Published: Thursday, Jun. 23, 2011 – 4:38 pm Five environmental and fishing groups today called on Gov. Jerry Brown to protect salmon habitat in Battle Creek, where erosion from state-approved may threaten a costly restoration project.
The Bee reported Sunday that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as CalFire, has approved thousands of acres of clearcut logging in the watershed in recent years.
This has occurred even as taxpayers are investing $128 million to remove five dams downstream. The aim is to give endangered salmon access to 48 miles of spawning habitat for the first time in nearly a century.
Battle Creek is a tributary of the Sacramento River near Red Bluff. Money for the dam removal comes from federal grants and taxpayer-approved bonds overseen by the state’s water and wildlife agencies.
“The state’s right hand is fighting the left hand,” Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, said in a news release. “An immediate moratorium on clearcutting in Battle Creek is urgently needed.”
The logging, under way mainly on land owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, complies with state law. But a study of the watershed indicates that erosion related to logging has already compromised salmon spawning habitat iin the creek. CalFire is overseen by the state Board of Forestry, and it is within the board’s power to impose special restrictions in a unique watershed. The critics called on Brown to make that happen.
Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the state Natural Resources Agency, which oversees CalFire and the Board of Forestry, responded by saying California has the “most stringent” timber harvest regulations in the nation. He said state officials “will continue to monitor” compliance with logging rules