2009 DESCRIPTION OF COLLINS ALMANOR FOREST
The 94,000 acre Collins Almanor Forest (CAF) is located in Tehama and Plumas Counties near Lake Almanor, in northeastern California. The forest is approximately 180 air miles northeast of San Francisco, 110 air miles north of Sacramento and 40 air miles northeast of Chico, California. The CAF falls within the upper watersheds of three principal rivers: Mill Creek, Deer Creek, and North Fork Feather River. The working forest component (i.e., commercial forest land) of the CAF comprises approximately 88,475 acres. The remaining 6,000 acres of the ownership are comprised of non-timber areas such as meadows and lakes, non-commercial forest areas, rock outcrops, and the mill site in Chester.
The CAF is located at the juncture of two of the major geomorphic provinces of the Pacific Coast region. The western two-thirds of CAF (commonly described as the “Chester Block”) is located in the southern extreme of the Cascade Range while the “Wolf Creek Block” to the south of Lake Almanor falls within the northern extreme of the Sierra Nevada Province. Underlying geology and derived soils reflect the CAF’s location relative to these two provinces. The Chester Block is predominantly characterized by volcanic rocks ranging from basalt to rhyolite and andesite with ash deposits widespread throughout the area. The Wolf Creek Block falls within the region of metamorphic and granitic rocks. These metamorphic rocks are of a much older origin (Paleozoic) than the more recent volcanic activity that formed the southern Cascade Range.
Soils reflect the parent materials from which they were weathered, with soils derived from volcanic and metamorphic materials being most prevalent on the forest. Throughout the bulk of the forest, there is an abundance of surface rocks. Depth to bedrock varies widely but averages around 30 to 40 inches. The most erosive soils found on the CAF are the rhyolite soils found on the plateaus of the Chester Block and the decomposed granitic soils found predominantly in the Wolf Creek Block.
Elevations on the CAF range from 4,000 to 6,000 feet. Topography varies widely across the CAF with areas of gentle slopes such as the “Chester Flat” and areas of steep slopes such as is found throughout the Wolf Creek Block and in the inner gorge of Mill Creek.
Lakes and Streams
CAF timberlands are located in the headwaters of three major tributaries to the Sacramento River: Deer Creek, Mill Creek, and North Fork of the Feather River. A number of natural and manmade lakes exist within these three basins, but only a few are adjacent to CAF timberlands. The principal lake in proximity to the ownership is Lake Almanor, 56 square miles of water, owned by PG&E and operated for hydroelectric generation, recreation, and flood control. Two other notable manmade lakes receiving waters off CAF are Butt Lake, also owned by PG&E, and Round Valley Reservoir, the water supply for the community of Greenville. Natural lakes tend to be small and less than 10 acres in size. The most historic one of note is Wilson Lake, which, through a ditch dug by Chinese labor, provided water to the Dutch Hill Mine for hydraulic gold mining near the turn of the 19th century.
Deer Creek and Mill Creek are both unregulated tributaries and important for their native spring run salmon populations, arguably two of the last such tributaries in northern California. Both of these creeks were recent candidates for the state’s Wild and Scenic River Act. Both tributaries enjoy relatively little exposure from community developments, until they descend into the Sacramento Valley. Except for a pocket of Rhyolite soils in the headwaters, Deer and Mill Creeks are blessed with stable volcanic soils which tend to be less erosive and provide low sediment inputs.
The North Fork is a highly regulated arm of the Feather River possessing numerous dams and diversions for hydroelectric generation and irrigation. The East Branch of the North Fork dwarfs the former and then splits into two major streams, Spanish Creek and Indian Creek. It is only into Wolf Creek, a small tributary of Indian Creek, that CAF drains into the East Branch. The East Branch is generally recognized for its high channel erosion and sediment loads, but relatively little of this comes from Wolf Creek.
One third of the upper Deer Creek watershed belongs to CAF, whereas our fee ownership in Mill and North Fork of the Feather River is a minor percentage. In response to possible wild and scenic river designation, both Deer and Mill Creek landowners have formed their own local watershed conservancies. Each conservancy is developing watershed management strategies for their watersheds. CAF has been an active participant in both processes and has staff representation on the Board of Directors for the Deer Creek Watershed Conservancy.
The area is underlain by portions of two distinct physiographic provinces. The northern, western and central portions of the assessment area are underlain by the Cascade Province which extends from southern British Columbia to northern California. The southeastern portion of the area is underlain by the northern edge of the Sierra Nevada Province.
The Cascade province in this area is typified by volcanic flows (or "plateaus") formed during the Quaternary Epoch (2 million to 11,000 years ago). Geology consists largely of pyroxene andesite, with lesser amounts of basalt and minor amounts of hornblende and dacite. Portions of the Mill Creek Canyon contain traces of older (Upper Pliocene) Tuscan Formation rocks such as tuff-breccia. After deposition of the Tuscan breccias south of Lassen Park, a large strato-volcano rose around a vent located at Battle Creek Meadows near Mineral. The Mill Creek Plateau and surrounding areas on CAF contain a 500 to 800 foot thick rhyolite layer that flowed from fissures on the lower slopes of this volcano.
CAF has portions of the Penman Formation which consists of volcanic mudflow with breccia, with lesser amounts of conglomerate, fanglomerate, mudstone, sandstone, tuff, and lavas, dominantly of hornblende andesite, and with relatively little nonvolcanic material. Also found in this portion of the assessment area are extensive plio-pleistocene lacustrine deposits, particularly around Lake Almanor, Indian Valley and Mountain Meadows. In addition, and as an example of the transitional nature of the area, there is a small Mesozoic granitic batholith located in the Upper Wolf Creek watershed.
The region’s continental climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters, with large daily temperature ranges. Average winter time temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit and average summer-time temperature is 65 degrees. Extremes in temperature range from minus 16 degrees to 103 degrees. Precipitation is predominantly associated with eastward moving Pacific storms, though summer thunderstorms also contribute to annual totals. Average annual precipitation is 33 inches per year in Chester. Approximately 75% of the precipitation falls as snow, from November through March.
By a considerable margin, the most dominant timber type is Sierran Mixed Conifer, which occupies 87% of the forested acres within the CAF ownership, largely in the elevation band of 4,200 to 5,500 feet. This type is an association of five main tree species: Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, Douglas-fir, White Fir, and Incense Cedar. Within this type, stand proportions by species varies across the forest, but White Fir and Sugar Pine are the most prevalent. This association of species can be found intermingled as single trees or as small groups. At lower elevations, Sierra Mixed Conifer gives way to the Ponderosa Pine type. At elevations above the Mixed Conifer type is found the White Fir type, which largely is limited to areas in the Northwestern portion of the CAF. In isolated areas characterized by poor fall/winter air drainage and high water table, pure stands of Lodgepole Pine are found. Hardwoods such as alder, dogwood, big leave maple, cottonwood and aspen can be found on moist sites within the CAF. Black Oak, the only upland hardwood species on CAF, is limited to the lowest elevations at the very western part of the property.
Key ingredients to wildlife habitat are water, food, and shelter. Collins Almanor Forest provides all three. CAF provides a range of wildlife habitats from ceanothus and manzanita brush patches, rock outcrops, Lodgepole Pine, true fir, and mixed conifer stands to wet meadows, springs, creeks, and lakes. Diverse habitat, like that of Collins Almanor Forest, leads to a diverse wildlife population.
Perpetuation of wildlife is necessary for perpetuation of the forest ecosystem. Animal and tree interactions lead to a more productive, healthy forest.
There are many animals that occur yet are rarely seen on the CAF. Mountain lion, American marten, bobcat, California spotted owl, and northern goshawk are examples. Mountain lion tracks are often seen in dust and snow, but the large cat is rarely seen prowling the forest. American martens and bobcats have been reported along with nesting goshawks and spotted owls which are monitored by biologists.
Below is a partial list of animals that are known to occur on the Collins Almanor Forest:
State approved Timber Harvest Plans, prepared by registered professional foresters, must address wildlife habitat and meet requirements set by the Federal Endangered Species Act, California Endangered Species Act, guidelines set by the State Forest Practice Act, and concerns of the California Department of Fish and Game.
Animals listed as "species of special concern," such as the southern bald eagle, northern goshawk, and osprey, have special habitat requirements spelled out in the Forest Practice Act. A forester must explain in the timber harvest plan how the plan meets habitat guidelines. The three raptors used as examples require buffer areas around nests. The buffer area includes screening trees, perch trees and replacement nest and perch trees.
“Critical periods” are established for each species of special concern. During the critical period for the bald eagle, January 15 to August 15 or `4 weeks after fledging no timber operations are permitted in the buffer zone.
A large ponderosa pine hosting a bald eagle nest on CAF died in 1989. The eagles constructed another nest in a nearby Ponderosa Pine. Primary and secondary buffer areas were extended by CAF foresters, with the new nest tree as their center. No equipment operation is allowed in the primary buffer, while limited operations are allowed in the secondary buffer outside the critical period. Since 1996, a pair of bald eagles have chosen to nest on CAF less than a mile from the Collins sawmill. In spite of wind damage to the nest the first year, the pair has been back each year to raise another clutch.
Forester and biologists generally use tracks, animal scat, vegetation type, habitat, and animal sightings to determine what wildlife inhabit an area, but there are special cases. Biologists also take to the woods at night to locate spotted owls using recorded or mouth generated spotted owl calls. When a spotted owl answers, the biologist attempts to physically locate the owl's nest and determine if it's breeding. Great Horned Owls, Screech Owls and possibly Great Gray Owls are also CAF inhabitants.
Trees are not harvested if they contain visible nests. Fresh cavities in a tree's bole, stick nests, and excessive bird droppings (white wash) marking the bole or ground around it are examples of nest indicators. CAF foresters leave standing cull trees and snags for wildlife. Random thickets of trees are retained within chip/thinning areas for habitat cover. Springs and streams are recognized for their extreme importance to wildlife. Watercourse protection zones, as mandated by the state, are established along streams to retain aquatic habitat and maintain water quality, and are areas of restricted equipment operations.
Some animals damage trees; beavers fell them, pocket gophers eat roots of seedlings, porcupines eat the bark of young trees and seedlings, and deer will browse small trees. Squirrels eat seeds and cut cones before they can release their seed. While this type of damage is recognized by CAF foresters, they have not found it to be significantly harmful to the forest management objectives. Over-stocked, slow growing stands limit forest growth more on CAF than losses in growth due to animal activity.
Squirrels also cache seeds to feed on later. The locations of these caches are sometimes forgotten or squirrels can be killed by northern goshawks, bobcats, or other predators before they can return to eat them. Cached seeds may then germinate and grow.
