California: Boy Scout forest destruction a state-wide problem

In California, the scouts have almost always followed forestry rules
in harvesting timber on more than 6,200 acres of land they own,
according to public records. State officials have found that some
scout logging proposals contained incomplete and inaccurate
information about potential risks to threatened species like the coho
salmon, steelhead trout and the Sonoma tree vole. And in some
instances, councils failed to maintain dirt roads to protect streams
from erosion, neglected to mark environmentally important trees to
ensure they were not cut and put in unauthorized trails.

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Three different state agencies said poorly maintained dirt roads
threatened wildlife habitat at Camp Lindblad in the Santa Cruz
Mountains. The Boy Scouts’ Mount Diablo Silverado Council, which owns
the camp, had a history of failing to maintain roads there, causing
erosion that harms streams and fish. In 2006, the council and a
neighbor proposed using camp roads to log in the area. But the state
Regional Water Quality Control Board said the roads were “in
unacceptably poor condition,” citing “plugged culverts, sloughing
banks, and diverted waterways.” State Fish and Game inspectors were
concerned about erosion from deteriorating roads. Sediment deposits 18
inches thick lined Kings Creek and buried some parts of the streambed,
said their June 28, 2006 report. Kevin Collins, of the Lompico
Watershed Conservancy environmental group, wrote to the board, “Camp
Lindblad’s demonstrated lack of ongoing road maintenance in the past
is an indicator for the future.”

At the board’s request, the scouts
agreed to a 15-year maintenance program. Jason Lewis, the camp’s
program director, denied the scouts had driven on the roads in wet
weather. He blamed the bad roads on the severe El Niño rains and
mudslides of the 1990s. “We have worked continuously to try to do
repairs,” he said. The scouts had other troubles with their proposal
to log on 73 acres at the Boulder Creek Scout Reservation, not far
from Camp Lindblad. In October 1999, the scouts’ San Francisco Bay
Area Council proposed logging on 78 acres. But Cal Fire officials
returned the plan to the scouts’ forester twice, saying the plan
failed to fully describe potential impact on “sensitive species.”
Environmentalists say that such flawed logging proposals waste public
funds by requiring extra review. “It is inexcusable to expend the
taxpayer’s money to do that (extra review) for you when you are making
money from these projects,” said the Sierra Club’s Jodi Frediani, who
monitors timber plans. The scouts’ Redwood Empire Council said its
plan to log 73 acres of Camp Masonite-Navarro in Mendocino County
posed no environmental problems.  In a Sept. 26, 2005, letter, however, Cal Fire officials said the scouts’ forester had failed to detect the presence of the Sonoma tree vole.

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