Frequently Asked Questions

When will the NTMP plan be filed and how can I get a copy?

The Los Gatos logging plan has been posted by the CDF. The location is

The plan itself is quite alarming and differs in many significant ways from previous public statements made by SJWC. They have been misleading the public about the extent and scope of the plan. The best source to see a physical copy of the filed plan is via the CDF office in Felton, 831-335-6740. You can also electronically download the plan at the above location.

The issues surrounding the San Jose Water Company's plans to log the Los Gatos Watershed are complex. As the community raised issues and public officials registered objections, the publicly stated plans kept changing. We will make every effort to update our community as we gather more information. Remember that our concerns are being heard and the questions we ask will affect the final outcome.

In Summary, What is Wrong with the San Jose Water Company's plans to log the Los Gatos Creek Watershed?
The logging plans are fraught with many problems. Here are just a few of the bigger issues:
The plans to remove 60% of the most fire resistant trees will promote the growth of underbrush and saplings creating a much greater fire risk.
A 20 year analysis of logging and forest fires by the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress showed that logged areas have an increased propensity for fire. And, according to the USDA Forest Service, in a statement dated September 8, 2000 " The removal of large, merchantable trees from forests does not reduce fire risk and may, in fact, increase such risk."
The steep slopes of the proposed logging area are geologically unstable. Logging operations on these steep slopes will result in increased sediment in the streams that feed into the water collection system.
US Department of Agriculture studies show that selective logging of second-growth Redwoods can lead to a 500% increase in stream sediments. Communities such as Aldercroft Heights and Chetemeketa Park draw their water downstream from and within the logging area.
The long term presence of logging trucks, chain saws and helicopters during our summer and winter months will permanently change the character of our mountain community and adversely affect the surrounding open space parks.

Hasn't fire mitigation been part of the logging plan all along?
According to Mr. Andrew Gere, project director at SJWC, there have been discussions with the California Department of Forestry about the need for SJWC to do fire mitigation on their lands. As far as we can determine, there has never been any written plans by SJWC to do the necessary mitigation as requested by CDF until public officials started receiving complaints from members of our community.
While CDF Battalion 3 (responsible for fighting fires in the LG watershed) is actively implementing fire mitigation in our area, SJWC has not been part of those plans. There have been complaints by several CDF officials that they have been unable to get SJWC to respond to such simple request as providing keys to their locked gates and water storage tanks for fighting small blazes before they become unmanageable.

Isn't it true that the San Jose Water Company hired a fire scientist to help them implement a fire mitigation plan?
SJWC has hired a firm that helps companies develop natural resources, An associate of TSS, David Ganz is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley (2002) with some experience in fire mitigation. We have been told that the contract to hire Mr. Ganz was only completed on October 4th, 2005. When SJWC was asked if Mr. Ganz would work collaboratively with the community, we were told by John Tang, SJWC, that it would be a conflict of interest.

San Jose Water Company claims that thinning the forest will reduce the risks of fire. Isn't this type of logging a good thing?
Originally Andrew Gere and other officials at SJWC have been quoted by local papers as saying that thinning of the trees will reduce fire risks. There is very little truth to this claim and company officials appear to be backing away from this claim.
In fact, CDF guidelines recommends removing the undergrowth and leaving trees over 24" in diameter because they are the most fire resistant.

San Jose Water Company has stated that since this is a second-growth Redwood forest the trees are overcrowded and logging will promote a healthy forest by allowing the remaining trees to grow stronger. Isn't this better for the forest?
Over 90% of the Redwood forests in California are second-growth. A logical extension of their argument would mean that California Redwood forests would be healthier and better off if 40% of all the large Redwood trees in the state were cut. There is obviously little public call for such an 'improvement' to our state's Redwood forests.

