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Monday, April 21, 2008

Bohemian Grove--Private Men's Club Logging Rare Sonoma County Redwood Grove

54/4/08 from Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters

You've probably heard of the Bohemian Grove. A place of much controversy because the redwood forest Shangri-la is host every year to its members, comprised principally of the ruling elite. The likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and heads of some of the largest most rapacious corporations-all male and nearly all white-cavort and discuss world domination for a couple weeks every summer at the 2,700-acre grove on the banks of the Russian River in Sonoma County.

But this time, the controversy is not the agenda of the billionaire boys club, but their logging agenda for the property. In 2006, the Bohemian Club submitted a logging plan for approval to the California Dept. of Forestry (CDF) to double the rate of logging in the grove to extract more than one million board feet per year. Unlike most logging plans, there is not a pressing need for profits, but the "fire safety" argument is being used to justify this high level of disturbance in a rare and fairly undisturbed refuge of redwood forestland that serves as habitat for many species, some of them endangered and threatened. The impact on nearby residents would also be extreme, affecting potentially unstable hillsides, drinking water, and will actually increase the fire danger. Moreover, the Bohemian Club tried to use a loophole in CDF regulations that allows for a long term logging plan with less scrutiny if the area is less than 2,500 acres. The property is 2,700 acres, and their plan didn't fly, so they are back with a re-worked plan, reducing the acreage by "giving" 160 acres as a conservation easement to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation of Montana (more good ol boys).

There is a public working session of state and federal agencies considering this issue next Thursday, April 10, at 10 am. Location is the offices of the Calif. Dept of Forestry, 13 Ridgeway Ave., Santa Rosa. (Call to confirm 707-576-2959)

from Earth's Tree News:

As UCLA biology professor Philip W. Rundel wrote last May in a
letter to CDF concerning the Bohemian Club's proposed logging plan
last year: "This is clearly a logging project, not a project to reduce
fire hazard. Old growth redwood forests have very low flammability. It
is only when these forests are thinned and light openings are present
in the canopy that flammable shrubs and tanbark oak can invade these
stands. As a result, fire intensity, the spread rate of fire, and
flame lengths will be much higher than if these stands were left in
their natural state. Once a cycle of thinning is established,
reduction of fire hazard inevitably involves heavy regular
applications of herbicides to reduce shrub establishment and prevent
the growth of ladder fuels with all the negative aspects of such
herbicide treatments."

The Bohemian Club began logging its property
commercially in the mid-1980s under the authority of some 18
consecutive timber harvesting plans. Since that time, more than 11
million board feet of redwood and fir (500,000 board feet per year)
have been sold from the Bohemian Grove. The net result of these
damaging two decades of logging has been, as admitted in the draft
timber management plan, an increase in fire hazard across the
property. The plan in question will double the rate of commercial
logging. How this dramatic increase will improve the situation has
never been made clear. In conclusion, the Bohemian Grove is not an
ordinary logging tract. It includes the largest remnant stands of old
growth redwood in Sonoma County, twice as big as the old growth
component of Armstrong State Reserve. Even the second growth component
of the forest is in the 100- to 110-year-old range and well on its way
to becoming reestablished as old growth habitat.

UC Berkeley wildlife management professor Reginald H. Barrett wrote in a September letter
to CDF: "Department of Fish and Game (DFG) concluded that the NTMP
could adversely affect a number of wildlife species, because it will
substantially reduce the stands of larger, older trees with dense
canopies . . . I agree with DFG's concerns about the plan's impacts on
wildlife, and I do not believe these impacts have been mitigated." We
urge all citizens of Sonoma County to speak out for protection of the
Bohemian Grove. It must be understood that fire hazard can be reduced
by removing hardwoods without jeopardizing one of our great forest

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