Retired Water Executive Speaks Out on Logging Plan

The following letter was sent to representatives of CDF by a retired executive of East Bay Municipal Utility District.  EBMUD continues to disallow logging on their watershed land.


Reuben Grijalva, Director
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
1416 Ninth Street
P. O. Box 944246
Sacramento, CA 94244-2460

Dear Mr. Grijalva:

A member of my family resides on Aldercroft Heights Road in Los Gatos, and has asked me, based on my tenure with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), to comment on the San Jose Water Company’s (SJWC) Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) application for an area encompassing some 1,000 acres along Los Gatos Creek.

During my twenty years with EBMUD as a Customer Relations Representative, lobbyist for the District in Sacramento and then Director of Public Affairs, I became a strong advocate of and spokesman for the District’s management plans for its several thousand acres of watersheds lands adjacent to seven reservoirs in five counties and also along a stretch of the Mokelumne River in Amador and Calaveras Counties and several streams and creeks in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  During that time the District frequently received, considered and occasionally approved various proposals for public and commercial uses of these lands.  One which we never approved was commercial logging because of the threats such use would pose to the quality of the potable water we supplied to 1,100,000 people in the East Bay, and the environmental threats which would incur to inhabited areas close to the areas to be logged.

While commercial logging has been permitted on a few watershed lands, my years of relations with representatives of other publicly owned water agencies – members of the California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) – convince me that it is anathema to their board members, managers and engineers.

As a frequent visitor to my family member's home, I have acquired knowledge of that area’s water supply from Los Gatos Creek (purchased from SJWC, and treated, stored and distributed by the Aldercroft Heights County Water District).  I have also become familiar with the SJWC-owned lands and the network of narrow, twisting, landslide-prone, hard-to-maintain residential roads serving the area.  I have been greatly concerned with the fire danger to homes and residents, particularly along Aldercroft Heights Road which is dead-ended at gates and locked entrances to SJWC lands – allowing no possible egress to the approximately one hundred residents of the road if the single access is blocked by fire. The danger of fast spreading fires would be incrementally increased by logging operations, one of the primary reasons why we, at EBMUD, were concerned by such proposals.

The prospect of logging trucks traversing Aldercroft Heights Road, or any of the narrow, blacktop, shoulder less roads in the proposed logging area, is frankly inconceivable to anyone who is familiar with logging practices.  Because of the topography of the area, homes and their garages closely front the roadways.  The obvious dangers to residents – particularly children – are patently obvious, and the sounds of the logging vehicles would be nerve wracking.  I understand from the application that sound tests were done, but anyone who has listened with their own ears to the way sounds carry in this quiet area cannot seriously believe the alleged results and conclusions.  Go listen for ourselves!  Listen to the people who live there, who are almost universally opposed to the NTMP.

I cannot help but sympathize with a private water agency’s need and desire to increase its revenues, but it is my professional opinion as a former executive with one of the largest and best run water agencies in the Western United States, that to permit commercial logging in this area would be an environmental disaster and the State’s Forest service should reject the plan.

 Yours truly,

John H. Plumb

Terry Clark
October 5, 2006