Discussion – below – is a summary of the Regional Board action to Suspend NTMPs from the Categorical Waiver for Timber Operations. This is a short summery for folks who are not understanding the situation regarding NTMPs .
There is another e-mail to follow with a summery and history of TMDLs and Implementing Programs. If you do not understand this information – recovery of your watershed will not occur.
NTMPs are Non-Industrial timber plans, approved once, and lasting for eternity. NTMPs continue future operations under the rules in place at the time of approval. These are private timberlands – the average NTMP is 500 acres in size. There are now 233,000 acres of approved NTMPs in the north coast region.
At the March 24 meeting the Regional Board "Suspended" NTMPs from Waste Discharge Requirement and/or Categorical Waiver compliance. NTMPs are no longer subject to stream protection requirements and erosion control requirements - under the Categorical Waiver for WDRs on private timber lands. There are lots of words about this issue - below - read on if you care to understand. This issue is related to, and of paramount importance to, maintianing and recovering water quality values and fish on impaired north coast waterbodies. Timber harvest is the primary land use, and thus responsible, in a large part, for the loss of salmon habitat on our north coast rivers. In fact there are a number of rivers where timber harvest, and associated activity - road building, yarding, etc.. Gualala, Garcia, Albion, Big, Ten Mile, Noyo,and the Mattole Rivers and Redwoood, Usal and Kings Range Creeks - are primarily impacted by timber harvest. On the Klamath, Scott, Shasta, Trinity, Mad, and Russian Rivers timber harvest is a particpant with other uses. Interested Parties concerned with impaired status of north coast rivers and streams please note: The Regional Board is proposing suspension of regulations now in place to control pollutant contributions from timber harvest activity on impaired waterbodies in the north coast region. Timber harvest and related activities are responsible for a great percentage of impairment on impaired listed waterbodies. The Gualala, Garcia, Albion, Big, Ten Mile, Mattole, and Van Duzen Rivers - and - Freshwater Creek, Elk Creek, Redwood Creek are primarily impaired by timber harvest and timber harvest related activity ( road and skid trail construction and re-construction, landings, yarding, etc.). Russian River, Navarro River Shasta River, Scott River, Klamath River, Eel River, Mad River are all also impacted by timber harvest - with additional agricultureal and urban issues adding to impairment issues. There is no argument that Timber Harvest activity under the Forest Practice Act as administered by Cal Fire does not adequately protect the Beneficial Uses of Water - the cold water fishery. To control pollutant effects from timber harvest land use the Regional Board correctly included NTMPs under the standards set for industrial timber harvest as Waste Discharge Requirements and Categorical Waivers. Waste Discharge Requirement and Categorical Waiver conditions are imposed as TMDL backstops (otherwise known as Implementing Programs) to control pollutant (sediment, temperature, and nutrient) inputs related to timber harvest activity. In short, these regulations provide greater shade requirements and Erosion control requirements for all classes of watercourses than the Forest Practice Rules. Non-industrial private timberlands comprise 40% of the forested land base of the State. NTMPs represent a minor share of that landbase. That percentage is increasing every year as NTMPs represent a regulatory loophole in environmental review and approval process these forever permits to harvest. There is no credible evidence or argument that NTMPs represent a lessor threat to water quality than industrial timber plans and should not be subject to the same rules. And, in fact if the Regional Board, is willing to backslide on regulation on this sector of the timber land base it is fairly clear that: 1) recovery actions become a larger burden to those remaining subject to this regulation, 2)recovery becomes more elusive and that much harder to attain, 3) that the use of Waste Discharge Requirements and Categorical Waivers as TMDL backstops to deal with impairment issues is greatly compromised. Finally - this action now proposed by the Regional Board is being considered on the basis of a large scaled outcry by NTMP owners and the Forest Landowner's Association. NTMP owners think that they have given up the right to clear cut and should receive in turn the right to not be subject to rules necessary to be in compliance with Basin Plan requirements - i.e. erosion control for roads and erosion sources and necessary stream protection. ACTION: CAG is prepared with documents and arguments address this issue. Due, to previous commitments I can not be at the March 24 meeting. CAG is not prepared to move forward with actions to address this issue unless there is significant commitment from other interested parties. Please respond - 1)If you are willing to write a letter - you will be provided information - and - written copy in support.Thanks, Alan