Friends of the Van Duzen River
A Grass Roots community organization comprised of residents and visitors to the Van Duzen Region. We are Dedicated to helping to restore the river for future Generations

Draft permits look to cut Palco logging
By John Driscoll
The Times-Standard
Tuesday, July 05, 2005 -

The Pacific Lumber Co.'s logging would be crimped to a fraction of recent years' levels in Elk River and Freshwater Creek under draft guidelines released last week by water quality officials.

The watershedwide permits use flood and landslide models to set a rate of harvest in the watersheds. Palco says the limits don't gel with the company's new logging techniques, while its critics say the cutbacks are a long time coming.

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board draft permits are a year and a half in the making, following the board's December 2003 directive to craft permits that treat the watersheds holistically. The State Water Resources Control Board recently threw out the regional board's use of general discharge requirements for this spring's logging.

Until last year, the California Department of Forestry limited logging to 500 acres in Freshwater and 600 acres in Elk River. The new draft permits recommended by the regional water board would allow a maximum of 144 acres per year in Freshwater and 318 acres in Elk River.

"Really what they're doing is designing a bridge in North Dakota with an earthquake standard for a 12.0 quake," said Palco's outgoing manager of sustainable forestry Steve Horner.

He said the regional board hasn't taken into account Palco's newest logging techniques or its Habitat Conservation Plan, setting limits that would have applied a decade or more ago.

Palco owns more than three-quarters of each watershed.

The limits reflect two different models for the watersheds. They aim to reduce the flooding in Elk River and Freshwater that has plagued residents there by limiting rainwater runoff and sediment input by logging so certain areas along the roadway are passable by a car.

The permits are the product of eight years of effort by residents, the Humboldt Watershed Council, and water board staff to address cumulative impacts of Palco's aggressive logging, said the council's Mark Lovelace in an e-mail.

"The battle over these permits between PL and the regional water board is likely to be focused on the technical reports, upon which the permits are based," Lovelace wrote.

Comments on the permits are due by Aug. 1. The reports are available at under "draft orders."

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Carlotta, CA 95528
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