Unique Crescent City Sitka Grove Threatened by Logging

October, 2017


Aerial view of the sitka spruce Hambro THP with marina in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Friends of Del Norte.

Aerial view of the sitka spruce Hambro THP with marina in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Friends of Del Norte.

A proposed Timber Harvest Plan (THP) in Del Norte County threatens to devalue—if not destroy—a sensitive and unique grove of coastal Sitka spruce that graces the scenic gateway at Crescent City’s expansive South Beach and Harbor. The THP 1-17-034-DEL “Hambro” proposes to harvest and substantially degrade the ecological value of 44 acres of a mature unique coastal grove of Sitka spruce that has been designated as a special and unique area by the California Coastal Commission. This Coastal Special Treatment Area, or STA, calls for special management considerations to conserve the scenic beauty and unique biological values of the grove.

The Hambro THP Sitka spruce stand is 120 years old, with very large trees—including some structurally-complex trees. Based on standardized forest classification methods, the Hambro THP stand represents a near-climax successional stage, and meets the Forest Practice Rules criteria for designation as a Late Successional Forest.

The tree roots of Sitka spruce are very shallow and are interconnected for strength. This, combined with the low elevation wetland habitat, makes this stand particularly vulnerable to windthrow. According to California Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), harvest would reduce the canopy to below a level that sustains the continuance of the forest. CDFW states it “appears unlikely that the stand would remain a Late Successional Forest Stand following the first winter storms post-harvest.”

The Hambro THP is integral to an adjacent State-administered wildlife area. This rare Buckbean marsh known as “Crescent City Marsh” is found nowhere else on the coast. Twelve rare plants, including endangered western lilies, grow there. Bald eagles and osprey frequent the grove. The streams are home to endangered salmonids, tidewater goby, and numerous frogs. Because of these outstanding biological values, California resource agencies support acquisition of this grove. Hambro Forest Products is liquidating their assets, and wants cash now, as they are no longer in the timber business. Time is of the essence, and the resource agencies need to act now.   

There are also important economic and safety issues at stake for Del Norte County. The tall trees act as a wind break for outstanding surfing and enjoyable recreation, and they protect critical infrastructure such as the Del Norte Solid Waste Transfer Station—as well as surrounding homes—from a direct hit during the impending predicted big Cascadia Tsunami. We must save these titans from the ax. They are more valuable to the County standing.

Please send a comment to support acquisition and oppose Timber Harvest Plan 1-17-034-DEL by e-mail to [email protected].  EPIC is working cooperatively with Friends of Del Norte County to raise public awareness and interest in protecting this unique coastal Sitka Spruce stand, at risk from logging degradation.

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