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Monday, November 10, 2008

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Plans for Eureka:
5,000 Suburban Homes


From EcoNews, November 2008
http://yournec,org/

A local timber company has submitted a proposal to the Humboldt county planning department that calls for construction of 5,000 new homes and two major roads near Eureka.

New logging plans submitted by Green Diamond, formerly Simpson Timber, reflect the company’s intention to convert existing North Coast forestland to residential development.
The latest plan is for a forested area just west of the property known at the planning department as the McKay Tract. The timber harvest plan encompasses the lower Ryan Creek watershed on the east side of Eureka.

The new plan calls for 49 acres of clearcutting and comes on the heels of a plan to log 60 acres adjacent to Cutten.

Much of the 500-acre McKay Tract has already been slated for conversion from Timber Production Zone (TPZ) to residential development, including a proposal recently submitted by Green Diamond to develop 85 acres adjacent to Winship Middle School in Cutten. The company owns “Mid McKay” and “South McKay,” totaling 240 acres, which have already been removed from TPZ zoning.

Coho Calamity?

The McKay tracts are in the Ryan Creek water shed just above where the creek enters Ryan Slough. Fisheries biologists recognize Ryan Creek and Ryan Slough—which flow into Freshwater Slough—as the remaining coho overwintering habitat in the Humboldt Bay area.

Green Diamond’s road system has been the subject of much restoration work to improve culverts and reduce sediment, all for the improvement of fish habitat. This work has been successful, with more than 220 adult coho observed in 2002 and nearly 5,000 coho smolts estimated in spring 2004.

Conversion of the Ryan Creek forest to housing development could threaten this Coho population with ongoing erosion and impacts from residents, including leaching of garden and other chemicals used around homes.

Ryan Creek also supports steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. The watershed supports at least four northern spotted owl nest sites, as well as peregrine falcons, osprey, and other sensitive birds. These and other species are known to leave areas impacted by development.

Green Diamond’s Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) for its 493,000 acres in Humboldt and Del Norte counties include Incidental Take Permits for listed salmonids as well as northern spotted owls, meaning the company is legally allowed to destroy the habitat of these imperiled species in the course of harvesting timber.

Although the HCPs include provisions intended to benefit these species in the long-term, they do not address the impacts of residential development, such as stream crossings, increased runoff from pavement and landscaped yards, pet dogs and cats, noise, light pollution, and other side effects of human habitation.

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