Tree Poaching In Old Growth Forest Along the Smith River

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There’s tree poaching going on in the Smith River National Recreation Area (SRNRA), near Big Flat on the South Fork Smith River. Not just any trees, but some of the biggest, oldest madrones in the region. It’s a tragic, bitter loss of some of the finest trees around, in protected old growth area. If you have information about who might be doing this please contact us or go directly to the law enforcement officer for the SRNRA: Jeremy Mack, 707-457-3874. (Please call only if you have information. Incredibly, Mack is the only enforcement officer for the entire 305,000-acre Smith River National Recreation Area.)

According to officials at the SRNRA, tree poaching is “a forest-wide problem.” In this case, it appears that the perpetrators, who cut down the giant madrones but left them, were planning to return to the site with a crane and a flatbed truck to haul out whole trees, probably for milling. This is a professional operation with criminal intent. The SRNRA and Six Rivers National Forest need to beef up law enforcement to protect these precious old growth areas, and gate off some roads to disallow vehicle access to ancient forests.

 

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Water Board Releases Smith River Toxicology Report

The two-year-old water testing results are finally in: “28 quantifiable concentrations of 11 different detected pesticides … acute [and] chronic reproductive toxicity” in the salmonid food chain, elevated copper and nutrients. Yet the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, in its just-released report on Smith River estuary water testing that was conducted in 2013, says the toxicity and assault on the river’s salmonid food chain are somehow unrelated to the 300,000 pounds of highly toxic pesticides applied annually to Easter lily fields that surround the Smith River estuary. This despite the fact that eight of the 11 pesticides found in surface waters are currently used on lily fields, or have been in the past. (Siskiyou Land Conservancy released this information in September 2014, much to the chagrin of the Water Board.) “The low level concentrations of each of the measured constituents [pesticides] do not appear to be directly responsible for the lowered reproduction rates,” says the report in its rather dubious conclusion. While we appreciate the water testing (which occurred in large part due to pressure from SLC) and the state’s attention to the potential of a chemical catastrophe at the Smith River estuary, the process thus far has been dense with bureaucratic layering, inexplicable delays, and scientific denial. The bottom line is that the Water Board is developing a “permit” that will allow lily growers to continue business as usual. Siskiyou Land Conservancy is not content to allow this to occur. SLC is a stakeholder in the permit process, so we’ll keep you posted.

Predicting the Klamath Negotiation Disaster in 2008

In 2008, Siskiyou Land Conservancy Executive Director Greg King was leading the Northcoast Environmental Center to eventually reject the Klamath River deals that were negotiated over a three-year period, and were ostensibly designed tear down four dams on the Klamath River and provide the river with adequate flows for fish. This was never the intent of several of the players in the room — particularly Klamath River irrigators, the PacifiCorp power company and the Bush Administration — which was quite clear as the process moved forward. Unfortunately it was not clear enough to prevent many negotiators, who should have known better, from supporting the obviously terrible deals.

The Klamath deals have since unraveled, with the parties now back to where they were in 2005. King predicted the unraveling in 2008, in an op-ed article in the Portland Oregonian (and elsewhere). Check it out.

Revered North Coast Wilderness Author David Rains Wallace In Arcata Sep. 10 — Reading From His Life’s Work

David Rains Wallace, the revered chronicler of the majesty and mystery of North Coast wildlands, appears Thursday, Sep. 10 at the Arcata Playhouse for a reading and interview with North Coast writer and activist Greg King. Doors open at 6:30, and the event begins at 7:30. Cost is $10, students $8. Tickets are available at Wildberries and at the door. Sponsored by the MiaBo Fund. (see more below poster)

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If New England had Emerson and Thoreau, and the Sierra had John Muir, then the fabled Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains have David Rains Wallace. The celebrated author, who turned 70 this year, is best known for his seminal 1983 book, The Klamath Knot, which received the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing and the Commonwealth Club of California Silver Medal for Literature.

The San Francisco Chronicle and Chicago Tribune included The Klamath Knot in their lists of the best books of 1983. The Chronicle wrote, “Not since Lewis Thomas wrote The Lives of a Cell has there been a union of science, beauty, imagination and fine writing like the one David Wallace has provided in The Klamath Knot.” The eminent botanist, G. Ledyard Stebbins, called The Klamath Knot “a classic of natural history which will take its place alongside Walden and A Sand County Almanac.”

Wallace’s first published writing on natural history and conservation appeared in Clear Creek Magazine in 1970. Since then he has published twenty books, and his work has appeared in many anthologies and periodicals, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Examiner, The Norton Anthology of Nature Writing, Zyzzyva, Harpers, Mother Jones, Greenpeace, Sierra, Wilderness, Country Journal, Backpacker, and Bay Nature.

Wallace’s most recent book, Articulate Earth: Adventures in Ecocriticism (published in Humboldt County by Backcountry Press), contains several essays about the mountains of the North Coast. This fall Counterpoint Press will publish Wallace’s twenty-first book, Mountains and Marshes: Exploring the Bay Area’s Natural History.

The Wallace reading is a benefit for Siskiyou Land Conservancy, an Arcata-based non-profit land trust that protects precious habitat on the North Coast of California. Event moderator Greg King is executive director of Siskiyou Land Conservancy, and also a published writer. King’s latest work is Rumours of Glory, the memoir of Canadian rock star Bruce Cockburn, which King co-wrote with Cockburn (Harper 2014).

Smith River Pesticide Presentation Now Available on YouTube

Our presentation on pesticide use at the Smith River estuary is now up on YouTube. Check it out here. The pesticide saga begins at about the 14 minute mark, preceded by a walk up and down the wonderful Smith River watershed.

Important Del Norte Supervisors Meeting Tuesday May 26th

CORRECTION:

The meeting begins at 10, not 9.

Please attend the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors meeting next Tuesday, May 26 at 10 a.m. to hear a presentation by the state Water Board on toxicity at the estuary, and you add your voice for a clean and healthy Smith River, from headwaters to the estuary! Below is a half-page ad that will run in the Del Norte Triplicate this weekend.

Letters and emails are also good. Click here for addresses.

At this writing there is no specific time when the state Water Board will give its presentation on Tuesday. General meeting begins at 9, however. For a more specific time keep checking for the posting at the above link.

Hope to see you there!

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The New Wikipedia Page on Easter Lilies

Click here for the expanded story.