Rare Lichen found in THP 031
A rare lichen, Usnea longissima, was found within the units of THP 031.
1-00-031HUM proposes to clearcut 24 acres of old-growth forest in groves that dot the prairies on Long Ridge. Long Ridge connects Taylor Peak with Rainbow Ridge and divides the North Fork from the East Branch North Fork of the Mattole River. The plan is ten old-growth Douglas-fir units mixed with mature hardwoods. The logging calls for removing these soil stabilizing trees, where landsliding in the past has made these areas overly steep (up to 100% slopes). These forests are healthy "edge habitat" to the prairies, give one the impression of what much of the landscape looked like in pre-settlement times, and are dramatically beautiful with their stature and views of the ocean some ten miles distant. Logging of these units will generate landslides below them into the North Fork as well as remove important northern goshawk, golden eagle, peregrine falcon and northern spotted owl habitat. On October 9, local residents found Usnea longissima, a "very threatened" plant species in California according to the state Department of Fish and Game.
This is what DFG wrote to CDF on Tuesday afternoon:
"It has come to our attention that Usnea longissima has been identified in and adjacent to the Long Ridge North THP. Until the presence and the extent of the occurrence of the rare lichen is confirmed, we do not think it is possible to assess the proposed THP's potential for a significant adverse effect on the environment. This information should be considered significant new information that should be addressed prior to approval.
"The DFG has stated in previous correspondence to CDF that, given U. longissima's sensitivity to disturbance and apparent rarity in the State of California, a project that threatens to eliminate a population of this species could be found to have a significant adverse effect on the environment, consistent with CEQA Guidelines 15065 and 15380. Incidentally, information from the scientific literature and from taxon experts has caused the DFG to place U. longissima on its Special Plants list, with a state rank of S2.1, which corresponds to a status in California of 'very threatened.'"
CDF had stated it was going to approve THP 031 Wednesday, October 11, 2000. As of this moment (5 pm thursday) we do not know how CDF is going to deal with this new and significant information. It is very possible the plan could be approved on Friday, which means logging could start in this critical area this weekend! We must defend this ancient forest!
Under the Forest
Practice Rules CDF may be required to open public comment and send the THP back to the Review Team for recommendations since this is significant new information (and why didn't Pacific Lumbe's (PL) botanist find these plants in the first place?). In the past PL has provided a 100 foot radius no cut buffer around U. longissima, but they have not given any justification for that protection or a discussion of its effectiveness.
This lichen is not some minor technicality thrown at the agency to stall the plan. Usnea is indicative of the health of old growth ecosystem and an important component in maintaining that health. It cannot be eliminated from the landscape simply to appease Pacific Lumber's desire for big saw logs. Clearcutting in THP 031 and elsewhere (it is likely that U. longissima is present in the other Old Growth THPs in the North Fork Mattole) constitutes a significant environmental impact not evaluated in any of the THPs.
Please call CDF all day Friday and urge them to not approve 00-031 on friday, or any time. Tell them this is significant new information, and the public has a right to comment on it.
Andrea Tuttle, CDF Director 916-653-7772
Roger Thompson, CDF Santa Rosa 707-576-2950 (the one who is really making the decision)
If you can come up to help local citizens defend this forest, please contact:
Mattole Forest Defense at 707-441-3828.
Donations can be sent to:
POB 117, Petrolia, CA 95558.
For more info: www.mattoledefense.org. MAXXAM OUT OF THE MATTOLE!