fwd: massive landslide threatens Headwaters

CamillaH camillah at aol.com
Fri Feb 13 03:44:16 EST 1998

On 2/12/98, Kirk Johnson wrote:

>> Massive Landslide Threatens Headwaters "Deal" Area, Coho Salmon and
>> Local Residents
>> For Immediate Release:  Feb. 12, 1998,  Contact: David Walsh or
>> Darryl Cherney  at Environmentally Sound Promotions  707/923-4949 
>> A massive landslide threatens to eradicate endangered Coho salmon habitat
>> in the proposed Headwaters "Deal " acquisition area.  The slide was
>> triggered by a 1995 Elk River Timber/ Red Emerson Timber Harvest Plan (THP)
>> which was litigated by EPIC because of the inherent instability of the
>> area.  The court ruled in favor of the timber operator and now after
>> clearcut logging, nearly thirty acres of hillside are sliding into the
>> South Fork of the Elk River drainage and into the Headwaters "deal"
>> acquisition area. 
>> Representatives from EPIC were alerted to the slide following a new
>> 705-acre THP (1-97-520 HUM) which was recently submitted inside the
>> proposed acquisition boundary.  Department of Water Quality official Elmer
>> Dudek stated that the pre-harvest inspection team evaluating the new THP
>> was prevented from driving into the plan by a landslide that had taken out
>> the road and completely blocked the river.  Subsequent aerial
>> reconnaissance has sent a chill through the environmental community and
>> local residents." What Water Quality has seen of this landslide was only
>> the tip of the iceberg," said David Walsh of EPIC, the Garberville-based
>> group which has been working for Headwaters protection for eleven years.
>> It is estimated that there remains nearly 3 million cubic feet (111,000
>> cubic yards) of slide material perched above and moving into the river.
>> "This slide is immense from any perspective and will have irreversible
>> adverse effects to Coho and Steelhead populations, not to mention local
>> residents of the Elk River" said David Walsh. 
>> "Emergency action must be taken now to prevent annihilation of the salmon
>> population in the South Fork Elk and a plan must be implemented to recover
>> salmon and steelhead habitat in the watershed," said David Walsh of EPIC. "
>> There should be a moratorium on timber operations in the Elk River
>> watershed. Certainly, this latest timber harvest plan must be denied or
>> withdrawn.  The Elk River is one of the last productive refuges for wild
>> native salmon in California," he said.

Now, I would welcome input from foresters because I want this thing somehow to
make some kind of sense.  FMP, foresters know forests. Headwaters Forest
Complex and the surrounding land is a beautiful forest.   So, how is it that if
look at *any* Headwaters issue,  you find insanity on the part of the

I went to a Board of Forestry meeting back in November about developing an
emergency plan to address the concerns of the residents for the area in
anticipation of this El Nino year.  Citizen after citizen, evidence was
presented of the changes they see in the sediment and stream beds.  Official
after official, they said a plan to address these contingencies existed and a
new one wasn't necessary.  The Dept. of Fish & Game didn't even bother to show
up  to address the Board.  

Today I read that Gov. Wilson wants the coho salmon listed as endangered in all
but the northernmost rivers of CA.  The southernmost boundary for what Wilson
considers "northernmost" looks to be about 10 miles south of Headwaters. 
Pardon my conspiracy theory, but it screams at me that this is one!  

Part of the Dept of Fish & Game policy on salmon says:  

"IV.   Salmon shall be rescued only when they will be returned to the stream
system of origin. Rescue of juvenile salmon shall be limited to circumstances
where fish can be held until habitat conditions improve, or where immediate
release can be made in understocked areas of their natal stream system."

So, you dump 3 MILLION CUBIC FEET of earth in a stream, make the salmon go
elsewhere to survive.  I wonder if Fish & Game is prepared to go out and rescue
those juvenile salmon?   Or are they off the hook because these salmon can't go
back to its stream of origin?  I know these are forestry questions, but does
any of this make any real sense to you?


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