By Benjamin Fordham
As Green Diamond Resource Company makes plans to clear-cut 84 acres of timbertland near Strawberry Rock in the Trinidad area, local activists and environmental groups who want to see the area preserved are gearing up for a fight.
Although Green Diamond says it doesn’t plan on harvesting the timber this year, that’s not good enough for some people. “We want permanent protection for Strawberry Rock,” said Abe Brower of Friends of Trinidad Forests. Brower would like to see Green Diamond create a community forest at the site similar to the Arcata Community Forest. “We hope they will work with us on making this a conservation area,” Brower said. Friends of Trinidad Forests has a meeting scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Trinidad Town Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to discuss the issue.
Strawberry Rock is considered a sacred site to the Yurok tribe, and it has long been a popular destination for hikers despite the fact that it sits on private land. “This is (Green Diamond’s) opportunity to show themselves as someone who cares,” said the Environmental Protection Information Center’s (EPIC) Andrew Orahoske. “If they wanted to be a good neighbor they would listen and respond to the community, rather than ignore them.”
Green Diamond does have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Bayside Grange from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend, and Green Diamond staff will be available to answer questions.
Concerning the area’s status as a sacred site, Green Diamond’s Manager of Forest Policy and Communications, Gary Rynearson, said “Strawberry Rock will not be disturbed as a result of the harvesting, and there are no future plans for any development associated with the rock.”
Rynearson also stressed that no old-growth would be logged under the Harvesting Plan, and that the company takes great care to preserve wildlife habitat. “We look closely at every single conifer over 30 inches in diameter.”
EPIC is critical of the practice of clear-cutting, which Orahoske says “can cause significant modification to drainage patterns in the watershed.” Green Diamond has addressed some of these concerns by developing a technique called shovel yarding, where a large machine “swings” logs back to the road. “Because no skid trails are constructed, very little soil is disturbed,” said Rynearson.
According to Brower, clear-cutting results in dense brush fields which are not suitable for wildlife habitat. “There’s no habitat,” says Brower. “It will never be habitat again.”
Sierra Pacific Industry’s logging practices have also come under fire by EPIC, especially in the Redwood Creek watershed. “The watershed is critical to Redwood National Park’s continued recovery from past logging, and supports numerous runs of endangered salmonids,” said Orahoske.
Recently, concerns raided by EPIC prompted state officials to take a closer look at 22 acres of old-growth Douglas fir that Sierra Pacific had planned to log in the watershed, which lies between Maple Creek and Berry Summit. That scrutiny lead to Sierra Pacific’s dropping of the acreage from the Timber Harvesting Plan.
Sierra Pacific spokesman Mark Pawlicki said he thinks the controversy had been blown out of proportion. “It’s a small part of (the Harvesting Plan),” said Pawlicki. “Less that 10% was in dispute. We decided to leave that as a no-harvest area.”
“We follow California Forest Regulations, which are the most stringent in the nation,” Pawlicki added. “There are numerous oversight agencies. We live within those standards”