Most of us live in wood homes. Isn't logging necessary to meet our ever growing need for forest products?
While some people may be philosophically opposed to logging, most of use wood products and accept the need for logging. There are over 17 millions acres of forest land in California. We are opposed to logging one of the last large strands of old Redwoods in Santa Clara for health and safety reasons as well as concern for protecting our rapidly diminishing open space.

Will logging hurt the watershed and affect the quality of the water that goes to Los Gatos and Mount Serno?

Eighty Five per cent of the water supplied to Los Gatos and Mount Sereno comes from the proposed logging area. In addition, the community of Aldercroft Heights draws its water directly from Los Gatos Creek and Chetemeketa Park uses Los Gatos Creek as a secondary source. Steep slopes and many active tributaries to the Los Gatos creek will contribute to increased sediment ending up in the water supplies. While there are many CDF rules and guidelines designed to minimize this damage or fix it once it occurs, damage will occur. How much damage will occur will be affected by how well SJWC repairs their roads, the amount a rainfall in a given year and other complex factors. This is probably one of the reasons no other major metropolitan area on the West Coast allows logging in their watershed.

Doesn't removing large trees reduce the amount of fuel in case a large fire does occur? Removing the large trees temporarily reduces the available fuel in case of a fire. However, new trees, and brush quickly grow. Opening up the forest canopy leads to the growth of invasive and fire prone species such as Scotch Broom. The new growth is considerably easier to ignite once the large trees are removed. The risk of a fire spreading out of control is actually increased.

San Jose Water Company claims that it will be required to post a bond for any damage done to our roads by the logging trucks. Why are claims being made that our roads will be damaged? The bond will only cover damage due to negligence. The excessive wear and tear caused by logging trucks is not covered by the bond.

It's their land, why shouldn't they be able to do what they want? There are many federal, state and local laws that restrict land use. Many of these laws are designed to create a safe and healthy environment. As one example, building codes are designed to guide us so our homes don't fall down during an earthquake. Laws that regulate logging are similarly designed to make sure we protect our water supplies and environment.

There has been a lot said about helicopter logging. Should I be concerned?

The information in the NTMP confirms that the logging plan will occur year round. Thus helicopter logging will occur in the winter months as well as the summer. What we do know is that these are very large and extremely noisy helicopters. Landing and staging areas for the helicopters will also have to be cleared in the forest area. Unless it is an emergency, they should not be allowed to operate in our heavily populated mountain community. Once logging helicopters are allowed into our neighborhoods, it will be easier for SJWC to expand there use into additional acreage not currently included in the plans.

If San Jose Water Company is not allowed to log, where will they get the money to do fire mitigation?

SJWC has about 220,000 customers. The company has generated billions of dollars in revenue since the 1985 Lexington Fire. They can easily afford to divert a small fraction of their profits to protect the watershed. The real question is why haven't they done so?

If clean water is one of SJWC most valuable assets, why would the do anything to endanger it?

Sometimes companies make mistakes. SJWC has never been in the timber business. The company that is guiding them is not a water company, but a forest products company who's main intent is to maximize the amount of timber they can get out of a forest. The two sets of interest are not the same.
Other large West Coast municipalities including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Marin County, Portland and Seattle understand the fact that logging and watershed protection are mutually exclusive and all expressly prohibit logging in their watersheds.

If it's true that SJWC has not responded to repeated request from CDF to do basic fire mitigation, why can't CDF force them to do so?

CDF can not force private property owners to follow state guidelines.

How long is the logging permit good for?

The permit, called a Non Industrial Timber Management Plan, NTMP, lasts in perpetuity. The concept is to promote a forest of mixed sized trees that can be sustainability harvested forever. In essence, we will never see the end of the logging trucks, heavy duty chainsaws and loud helicopters in our mountain neighborhoods.