Trees rely on birds to control tree-killing insect populations. At the same time, surviving trees rely on insects to naturally thin dense clumps of trees. Giving the trees more space to grow increases their growth and potential longevity. Trees killed by insects provide homes for other insects and animals.
Harvesting by single tree selection, the "light touch," has maintained a sustained balance between vegetation and wildlife not found using more intensive methods to grow trees.
The historical record of the Collins Family involvement in California forestry began in 1902, with the initial purchase of timberland in Plumas and Tehama Counties in Northeast California by the partnership of Curtis, Collins and Holbrook (CC&H). By 1912, CC&H had acquired over 62,000 acres in the region. At the time of his death in 1914, T.D. Collins' 95% interest in the CC&H partnership passed on to his son, E.S. Collins. E.S. carried on the land stewardship philosophy of his father, which was strongly influenced by their active membership in and support of the United Methodist Church. Through the tenure of both T.D. and E.S. Collins, these timberlands were not actively managed for timber production, in part due to the lack of a mill in Chester, poor transportation, and because of the emphasis on timbering on other lands outside of California.
With E.S. Collins' death in 1940, leadership passed to his son, Truman Collins, who was elected President of all Collins enterprises. With Truman's assumption of leadership came a new era of active management of the land base. The passing of E.S. Collins also led to a new era of involvement of the World Division of the United Methodist Church, to whom E.S. willed an undivided 55% ownership in the California CC&H land base.
Prior to the CC&H partnership establishment in Northeast California, T.B. Walker and his Red River Lumber Company operated a very large sawmill in nearby Westwood. By 1910, T.B. Walker owned over 750,000 acres in the region, a holding that later would be heavily cutover by the Red River Lumber Company in the first four decades of the 20th century. By 1940, Red River had cut most of its timber in the vicinity of Chester and they were amenable to selling bare land as a site for the future Chester sawmill and 13 miles of railway to the Collins enterprises. These acquisitions and subsequent construction of the sawmill at Chester enabled the opening of the active era of management of the Collins land base, which was expanded shortly thereafter (1946) by the acquisition of the 17,500 acres of cut over land later to be termed the Wolf Creek block. At that time, the land holdings were renamed the Collins Almanor Forest (CAF) and long term cutting/management rights were contracted to Collins Pine Company (CPC), an entity entirely held by members of the Collins family. Collins Pine Company owns the Chester mill, which began operating in 1943.
Beginning with the first harvests in 1941, the CAF was put under sustained yield management, with fee-land timber eventually supplying roughly 50% of the mill's annual log requirements. An early management emphasis was the development of a road network affording access to the CAF, eventually totaling over 680 miles of roadways on the property. The same time period saw the expansion of company logging crews and equipment as well as a fleet of off-highway trucks for transporting logs to the Chester mill. Since 1941, the CAF has been under the management by professional foresters. There have been six Forest Managers since 1941, supported by a staff of professional foresters. By the early 1990's, economic conditions in the timber industry and the aging nature of the Collins rolling stock dictated a change to contract logging and hauling, under the supervision of Collins Pine foresters.
The managing entity of the Collins Almanor Forest is:
Collins Pine Company
P.O. Box 796
Chester, CA 96020
Current ownership of the Collins Almanor Forest (including limited areas where only timber rights are owned) is variably distributed between three ownership groups:
Collins Family Members (Various locations)
General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church (New York, New York)
Collins Pine Company (Portland, Oregon)
The 94,000 acres comprising CAF is composed of 9 different variations in proportion of ownership between the above three groups, with the largest block (over 77,000 acres) being the lands of the former Curtis, Collins and Holbrook Company (CC&H). Undivided ownership of the former CC&H lands is roughly apportioned as: 55% to the United Methodist Church, General Board of Global Ministries, and 45% to individual members of the Collins family (descendants of E.S. Collins, the principal owner of CC&H).
The second largest component of CAF is the approximately 6,000 acres held by the Collins California Trust (CCT), whose beneficiaries are members of the Collins family. The Collins Timber Properties (CTP) component of the CAF amounts to approximately 3,200 acres with undivided interest held by Collins family members as well as Collins Pine Company. Minor holdings include Rock Creek Investors (a Collins family and CPC holding), parcels with exclusive title held by the United Methodist Church and lands held exclusively by Collins Pine Company, which includes the mill site. Finally, the CAF includes approximately 1,300 acres of land for which Collins Pine Company, or the CC&H partnership, owns only the timber rights.
Description of Principal Forest Types
Sierran Mixed Conifer Type
Conifers from the Pinaceae Family form the dominant woody vegetation on Collins Almanor Forest (CAF). Using the California Wildlife Habitat Relationship (CWHR) system, maintained by California Department of Fish and Game, this vegetation can be categorized as belonging to the Sierran Mix Conifer type.
The type covers about 82,500 acres or 87% of CAF. Elevations range from around 3,500 feet to nearly 5,700 feet. At the lower elevations this type intermingles with the Ponderosa Pine and the Montane Hardwood-Conifer types. While at the higher elevations the type becomes associated with the White Fir type.
This is a very complex type in both the numbers of vegetation species and the different vertical and horizontal structures resulting from past wildfires, windstorms, insect infestations, and Company harvesting practices since 1941. Older conifer trees are found as individuals, in groups or in clumps and are associated with openings created by nature or logging with individuals and clumps of younger trees. Clumps are usually not larger than five acres in size and tend to be composed of one to a few species at most. The clumps, openings and individual trees are found in a mosaic of patterns over the landscape and they provide for great vegetation and wildlife biodiversity.
The more numerous conifer species are Sugar and Ponderosa Pine, White Fir, Douglas-fir and Incense Cedar and the minor species are Red Fir, Lodgepole Pine, Jeffrey Pine and Western White Pine. Ponderosa Pine is often more numerous on the warmer and drier flat to south facing slopes, where the stands tend to be more open in canopy cover. In these areas White Fir is found as individuals or in small groups and becomes more common in the stands as the elevation increases. On the cooler and more moist north facing slopes, White Fir becomes the dominant species with scattered Sugar Pine, Douglas-fir and Incense Cedar, whose occurrence is spotty, with large numbers found in some areas while it is absent in others areas. Though these species tend to be more uniformly distributed on Wolf Creek.
Jeffrey Pine is found in unique areas, such as on poor soils of the gravelly alluvial flood plain around Chester, at higher elevations, and on the few serpentine soil areas on CAF. Lodgepole Pine is also found on unique areas scattered within this type. Lodgepole Pine, however, is mainly found in areas of trapped cold air; areas having a high water table during the winter months or a combination of both. Occasionally, Lodgepole Pine will be found mixed within the stands containing the more numerous conifers mentioned above.
At the higher elevations some scattered western white pine trees are found in this type, while at the very lowest elevations, California Black Oak is found scattered in the stands.
Understory shrubs are greenleaf and pinemat manzanita, mountain whitethorn, Malaha carpet, snow and deer brush, western serviceberry, Sierra gooseberry, blue elderberry, brush chinquapin, and dogwood. These species are usually found as suppressed individuals under a tree overstory or in small openings within the stands where they occur as patches with many individual plants of single or mixed species. Over large areas of this type, these brush species are found as a main component of the understory vegetation and provide essential food and cover for wildlife.
Ponderosa Pine Type
This minor type on CAF is found around the 3,500 to 5,000 foot elevation band, covering about 3,100 acres or 3 percent of the Forest. One-half of this acreage is in plantations planted entirely or predominately to Ponderosa Pine. These plantations resulted from planting the heavily burnt portions of wildfire areas or the site preparation and planted areas acquired from the USDA Forest Service by land exchange. To be assigned this type, natural areas must contain at least 50 percent Ponderosa Pine canopy cover. In addition to the pine, Douglas-fir, Incense Cedar, California Back Oak are common associates. Shrubs common to the Sierran Mixed Conifer type are also found in this type.
White Fir Type
Found at the higher elevations on CAF, white fir must make up over 80 percent of the canopy cover to be considered for the White Fir type. Except for some scattered Sugar Pine and Incense Cedar, White Fir is by far the largest component of these stands. Only 1,500 acres or one and one-half percent of CAF is so typed. Common shrubs are brush chinquapin, mountain whitethorn, and greenleaf manzanita. Many stands in this type are so dense they have little vegetation in the understory.
Lodgepole Pine Type
On CAF, this type covers nearly 750 acres and can be found in association with Wet Meadow and Montane Riparian types and in upland areas with other conifer types. In areas where the soil is damp all year or has standing water part of the year, the understory is usually various Wet Meadow type species, while the upland stands of lodgepole pine occupy areas with high, winter time water levels, cold air sinks or a combination of both. This type usually contains numerous snags which are attractive to many woodpeckers and as perching places for birds hunting in the meadows.
Montane Riparian Type
A type that does not cover much area on CAF, but is very critical to a large number of wildlife species is the Montane Riparian type. Trees within this forest type grow year round on damp soil and form an intermediate canopy layer between water areas and adjacent conifer stands. In these areas mountain alder, big leaf maple, black cottonwood, quaking aspen and various willow species are the dominant vegetation that form ribbon like stands along adjoining watercourses. The montane riparian forest type covers 1,000 acres or one percent of CAF.
Wet Meadow Type
This is another unique forest type that has far more ecological importance than the land area it occupies on CAF. The dominant vegetation are grasses, sedges, rushes, and wildflowers, all generally less than three feet in height. Water is at or near the surface most of the year. A few alders or willows may be found in the type usually along the edges. Covering 1,100 acres (one percent) of CAF, this type has a large number of wildflowers which in turn attracts significant numbers of insects and butterflies. Many rare and threaten plants are also found in this type.
Montane Chaparral Type
Usually found at the lower elevations on the Forest and on shallow soils, this type covers about 250 acres on CAF. These brush fields are usually permanent, going from mature to young vegetation as the result of wildfire. Only a few conifers become established, due to the shallow soils and severe competition from the shrubs. These same shrub species are found in the conifer types, but there they are restricted to small individual plants with over story conifers or in small openings containing one to four shrub species forming a patch. These patches in the Mixed Conifer type will eventually be killed by overhead shade and new patches will be established in openings created elsewhere in the conifer stands.
Though not a recognized WHR type, this shrub species covers about 16,500 acres of Rhyolite soils on the Plateaus of CAF. Conifer forest types containing this shrub usually have less than 40 percent crown cover, allowing the pinemat manzanita to form large dense carpets on the forest floor with a dense root system in the top 12 inches of soil. Surprisingly, this ground cover behaves like the dominant climax vegetation, controlling what vegetation becomes established. Conifer trees have limited germination success in this brush and when they do survive are greatly suppressed for around 50 years, at which point the trees can then overcome the competition. Therefore these areas are open by nature and have been for 100’s of years. No doubt, a unique vegetation/wildlife ecosystem has evolved on these Plateaus.
