Campaign to Restore Jackson State
Redwood Forest

244 N. Franklin Street
P.O. Box 1789
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
 

July 11, 2001
California Board of Forestry
1416 9th Street, Room 1506-14
P.O. BOX 944246
Sacramento, CA 94244-2460
Fax: (916) 653-0989

Re: Board of Forestry Agenda Items 7 & 8 on July 12.

Dear Board of Forestry,

Prior to making your decision on CDF’s request for actions by the Board of Forestry, please consider the attached analysis of the proposed changes in policy.

Sincerely,

 

Vince Taylor
Executive Director

 

Analysis of Changes to Board of Forestry Policies Proposed by the California Department of Forestry – for July 12, 2001 meeting of the Board of Forestry
By Vince Taylor, Executive Director
July 11, 2001

Note: the full texts of the drafts of the proposed changes are appended.

Summary

In response to a Court order that halted further timber harvesting in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), the California Department of Forestry (CDF) has proposed to items for action by the Board of Forestry at its July 12, 2001 meeting. It is noteworthy that it released the text of the proposed changes on July 10, only two days before the meeting.

The proposed changes would:

  1. remove the condition that management plans for state forests be kept "current", and
  2. Allow continued logging of Jackson State Forest under a 10-year management plan prepared in 1983.

On their face, these proposed changes are contrary to the public interest. In detail and given the circumstances that caused them to be proposed, they are outrageous.

The first change would eliminate the requirement that the management plans for state forests reflect the current condition of the forest, current environmental regulations, and current scientific knowledge. It would eliminate any requirement that management of the forest be subjected to periodic review by the Board of Forestry and the public and to demonstrate that it meets the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The second change would allow the CDF to continue logging under a management plan that is far out of date.

What makes these changes outrageous is that they are CDF’s response to a court order that halted logging under the out-of-date management plan. What the court did should have been done long ago voluntarily by CDF. After the court acted, it should have apologized to the public for logging illegally for eight years. It should halt logging while it created a management plan that reflects current scientific knowledge, public concerns, and environmental regulations. Instead, it is attempting to have the Board of Forestry condone it management failures and allow it to continue logging under its outdated plan. There is no possible public-interest justification for excusing CDF’s management failure and allowing it to do further potential damage to a valuable public resource under an outdated plan.

The Board of Forestry will be acting contrary to its responsibilities and the public interest if it approves either of the requested changes.

Detailed Comments on Agenda Item 7 – Recommended Policy Change for State Forest Management

The introductory language to the proposed changes provides erroneous and illogical justifications for the changes:

First paragraph – "The management plans are written as guidance documents for the respective forests in recognition that requirements of statute and regulations are subject to frequent modification and it is not feasible nor appropriate to attempt frequent modification of basic management guidelines incorporated in the management plans."

Comment: It is not only appropriate but is a legal requirement that the plan under which a forest is managed fully reflect current "statute and regulation." How can the Board to give CDF permission to operate contrary to current statute and regulation? All businesses and agencies are required by law to operate according to current statutes and regulations.

Second paragraph – "Until recently, this standard [maintaining the management plan ‘current’] has been interpreted by the Department to mean that significant changes in the environmental setting or statutory foundation on which the plan is based requires that the plan be modified."

Comment: This statement is erroneous. Prior to the present long lapse in revising its management plan, CDF revised its management plans regularly and well within the planning horizon of the plans. All management plans prepared for Jackson State have had a 10-year planning horizon. Ten-year management plans were prepared and adopted for Jackson State Forest in 1958, 1964, 1970, 1975, 1983. Up until 1983, plans were updated about every six years. The longest time between revisions was eight years.

It has now been eighteen years since the last revision, and it should be noted that during this eighteen years there have been "significant changes in the environmental setting." So, even according to this historical revisionist statement, a new management plan is long overdue.

Third paragraph – "The Court’s interpretation [of ‘maintain current’] would result in a significant change in how the Department addresses the need to amend and seek Board approval of management plans for State Forests."

Comment: The court said that on its own terms the 1983 management plan became non-current in 1993. To require that the Department keep its management plan up to date may "result in a significant change in how the Department addresses the need to amend … management plans for State Forests." The significant change would be that it would actually need to keep them current.

Fourth paragraph – "The Department is concerned that the court’s interpretation of the words ‘maintained current’ would subject the state forest management plans to litigation every time some conditions outside of the forest changes."

