Silicon Valley Metro: "Log Jam"

Log Jam

From Silicon Valley Metro, Feb 7-13, by Vrinda Normand 

If looks could kill, Matt Dias from Big Creek Lumber would be a goner. The forester's cheeks turned red from the tension as a crowd of nearly 500 Santa Cruz Mountain residents at last week's public hearing shot eye-daggers at the man behind the plan to raze 1,000 acres owned by the San Jose Water Company between downtown Los Gatos and the summit. More than 90 people, many of them members of Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging, spoke in the Santa Clara County Building before California Department of Forestry officials, who will be deciding on the plan proposed by SJW and Big Creek. "As a resident and an engineer, I'm nothing short of appalled at this plan moving forward," said Morgan Kessler, echoing concern about how logging might impact water quality and fire safety for local residents. Passionate applause from the overflow crowd peaked after Google engineer Rebecca Moore alleged that SJW is ineligible for an Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP). The long-term timber management plan is only for landowners with less than 2,500 acres of timberland. Moore's team of scientists used high-resolution aerial photographs to map out the company's property and identified at least 2,700 acres flush with redwoods and Douglas firs. Dias could not respond at the hearing but later told the media that SJW owns only 2,000 acres of timberland. It will be interesting to see how the stakeholders fend off this latest blow after the recent onslaught of criticism: four nationally renowned fire experts said the logging plan, which aims to remove the largest (and most valuable) trees, would increase fire hazard in the forest. David Ganz, the fire scientist hired by SJW, came to the opposite conclusion, and calls his peer's reviews mere "opinions." Before the public hearing, SJW held a private press conference at its office on Bascom Avenue—if the purpose was to cull sympathy from a captive media audience, it failed. Later news reports hooked on the opponents and their supporters protesting outside of the building, waving plaques that said "Save Our Watershed."

Original article may be found here

Rebecca Moore
February 13, 2007