Though not a formal WHR type, these areas have been typed on CAF because many unique plants are found among the rocks, some of which are rare or threatened due to their limited range and requirements for special soil chemistry. In addition to having unique plants, wildlife find many of their life requirements in these areas. Large rocky areas which could be identified on aerial photos were given a type polygon (about 600 acres on CAF), and those that were too small were identified during the measurements taken on the plots under the Temporary Inventory System.
Montane Hardwood-Conifer Type
This type covers only 250 acres on CAF and is located on the main ridge running between the Mill and Deer Creeks at its lower elevations. The Montane Hardwood is a transition habitat found amid conifer stands and lower, drier, types. This WHR type contains Ponderosa Pine, California Black Oak, Foothill Pine, Canyon Live Oak, and several grass species.
Owners' Desires and General Goals
The Collins Almanor Forest ownership is the product of a multigenerational endeavor launched by the entrepreneurial spirit of T.D. Collins in 1855. Collins was guided by a stewardship ethic evidenced by charitable contributions and a conviction that money and resources were not to be squandered. Family investments in timberland began in western Pennsylvania prior to the Civil War. Harvest operations conformed to the existing industry practices of that period, i.e. removal of all commercial trees by a single harvest. As the timber resources were depleted, additional lands were purchased to maintain the flow of logs to the sawmill. As timberlands became increasingly difficult to purchase in Pennsylvania, the family looked to the Pacific northwest, buying timberlands in the Big Meadows (Almanor) Basin. When T.D. Collins’ son, E.S. Collins, died in 1940 and willed an undivided ownership share in these timberlands to the Methodist Board of Missions, he had a vision of a charitable gift that would go on giving through stumpage income from a sustainably managed forest.
Truman Collins, grandson of founder T.D. Collins, viewed relocation to Chester as the final move, one requiring different silviculture and harvest schedules from those of his father and grandfather. Single tree selection and timber harvests limited to actual stand growth were central to what Truman envisioned as sustainable forestry, a conservative approach that maintained future stand management options. If the Chester operation was to sustain itself, Truman clearly recognized a need to break with the past.
First and foremost, the owners’ objectives have always been to harvest a sustained supply of high quality, profitable sawlogs from the Collins Almanor Forest. Generating income through timber harvests has been the fundamental means by which this business has funded its management activities for the last 150 years. Since 1941 though, managing CAF timberlands has always meant more than just cutting trees. A majority of CAF owners regard the stewardship of God’s creation as a careful weaving of economic, biological, and ethical choices.
Timber management shall provide for the continued sale of sawtimber, while maintaining ecosystem diversity. A functioning, vigorous, and aesthetically acceptable forest shall persist after each harvest. Stands shall be marked with an eye to improve what remains. Foresters, rather than accountants, shall dictate harvesting activities, spatially, temporally and with regard to total outputs.
Timber Management Objectives
Growth, yield and the standing inventory shall be managed so as to produce a sustained flow of sawlogs currently averaging about 35 million board feet annually.
A silvicultural system shall be employed that address the owners’ desire to retain functional and visually attractive forests after harvest. Single tree selection has traditionally dominated CAF management.
Adaptations to past management that provide opportunities for Ponderosa Pine regeneration will be vigorously explored. They include continued use of biomass thinning in stagnated understories, an increased toolbox of marking prescriptions to address more varied stand conditions, and the use of group selection (the removal of most, if not all trees in areas up to 2½ acres), where appropriate.
Wildlife Management Objective
The company believes that management emphasis on a single species of wildlife is neither meaningful nor productive. Perpetuation of biodiversity requires a landscape management philosophy and strategy that identifies critical areas for special management emphasis and maintains important habitat elements throughout the landscape.
Although wildlife management comprises many components, this plan will focus on the vegetative portion. The primary objective is to maintain the vegetative components naturally found in CAF forest types and provide the key habitat elements needed to support all native animal, plant and fish species.
The goal is to maintain a non-declining canopy closure, over time, and increase canopy closure where compatible with the timber management objective. Ideally, the acreage of functional late seral stands should not diminish over time.
Absence of local data and the scarcity of published studies on the longevity of standing snags made predictions of their presence through the planning horizon both questionable and unreliable. Certainly the goal is to maintain an adequate number and spacing of snags for immediate wildlife habitat and eventual recruitment of future large woody debris. It is estimated that through current protection measures and the relative absence of fire, this goal is being met. If some areas are determined to be deficient in numbers or quality of snags and/or down woody material, harvest methods including salvage operations will be modified.
Watercourse and Riparian Management Objective
The objective is to manage water courses and adjoining buffer zones so as to maintain the quantity and quality of beneficial uses of water flowing through CAF. Habitat for fish and invertebrates, domestic uses, stock water, irrigation, and electrical generation are all directly affected by the quality of the riparian zone.
Marking prescriptions within the riparian zones of Class I and Class II watercourses are designed to minimize water temperature fluctuations resulting from timber harvests. Future recruitment of large woody debris for stream channels and snags for nesting and roosting is desired. It is also desirable that these zones facilitate connectivity between areas of late seral stands.
Public Use and Visual Management Objective
Nearly all of the Collins Almanor Forest is open to most seasonally appropriate, non-commercial, recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, bicycling and hiking. Firewood cutting is permitted only by current employees, contractors and retired employees with a current, valid firewood permit.
An important visual objective is to provide residual stands after harvesting that are visually pleasing to both the landowners and to the public. This is generally accomplished by the following:
1. Continuous forest cover with a minimum of large, man-made openings.
2. Maintaining a healthy forest with a balance between growth and a presence of decadence.
3. Retention of some older and larger trees across the ownership.
4. Treatment of logging slash to reduce concentrations.
5. Within visible corridors along public roads, remove most slash, reduce stump heights, and place landings and skid roads to reduce or eliminate their visual presence.
Annual Harvest Volume and Species Selection
The first Collins foresters such as George Flanagan and Wally Reed were trained in and strong proponents of selection silviculture applied to the Sierran mixed conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range. Based upon their knowledge and philosophy, the CAF has been managed under single tree selection silviculture since the inception of commercial logging in 1941. This management philosophy has been faithfully carried on by subsequent forest managers and staff. Instrumental to implementation of selection silviculture was development of a tree risk rating system, which gave rise to the Almanor Tree Classification System. Under this system, trees are classed based upon their crown characteristics and placement within the stand.
Since harvesting first began in 1941, prescriptions have been light single tree selection entries removing 15-45% of the volume per acre at each entry, with a variable harvest cycle of the property of about 15 years. The first harvest cycle was called the "high risk" entry with the principal focus being on light sanitation to capture mortality and control bark beetle losses. Usually the cut trees were Almanor 7, 8, or 9’s with evidence of impending death within 10 years. Due to lack of markets for the other species, only pine and Douglas-fir were harvested in the first cutting cycle, where the typical harvest entry captured 6,000 board feet and two to four trees per acre.
The second harvest cycle, called the "harvest cut" began in the late 1950's. In this cycle, which extended more than 20 years to 1981, the focus was on a planned reduction of over-mature trees and non- growing trees (Almanor Classes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and damaged, diseased or severely suppressed trees). Though many thrifty, larger and older pine trees were retained in order to provide parent stock for natural reproduction and stocking purposes. Harvest cuts were, again, by single tree selection. Capture of mortality remained an important factor in the harvest design.
The third cycle, labeled the "transition cut" began in the early 1980's. Here, the focus was on stand sanitation and mortality capture with a continuation towards a more balanced distribution of age/size classes within stands, and to encourage pine regeneration where possible. Harvest volumes ranged from 4 to 7 thousand board feet per acre.
By the late 1980's, a shift in emphasis occurred with respect to the planned elimination of over- mature trees. At that time, it was determined that the owners' objectives were best served by retaining a component of older, mature pine trees, indefinitely.
Concurrently, a shift in perspective occurred with respect to the retention of "highly defective" trees that possessed value with respect to wildlife habitat and the aesthetic character of the forest. This transition in outlook is ongoing, today, and has been formalized by the CAF Sustained Yield Plan, dated January 1998.
By 1997, most of the property had been covered in the relatively light Transition Cut. Currently CAF is well into its fourth harvest. The overall goal of this harvest is to manage the forest in such a way as to increase and maximize the sustainable growth of the timber resource and the financial return to the owners while maintaining and enhancing all of the other forest values including wildlife, aesthetics, clean water, soil productivity, and recreation. This should be accomplished without forfeiting any potential opportunities for future generations of owners or managers.
Future harvest cycles will continue to balance the multiple objectives of the forest; providing a regular annual harvest tied to actual periodic growth, enhance the pine component within the forest species mix, enhance the wildlife attributes of the forest, and maintain the high aesthetic characteristics of the forest through the retention a multi-canopy structure, including the maintenance of larger trees throughout CAF.
Harvesting on Other Private Lands
Private lands within the area, other than Collins Almanor Forest, will likely be managed in the foreseeable future as they have been in the recent past. Timber harvest should primarily be of a selective, uneven-aged nature and clear-cutting should constitute a relatively minor portion of the activity.
On these other private properties, intensive uneven-aged management typically results in stands that are maintained in the California Wildlife Habitat Relationship 4M (11-23” DBH and 40 –59% canopy cover) to 4D (11-23” DBH and >60% canopy cover) condition. Selective harvest generally occurs when canopy coverage is over 60 percent and the quadratic mean diameter of the stand is in the 11 to 23 inches DBH range. Harvest tends to reduce the canopy cover below 60 percent and take trees of various size. Hence, a 4D stand typically turns into a 4M after harvest, which will eventually grow into a 4D stand again. This cycle could theoretically be sustained indefinitely, resulting in major amounts of these forest in either 4M or 4D conditions.
Wildfire may affect large portions of these private lands, but it is not likely. One reason is that the terrain is relatively gentle and road systems are extensive, making fire fighting very effective. In addition, intensive fuels management has been conducted over large areas within the area during the past decade, using biomass thinnings. Where they do occur, any large fires would result in early seral habitats. Existing early seral habitats, including plantations created in old burns, will tend to move toward mid-seral conditions as shrubs become mature and decadent and conifers increase in density and become larger shading out the shrubs.
Existing late seral stands, though limited in extent, will likely be managed in a similar manner to the other commercial forest stands, as mentioned above. In summary, non-CAF private land management, within the area, will consist of a preponderance of mid-successional habitats with a likely trend toward declining amounts of later seral types.