One time SJWC states that 40% of the trees will cut and another time they state only 20% of the trees will be cut, which is it? Both numbers are incorrect. The current NTMP calls for the maximum amount of cutting allowable by law. The NTMP document makes NO mention of trees over 24" in diameter. In fact the plan calls for cutting 60% of the trees 18 inches in diameter or greater (ie leaving 40%). The plan calls for far more cutting of the most fire resistant trees than is mentioned in SJWC's previous public statements. What is most important to understand is the goal. The big trees are the most valuable as lumber products. 60% of the largest trees will be removed. The CDF rules are intended to make sure that a significant number of small trees are left behind to replace the large ones that are removed. Since many of these trees are 115 years old, they are quite large and least likely to ignite during a fire. The small trees that are left behind are much easier to ignite, create ladder fuels and have the potential to make any future fires in our area much worst.

Will Old Growth Trees be cut?

CDF guidelines have no specific provisions to protect old growth. Redwoods can live to be 3,000 year old. Many of the trees being considered for harvest are over 115 years old. They are typically four to seven feet in diameter. we believe they are majestic in stature and worthy of protecting for future generations to appreciate. Given their current age, they are now part of a well established ecosystem.

Is it true that the logging will only occur every other year?

The current NTMP plans call for year-round summer and winter logging and may have to be continued in the following Spring. One of problems with the NTMP process is the ability to easily make changes after the permit is granted without a full review.

Will the value of my property be devalued by logging?

It should be obvious to anyone that trying to sell a home while commercial logging is taking place on your property line is going to affect the sales price. The problem is only aggravated if your home is next to an area that is being helicopter logged.

Will logging trucks add to traffic congestion? Yes. Logging trucks move slowly causing substantially more traffic accidents per mile driven than other vehicles. Summit Rd, the Old Santa Cruz Highway and Highway 17 are already heavily congested. Logging trucks during the summer months on Highway 17 will certainly add to traffic delays. Yes. Logging trucks move slowly causing substantially more traffic accidents per mile driven than other vehicles.

Will there be a risk to school children?

Since the NTMP has now indicated the plan to log in the winter, our parents and school children will share the road with logging trucks during the regular school year. Most schools operate summer programs and logging trucks on our roads where schools are open during any month is a real concern. Forcing our teen children who are just learning to drive to share the road with logging trucks is another real concern.

Aren't log trucks dangerous on mountain roads?

Yes. Logging trucks for each mile driven are involved in more accidents than other vehicles.

Will logging promote the growth of more flammable brush?

Yes. Removing the largest trees from the forest will open canopy and promote the growth of smaller trees, new trees and brush. It will turn a forest of mostly 115 year old trees into a mixed forest. These are exactly the conditions that create ladder fuels and increase the risks of catastrophic fires.

Will logging promote the spread of non-native species?

Yes. Removing the largest trees from the forest will open the canopy and permit more sunlight to enter the forest. This will exacerbate the problems of non-native species. Many of these species such as Scottish Broom is highly flammable.

What happens to the logging slash (debris)? It is left in the forest. It disrupts the natural ecosystem of the forest and when it dries out, it can contribute to increased fire risk. The current NTMP calls for slash up to 30” to be left, a departure from SJWC public FAQ that promised slash close to the ground..

Will the trees grow back?

Over time, an uneven aged forest will develop across the SJWC forestlands. There will be fewer large trees and more small trees. The smaller trees are easier to ignite and provide a ladder or easier path for fire to move from the forest floor to the canopy of the largest trees. The risks of catastrophic fire will be higher.

How will logging help with fire management? It will exacerbate the problem. The two activities are unrelated. The logging plan is designed to generate revenue for the company at the expense of creating an uneven aged forest. Fire mitigation and the commercial aspects of the SJWC logging plan are incompatible.

Will the logging affect endangered species?

This is a real concern. The NTMP explicitly mentions the presence of California Red-Legged Frogs (an endangered species) and Ospreys (a sensitive species) in the logging area. .

If I have other concerns or questions that I don't think SJWC is adequately addressing, who can I contact?

Based on the nature of you question we will do our best to either answer it or refer you to an expert that might be able to help.
Please visit our web page at

Terry Clark
October 20, 2005