Comment: Nothing in history suggests that CDF’s concern has any foundation in reality. The only time that CDF has been sued over its management plan is the current case. This suit was based on the narrow grounds that the management plan was not current, as required by Board policies. Nothing in the suit related to "conditions outside of the state forest."

The Board policies set out what needs to be in a management plan. Present policies simply require that CDF keep the elements of its management plan current. If CDF does this, as it appropriately should do, the requirement of "maintaining current" the management plan will give no basis for legal challenge.

The proposed amendment does not follow from any justifiable concern expressed in the preamble.

Proposed Amendment – CDF asks to eliminate the requirement that management plans be "maintained current." Instead, it asks that Board policies say that "Management plans will be prepared by the department, reviewed at least every ten years, and updated if necessary for [the state forests]. [Changes underlined]

Comment: The preamble expresses certain concerns about the present requirement to maintain current its management plans. The proposed amendment does not meet these specific concerns. Rather, the wording of the amendment is so vague it eliminates any requirement that the management plans ever be revised. The proposal is only that they be "reviewed" every ten years. What constitutes a review? No requirements are spelled out. Who decides if updating is "necessary?" What specific circumstances would require updating? No circumstances are spelled out.

Suggested Amendment – if the Board feels that it needs to revise the Board policy that management plans be maintained current, I the following responds directly to the concerns expressed by CDF and yet maintains a meaningful requirement to have a relevant management plan:

Management plans will be prepared by the department and revised at least every ten years, or sooner if there are significant changes in the environmental setting of the forest or the statutory foundation governing state forests, for Jackson, Latour, Mountain Home, Soquel, and Boggs Mountain State Forests.

Comment: A ten-year revision schedule is extremely long, given the rapid changes that have been taking place in California forests. As noted, until 1983, Jackson State revised its management plans on an average every six years. The clause, "sooner if there are significant changes in the environmental setting or statutory foundation" is taken directly from CDF’s preamble to the proposed amendment and states how CDF has been interpreting the existing requirement to maintain its plan current. Thus it just makes explicit what CDF says it has already been doing.

Detailed Comments on Agenda Item 8 – Resolution of the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection

The operative part of this resolution "authorizes the department to continue harvesting timber on JDSF … until a new management plan is approved by the board or July 1, 2002, whichever comes first, notwithstanding the fact that the precise locations for timber harvesting are not shown on the map for timber harvesting contained in the 1983 management plan…"

Paragraph 5 –"Whereas continuation of the timber harvesting program on an interim basis at rates not to exceed those analyzed in the EIR and contained in the existing management plan until a new management plan is approved or until July 1, 2002 whichever comes earlier, will have no significant effects beyond those analyzed in the environmental impact report previously certified for the program."

Comment: This statement may reflect the recognition that the proposed action is subject to CEQA review. It is in effect a declaration of negative environmental impact. This declaration is presented without evidence and is obviously false, given the major environmental changes, especially as related to salmon and cumulative watershed impacts that have taken place since 1982, when the last EIR was performed.

Resolution

Paragraph 1: "The Board re-approves the existing management plan for JSDF on an interim basis until the new management plan is approved or until July 1, 2002, whichever comes first, …

Comment: A re-approval is no different than an initial approval. Approval of a plan requires review under CEQA.

Paragraph 2: "authorizes the department to continue harvesting timber on JDSF … notwithstanding the fact that the precise locations for timber harvesting are not shown on the map for timber harvesting contained in the 1983 management plan…" [Emphasis added.]

Comment: The underlined clause excuses CDF from an explicit requirement contained in Board policies that define what should be included in a management plan: "Cutting budget and order." The 1983 Management does not contain a cutting budget and order for any of the harvest plans that would be implemented between now and 2002. This resolution, thus, effectively revises Board policy on the content of management plans.

Comment: the proposed continuation of logging with the allowable cut set in the 1983 management plan is directly contrary to a Article 3 (C) of Board policies:

    1. Allowable cut levels must be derived from pertinent current inventory and growth data.

The allowable cut of set out in the 1983 Plan was based on a 1979 inventory. There have been numerous inventories since that time.

Paragraph 4: "The Board… requests that the Department consider options for improving the existing plan, including application of watershed analysis techniques, testing monitoring methods, correcting road failures, increasing late seral acreage, and further developing the scientific and demonstration functions of the forest…

Comment: This paragraph is the most telling criticism of the proposed resolution. It acknowledges that the existing management plan is deficient in its "application of watershed analysis techniques, testing monitoring methods, correcting road failures, increasing late seral acreage, and further developing the scientific and demonstration functions of the forest. There could be no better explanation of the reason why no further logging should be permitted in Jackson State Forest until an new management plan has been prepared, undergone CEQA review, and been approved by the Board.