Harvesting on Public Lands
Much of the area around and scattered within CAF consists of public lands, administered by the USDA Forest Service. Future forest management on these lands, although somewhat uncertain due to current political fluxes, will likely be considerably less intensive than on private lands. Emphasis will likely follow these themes: First, the protection of large trees and forest structural characteristics thought to be present prior to European settlement and fire exclusion. Second, the management of fuels to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fires. Fuels management may be intensive in scattered bands or zones, resulting in shaded fuel-breaks and the use of group selection harvesting up to two acres in size per Quincy Library Group recommendations. Third, the maintenance or enhancement of ecological systems in riparian habitats.
Spotted owl Pair Activity Centers (PACs), 1,000 acres in size, will be maintained around existing owl pairs, including a 300 acre nest core, a contiguous replacement core area, and 400 acres of additional stands in suitable condition. In addition, late successional, old growth, and forest carnivore reserves will be scattered through the public lands (see Lassen National Forests Resource Management Plan, for the location of these areas). The extent of late seral stands will likely increase over the next 50 years, perhaps on the order of 50-100 percent according to the CASPO Draft Environmental Impact Statement; 1995.
In summary, the future emphases on public lands will likely result in an increase in late seral stands and a moderate increase in early seral stage areas within the area. Harvesting will predominately be of an uneven aged silviculture using individual and group selection systems, with relatively few clear cuts.
Harvestng on CAF Lands
Future CAF management will place increased emphasis on afforestation efforts along with the retention of sizeable trees, decadent trees, snags and large woody material throughout the ownership. Levels of late seral habitat elements that will produce moderate to high populations of wildlife species dependent upon these elements will be retained in functional late seral stands.
These future CAF strategies will have a tendency for a maintenance of functional later seral conditions, especially in WLPZ’s, while continuing to provide for some early seral habitat, unless unforeseen large wildfires occur which will create new early seral types.
Assesssing Forest Management Silvicultural Requirements
Developing the current timber management prescriptions for the Collins Almanor Forest began with a series of discussions and field tours in 1995. The discussions initially focused on the management history and the three prior harvest cycles and what the present day forest looks like, given the past fifty plus years of harvesting.
The next step was to evaluate the current forest condition and identify potential silvicultural concerns regarding future management. One of the foremost concerns that emerged was species composition and the question of as to the best species and diameters to harvest in order to maintain a strong pine component and meet other silvicultural goals. Also, how will the rate of harvesting in the overstory affect seedling establishment, survival and growth? An additional concern is maintaining the distribution and quality of large (>24”) trees for the increased value of the timber products as well as ecological, aesthetic, and wildlife values. Other concerns relate to maintaining a high level of volumetric growth, maintaining desired canopy levels, and attaining varied degrees of late successional attributes.
These issues will be addressed in the near future utilizing the “Forest Projection and Planning System”, or “FPS, developed by the Forest Biometrics Research Institute.
Current Road Network
The road network on CAF is extensive and nearly complete, consisting of approximately 900 miles of seasonal roads, with 680 miles on CAF property. Many of the seasonal roads, built in the 1950's, were constructed with an inside ditch and relief culvert system, and road widths vary between 15 and 25 feet. GIS analysis of CAF roads indicates that the percent area roaded on CAF does not vary dramatically across watersheds and generally ranges from between 1 and 3%, with an average of 1.45%. Results do not suggest that any particular watershed is excessively roaded on Collins lands.
Future road building on CAF will be limited primarily to Upper and Lower Wolf Creek, Rush Creek and Lake Almanor East watersheds. Many of these areas have not been roaded, or contain roads that were originally built in the 1930's to 1950's by the former owner, Wolf Creek Timber Company, in and along streamcourses. These stream side roads have been abandoned, and new access is required for future management activities. Planned cable logging in these areas will result in many of these new roads being built along ridge lines, well away from streamcourses. Most new roads on slopes over 35% will be built with full bench construction. Future roading on other portions of the CAF will be limited mainly to a few short (<1/4 mile) spur roads.
Road maintenance on CAF roads is performed in three general manners. First, in association with harvesting operations, roads are upgraded, maintained or abandoned, as necessary to support log hauling requirements. Secondly, road problems such as culverts that regularly fill from sediment are mapped and regularly treated by the Collins Pine Company road contractor. And thirdly, as road problems are discovered by field personnel during normal field activities, repairs are initiated by the road contractor.
The January, 1997 rain-on-snow event and resulting floods provided a good example of how the CAF road maintenance system is designed to function. After the event, harvest blocks were assigned to CPC staff foresters for reconnaissance. Road problems were identified, mapped, and the road contractor’s crews were dispatched to prioritized sites. The most common erosion problems found were associated with culvert overflow, usually as a result of slash or limb blockage. Some culvert crossings in slate and rhyolitic soil types that exhibit high baseline levels of sediment delivery were especially sensitive to blockages by small twigs that quickly backed up water flows. Through field reconnaissance, Collins staff is aware of these areas, and significant efforts are being made to clean these inflow basins at the earliest practicable time before high flows occur.
An extensive survey of roads across ownerships within the Deer and Mill Creek basins was performed by Meadowbrook Associates in the summer of 1996. Sixty-six percent of the roads in these watersheds are privately owned, but contribute 78% of potential delivered sediment to streams, a moderately disproportionate amount.
One significant finding of the Meadowbrook report is that, despite currently accepted beliefs, insloped roads with relief culverts are generally not major sources of erosion or road failure. However, insloped roads with cross drainage structures (dips or waterbars) are significant potential erosion sources, in the event of structural failures. In fact, outsloped roads on Rhyolitic soils were found most likely to cause fillslope failures. Significantly, the Forest Service has been systematically converting their insloped roads to outsloped roads with dips. The most significant road related erosion sources reported in the Meadowbrook study were, in order of importance: undersized culverts, plugged culverts, low water crossings without crossing structures, inadequate cross drain spacing, and intercepted runoff from upslope skid trails or landings.
Erosion potential from roads and crossings were rated highest in Upper Round Valley, Lower Gurnsey Creek, Lost Creek, Rim and Upper Hole in the Ground watersheds. Highest existing erosion levels from roads and crossings were found in Upper Hole in the Ground, Slate Creek, Upper Carter, Lower Gurnsey and Upper Round Valley watersheds. All of these watersheds are highly correlated with rhyolitic soil types. Private roads (including CAF) have nearly twice the delivery rate of sediment than do USFS roads in the surveyed area.
CAF roads are also discussed in the Lassen NF Watershed Analysis of Antelope, Deer and Mill Creeks. In the Lassen report, road intensity is expressed as miles of road per square mile, and all ownerships in each watershed are combined. The most intensively roaded watersheds in the Deer and Mill Creek basins are Round Valley, Calf Creek, Cement Creek, Deer Creek Meadows and Lower Gurnsey Creek. The highest number of crossings over rhyolitic soils are located in Gurnsey Creek, Hole in the Ground and Slate Creek watersheds. The highest existing erosion rates were found in Round Valley, Slate Creek, Carter Creek and Gurnsey Creek watersheds. An erosion inventory of the East Branch North Fork Feather River performed by the Forest Service and Soil Conservation Service (USDA, 1989) found that the Wolf Creek - Round Valley watershed, which drains into Indian Creek, had the next to highest sediment delivery rate (2.6 tons per acre) of all the watersheds in the East Branch North Fork basin. These elevated rates were attributed to cut and fill slopes on roads, and to bank erosion along tributary stream courses. Although the planning watersheds used in the USFS report do not exactly coincide with the CAF watersheds, it is clear that Collins owns and controls land management activities on a large proportion of these planning watersheds.
Some portions of the Upper and Lower Wolf Creek watersheds will require additional roading some time in the future. Given the findings of the Erosion Inventory Report, it is clear that yarding method choice, road design, layout and construction methods will be critical to minimize road related erosion effects in this area. Results of the Meadowbrook Study also make it clear that road crossings associated with rhyolitic soil types in the upper Mill and Deer Creek Basins are also significant sediment sources. Crossing design and drainage structure maintenance are critical to minimizing road related erosion effects in these areas.
Watercourse and Lake Protection Zone(WLPZ) Widths
Following, the guidelines found in Section 936.5 of the State Forest Practice Rules, the Plan incorporates zone widths based on watercourse classification and average side slope as shown below:
Where a logical boundary lies near but outside of these specified widths (e.g., roads, topographic breaks, archaeological sites) the zone may be expanded to include those areas. Additionally there are some “special watercourses” where larger than normal zones are required (i.e. watercourses within threatened and impaired watersheds as identified by the state).
Generally, harvesting activities are less intensive in watercourse zones as compared to the upslope areas on CAF. There is also a different orientation to the harvest mark, as contrasted with upslope areas.
Within watercourse zones, the intent is to leave a greater proportion of older, decadent trees than is the case in upslope areas. Because of additional wildlife habitat attributes of decadent trees (both standing and as recruitment sources for large woody material) and the spatial connectivity that WLPZ’s can provide, CAF orientation is to put extra management emphasis on the maintenance of mature forest characteristics within these zones. This additional emphasis is accomplished through higher post harvest retention standards. The intent is that, over time, stream course zones acquire more late seral forest attributes. Management prescriptions in upslope areas are also designed to maintain mature forest characteristics, but to a lesser degree.
Recognizing the importance of thermal shading and stream temperature as a parameter of water quality, CAF policy specifies the lightest touch (i.e., highest retention levels) in those portions of the zones that afford maximum shade over watercourses. Operationally, this means that portions of watercourse zones in which shade is provided over watercourses will be managed under the highest retention standards.
Marking guidelines (Class I and Class II WLPZ's and Class III by discretion):
1. At no time shall harvesting reduce canopy closure below 80% of full canopy closure. This means no harvesting in areas that are presently at or below 80% crown closure.
2. Harvests within WLPZ’s will not result in a deleterious change in tree species composition. Where feasible, considering the other guidelines, increase post-harvest quadratic mean diameter of the stand within the zone.
3. At least three, merchantable trees leaning over the stream channel will be retained per 1,600 feet of stream reach.
4. No trees will be intentionally felled into watercourses; do not mark trees that cannot be jacked so as to avoid falling into watercourses.
The equipment exclusion zones coincide with the WLPZ zones for all stream classes, as presented in the table above. As implied by the term, the policy is that no heavy equipment will be put into these zones, except for special circumstances, as presented and justified in case specific timber harvest plans. Examples of variances from the equipment exclusion policy are California Department of Forestry (CDF) approved skid trail crossings and reusing “within zone facilities” when such use is the most environmentally benign option.
Upslope Harvesting Constraints
Watershed analysis and field observations confirm that the selection silviculture system employed on CAF is not measurably contributing to adverse cumulative watershed effects. Accordingly, no particular upslope mitigation is called for relative to the avoidance of cumulative effects.
Even though CAF has always had an aggressive salvage campaign and CDF required snag falling in the recent past, the exclusion of fires and the increase in the amount of true firs has created a situation where there is an adequate level of wildlife trees to accommodate the species requiring them. However, these numbers are constantly monitored and if they are deemed to be declining, adjustments to management will be made.
