New logging rules intended to protect California salmon may do just the opposite, according to federal officials who are considering additional industry monitoring to prevent extinction.
The California Board of Forestry on Wednesday granted initial approval to the new rules governing logging near streams in coastal and mountain forests. The unanimous vote by the nine-member board came after a decade of pressure from the National Marine Fisheries Service, which had warned repeatedly that state logging rules didn't do enough to protect salmon habitat from erosion and high temperatures. The forestry board rejected protections sought by the service and by the state Department of Fish and Game.
Charlotte Ambrose, California salmon recovery coordinator for the federal fisheries service, called the rules approved Wednesday an "overall weakening" of those in place before. She said they likely would push the state's already imperiled salmon and steelhead closer toward extinction. "There is a likelihood of harm to salmon or steelhead should forest practices proceed under these rules," Ambrose said.
The national fisheries service may impose its own regulations on logging plans in some areas of California if state rules gain final approval at the forestry board's October meeting, Ambrose said.
The decision comes amid an unprecedented California salmon crisis. Commercial harvest of Central Valley chinook has been suspended for a second year due to a record-low population.
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