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Redwood Forest Foundation

Spring 2012 Newsletter

Working in the Forest Today
Heidi Gundling, RFFI Board Member

Since acquiring the Usal Redwood Forest in 2007, the Redwood Forest Foundation (RFFI) has focused on obtaining the conservation easement (accomplished last summer) and priority restoration projects in the Usal to repair some of the damage left by past logging practices. This year for the first time since becoming the Usal forest owners, RFFI will be harvesting timber in three of the forest's predominantly redwood groves. The approved timber harvest plans for 2012 specify selective harvesting, do not permit herbicide use and contain strict stream and road protection measures.

Steelhead flourish in Usal Creek, photo by John Birchard
Steelhead flourish in Usal Creek
photo by John Birchard

As has been the case with much of our restoration work, local contractors will be hired to conduct timber harvesting and log hauling, road improvement and maintenance, and the trees will be delivered to local mills, thus providing additional local employment. Some 31 different jobs will be supported during the entire process, including a professional forester, forestry technician, botanist, wildlife and fisheries biologists, a geologist, a GIS specialist, logging crew members, truck drivers, timber fallers, a log scaler and a log accountant.

This summer RFFI will also continue with its restoration activities, primarily in the Standley Creek Watershed, where work began several years ago. Another 2.2 miles of road will be decommissioned (i.e. made impassable by the placement of tree trunks and branches that will stabilize surfaces as they gradually return to their natural state). All together 18 erosion sites will be treated to stop sediment from flushing into the creek. Using field observations and aerial photo analysis, the 107 miles of road in the Indian Creek watershed will also be inventoried for erosion and sediment source sites.

To increase and improve fish habitat, two miles of the North Fork of Usal Creek will be treated with large woody debris (LWD). LWD will also be used within a four-mile stretch of Indian Creek to add complexity to the water channel, augment woody cover and increase the frequency of pools, which provide critical habitat for Chinook and Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. We have observed the success of our previous work in the Standley Creek Watershed and are pleased to be able to expand the breadth of this work.

Steelhead close-up, Usal Creek, photo by John Birchard
Steelhead close-up, Usal Creek
photo by John Birchard

Finally, as part of a multiple year conservation project we will continue thinning dense forest stands (pre-commercial thinning) on 250 acres throughout Usal Forest, implementing practices to protect soil quality on 200 acres and treating forest stands to improve habitat and soil quality on 15 acres. Through these on-going efforts, we aim to return an ecological balance to the forest that will allow for sustainable logging practices and secure jobs for local citizens. To this end, we are pursuing Forest Stewardship Council certification. For information on past restoration work, please visit www.RFFI.org.


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