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CONSERVATION REPORT FROM March 90 Storm Petrel1

Shasta Costa2 "New Perspectives" million dollar "light touch" forestry project launched in our neighborhood.

Shasta Costa Project

We are very sorry to report that Kathy Johnson District Ranger for the Forest Service in Gold Beach has been promoted to Washington D.C. We had excellent working relations with her - she will be sorely missed. We have been working with her on the Shasta Costa project, which is drawing up logging alternatives for a 25,000-acre roadless area.

We took this approach: if the timber industry really wants a steady supply of old growth wood for their mills why not take the wood selectively by helicopter logging - without clearcuts. This way there will be old growth logging forever at a sustainable rate, instead of 10 years of logging at the present unsustainable rate. The counties will get less money now, but will get it forever and can do better financial planning. In return we will try to get a reduction in the amount of paperwork to prepare timber sales; not appeal any of these sales; and will try to get the rest of the environmental community not to appeal timber sales in Shasta Costa. If no new roads are put into the area we would cooperate with a sustained level of logging. We also asked that Wolves be reintroduced into the area.

Our solution would have the Forest Service, the timber industry and the environmentalists agreeing on one approach, and we all then would work to support it. When we made this proposal to the Forest Service we had a top member of a national environmental organization from Portland sit in on the meeting so the Forest Service could see this was a serious proposal. What has been the reaction? Nothing so far; we are still waiting

Sea Lions vs. Sushi

Some of you may have seen the recent Greenpeace article on the rapid decline of the Northern (Stellar) Sea Lion across its range for reasons not yet fully understood. In the lower 48 states the primary breeding grounds for this animal are the Orford and Rogue reefs off the coast of Port Orford. These same reefs are the site of a sea urchin harvesting industry, which is the largest employer in Port Orford. The Japanese like to eat certain parts of the urchin (the naughty bits), and it is harvested, cleaned and flown to Japan where it is sold in sushi bars. Divers who work off boats anchored at the reef harvest urchins. Within 4 years this has grown into an 8 million pound catch in the Port Orford Area.

Unlike the California Sea Lion humans easily disturb the Stellar. In recent years there has been a decline in the number of Sea lions breeding on the reefs, and responsible officials believe the urchin boats anchored off the rocks may be disturbing the animals. The urchin divers claim the animals are their buddies and that Coast guard helicopters are disturbing the animals.

Federal and State wildlife officials convened a workshop in Port Orford last week to hammer out conservation measures to protect the animals. We had a big gathering of the responsible state and federal agencies, divers, and others involved and interested in the industry. We were a party to the meetings and negotiations. A tentative agreement was reached on some points with others to be decided by a state commission on 4/20/90. A no-approach buffer around at least some breeding rocks was agreed to along with mufflers on compressors and a variety of practices designed to assure that comings and goings are done as quietly as possible. The state and feds agreed to study the relationship between kelp, sea lions and urchins about which little is known. We believe we have the framework for an agreement, which will protect the animals and still allow the existence of this industry that is important in this economically depressed area.

By request of the divers, our Audubon chapter will supply observers to go out on the diver's boats to provide objective reporting of what is occurring out in the ocean and on the reef. If anyone wants to serve as an observer out on the boats let us know. We will provide a class for observers that will include ocean bird and mammal identification.

  1. Kalmiopsis Audubon Society - Storm Petrel Newsletter
  2. Shasta Costa would monopolize us for the next two years and become very controversial; additional articles: progress; misgivings; more misgivings; Shasta Costa project unravels; Final EIS; major retrospective of New Perspectives and Shasta Costa (Plans to log the area were eventually abandoned).

#50,(v 1.3) 3/13/11

©1989 Jim Britell
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