Sempervirens Fund and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) have entered into a contract with Big Creek Lumber Company to prepare a timber harvest plan (THP) for 500 acres of working forest within the 8,500-acre CEMEX Redwoods property in Davenport.
POST and Sempervirens Fund acquired the property in 2011 from CEMEX, an international cement company based in Mexico. The two groups have recently completed a conservation plan that assures protection of unique and special natural resources on the property — including all remaining old-growth redwoods — as well as identifying areas appropriate for continued timber harvesting. The conservation plan reserves more than 65 percent of the property for resource protection, where preservation and restoration will be the primary goals. The remaining area — roughly 35 percent of the property — will be available for sustainable timber harvesting at levels below those currently allowed under state and local forest practice regulations.
"Our plan uses a light touch and includes extensive on-site restoration and enhancement measures to address past land management practices. Every dollar we receive from timber sales will be put back into improving the ecological health of the property," said Sempervirens Fund Executive Director Reed Holderman. "For example, under the plan we will allow some of the 72 miles of roads on the property to revert to a natural state, expand the riparian corridor, remove invasive plants, reduce erosion and water runoff from steep hillsides, and create fuel breaks to reduce the threat of fires."
"This is the first step in what will become a public process," said POST President Walter Moore. "Under this contract, Big Creek Lumber Company will prepare a Timber Harvest Plan for POST and Sempervirens Fund to review and approve before submitting it to CalFire, which will start the public review phase of the plan. Our intent is to meet with environmental and community groups before we file this plan to gain their support before we begin the formal permitting process." The area covered in the proposed THP is upstream of the existing quarry and includes approximately 500 acres of land in the upper San Vicente watershed. Sempervirens Fund and POST plan to harvest approximately 850,000 to 1 million board feet, with an estimated net revenue of $250,000 to $315,000 after harvest. All on-site restoration and enhancement measures will be paid for as part of this plan. Plan implementation could begin as early as 2014.
Big Creek Lumber currently maintains and provides site security on the CEMEX Redwoods property for POST and Sempervirens Fund, and has been selected to prepare the timber harvest plan based on their strong local forest management experience and knowledge of the property. Big Creek Lumber is a leader in sustainable timber harvesting and has operated in Santa Cruz County for more than 67 years. Bud and Lud McCrary, the company's founders, were also instrumental in establishing the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, which is one of the five land conservation groups — including POST, Save the Redwoods League, Sempervirens Fund and The Nature Conservancy — that are part of the CEMEX Redwoods partnership.
"We are proud to be selected by Sempervirens Fund and POST to prepare the first timber harvest plan for the conservation partners on the CEMEX Redwoods property," said Janet McCrary Webb, President of Big Creek Lumber, "We plan a light harvest and will incorporate the 'cable yarding method', by which logs are picked up and transported via aerial cables to landing sites to ensure a minimum of soil disturbance. We will work with the partners to develop a harvest plan that fulfills their stewardship objective of protecting the watershed and to implement a variety of land enhancement measures."
The CEMEX Redwoods property was purchased by POST and Sempervirens as the first of several landscape connectivity projects through a unique collaboration to achieve critical large- scale conservation goals in the heart of coastal California. The effort, called the Living Landscape Initiative, includes the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, The Nature Conservancy, POST, Save the Redwoods League, and Sempervirens Fund. Sacramento-based Resources Legacy Fund helped launch the effort using major support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
As part of the CEMEX Redwoods purchase, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and Save the Redwoods League will be purchasing a conservation easement over the property. The two organizations worked closely with Sempervirens and POST to prepare the conservation plan that has permanently reserved and protected 65 percent of the property for resource preservation and restoration.