Friday, November 27, 2009

Protecting the Salmon

The Sacramento Bee reports on an excellent new—and very common sense—program for helping salmon spawn in streams.

An excerpt.

“BROWNSVILLE – Little-known Honcut Creek is the one place where imperiled California salmon might be able to make a comeback.

“It's also where new logging rules soon will restrict how many trees can be cut on private land along this Feather River tributary, even though there aren't any salmon in its forested reaches.

“The goal is to protect potential salmon habitat by preserving shade along the creek – to keep the water cool – and to prevent erosion that could destroy spawning gravels downstream.

“The new logging rules were approved last month by the California Board of Forestry in a rare unanimous vote.

"The rules are full of new language asserting the duty of landowners to protect salmon and their habitat at all times – a major difference from old rules in which lumber production was the primary concern.

"This is a sea change," said George Gentry, executive officer of the Board of Forestry. "We are absolutely putting forward stewardship as a primary principle."

“Starting Jan. 1, private landowners in the Sierra Nevada will not be allowed to cut down trees within 30 feet of streams known to provide habitat for salmon and steelhead.

“In a second zone, 30 to 70 feet from streams, only 30 percent of the tree canopy can be removed. The seven largest trees on every acre must also be left standing. Slightly different buffer zones apply in coastal forests.

“It's a major change from old rules, which allowed landowners to remove half the tree canopy right to the waterline.”