Report rips PL habitat plan - U.S. study links cuts, silt, erosion

By David Anderson
The Times-Standard

ELK RIVER - A scientist's report on the proposed Pacific Lumber
Co. habitat conservation plan says it is inadequate to prevent
landslides and stream damage.

PL officials questioned the objectivity of the report.

Hydrologist Leslie Reid, who prepared the report for the Envir-
onmental Protection Agency, also warned that the government
could be legally liable if the 50-year plan is approved and property
damage follows.

"Because the plan defers cumulative impact analysis until after
(its) approval," Reid said, "It appears that under the 'no surprises'
clause American taxpayers would become fiscally responsible for
addressing the impacts."

Residents rallied here at a bridge over the rain-swollen Elk River
on Wednesday to draw attention to the report and emphasize that
extensive clearcutting has resulted in heavy siltation of the river
and damage to their property. They said the flooding backs up their
"When you log steep hillsides and then burn them, it will end up
running into the creeks and filling them with silt," said resident
Ralph Kraus. "Dr. Reid has validated our years of eyewitness ac-
counts with impeccable science."

Reid, who works for the Redwood Sciences Laboratory of the
U.S. Forest Service, is a specialist in cumulative watershed impact.
In response to a query from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, she
wrote that the measures proposed by the draft plan would not pre-
vent continued heavy erosion from logged areas.
"Several important sources of sediment - surface erosion near the
smallest channels, logging-related landslides on planar slopes and
gullying of small channels - are not adequately considered by the
plan," she wrote. "And proposed strategies for controlling the
sources that are considered -logging-related landslides on inner
gorges and road-related failures, are not adequate or timely.š
PL and other timber companies contend that logging itself does
not cause erosion or landslides, most of which they say are natural
occurrences in a rainy, geologically unstable area. But they agree
that old, inadequately maintained logging roads contribute heavily
to erosion.
Reid said that removing vegetation over large portions of a
watershed creates "pervasive hydrological changes ... that result in
increases in peak flows."
Increased siltation and higher peak flows means bigger and more
frequent floods, she said. That not only damages downstream prop-
erty but destroys salmon eggs and fry, increases bank erosion and
silts up estuaries.
She said the company's proposed management of its land will
decrease the survival chances of salmon spawned upstream on
U.S. Forest Service land.
„The provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan are defeated if the
fish produced on public lands are destroyed by adverse conditions
in habitats through which they must migrate," she said.
Reid warned that the PL habitat plan is likely to be used as a
model for most other timber company habitat plans for conserving
coho salmon in this region. That would "appreciably reduce" the
likelihood of coho salmon surviving here, she said.
PL President John Campbell said the plan has been extensively
reviewed by state and federal regulatory agencies, and that it will
adequately meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act
and other environmental legislation.
"We recognize Dr. Reid is a good scientist," Campbell said Tues-
day. "But we're disappointed she
appears to have abandoned her scientific objectivity in this review.
∑ I think on this particular review, it's important to understand
that this is the opinion of just a few scientists."

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