A Timber Harvest Plan for SVR

The 'light-touch' timber harvesting plan announced today by Sempervirens Fund and POST strives to manage the redwood forest with an eye toward ecological and economic sustainability.

by Maya Desai

Oct. 17, 2014—Creative conservation is the name of the game with the Sempervirens Fund’s latest efforts. Today, the Sempervirens Fund working with Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) filed a Timber Harvest Plan with Cal Fire on the San Vicente Redwoods.

The Timber Harvest Plan (THP) is an ecologically sensitive strategy that will allow logging on 409 acres of the 8532-acre San Vicente Redwoods, which Sempervirens Fund and POST jointly purchased in 2011 in a deal that also involved Save the Redwoods League, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and The Nature Conservancy. The proceeds will be reinvested into the forest.

“This THP uses a light touch and includes extensive repair and restoration work to address past land management practices,” says Reed Holderman, Executive Director of Sempervirens Fund. As part of this light touch, the plan calls for cable yarding to minimize erosion, as well as road and culvert repairs to protect the water quality of San Vicente Creek. Key wildlife habitat and the remaining old-growth redwood trees will be left untouched.

Inset: San Vicente Redwoods. The tan areas are classified as working forest, light green areas are slated for restoration and dark green areas are preservation reserves. The timber harvest area is outlined in red. Map courtesy Sempervirens Fund.

“Through much collaboration with our partners and expert advisors, we have come up with a model plan,” says POST President Walter Moore. “We are committed to the ongoing restoration of this property and will give this spectacular forest the care and stewardship it deserves.”

The THP was crafted in cooperation with independent scientist recommendations, local environmental interests, and professional forester Nadia Hamey. The timber harvest, which will involve 1200 trees over the course of two years, is far below what is allowed under state and local regulations, which are already stringent. During the previous century, the forest was clear-cut and routinely harvested. Now, though, local forestry standards are higher. Forty-three percent of the San Vicente Redwoods property is classified as working forest. UPDATE: According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the THP proposes to thin three to five trees per acre for an expected $55,000 net profit over the two years that will help defray the $125,000 annual cost of maintaining San Vicente Redwoods.

Read about Nadia Hamey and sustainable logging practices in A Forester for The Trees.
Read Meet The San Vicente Redwoods.

Local company Big Creek Lumber, an industry leader in sustainable timber harvesting, was chosen to carry out the logging.

The San Vicente Redwood forest is environmentally important. It links together other protected lands and provides habitat for rare plants and animals such as coho salmon, peregrine falcons, and the California red-legged frog. There are two insect species only found in the San Vicente Redwoods. Furthermore, local residents rely upon the clean streams of San Vicente for drinking water.

Assisted by state grants, Sempervirens Fund and POST recently sold the conservation easement on San Vicente Redwoods to Save the Redwoods League. The easement ensures there will be no future development on that land, always a concern near the rapidly-growing Silicon Valley.

Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is spearheading the recreational access plan for San Vicente Redwoods. A final plan is expected in early 2015.

The THP is currently under review by Cal Fire, which will gather public feedback before making a final decision. The THP will soon be posted on the Cal Fire website