Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Opposition to logging legislation AB 904 that could be bad for the Bay Area

I'm glad to see that staff are recommending an "Oppose Unless Amended" position on AB 904, a piece of logging legislation that might be okay for large rural areas but not in the more urbanized Bay Area (to see the staff report, click here, scroll to July 23 2013 and look for Item 6.1).

Staff's taken a similar position to the one I suggested a month ago in the memo below. I plan to copy all my memos to this blog and am behind right now, but will catch up. Here's one of the latest:

Board of Directors and Staff
Brian Schmidt

Item 6.1, recommendation to adopt “Oppose Unless Amended” position on AB 904
June 23, 2013



In addition to the legislative positions proposed by staff, I encourage the District Board to adopt an “Oppose Unless Amended” position on AB 904 (Chesbro), a bill for a proposed new logging designation that environmental groups generally consider detrimental to our area. The District should communicate to the Legislature that it should be amended to exclude our area of the state, which is different from more undeveloped areas and has much more logging on a rural-urban interface.

AB 904 creates a new logging designation similar to the existing Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) process for a permanent authorization to log property in perpetuity. NTMPs are limited to 2500 acres but the new designation expands the size of the property eligible for similar logging authorization by 600%, to 15000 acres. NTMPs have been very controversial in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties in part because of their permanence. In its favor, AB 904 includes certain environmental safeguards not present statewide but these are already present in our area, designated the Southern Subdistrict (SSD). The potential exists for poorly-supervised logging to increase sedimentation, decrease water quality and harm watersheds, as well as to increase a fire risk that the logging is ostensibly supposed to reduce.

I have communicated my concern about AB 904 to staff.

In addition to the discussion below, I refer the Board to the attached Op-Ed from the Sunday San Jose Mercury News.


AB 904 (Chesbro) Forest Practices:  working forest management plans
Position Recommendation:  Oppose unless amended
Priority:  1 or 2

(The following information in this paragraph was provided by staff.) The bill creates a Working Forest Management Plan, which is a long-term forest management plan for nonindustrial landowners with less than 15,000 acres of timberlands if the landowner commits to uneven aged management and sustained yield.  Specifically, this newly amended bill now (1) creates a modified WFMP for very small nonindustrial landowners with 160 or fewer acres of timberlands in the Central Forest District and 320 acres of timberlands in the Northern Forest District or Southern Forest District; and (2) Allows landowners with Nonindustrial Timber Management Plans (NTMP) to expand total timberland ownership to 2,500 acres or more and transition into an expanded WFMP through an amendment to the plan; and (3) Requires the Board of Forestry to adopt regulations to tailor the modified WFMP to incentivize small landowners to develop to develop modified small working forest management plans; and (4) Precludes denial of a restoration grant application submitted by a WFMP or NTMP landowner on the sole grounds that the restoration work is a condition of an approved harvesting plan.

Importance to the District

The expansion of from NTMPs to WFMPs would allow landowners with much larger properties in the County, previously only allowed to log via temporary Timber Harvest Plans, to have permanent authorization to log.

Pros in favor of AB 904

·         Clear-cutting, which is allowed in other parts of California but not here, could happen less often in those parts of the state and be replaced by uneven aged management.

Cons in opposition to AB 904

·         The District in past years has expressed significant concerns about the environmental and water quality impact in past years regarding the use of the NTMP process in our local area, and this legislation increases the possibility of more logging authorized in a similar matter to the NTMP process that had raised concerns.

·         Environmental benefits to other parts of the state do not apply locally.

·         Decreases local land use control with potential effects on water quality and watersheds.

Attachment:  Guest Op-Ed from San Jose Mercury News

Monday, July 8, 2013

Water and climate, Obama edition

Climate change is a huge issue for us locally, so I'm glad to see Obama reacting to it and have written so elsewhere. A climate denialist commentator, Charles Krauthammer has never had much anything useful to say about climate change, so I responded to his column with this letter in the San Jose Mercury News:
Obama's climate policy is good for region

Charles Krauthammer's diatribe (Opinion, July 5) against President Obama for confronting climate change is a disingenuous insult to our region, where we face tremendous problems from warming.

Krauthammer misleads on the Pew survey, where 28 percent of respondents made climate change a top priority -- not bad for a problem whose worst effects are yet to come. His cherry-picked information leads to wrong or misleading conclusions.

China and India have both committed to never have the same per-capita emission levels as the United States -- Obama should be applauded for trying to accelerate their commitments on climate.

As a director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, I'm keenly aware of the millions that we are spending and will spend to adjust to new flooding, new water demand, and reduced water supplies in the Sierra snowpack. What Obama is doing is good for us locally, but I believe that what Krauthammer wrote is anything but good.

Brian A. Schmidt
Director, District 7 Santa Clara Valley Water District