Earth First! Humboldt’s Position on the “McKay 09” Logging Plan
By Jeremy “Farmer” Jensen and Earth First! Humboldt 1/24/12
The 7,200 acre McKay Tract has been heavily logged over the past century leaving very few mature stands of trees. The largest contiguous grove of old forest over 70 years old is found on Henderson Gulch and is targeted for logging in Green Diamonds “McKay 09″ logging plan #1-08-102. Green Diamonds color coded age class map that we have seen is largely inaccurate and does not match their own description of the McKay 09 plan area.
Note: It is hard to fully describe the forest in words, seeing it for oneself is very eye opening and awe inspiring.
The timber harvest plan (THP) contains two distinct but connected areas, the eastern area is Northridge Grove and the western area Millennia Grove. The forest habitat is bridged through the riparian zone of the creek in Henderson Gulch. There is a diversity of tree species including Redwood, Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Grand Fir, Big Leaf maple, and Red Alder.
The Millennia Grove area was only partially logged in the original clear-cutting of the Ryan Creek watershed in the early 1900’s, leaving many trees that were smaller at the time, some giant ones and the occasional several acre patch intact. Along the ridge tops there has been some salvage logging after a major windstorm about 35 years ago and a little intrusion of clear-cutting from a more recent THP. This created a zone where third growth is intermixed with the older trees.
Northridge Grove is more “even aged” with a predominate age class of around 80-90 years old.
Unit A of the THP is in Northridge Grove and totals 19 acres. They plan 11 acres of clear-cutting and 8 of selection logging.
Unit B is in Millennia Grove and totals 41 acres, including 21 acres of clear-cutting and 13 of selection logging.
The forest here is diverse in age and has a complex structure. It is highly functional wildlife habitat very similar to Old-growth forest. Many species can be observed here including Northern Spotted Owls, Osprey, Red Tail Hawks, Pileated Woodpeckers, Tree Voles, Flying Squirrels, Chipmunks, Black Bears, Blacktail Deer, Hummingbirds and an array of songbirds. The forest is bordered on two sides by clear-cuts, homogeneous young growth forest on the eastern edge and suburbs to the west.
In this area there are roughly four main age classes of trees and the mixture varies depending on where you are in the grove. The oldest age class, indisputably old-growth, is scattered across the entire THP area, commonly on the more steep and inaccessible terrain. These old-growth can be 8 or more feet wide with heights estimated at over 250 feet. These are sometimes called “Residual Old-growth” because they were left during the initial logging.
The next age class, what we simply call “Residuals”, was present during the original stand, but the trees were considered too small according to the standard of that day and were left.
These trees are sometimes identifiable by charcoal on their bark, signifying to us that they survived the fires set to clear brush and facilitate log extraction during the original logging (see North Coast Journal May 21, 2009 “The McKay Tract” by Heidi Walters). Redwood trees such as these may have been suppressed by the Old-growth canopy and lack of growing space for hundreds of years and then grew rapidly after logging. This type of tree has what is called an “Old-growth core” though many resemble very large second growth.
The third age class is the true second growth, trees that are over 100 years old that grew following the original logging.
And finally there’s the young growth that I referred to earlier, aged around 35 years.
The slopes leading down to the creeks are covered in old second growth, residuals and scattered residual old-growth. This is where patches of forest can be found that have never been logged. The canopy is this area reaches upwards of 150 ft. .
Nesting cavities created by woodpeckers are often visible, as well as the occasional stick nest.
There is a scattering of trees, small and large, marked for retention (aka “wildife trees”) that will be at risk of being blown down if the surrounding trees are cut. The habitat value of the trees will also be diminished without the shelter and screening of cavities and nest sites provided by the surrounding forest canopy.
Millennia Grove is where the tree-sits are located.
The trees are surprisingly large for their age (over 80 years old), and are home to many species. We have heard Spotted Owls there but haven’t seen them. We have witnessed and documented Flying Squirrels in this area.
What We Want
- The described habitat should be protected as a wildlife sanctuary, with no logging, aside from the possibility of restoration forestry in the third growth dominated area.
- If Green Diamond simply withdraws the “McKay 09” logging plan it would significantly defuse the situation and negate the need for tree-sits, assuming no further logging was proposed for the grove. To log this area would be to eliminate a significant portion of the habitat conservation value of the McKay Tract.
- Restrict public access to the interior of Millennia Grove to guided tours along the lines of the Headwaters Preserve.
- No clear-cutting in the McKay tract.
- Restoration Forestry only in the McKay Tract, meaning logging no more than one third of the volume of tree growth annually.
- Group selection or single tree selection only.
- No take of Spotted Owls and other endangered or threatened species.
- Establish the described habitat and a surrounding buffer zone area as a wildlife sanctuary.
- Work towards eliminating the threat of residential/suburban development in the Ryan Creek Watershed. Alternatives to suburban development- camp sites, eco-lodges, interpretive centers etc. Maybe allow cabin type housing units for caretakers, docents, or camp hosts.
Who actively supports us?
- Our group receives direct donations from many private individuals who
support our work, mainly people living in Humboldt County.
- The Trees Foundation helps to secure grant funding for local activists
to be reimbursed for some expenses. This is limited only to outreach and organizing expenses. They are not involved with tree-sitting or other civil disobedience.