Tale of Two Sagas–citizens protecting rivers, critical salmon, and forest watersheds

Felta Creek

The logging plan known as Fox Meadows includes critical sections of Felta Creek, known as the last refugia for Coho Salmon. This property was purchased by a land developer for investment purposes and had many previous violations with local jurisdictions. A group formed, Friends of Felta Creek, that elicited help from Forest Unlimited, Coast Action Group, and other forestry sources. They hired attorney Tom Lippe and experts on water and fisheries. They prevailed in state court on three points: 

  • Effects of the logging on the salmonids in the creek.
  • Required engineering for our shared bridges (the only access)
  • Need for a legitimate traffic study 

Unfortunately, our laws allow multiple attempts by the plan submitter. The logging plan was resubmitted and the process started all over again. Cal Fire was again evaluating the many comments by the Attorney Lippe, experts, and residents and citizens. The overwhelming record neccessitated an extension of time to allow Cal Fire’s response. However, the plan submitter refused an extension which precipitated a denial by the agency. But again, the laws favor logging because now this plan can be appealed to the Board of Forestry to over-ride Cal Fire’s denial. A defense for this appeal will have to be mounted to sway the Board.

Gualala River

This story of saving the Gualala River to floodplain logging has taken new turns. The logging plan known as Dogwood was intent on logging up to five miles within the river’s floodplain until Friends of the Gualala River (FoGR), Forest Unlimited, and Native Plant Society challenged it in court and won. Unfortunately, our laws allow multiple attempts by the plan submitter, in this case, Gualala Redwood Timber company, to resubmit their plan for approval by Cal Fire (Forest Practice section).  They were able to get a favorable opinion this time. Ed Yates, a California River Watch attorney, is currently taking up the appeal to reverse that opinion. Concurrently, FoGR has reached out to challenge floodplain logging on the Gualala on a federal level using the Endangered Species Act with the Center for Biological Diversity taking on this case as detailed in the article, “Fight over Gualala River logging plan heads to federal court.”