Proposed Agenda Items to be considered by the Board of Forestry on July 12, 2001

Received from Norm Hill, Chief Counsel CDF. July 10, 2001

For Agenda Item 8, July 12 meeting of the Board of Forestry

DRAFT July 9 2001

Recommended Policy Change for State Forest Management

All timber harvesting on State Forests is subject to the Forest Practice Act and attendant regulations. In addition, operations on the State Forests must be in compliance with the various State and Federal laws relating to fish, wildlife and water quality protection. Changes in the requirements of these laws are incorporated into the ongoing management practices of the State Forests without modification of the management plans. The management plans are written as guidance documents for the respective forests in recognition that requirements of statute and regulations are subject to frequent modification and it is not feasible nor appropriate to attempt frequent modification of basic management guidelines incorporated in the management plans.

In 1978, the Board of Forestry adopted policies to guide the Department in administering the State Forest Program and managing the State Forests. The Board policy states, in pertinent part, that "Management plans shall be prepared and maintained current for the Jackson, Latour, Mountain Home, and Boggs Mountain State Forests." (Article 8 "Management Plans") Until recently, this standard has been interpreted by the Department to mean that significant changes in the environmental setting or statutory foundation on which the approved plan is based requires the plan to be modified.

A recent Superior Court decision interprets Board policy as it relates to maintaining management plans as "current." The Court’s interpretation would result in a significant change in how the Department addresses the need to amend and seek Board approval of management plans for State Forests. The Department therefore seeks Board clarification of its intent in the implementation of management plans over time.

The Department is concerned that the court's interpretation of the words "maintained current" would subject the state forest management plans to litigation every time some conditions outside the state forest change.

Accordingly the Department recommends that the Board clarify its policy for state forest management as follows:

 

In the Board Forest Management Policies, State Forests, section 0351.10, State Forest Management Plans is amended to change the first sentence of the section to read as follows:

 

Management plans will be prepared by the department, reviewed at least every ten years, and updated if necessary and maintained current for the Jackson, Latour, Mountain Home, Soquel, and Boggs Mountain State Forests.

For Agenda Item 9, July 12 meeting of the Board of Forestry

Draft July 10, 2001

Resolution of the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection

Whereas the Legislature declared its intent that the state retain the existing land base of the state forests in timber production for research and demonstration purposes, and

Whereas the Legislature declared that the state forests be managed so as to achieve maximum sustained production of high quality forest products while giving consideration to values relating to recreation, watershed, wildlife, range and forage, fisheries, and aesthetic enjoyment, and

Whereas the Board understands that department is proceeding with development of a new management plan for Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) with a new environmental impact report, and

Whereas the Department prepared and certified an environmental impact report on the timber harvesting program for JDSF in 1982, and

Whereas continuation of the timber harvesting program on an interim basis at rates not to exceed those analyzed in the EIR and contained in the existing management plan until a new management plan is approved or until July 1, 2002 whichever comes earlier, will have no significant effects beyond those analyzed in the environmental impact report previously certified for the program, and

Whereas each timber harvesting plan goes through an intensive environmental review resulting in higher levels of environmental protection than the requirements contained in the management plan including protection of streamside buffers and of wildlife habitat,

Therefore, Be It Resolved that:

The Board re-approves the existing management plan for JSDF on an interim basis until the new management plan is approved or until July 1, 2002, whichever comes first, and

The Board hereby authorizes the department to continue harvesting timber on JDSF at rates of harvest not to exceed the rates analyzed in the EIR and contained in the 1983 management plan until a new management plan is approved by the Board or July 1, 2002, whichever comes first, notwithstanding the fact that the precise locations for timber harvesting are not shown on the map for timber harvesting contained in the 1983 management plan, and further,

The Board authorizes the department to continue with other management activities including road maintenance on JDSF on an interim basis until the new management plan is approved, and further,

The Board requests the Department to update the 1983 plan as soon as possible, no later than July 1, 2002, and requests that the Department consider options for improving the existing plan, including application of watershed analysis techniques, testing monitoring methods, correcting road failures, increasing late seral acreage, and further developing the scientific and demonstration functions of the forest, and

The Board further directs the Department to involve the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Parks and Recreation in developing and reviewing appropriate components of the new management plan.