Historically, the entire CAF was logged with ground based equipment using either track or rubber tire skidders. Within the past 20 years, cable yarding systems have been employed, particularly on the steeper slopes within the Wolf Creek block. Under the Plan, generally, only cable based skyline yarding systems will be employed on slopes in excess of 45%. On areas of high surface erosion and mass wasting potential, the slope break between ground and cable systems may be lower.
Forest Insect and Disease Management
Insect pests and forest pathogens are naturally occurring features in forested landscapes, with the CAF being no exception. Major insect pests, those that cause the most damage, on the CAF include fir engraver beetle (Scolytus ventralis), mountain pine beetle (Denroctonus ponderosae) and western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicornis) and pathogens include root disease (Armillaria mellea, Heterobasidion annosum, Polyporus schweinitzii and Lepographium wageneri), Indian pint fungus (Echinodontium tinctorium) and Cytospora canker of true firs (Cytospora abietis). Insects and pathogens help naturally thin overstocked stands, maintain food for species such as woodpeckers, and create features in trees for wildlife that provide suitable structure for denning, nesting, and foraging. While there are many positives to insect pests and pathogens, natural and anthropogenic events can increase populations of pests and pathogens to levels that decrease forest health. Events such as drought and warm winters not only stress trees and leave them more susceptible to attacks, but it can also increase pest populations and create a more suitable environment for forest pathogens, further exaggerating these pressures. Anthropogenic activities, such as fire suppression, can additionally stress forest stands by maintaining overstocked areas, which cause increased competition between individual trees and additional stress. Trees affected by insect pests and disease can be impacted in many ways. Unless a tree can fight off an attack, it ultimately will die. Prior to dying though, trees can be affected through blue stain and other features that impact the quality of the wood.
On the CAF, we are experiencing higher than normal mortality that is anticipated to continue for the next couple of years due to a four year drought (2011-2015), but will likely decrease over time to a more normal level with aggressive salvage logging and improving forest health by decreasing stand density. Overall, we are not seeing property-wide high levels of mortality, but instead pockets of attacks on the more xeric (drier) portion of the property. While insect pests and pathogens have always naturally occurred on the CAF, over the last decade, we’ve experienced increased populations of pests and pathogens, causing us to re-evaluate our management goals to control insects and disease and to aim to increase forest health across the landscape. Environmental factors, including decreased precipitation, warmer winters, and increased fires, have left the CAF more susceptible to pests and pathogens than historically. While we are unable to manage for these environmental factors, there are other actions the CAF foresters are taking to decrease populations of insect and pathogens and increase forest health.
The first step we are taking is assessing our silvicultural regime across the landscape and looking specifically at tree density, tree species mix, and tree vigor. Proper tree spacing and planting species in their best growing environment reduces stress and gives individual trees the best chance of surviving an insect or pathogen attack. For areas with high pest and/or pathogen populations, management goals include salvage logging of merchantable trees and reduce stocking levels of species more susceptible to drought stress and attack, which can reduce levels of insects and disease. While removing infected trees can be the best way to slow an invasion, some infected trees are left in the landscape for wildlife purposes, as these defective trees have the most wildlife value. Future populations of pests and disease on the CAF are unknown, but we are hopeful that through more informed management of the forest, we will decrease pest and disease populations to a more typical background level and maintain a healthier forest.
Wildlife and Special Habitat Elements
Species of Concern on CAF
The list of concerned species, their legal status, their habitat requirements, their known or predicted distribution on CAF or the nearby area, and potential impacts to them due to timber management activities is given in the following table:
|Species||Legal Status||Habitat Needs, Known Distribution, and Availability of Habitats in Assessment Area||POTENTIAL IMPACTS of Forest Manag sment and Other Activities|
|California Red-legged Frog
Rana aurora draytonii
|Federally Endangered||Streams and ponds with emergent vegetation and <4,500’ elevation. Generally considered a species of the central valley and foothills. Not likely to occur on CAF due to high elevation, snow pack, and cold water during the breeding season.||Loss or degradation of aquatic habitats and the introduction of bullfogs and predatory fish.|
|Foothill Yellow-legged Frog
|CA Species of Special Concern||Class I and II streams <6,000’ elevation, having relatively open canopy cover. Habitat occurs through Assessment Area and species likely exists in patchy distribution.||Loss or degradation of aquatic habitats and the introduction of bullfogs and predatory fish.|
|Western Pond Turtle
|CA Species of Special Concern||Slow-moving streams or ponds with relatively open tree canopy conditions; travels considerable distances to nest in riparian and upland habitats. No reported occurrences on the CAF. Potential habitat associated with permanent watercourses and small lakes and ponds.||Loss or degradation of aquatic habitats and breeding habitats and the introductionof exotic predators.|
CA Fully Protected
Board of Forestry
|Forested habitats adjacent to large fish-bearing lakes or rivers. Most nests constructed in large, limby trees within two air-miles of forage area. Sizable population exists in the Lake Almanor, Butt Lake and North Fork Feather River areas and habitat occurs around these lakes and scattered water bodies within the area.||Reduction in foraging values of water bodies; removal of existing or potential nest trees; disruption of nests during timber or road construction operations.|
|Board of Forestry Sensitive Species
CA Species of Special Concern
|Wide range of forested habitats but nests often in mature, dense canopied stands. Nest often constructed in deformed tree feature and species often builds alternate nests. Suitable habitat is widespread on the CAF.||Reduction of potential nesting stands; harvest of nest or alternate nest trees; disruption of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|Board of Forestry Sensitive Species
CA Species of Special Concern
|Usually nests in conifers within one air mile of fish bearing lakes and streams; nest tree often a snag or tree with dead top. Sizable population exists adjacent to Lake Almanor and Butt Lake with others near streams and small lakes. Habitat exists through much of area.||Harvest of nest or potential Nest trees; disruption of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|Great Blue Heron
|Board of Forestry Sensitive Species||Communally nests in live, limby trees near fish-bearing lakes or streams. Habitat exists scattered throughout area, especially near Lake Almanor and Butt Lake.||Harvest of nest or potential Nest trees; disruption of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|Great Gray Owl
|CA Endangered||Inhabits conifer-dominated habitats close to meadows. Nests usually in large, broken top snag near meadow. Potential habitat within area very scattered. No known nest sites on the CAF.||Harvest of nest or potential Nest trees; disruption of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|California Spotted Owl
|Board of Forestry Sensitive Species
CA Species of Special Concern
|Nests in dense-canopy conifer stands having large, decadent trees. Uses nests of other birds—both cavity and platform structures. Forages for small mammals in forests with dense to moderate canopy conditions. Nests and forages throughout the area, with the possible exception of gentle terrain surrounding Lake Almanor.||Harvest of nest or potential nest trees; reducing canopy below that suitable for nesting or foraging; disruption of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|CA Endangered||Wet meadows with willow clumps found at moderate elevations. Known to occur within the area in several scattered locations; however, other potential habitats also exist.||Livestock degradation of meadow/willow habitats; disturbance of nesting efforts during timber harvest; encroachment of meadows by conifers. Nest parasitism by exotic species, such as the brown-headed cowbird.|
|American Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus anatum
Board of Forestry Sensitive Species
|Nests on cliffs and forages in open and semi-open habitats. Potential nesting habitat is limited on the CAF. No known nest sites on the CAF.||Disturbance of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|Greater Sandhill Crane
Grus canadensis tabida
|CA Fully Protected||Nests in meadows and other mesic sites with dense emergent vegetation. Forages for many plant and animal species in more open meadows or farmland. Scattered potential exists in area and several nesting sites have been recorded.||Disturbance of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|CAF Concern||Needs abundant snags and live cull trees for foraging and nesting. Found throughout CAF timber stands, though may be limited on Rhyolite Plateaus due to openness of many areas. Good indicator of late seral stand structure.||Loss of snags for nesting. Disturbance of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
|CA Species of Special Concern||Prefers dense, pole and small sawtimber stands on north facing slopes near water and riparian habitats. Suitable habitat patchy on CAF. No known nest sites but individuals have been observed on the forest.||Loss of dense stands on north slopes. Disturbance during nesting.|
|CA Species of Special Concern||Dense or patchy stands of oak, mixed oak-conifer or conifers near water or riparian areas. Suitable habitat patchy on CAF. Known to nest on the forest.||Loss of dense stands on north slopes. Disturbance during nesting.|
|CAF Concern||Lakes, ponds, and slow moving streams in assessment area. Needs snags near water for nesting (up to 1000 feet). Uses nest boxes, which are becoming numerous on CAF at the beaver pond, Rock and Mud Lakes.||Loss of snags near water areas.|
|Bufflehead Bucephala albeola||CAF Concern||Prefers lacustrine habitats. Breeding in Lassen Peak area. As snags and nesting boxes increase on CAF, they may be found at the “beaver pond,” Rock and Mud Lakes.||Loss of snags near water areas.|
|Townsend’s Big-eared Bat
|CA Species of Special Concern||Uses a wide range of habitats; roosts in abandoned buildings, caves, or mines. May exist in area as habitat exists, but status not known.||Damage to roosting sites; disturbance of nesting efforts during timber harvest operations.|
Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
|Game Species||Summer resident of most habitats within Assessment Area (reference is herd plan). Forages on shrub and herbaceous growth; quality forage required for healthy populations. Often fawns near meadows. Well known migration corridors and critical summer habitat exists in area.||Inhibition of understory Growth by maintaining dense forest conditions; inhibition of periodic fires that open forest stands and initiate undergrowth; disturbance of does and fawns in fawning areas.|
|Sierra Nevada Red Fox
Vulpes vulpes necator
|CA Threatened||Inhabits relatively high elevation forests having scattered openings. Dens in caves or under logs. Historical sightings within the area; however, population is likely low and patchy in distribution.||Disturbance to den site by Removal of down woody debris; harvest of decadent trees and snags that would eventually fall and form cover. May be interbreeding with non-native red foxes that escaped from local fox farms.|
Gulo gulo luteus
|CA Fully Protected||Uses a variety of moderate to high elevation forest habitats. Caves, logs, or burrows used for cover. No recent records for area but has been sighted immediately to the north of CAF. Not likely to occur on the forest.||Disturbance of den site; removal of down woody debris.|
|Fisher (Martes pennanti)||CA Species of Special Concern||Inhabits conifer and riparian habitats having relatively dense canopy closures and hardwoods. Seek prey on ground or trees and use caves, logs, or tree canopies as cover. Representative habitat available at lower elevations. Not likely to occur in CAF due to lack of fishers in this part of the state.||Disturbance of den site; extensive removal of forest or riparian area canopy cover; removal of down woody debris.|
|CAF Concern||Prefers conifer forests greater than 40% crown; variety of different age stands with old growth conifers and snags. Important ecological relationship with Chickaree Squirrels. Often found in riparian/lodgepole pine types. Needs complex physical structure near the ground like large logs, lower branches of trees, rocky, and shrubs areas.||Many large clear cuts, extensive even-aged management. Loss of late seral stands.|
|CA Species of Special Concern||Enters Mill and Deer Creeks during spring; holds in deep, cool pools; and spawns during autumn.||Increase in stream Temperature due to riparian canopy reduction; sedimentation, leading to habitat degradation.|
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Widely scattered in wet meadows > 5,900’ elevation. One record on CAF at Deer Creek Meadows. Possible locations in other meadows.||Meadow degradation from grazing and off-road vehicle use.|
