Sheephouse Creek Watershed Update

On behalf of the “Friends of Sheephouse Creek,” I wanted to provide you an update in our attempt to affect the Ricioli Ranch Non Industrial Timber Management Plan being proposed for 331 acres of Sheephouse Creek watershed in Sonoma County. The timber owners continue to insist they have the right to use an easement road through our property rather than avoid the impacts, both human and environmental, that this NTMP will have upon our family and our property over the next 40 years, not to mention Sheephouse Creek, its watershed and the Coho salmon which are being restored here.

Out of a sense of helplessness, we have written to the Governor for help and he responded through the acting director of California Department of Fish and Game. They have agreed to look at our concerns and to perform a Coho Salmon Impact Evaluation, which determines if the NTMP will result in “take” (harm) or significant impacts to the Coho salmon. Also at risk is the many millions of dollars that the taxpayer has invested in the Coho Salmon Recovery Program, not only in Sheephouse Creek, but in Ward and Mill Creeks.

The NTMP was returned for corrections to the forester, GTE & Associates, on 21 Feb 2008 and to date, it has not been re-filed. No Pre Harvest Inspection of the site has been scheduled at this time. This has given us a little time to make people aware of this NTMP and its potential to do harm to Sheephouse Creek and its watershed. Local fly fishing groups, such as the Golden West Women Flyfishers, have jumped into the fray and have offered to help, as well as the Environmental Protection Information Center, Forests Unlimited, and the Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishing Association, among others. !

We are still finding that most people are not aware of Sheephouse Creek or its significance as restoration habitat for the Coho salmon and that it contains Steelhead trout. We have encouraged everyone to obtain and read a copy of the NTMP (or view it online), understand the issues involved, and weigh in with written comments of concern to CDF, Santa Rosa. Could you help with a brief letter of concern, its really important that the community weigh in on this?

Thank you,
Michael Keller
– On behalf of “Friends of Sheephouse Creek”