Wild & Scenic Mokelumne Update

Foothill Focus Newsletter
photo of Mokelumne River
North Fork Mokelumne River below Salt Springs Dam
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Major environmental legislation fails to win approval
By the time state legislators closed out their 2002 session in September, they had failed to approve three important pieces of environmental legislation strongly supported by the Conservancy.

Although it's too early to be certain, indications are that some of the concepts may be the subject of new bills to be introduced after the Legislature returns to session in January.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy

AB 1130 would have created a Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) to coordinate and enhance the protection of the region's forests, waters, open space and wildlife.

The Assembly approved the bill by Assemblymen Dick Dickerson (R-Redding) and Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek). But it died in the Senate Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee without coming up for a vote.

The SNC would have been a state agency funded by the state budget, park and conservation bonds and private donations Its mission would have included land conservation, planning, open space preservation, landowner assistance, stream restoration, and watershed protection.

Also included would be recreation planning, protection and restoration of historic and cultural sites, preserving agricultural land and key wildlife habitat, and monitoring and education.

The SNC would have included up to 20 counties (including Amador and Calaveras), with the decision to participate being left to each county's Board of Supervisors.

The Calaveras County supervisors supported the bill, while Amador County supervisors opposed it. Clearcutting appeals

As introduced, SB 540 would have authorized each county's board of supervisors to appeal state approval of clearcutting operations within the county. It would have targeted removal of more than 70 percent of timber in any area over 2.5 acres.

The bill, by Senator Byron Sher (D-Stanford), did pass and was signed into law, but only in a stripped-down version that simply makes a minor change regarding forest practice violations.

Board of Forestry reform

To provide more balance to the management of timber harvests and watersheds, SB 234 by Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) would have restructured the state Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to include the following 11 members:

* An expert in fish and wildlife management. * An expert in hydrology, water quality or watershed management. * An expert in botany or native plant propagation. * A representative of a statewide environmental organization. * An owner of rangeland or nonindustrial timberland. * A professional forester from the timber products industry. * A second representative from the timber products industry. * A representative from the sport or commercial fishing industry. * A firefighters union representative with forestry expertise. * A representative of a timber products labor union. A representative of a water district that manages watersheds . The bill cleared the Senate, but was defeated by a 28-36 vote on the Assembly floor.

That means the forestry board will continue to be composed of nine members - three from the forest products industry, one from the range livestock industry and five from the general public.

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