|Egg Lake Monkeyflower
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Inhabits damp meadows, swales and muddy soil of desiccating pools. Observed at several area locations (and may occur in other meadows in the vicinity).||Meadow degradation from grazing and off-road vehicle use; disturbance from new road construction.|
|Butte County Fritillary
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Occurs in dry, open forests and chaparral stands. No observations within area but might occur in extreme western portion.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|Constance’s Rock Cress
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Found in dry, open forests and chaparral stands, usually associated with serpentine soils. Occurs within area, east of Butt Lake; additional habitat exists in the general vicinity.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Habitat consists of lower elevation mixed oak and conifer stands. One occurrence known in Assessment Area, but might exist in other locations in the western one-quarter.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|Suksdorf’s Milk Vetch
Astragalus pulsiferae var. suksdorfii
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Inhabits interface between open pine and Great Basin shrub plant communities. Known to occur on flats near Chester (one location on CAF in the NESE Section 24, T28N, R6E) and south shore of Lake Almanor; might exist in other portions of the Almanor Basin.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|Feather River Stonecrop
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Habitat consists of chaparral and open, mixed conifer stands having serpentine soils. Has been noted near Butt Lake and may occur in other locations within the southeast quarter of area.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|Webber’s Milk Vetch
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Occurs in dry pine and chaparral vegetation < 5,000’ elevation. Records exist for extreme southeast portion of area; other suitable habitat exists adjacent to Indian Valley.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|Slender Orcutt Grass
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||A vernal pool species, which has been found along the west edge of Lake Almanor. Other swales exist in the Almanor Basin that might harbor this species.||Road and skid trail construction.|
|CA Nat. Plant Soc. 1B||Associated with dry chaparral or open pine forests; especially in disturbed sites. Recorded at numerous locations south of Lake Almanor and it might occur at other sites in this area.||Road and skid trail construction; road maintenance.|
Late Seral and "Functional" Late Seral Types
Following data collection in 1995, the CAF inventory data was analyzed to identify which plots met late seral requirements determined by regulation or by CAF as “functional” late seral. Both the Forest Practice Rule criteria for polygon size and CWHR characteristics and CAF criteria for decadence trees, snags, and large down material, which is not specified in the Rules. Then, the plots were placed on maps, and using recently CWHR typed aerial photographs and local knowledge, boundaries were drawn around the polygons estimated to have regulatory, functional, or Rhyolite functional late seral attributes. Summaries of habitat conditions for these stands are shown below.
A list by element and their AVERAGE minimum number required per acre over a CWHR type polygon, which will result in use by wildlife species needing late seral habitats for all or some of their life requisites on CAF.
THRESHOLD VALUES for LATE SERAL TYPES
CAF Rhyolite Functional
Large Tree Canopy Cover
=>24 inches DBH
Total Stand Canopy
=>5 inches DBH
Class 5 >40%
Class 6 >60%
=>24 in DBH, =>20 feet tall
2 per acre
1 per acre
0.5 per acre
=>12 to 23 in DBH, =>20 feet tall
2 per acre
1.5 per acre
1 per acre
Large Down Debris
=>24 in large end, =>20 feet long
4 pieces per ac
4 pieces per ac
2 pieces per ac
Green Tree Decadence
Required numbers are not defined at this time; but trees with decadence like mistletoe brooms, multiple tops, & broken tops are found in late seral stands
Area =>20 acres
Must meet all of above elements
Must meet all of above elements
Must meet all of
It is the opinion of the Collins forestry staff that many areas within the ownership exhibit late seral attributes without fully meeting the FPR criteria. Soil and climatic conditions, as well as past fire history, have made for conditions in which few forests could develop the structural and density conditions in excess of FPR threshold levels. Therefore, during the late seral stand determination process, stands were also identified which display conditions which the Collins forestry staff feel are “functional” (using the definition of functional in the Forest Practice Rules) late seral in nature. Considering the nature of the Rhyolite soils and their vegetative structure, the late seral rule criteria were re-defined for these areas.
High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) and Representative Sample Areas (RSA)
A general principle in our management states that the more rare or unique a component is, the higher the value and level of protection it receives. This component may be a species of flora or fauna, a unique habitat feature, or simply protecting an area to ensure it doesn’t become rare. In order to identify and protect these representative and high value areas, they are formally documented in the GIS layers and their presence recognized prior to management activities. CAF forestry staff and field personnel receive training as to what constitutes potential HCVF and RSA. As additional potential areas are located, they will be evaluated to determine whether they should receive designation as HCVF/RSA.
Management activities in HCVFs shall maintain or enhance the attributes that define such forests. HCVFs are those that possess one or more of the following attributes:
a) Forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant : concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia); and/or large landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance.
b) Forest areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems.
c) Forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g. watershed protection, erosion control).
d) Forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health) and/or critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).
Representative Sample Areas (RSAs) are ecologically viable representative samples designated to serve one or more of three purposes:
a) To establish and/or maintain an ecological reference condition; or
b) To create or maintain an under-represented ecological condition (i.e., includes samples of successional phases, forest types, ecosystems, and/or ecological communities); or
c) To serve as a set of protected areas or refugia for species, communities and community types not captured in other criteria (e.g., to prevent common ecosystems or components from becoming rare).
Aspen – Quaking aspen is a common species through much of its range, but distributions in California are limited to the Sierra Nevada, southern Cascades, Modoc Plateau, Transverse and Peninsular Ranges and select highlands of the Basin Range province. Because of this, aspen is considered a “minor” component in California, comprising approximately 1% of the total forest cover.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: The CAF has approximately 9 ac. of aspen, all of which is designated HCVF. Enhancement projects on aspen will include:
1) Identifying and delineating stands as they come under plan;
2) Removing competing conifers in and around the stand utilizing provisions provided by the CDFW;
3) Monitor treated stands using photo photos and vegetation plots; and
4) Repeating treatment as required to sustain aspen.
Barren – Barren areas are defined as those areas with < 2% herbaceous cover and < 10% coverage in shrubs and trees. Barren areas vary from low-elevation desert to high-elevation alpine and from mud flats to cliffs. Barren areas also include soils derived from serpentine rock.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: The CAF has approximately 313 acres of barren habitat, most in the form of rock-outcrops, lava flows, and cliffs, with an additional 29 acres derived from serpentinite rock. Of these 329 total acres, a portion has been designated as RSA with priority given to barren areas within 100 feet of water. Management includes:
1) No enhancement projects will occur on barren habitats, as these areas are slow to change if left undisturbed.
2) Though these areas unlikely to change, photos have been taken to monitor any potential changes in the future.
Fen – Fens are wetlands comprised of accumulated organic matter (> 18 inches in depth) and fed by groundwater. Fens are highly variable in form and species composition due in part to localized geochemistry and hydrology. Fens are considered biological hotspots and represent some of the most sensitive habitat types in the Sierra Nevada.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: There is one confirmed fen on the CAF. This fen has been designated as RSA and a more complete monitoring program is being developed. Management includes:
1) In general, fens are protected through California Forest Practice Rules.
2) Enhancement measures will not occur on a fen, but measures will be taken to ensure fens are protected as they come under plan.
3) Photo monitoring will also occur. Additional plant surveys also occur on fens as fens are habitat for many special status plant species.
Late Seral Stage Forest (Old Growth) – The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) defines old growth as:
a) The oldest seral stage in which a plant community is capable of existing on a site, given the frequency of natural disturbance events; or
b) A very old example of a stand dominated by long-lived early- or mid-seral species.
Depending on the frequency and intensity of disturbances, and site conditions, gold-growth forest will have different structures, species composition and age distributions, and functional capacities than younger forests. Old growth stands and forests include:
a) Type I Old Growth: Three or more acres that have never been logged that displace old-growth characteristics; and
b) Type II Old Growth: Twenty or more acres that have been logged, but retain significant late-successional/old growth structure and functions.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: On the CAF, there is approximately 305 acres of Type I old growth and 342 acres of Type II old growth designated as HCVF. Protection measures include excluding these areas from harvesting and road construction. In some cases, timber management activities may occur to maintain the ecological values associated with the stand, such as removing exotic species, conducting controlled burns and thinning from below and where restoration is appropriate.
Montane Chaparral – Montane chaparral growth is highly variable and is dependent on site, disturbance history, and degree of herbivory. Species composition also varies based on geographic range, elevation, soil type, and aspect. Threats to this habitat type include non-native species, overgrazing, and fire suppression.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: The CAF has approximately 1,106 acres of montane chaparral, with 395 of these acres designated as RSA. No active management will be pursued in these areas except where enhancement opportunities present themselves. Monitoring will be conducted periodically through photo pints and permanent growth plots.
Montane Hardwood-Conifer (Oak) – In California, montane hardwood-conifer type is transitional between the coniferous forest and montane hardwood, mixed chaparral, or open woodlands and savannah. The hardwood component with the montane hardwood conifer type was never of economic value. Though hardwoods lack value from the timber perspective, they have high value from an ecosystem perspective. Once overtopped though, hardwoods can be severely reduced and even eliminated.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: There are approximately 306 acres of montane hardwood conifer on the CAF, with 117 acres designated as HCVF. These areas are monitored through photo points, permanent growth plots, and post-harvest inventory. As montane hardwood conifer areas come under plan, they are evaluated for potential enhancement, which primarily involves releasing overtopped oaks and thinning the stand.
Montane Riparian – Riparian areas are those water-dependent lands adjacent to streams, lakes and other aquatic bodies. The vegetation structure can be structurally diverse and wildlife species richness and abundance are typically greater in riparian habitat relative to other habitats. Riparian habitat in California has been significantly reduced due to grazing, damns, ditches and other activities. The resulting remnant riparian habitats are highly fragmented and tend to have simplified canopy structure.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: Montane riparian comprises approximately 1,508 acres on the CAF. Due to its ecological significance and limited nature on the CAF and at the landscape level, all stands designated as montane riparian on the CAF have been designated as HCVF. Standard management policies in montane riparian have resulted in conifer encroachment in many riparian areas across the forest. Opportunities for riparian enhancement on the CAF will be considered as areas come under plan. Potential enhancement projects will be identified, designed, proposed, and if implemented, a monitoring program will also be established. Current management actions have included fencing portions of Gurnsey, Deer, and Butt Creeks. Additional fencing projects will be proposed as opportunities arise.
