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Monday, May 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Enviros Sue State to Save Old Redwoods

UKIAH, Calif. (CN) - The Center for Biological Diversity says California has approved a plan that would destroy 18 acres of old-growth coastal redwoods, unique in the Gualala watershed, on the coast of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. The group sued for breach of public trust and failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Endangered Species Act and the Forest Practice Act.

The defendant Departments of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Department of Fish and Game authorized a timber "management plan" without fully considering its impact on the ecosystem, the environmentalists say.

Alternatives to the plan, mitigation measures, and the cumulative impact to the ecosystem must be taken into account, say the plaintiffs, which include Friends of the Gualala River and Coast Action Group.

Because there is no similar habitat in the area, the destruction of this forest and the surrounding watershed would have a significant impact on wildlife, including the endangered marbled murrelet, "a coastal bird well known for relying exclusively on late-seral forest for nesting."

The 18 acres is called late-seral because the trees are on the older side of the middle of their lives, which may be 500 to 700 years under natural circumstances.

Some species rely on old-growth redwoods, including their "large decadent trees/snags with broken tops or other features."

North Gualala Water Company, Bower Limited Partnership and John and Margaret Bower submitted the plan for approval, own the 18 acres, and also are named as real parties in interest and defendants.

The plaintiffs want the logging plan set aside, an injunction and costs. They are represented by Justin Augustine with the Center for Biological Diversity's San Francisco office.

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