Updated 7:56 PM ET March 15, 2000

Calif. OKs Temporary Timber Limits

By JOHN HOWARD, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Forestry officials seeking compromise
unanimously approved six-month rules Wednesday to limit tree cutting
near Northern California's rivers and streams.

The state Board of Forestry's action drew mixed reviews from loggers
and a quick hit from environmentalists.

The board said it will develop permanent rules to take effect in 2001
and will base those rules on an exhaustive examination of logging's
impact on fish and wildlife in fragile watersheds - something
loggers, fishing interests, scientists and environmentalists urge.

"This is not the last word in deciding this issue," said Louis
Blumberg, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry.

The rules are part of the elaborate system of regulations, enforced
by the state Department of Forestry, governing tree-cutting on
millions of acres of private forests. Their most significant
provisions appeared weaker than the proposal that had been before the
board for weeks, and which resulted in protests by loggers and

Originally, the rules sought logging limits near virtually all types
of streams - those with fish, those with aquatic life other than fish
and those that are seasonal.

The new rules focus only on the fish-bearing streams, the so-called
Class I streams. The rules require loggers to leave at least 85
percent of the forest canopy within 75 feet of a Class I stream, and
at least two-thirds of the canopy within the next 75 feet.

California's top forestry official said the new regulations were not
weaker than the original proposal. The latest rules offer major
environmental safeguards, such as new restrictions on cutting trees
on steep slopes and limits on winter road building and timber
operations, said Andrea Tuttle, director of the Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection.

The rules also set requirements to leave certain large trees
standing, and limit the amount of water than can be removed from
streams during timber operations.

The goal is to provide shade and cool water for the streams and
rivers to protect coho salmon and steelhead trout habitats.

Environmentalists say the canopy protection is not consistent,
requiring only a fourth of the cover to come from tall pines and
other conifers - which provide more shade over a longer reach than
smaller trees.

And loggers contend the limits represent a severe financial hardship
on tree cutters. The canopy zones are measured from the water's edge,
but that edge changes regularly.

"It's still a huge impact on private landowners, especially those who
own river bottoms and valleys. The problem is in the stream migration
zone, the natural widening and narrowing of the stream. That can be
from a quarter-mile to two miles," said Dave Bischel, president of
the California Forestry Association.

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