Vernal Pool – Vernal pools are wetlands that are filled with shallow water in the spring and early summer and are dry the remainder of the year. They can vary in size and are usually found on gently sloping plains. They are unique ecosystems and in California, more than 90% of the vernal pools have been lost. Although vernal pools are typically associated with the Central Valley, they do exist in the interior mountains and are home to a wide variety of plants and animals.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: There are at least 3 vernal pools on the CAF which range in size from ponds to a small lake. One of these pools contain a federally threatened plant species (slender orcutt grass). These vernal pools have been designated as RSA. Vernal pools are inherently protected under Forest Practice Rules, but these pools are still threatened by off-highway vehicle use. Management of these systems include fencing opportunities as funding allows.
Wet Meadow – Wet meadows are ground-water dependent ecosystems and occur where water is at or near the surface through much of the growing season. The plant species composition and stability within the meadow is determined by hydrology. Natural meadows behave much like flood plants. As water enters the meadow, it spreads out and slows down and deposits sediment. Wet meadows comprise < 10% of the Sierra Nevada but are considered to be the most biologically active community.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: On the CAF, both wet and dry meadows comprise 983 acres. Due to restricted range and historical degradation, all meadows on the CAF are designated as RSA. Meadows are inherently protected under Forest Practice Rules, but opportunities to enhance meadows on the CAF are considered as they come under plan.
Sierran Mixed Conifer – Sierran mixed conifer is the predominant cover type on the CAF, comprising 85,186 acres. The sierra mixed conifer on the CAF is complex both in tree species diversity and vertical and horizontal structure resulting from past wildfires, windstorms, insect infestations, and CPC logging since 1941. Management of sierra mixed conifer on the CAF focuses on maximizing diversity while reducing density and fuel loading.
Assessment Results and Management Strategies: Four stands distributed across the CAF, totaling 872 acres, have been selected as HCVF. The condition of these stands specifically and this type in general are monitored through permanent growth plots and post-harvest inventory.
Monitoring (Inventory) of Forest Resources
Habitat Typing Process
In late 1994, the Collins forestry department became concerned that the Company did not have adequate information on the timber resource at a scale smaller than the level of the Chester and Wolf Creek blocks and almost no information on wildlife habitat elements, types, or their associated wildlife species. Therefore, a program was initiated by the department in the Spring of 1995, to provide the necessary information.
Before the field inventory commenced, the entire ownership was delineated on recent colored aerial photographs using the California Wildlife Habitat System (CWHR) into initial habitat types based on uniform polygons of dominant vegetation with similar stand characteristics or physical features. Based on this typing, the stands were stratified into preliminary strata for the purpose of locating the 1,398 field plots established during the 1995 field season. The plot data was then summarized and CWHR habitat types determined for each stratum by using a publicly available algorithm. In 1996, 1,744 additional plots were established on areas harvested within the last few years, at the rate of three plots per 40 acres, for a two year total of 3,142 plots.
With the habitat types identified, the field inventory could proceed to collect data on the important habitat elements within each type. Once the habitat type and the number of major elements within each type are known, the CWHR computer database program, version 5.3, can be used to prepare reports which identify the associated wildlife species that currently may be present before or after habitat modification.
As described above, a monitoring plan is an important part of the adaptive management feedback loop. Monitoring must be oriented to assess both the efficacy of improvements implemented on the landscape and to find new or previously undiscovered problems of significance. Monitoring must also evaluate the mechanisms creating problems and the reasons why those problems have not yet been corrected.
Monitoring will be conducted on and adjacent to CAF lands, so that it addresses problems related to the resources in and around the CAF properties. Particularly in the development of road and stream monitoring, it is the beneficial uses--in this case, fisheries, water supplies and recreation--which determine both the importance and the resource or landscape feature to be monitored.
In the case of jointly owned or joint-responsibility resources, CPC will seek cooperative agreements for resource monitoring. This implies agreement on protocols (joint protocols) so that data can be collected across jurisdictional boundaries and retain integrity as a joint data base. This process has already begun under several sets of protocols, such as DFG fish habitat evaluation and the Lassen NF stream habitat criteria, and under the geographic umbrellas of the Mill and Deer Creek Conservancies.
The following sections will delineate CPC’s proposed monitoring strategies:
Road Network Monitoring
The CPC road network contributes sediment to the region ’s stream system, and needs regular inspection, maintenance, and review of mitigation.
1. Review of newly reworked roads (associated with harvests) during fall, prior to snow, following operations;
2. Review of the same cohort of roads during the subsequent summer.
3. Review by aerial photo or on-the-ground analysis of road segments not presently used or accessible; and commitment by CPC to train field personnel in identification of road problems to create a consolidated queue for road repair.
Useful monitoring of the road system needs to be the responsibility of all the CPC staff that use the road system on a regular basis. Field people need to understand long-term road drainage, the role of natural stream courses and critical dips, of undersized or likely-to-plug culverts, and of non-CAF road inputs to the sediment system, and the importance of equipment operators to understand the principles of erosion and sedimentation as a regular part of their training. This education will also include learning techniques of assessing and describing erosion events, so observed field conditions can be queued into regular maintenance of the road system. With this educational change, every trip onto CAF land becomes a potential review of erosion from the road system.
Landings failing into streams did not appear to be a significant problem within either the stream reach inventory or the sub-watershed analysis. Because of the potential significance of landing failures, however, landings should be considered during future road evaluations.
Some eroding road sites need both monitoring and restoration, preferably with stable and long lasting remedies. In some instances, there is no present access to those sites. CPC will begin inventorying those areas ‘off the grid ’ by aerial photos and on-site analysis, to ensure that no persistent sores are reducing water quality in untravelled areas.
Harvest Areas Monitoring
Because uneven-age management is the primary silvicultural system employed by CPC, harvest areas were not found to be significant sources of erosion when considered separately from roads. However, yarding methods will be further limited to control erosion on those areas which appear to be most problematic: steep slopes and naturally erodible soils. Continuing reduction of impacts from harvest areas may be achieved by:
1. Conducting in-field surveys following harvest to ‘check off’ the implementation of erosion controls.
2. Walk-through on the year following harvest, also with a document able protocol, to see where mitigation was more and less successful.
3. Consolidation of data to determine which erosion control methods work best over time; and evaluation of representative areas presently out of the harvest schedule, to be assured that no problems are developing out of sight. Particular emphasis should be given to broken down water routing structures.
Watercourse and Buffer Areas Monitoring
In the preparation of our Plan, the watershed assessment highlighted the importance of having regional standards against which to evaluate stream habitat components and riparian buffer characteristics. In addition, field research was often limited in its conclusions by the time of year in which data were taken, the amount of stream which could reasonably be surveyed, and the ever-present trade-off between detail (intensive survey) and scope (extensive survey). Clearly, it is important that the following take place:
1. Land managers understand the methods, tools and vocabulary to describe the quality of the resources they manage.
2. State and Federal agencies agree upon resource issues and share the most useful and timely protocols with which to assess those resources.
Reasonably, CPC commits to evaluation of selected stream reaches of high sensitivity--both geomorphic and biologic--for elements of habitat, sedimentation, particle size, pool formation, canopy and biotic integrity. These reaches can be revisits of previously identified sites, or in the form of a new inventory of sites determined by regional authorities or agencies. Our goal is to add to the quality of the regional data base.
In return, CPC hopes to work with a consortium of the regional land management agencies to determine what is important, what consistent methods may be applied, and at what levels ‘thresholds’ exist. Again, our goal is to work within the regional database and evaluate the quality of our streams and erosion mitigation in a constructive manner.
In developing a monitoring program, it is important to revisit and share some of the lessons learned from our earlier reviews of literature and field data, to know what we may get out of these studies. Some of the limitations found to this point are:
1. Impacts of different nature travel very different distances, so no stream assessment method will necessarily pick up causal relationships with the watershed.
2. Pool filling and substrate evaluations function poorly on alluvial planes because (1) the pools are built on and in a substrate of sediment, (2) it is very hard to measure for relative pool filling because the pool bottom is sediment also, and (3) the pools are less affected by high energy winter flows than upstream sites because winter flows cover the whole valley.
3. Meadow stretches, while they may add diversity and food sources to fishery habitat do not reflect well in standard indices and may deserve a more careful ecological evaluation.
4. The importance and abundance of pools in steep, boulder covered reaches may be undervalued.
5. The high energy level of some streams moves materials around significantly, and these streams may require re-measurement on a regular basis, as they change.
6. It is important to have a set of tools with which to evaluate streams, so that it is possible to conduct ‘quick and dirty’ stream health evaluations within meaningful protocols.
7. Using a variety of stream evaluation systems may serve to better compare these streams. There is no definitive methodology to evaluate streams and salmonid habitat.
Despite these constraints, CPC is interested in better understanding the biotic and geomorphic resources of their watercourses. Our intention is to continue using the tools which have shown to be most useful, to add new evaluation methodologies for resource conditions presently un- or under-assessed, and to work with agencies or neighbors whenever possible. Our present plan for continuing watercourse assessment is as follows:
1. Surveys to evaluate spawning habitat during spawning season.
2. Revisits of baseline sites to allow tracking of pools, substrate, woody debris, bank stability, channel stability and cover.
3. Temperature evaluations on streams during hottest, lowest flow conditions.
4. Continued monitoring of riparian forest conditions.
Mitigation of Potential Impacts of Forest Management Activities
CAF will continue to manage its lands in the future much as it has in the past 60+ years. Specifically, it will emphasize uneven-aged management in a way to naturally regenerate harvested areas with a near historic mix of the five major conifer species. Marking and subsequent logging will continue to create small (up to 2.5 acres in size) patches (groups) to facilitate pine regeneration and provide for early seral plant communities.
Future CAF management will continue to place emphasis on large trees, decadent trees, snags and large woody material retention throughout the ownership. Levels of late seral habitat elements that will produce moderate to high populations of wildlife species dependent upon these elements will be retained in functional late seral stands. These future CAF strategies will have a tendency for a moderate increase in functional late seral conditions, especially in WLPZ’s, while continuing to provide for some early seral habitat, unless unforeseen large wildfires occur which will create new early seral types.
Major habitat enhancement opportunities on CAF can be divided into three categories. The first being to improve the crown cover density and late seral structure in WLPZ’s. The second will be to restore much of the riparian vegetation formally found along the banks of watercourses and in wet meadows. The third is to continue to provide early seral habitat throughout the property. These three categories, each discussed below, will by far be the most effective in enhancing wildlife habitat on CAF.
