The VWC Environmental Committee is concerned that, in the name of “streamlining” the process, legislation in Sacramento (AB 904) would allow enormous tracts of land to be harvested in perpetuity with virtually no oversight over time. At present the Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan process is limited to 1500 acres, and the Assembly is considering legislation to expand that to 15,000 acres, affecting only four or five large property owners — but locking up enormous reaches of land.
The VWC EC joined several regional environmental organizations, the SLV Water District, Sempervirens, the City of Santa Cruz, and Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold, to oppose an enormous increase in acreage allowed for NTMPs (Non-industrial Timber Management Plans), asking that the Southern Subdistrict (that includes Santa Cruz County) be excluded from the requirements of SB 904. Proponents claim that several large environmental organizations support the legislation. However, this is solely because so much of California allows clearcutting, and this legislation forbids clearcutting in exchange for incentives to do more selective harvests over time. Here in the Southern Subdistrict clearcutting is already not allowed, and there are some severe problems with the legislation for our area, hence the effort to remove the Southern Subdistrict from the legislation.
Supervisor Leopold, Sempervirens, the City of Santa Cruz, the VWC Environmental Committee, and the SLV Water District requested that the Board of Supervisors oppose the legislation unless amended because once a plan like this is in place, there is no future recourse for neighbors, government agencies, water districts nor the County to question how the timber harvests are taking place nor to respond to changes around the property, from climate change to land use. (see his letter at:
The Water District also pointed out the fact that improvements in silviculture or in scientific understanding of timber harvests could not be required because there is no further review as successive harvests are made.
5th District Supervisor McPherson, who had previously indicated a willingness to support the Subdistrict’s exclusion from the legislation (also supported by Fred Keeley, former Supervisor and State Assembly Member for this area), failed to second Leopold’s motion, and thus there was no action taken to protect our area from the negative impacts of this legislation. This is very disappointing and a clear indication that McPherson and the other Supervisors did not understand the ramifications of the legislation.
The Environmental Committee, SLV Water District and the other organizations will continue to work to amend the legislation to protect our urban forests.