Environmentally Sensitive Approach Reinvests Proceeds to Care for the Forest
Oct. 17, 2014 — Today, Sempervirens Fund and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) have filed an ecologically sensitive timber harvest plan (THP) with Cal Fire for a 409-acre tract of working forest on the 8,532-acre San Vicente Redwoods (formerly CEMEX Redwoods) property.
The sustainable THP was conceived as part of a creative approach to conservation that enabled Sempervirens Fund and POST to jointly purchase the San Vicente Redwoods property in 2011 for $30 million. The vast forested property features coastal hillsides, wildlife corridors, habitat for rare species, and streams that provide critical drinking water and is the largest privately held redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“Our planning process for San Vicente Redwoods is the most rigorous we have ever undertaken,” said Reed Holderman, Executive Director of Sempervirens Fund. “This THP uses a light touch and includes extensive repair and restoration work to address past land management practices. As long-time protectors of redwood forests, we take such activities to heart.”
The THP, developed in consultation with professional forester Nadia Hamey and vetted with local environmental interests, includes important conditions for improving the ecological health of the land. Highlights include the low number of trees harvested, the use of cable yarding to minimize erosion, retention of key wildlife habitat trees, expanded buffers around streams, and road and culvert repairs to enhance fish habitat and protect water quality in San Vicente Creek.
"Through much collaboration with our partners and expert advisors, we have come up with a model plan that sustainably enhances the protections for land and water at San Vicente Redwoods, a landscape that has been managed by people for more than a century," said POST President Walter T. Moore. "This area needs to continue to be managed carefully, so that wildlife and nature can thrive here alongside people. We are committed to the ongoing restoration of this property and will give this spectacular forest the care and stewardship it deserves."
Big Creek Lumber was selected early on to carry out the timber harvest on behalf of Sempervirens Fund and POST, with oversight by the land trusts’ consulting forester. Big Creek has been operating in Santa Cruz County for more than 68 years and is recognized as an industry leader in sustainable timber harvesting.
“We're pleased that Sempervirens Fund and POST chose us to help them enter into a new territory of conservation which includes sustainable forest management,” said Janet McCrary Webb, President of Big Creek Lumber.
The THP is set within the working forest area of the property, which constitutes approximately 43 percent of the total acreage. The balance of the forest is protected under restoration and preservation areas. The property was divided up into these three zones based on the recommendations of an independent team of scientists. All remaining old-growth redwoods will be permanently protected in each of these three areas.
The THP filed today will only harvest 409 acres of working forest, less than five percent of the total property. The harvest volume will be approximately 850,000 to one million board feet of lumber involving 1,200 redwoods between 80 and 100 years old during a two year period. Over the previous century, the entire property had been routinely harvested, beginning with a clear-cut that took a severe toll on the forest. Today, harvests in Santa Cruz County are subject to rigorous standards for sustainable timber harvesting. The proposed harvest levels in this THP are significantly below those currently allowed under state and local forest practice regulations.
Recently, Sempervirens Fund and POST agreed to sell a conservation easement over the entire San Vicente Redwoods property to Save the Redwoods League to permanently remove the threat of development. A $10 million grant from the State Wildlife Conservation Board and a $1.9 million grant from the State Coastal Conservancy were approved, enabling the League to purchase this easement that will also lock in the three reserves.
With the THP in hand, Cal Fire will now review the plan and solicit public comment before making a final decision. The full THP and related documents will be available online soon. Visit Cal Fire’s Timber Harvesting Plan Status web page for details.
“Sempervirens Fund and POST are committed to permanently protecting redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains and creating an integrated, sustainable living landscape,” said Holderman.