Late Seral and Other Habitat Elements
A number of species of concern require habitats having dense canopies or large trees (dead or alive) for some portion of their life cycle, especially reproduction. These include the bald eagle, goshawk, great blue heron, osprey, great gray owl, California spotted owl, wood duck, Pileated woodpecker, fisher, and marten. Mitigation for the first six species will involve two steps. The first takes place during timber harvest plan preparation. CAF employees knowledgeable of these species’ biology and ecology will make visual observations of stands, trees, and forest floor conditions. Second, any nests found will trigger consultation processes with California Department of Fish and Game (DFG). Mitigation will follow Forest Practice Rule requirements and DFG recommendations, including harvest timing and harvest restrictions.
Large snags and green culls will be left for retention and down debris recruitment, as they are encountered during timber marking and salvage program, unless they pose a safety or fire hazard. On CAF, almost no trees are harvested unless marked by a CAF forester.
For the remaining six species, along with the previous six species, CAF proposes a habitat retention policy throughout its ownership. Large trees, decadent trees, large and small snags, and large woody material retention will continue to occur throughout CAF lands. Dense canopy conditions, with over 60 percent canopy closure, will continue to be provided in the functional late seral stands, in the WLPZ’s (or grown towards this level), and in the clumpy pattern resulting from the continuation of CAF’s uneven-aged management. At all times, the extent of timber stands with greater than 60 percent canopy, of moderate to large-sized trees (CWHR 3D, 4D, and 6 as typed on aerial photos) will be at least 50 percent of CAF lands. If biomass harvests are to be conducted in an area, five percent of the area’s dense understory will be retained in clumps from one-twentieth to one acre in size and scattered over the harvest area. Forest carnivores, especially fisher and marten, and deer will benefit from these retention standards. Finally, existing late seral stands will provide additional habitat for these species.
Currently, for Board designated sensitive species, it is estimated that there are about 17 nests on CAF, with osprey accounting for 8, bald eagle having 4, goshawk with 4, and great blue heron with 1. Over the next 10-year period, it is estimated that 20 more sites will be found, while 10 of the existing 17 nests sites will become non-active. Therefore, 10-years from now it is assumed that there will be 27 nest sites, with an average size of 10 acres per site with forest management constraints (including retention of nest tree, screening trees, perch trees, and alternate nest trees). Retention of these features, for the 270 acres involved, is assumed to amount to an insufficient harvest reduction. CAF foresters have been able to salvage most dead trees within these no cut areas, after the time period restrictions, based on field inspections by California Department of Fish and Game personnel, and we would normally not cut many trees in these areas anyway during a normal cutting cycle entry.
A great gray owl habitat management plan was prepared for an area surrounding Deer Creek Meadows, under the Elam Creek Timber Harvest Plan, 2-92-250-TEH (5) and is being applied to other wet meadows on CAF.
On CAF, riparian areas are always within a Class I or II WLPZ. Since they have damp soil with some “free” water, they are always potential amphibian habitat. Therefore, the start of the protection zone width is from the outer edge of these wet soils.
Management for Water/Lake Protection Zones will meet State Forest Practice Rule requirements with 80 percent of full (potential) canopy closure to be retained in the zones of Class I and Class II watercourses, wet soil areas, ponds, springs and lakes. Large snags and down large woody material retention will assist in creating and maintaining fishery habitat and the WLPZ’s use as wildlife travel corridors. Finally, Class I and II WLPZ’s will have Equipment Exclusion Zones (EEZ’s) covering the zone widths. Species of concern, including the California red-legged frog (potentially), foothill yellow-legged frog, and western pond turtle (potentially), spring-run Chinook salmon, and wood duck will all benefit from these policy decisions protecting riparian areas. Stream temperatures should remain cool due to the canopy cover retention and limitation on equipment use in these areas will minimize sediment movement into watercourses and soil and litter disturbances.
Other species which benefit from the protection measures are butterflies whose host plants are found in this type, the long tailed weasel, and gray fox which find food in these areas.
Livestock fencing along watercourses has been previously accomplished in Deer Creek Meadows and Fanani Meadows. Fencing along these watercourses excludes cattle grazing in order to restore the riparian vegetation that used to exist there. Stream temperature measuring devices, called “HOBOS,” have been placed in CAF streams since 1994. Five are in Deer Creek, two in Gurnsey Creek, three in Wolf Creek, one in Solider Creek and four in Butt Creek.
An example is a measurement point on Gurnsey Creek immediately below a six mile run through a dense to moderate canopy of large conifer trees. Down stream from this point, the Creek flows through a broad, flood plain area, with little stream shade. The Creek flows for about one and one-half miles to the next measurement point. As an example of the temperature difference due to the flow through the unshaded section of the Creek, on June 8th the shaded water temperature was around 61 degrees for the daily high and the unshaded temperature was 64 degrees. Later in the summer, on August 14th the shaded temperature was around 55 degrees while the unshaded temperature was near 67 degrees. Generally, the shaded high daily temperatures for the time period were between 50 to 58 degrees and for the unshaded temperatures they ranged from 59 to 66 degrees. The daily minimum temperatures for both locations were just about the same around 48 degrees.
This would indicate the amount of solar heating of the stream water on the unshaded portion of the Creek is considerable, and, from the analyses of some of CAF’s other locations, the increase in temperature happens very quickly once the water is in direct sunlight.
Wet Meadow Habitat
The willow flycatcher, greater Sandhill crane, and great gray owl nest and forage in the wet meadow or associated riparian habitats. CAF will evaluate potential habitats for these species, prior to individual harvest plan submittal. If these wildlife are located, consultations with California Department of Fish and Game will be initiated. Due to the spatial separation of most meadow and forest habitats, the presence of these species may constitute a timing constraint but are not expected to result in a reduction of timber harvesting. Meadow habitats are not planned for any future forest management activities.
Early Seral Habitats
The Columbian black-tail deer represents an easily-seen and economically-important early seral species. Several previously described CAF policies will help mitigate forest management impacts to deer. First, five percent of all conifer thickets will be retained during biomass thinning. If possible, these areas will be located near meadows, steep breaks in slope, and/or around concentrations of large down logs—places and conditions that are used for hiding cover and favored as fawning areas.
In addition, various-size group selection cuts will provide increases in forbs and shrubs. Wildfires, wet meadows, riparian areas, shrub patches, rocky areas, serpentine areas and rhyolite soils on the plateaus all contribute to early seral habitat areas. Wildfires over the years have created early seral stage types on CAF, ranging from a few acres to over 100’s of acres. No doubt, natural fires will continue to burn in the future.
Small natural openings and those created by timber harvesting are very numerous on CAF. These openings, often less than one-half acre in size, can often provide the same early seral stage plant communities as is found in openings much larger in size. While late seral stage areas are best at 40, 80 or more acres in size, the habitat elements for early seral stage wildlife can apparently be satisfied on CAF with the small openings mentioned above. The wildlife species using these small openings are usually small mammals or insects and butterflies which have small home ranges, while the larger species using these openings like birds and deer have the mobility to move from opening to opening with ease. Therefore, this is an interesting situation on CAF where early seral stage openings can be found within a much larger area of late seral stage timber stands.
CAF Water/Lake Protection Zones
CAF is proud of its management in the Watercourse and Lake Protection Zones (WLPZ’s) on the property. Portions of some WLPZ’s will receive no timber harvest while others will be managed to retain at least 80 percent of full canopy closure at all times. Snag and down woody material retention levels within WLPZ’s will, over time, come to the levels required of functional late seral stands, if not already there. At least 3 trees leaning over the watercourse that are at least 16 inches DBH and at least 50 feet tall per 1,600 feet of stream bank will be retained within 50 feet of watercourse edge. Within the zone, there will be no reduction in species composition. If presently deficient, harvesting will be done to increase foliage height diversity.
Miscellaneous Habitats and Species of Concern
A number of species of concern (usually plants) utilize small and/or unusual habitats. Because of this, they can best be dealt with by evaluating project areas in or adjacent to potential habitats by personnel knowledgeable of their identification, ecology, and biology, prior to harvest plan preparation. If determined to be present, mitigation strategies will be devised through consultation with California Department of Fish & Game. Peregrine falcons and Townsend’s big-eared bats also fit in this category. Whenever suitable habitat areas or habitat elements are observed, these species will be sought out.
All plant species of concern have specific habitat requirements and limited distribution within the CAF area. For these species, when projects are being planned for areas within their zones of potential habitat. Suitable habitats will be evaluated at the appropriate time of year to find flowering individuals.
Because of their tie to specific, unusual habitats, such as serpentine soils or wet meadows, and because these habitats will have little, if any, future forest management activities, these plants are not expected to significantly form a constraint on productivity above those already described.
The following is a list of steps to be taken in determining if the proposed actions described above will have the intent they have been designed to accomplish and if the CAF forest structure is moving towards or is at the target levels proposed.
1. Collins Pine Company has many “functional” late seral types identified on CAF and wishes to maintain a certain percentage of the land base in this category. Monitoring will continue regularly by using the temporary inventory program, to identify any late seral habitat elements that may be decreasing below the threshold level of functional types. After identifying any problems, corrective action will be taken to restore or maintain the desired level of the late seral habitat elements.
2. Collins’ forestry staff will continue to systematically collect habitat element data using the temporary inventory plot system so that the moving averages of the data base can be compared to 1995, especially in 2014 when the SYP will be revised. Temporary inventory plots will be taken for timber inventory and wildlife elements after an area is harvested. Results can be compared to earlier survey results to see what change, if any, is taking place regarding wildlife habitat elements on CAF, and if any trends are developing regarding CAF retention goals for snags, large woody material, and stand crown closure. Marked Tree Stage 2 (green culls) trees will continue to be recorded on the plots, so as to give a sense of the density of designated wildlife trees being established over time. Snag deterioration sample areas that are currently being established will be used to adjust snag decay rates for the next revision of the SYP. The level of acreage in early seral stage and brush cover will also be addressed with the temporary plot system.
3. Collins’ forestry staff will continue to systematically monitor the water temperature of the major CAF streams and add more monitoring stations at strategic locations throughout CAF in order to measure the shade effects of streamside vegetation recovery.
4. Photographs of the species of concern will be compiled and CAF foresters will become familiar with the wildlife habitat requirements, so they can become aware of these species presence while performing their daily work schedule. Management actions will be modified, accordingly, in locales where these species are found to be present.
5. The designated WLPZ areas on CAF will be systematically sampled over time using the temporary inventory system to determine if these areas are being maintained in or moving towards late seral types, as desired by Collins Pine Company.