Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Baywood Golf & Country Club’s plan to harvest timber on and about its golf course in the hills above Bayside is proceeding through the approval process, but not without challenges.
Unveiled April 2 at a quasi-public meeting at the venerable club, the Timber Harvest Plan (THP) was filed May 1, then returned by the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) on May 11 with 22 requests for corrections.
The THP was resubmitted one week later, on May 18 by Registered Professional Forester Cameron Holmgren, hired by Baywood to manage the harvest. Holmgren revised the plan to address Cal Fire’s list of initial issues, correcting errors and adding supplemental data.
Cal Fire responded by scheduling a pre-harvest inspection (PHI) to occur sometime before June 4. It also sent a new, seven-item list of new concerns to be addressed. Taking advantage of the still-open public comment period, citizens affected by the planned harvest also filed lengthy lists of issues they want addressed.
In its new list of concerns, Cal Fire asks Holmgren to address multiple issues before the PHI takes place. Among them:
• The initial “mitigation measure” for the expected 200 log truck trips past Sunny Brae Middle School included vague and unenforceable language about “minimizing hauling” during “peak times” of traffic congestion at SBMS. Cal Fire asks that the specific times of day for student dropoff and pickup be defined, and that what’s intended insofar as minimizing hauling be spelled out.
• Protections for plant and animal species that may be impacted by the harvest must be more fully documented.
• Better data on roads and waterways is also required.
Arcata School District Superintendent Barbara Short, whose office is located at Sunny Brae Middle School, said the district hasn't heard from Baywood. "Neither myself nor anyone else in the district has had any communication with Baywood regarding their timber sale and truck traffic," she said.
Short further noted that SBMS isn't in session during the summer. According to the district's academic calendar, the last day of school is June 16, with classes resuming Aug. 24. No summer school or other official activities are planned at the school during summer months, though the sports field out back is informally used by community members for various recreational activities.
However, Baywood's THP, if approved as submitted, would allow year-round logging activity.
A one-line public comment filed by Sunny Brae resident John Schmidt states that “I support the Baywood Country Club’s plan to responsibly harvest trees on their property!”
The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) filed a comment. It contends that the re-filed THP is incomplete and “unacceptable” because it lacks a required “errata sheet” listing revisions to the plan.
A 2 ½-page letter from Stan Binnie and Kimberly Tays, residents of nearby Hadley Place, offers multiple objections, ranging from the inadequacy of the noticing for the April 2 meeting at Baywood to zoning issues and the many “intolerable and excessive impacts” the harvest may inflict on the neighborhood. These include impacts to wildlife, plus noise, traffic, property values and public safety.
One point it raises is whether or not a county Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is required for harvest and log hauling through a residentially zoned area.
Concludes the letter, “Due to the foregoing concerns, we are respectfully requesting that Cal Fire and the other permitting agencies involved deny the approval of Baywood’s THP.”
The CUP issue and others are further addressed by citizen Alexis George, who also emphasizes safety problems the harvest may cause for Buttermilk Lane residents and SBMS. Noting more impacts to waterways, wildlife air quality and more, it asks that the THP be denied.
The evolving THP and any public comments that have been submitted may be reviewed at ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/North_Coast_Region/THPs/THPs2017/1-17-044HUM/. Comments may be submitted to Cal Fire at [email protected]. Be sure to reference THP#1-17-044HUM.