salmon and all the other wildlife in the watershed.

“That‚s a complete forest gone forever,” Oliveira continued, “because SPI will replant a tree farm with only the ponderosa pine in nice neat wildlife-free, Round-Up soaked rows.‰

Representing 10 groups who asked the governor to stop the “rampant, unchecked clear cutting in Battle Creek,” Frediani said, the State is working at cross purposes by helping to fund the recovery project while allowing the clear cutting which is seriously undermining the project.”

“I can not imagine a worse location to allow large clearcutting,” said David Hankin, professor of fisheries at Humboldt State University and a member of the study team that established the salmon recovery project. “”Battle Creek offers the only potential alternative spawning location for endangered winter run Chinook.”

Pelican Network, a volunteer conservation advocacy of more than 5,000 members, commented, “Hundreds of our members wrote to the Governor to stop this absurd government mix up that allows such destruction of a wondrous watershed and endanger such a well conceived and heavily financed plan to restore Salmon habitat. The State must recognize the interrelationship of habitats.”

“Clear cutting is horrifying,‚ Frediani observed, „It destroys the forest and is harmful to the streams we are hoping will become spawning habitat for the restored watershed.

“Clear cutting denudes hill-slopes, allowing runoff to bleed sediment into streams damaging fish nesting, resting and feeding areas. Why allow such a clearly destructive practice to occur while simultaneously spending millions of taxpayer dollars to restore the very same watershed? This is a form of madness.

“Clear cutting is a logging practice no longer appropriate for our time. It muddies streams harming fish habitat and drinking water, uses harmful herbicides to kill Œweed trees‚, replaces forests with plantations destroying wildlife habitat in the process, increases fire hazard and adds to carbon releases and global warming. And it damages the aesthetic of the iconic Sierra Nevada. It is time to replace clear cutting with more eco-friendly logging methods.‰

The group has asked the California Secretary of Natural Resources and the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board to obtain whatever data SPI might have to support any claim it might have to justify clear cutting