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Should the YMCA be allowed to log Camp Jones Gulch in perpetuity, without further public review?

Original post made by Andrea Gemmet, Almanac staff writer, on Dec 8, 2006

To manage fire hazards and gain some income, the YMCA has applied to the California Division of Forestry (CDF) for a timber harvesting permit, in perpetuity, for its Camp Jones Gulch property in La Honda. The permit would allow it to harvest 60 percent of redwoods and firs 18-inches or larger, every 15 years. Old-growth trees would be protected -- with some exceptions.

Camp Jones Gulch is familiar to generations of San Mateo County schoolchildren as the location of the week-long Outdoor Education program.

Key issues in the debate over the logging plan are maintaining and restoring the land, reducing fire hazards, protecting the remaining groves of old-growth redwood trees, and protecting the marbled murrelet, an endangered sea bird that nests in old-growth and some second-growth forests.

The CDF is not expected to make a decision on the logging permit for several months.

The YMCA held a meeting on Dec. 3 to explain its position to a skeptical crowd. An Almanac story about the logging plan can be found here: Web Link

Comments (7)

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Posted by Jo Hanson
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2006 at 1:54 pm

I feel very strongly that the YMCA should WITHDRAW the NTMP LOGGING plan. It is horrifying that once this logging plan is approved it is set in place PERMANENTLY with NO FURTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC COMMENT! The NTMP plan will also allow the logging of any oldgrowth tree that the YMCA lables as a "hazard" tree. This 900 acre property is a priceless and delicate habitat--once it is gone it is gone forever.


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Posted by Sarah Phoenix
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2006 at 2:21 pm

As a Bay Area resident for the past 16 years and an outdoor enthusiast, I feel strongly that the YMCA's should withdraw its request for an NTMP permit. The claim that this plan will help minimize fire hazard and promote a healthier forest seems to me to be a thin facade for the Y's desire to make money. The last time I checked, large redwoods are fire retardant, and the scrubby stuff that comes up after logging is the real fire hazard. If the YMCA needs to make money, there are lots of more creative ways to do it than logging their outdoor camp. A conservation easement would be a great way to help meet the financial needs of the camp without alienating the public. In the end, the camp's success will hinge on the YMCA's ability to retain the support of the community as a whole.


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Posted by Denise Greive
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2006 at 3:01 pm

It is unforgivable that the YMCA wants to cut down these incredible old Redwood and Douglas fir trees. The need for money does not justify damaging this beautiful and unique forest ecosystem. I have lived in this area for over 40 years; and in that time I have seen the drastic reduction of old forests such as these. The permanent change that the YMCA's plan will make is very real and upsetting to me.
I dearly hope that they withdraw their request for an NTMP permit.


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Posted by Nikki Hanson
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2006 at 1:21 pm

The YMCA seems to be going against everything that I thought they stood for. This extensive large scale logging opperation will damage the science camp and forest that they are supposedly trying to help. This beautiful and intact forest is even the home of the endangered bird, the Marbled Murrelet! I went to the Pulic Hearing for this plan; the YMCA said that they will also be using herbacides to kill the Tan Oaks. This plan also allows for the removal of any old growth tree that they choose to lable as a "hazard", so their are no safe guards! Oldgrowth and second growth Redwoods take hundreds of years to grow; so removing 40% to 60% every 15 to 20 years is not sustainable for this ecosystem.


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Posted by MPworkingMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 11, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I have many fond memories of going to Outdoor Ed at Jones Gulch in the 1980s.

I can trace back my pro-environment proclivities to my experiences there, and at the Campfire Girls day camp at Huddart Park in Woodside.

Somehow, I don't think the impact is going to be the same if kids are learning about the interconnectedness of forest ecosystems while giant trees are being felled.


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Posted by Lowell Moulton
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2006 at 5:17 pm

I attended the meeting at Camp Jones Gulch on December 3rd. While I applaud the YMCA staff for holding this meeting when they were not required to do so, I also hope that they withdraw their application for a Non-industrial Timber Management Plan. The YMCA wants cut down the beautiful, healthy and fire resistant big trees to open up the forest canopy to let the sun shine on the small trees so they will grow large to create a tree farm for Big Creek Lumber Company to operate. I prefer the natural shady and closed canopy that makes mature second growth Douglas fir and redwood forests so magical. Letting the sun dry out the understory increases fire hazards while keeping the cool shade and large trees reduces fire hazards. If the YMCA wants to replace pine trees with fir trees then they can apply for a Timber Harvest Plan to mitigate the pine trees. If the YMCA needs to raise money then let's work together with them and find a more environmentally progressive method to raise the money. The lack of future public scrutiny provided by the NTMP gives too many opportunities for future abuses by the owner and logging operators of the NTMP. The NTMP is a legal document that lasts forever, the YMCA's promises to not destroy the forest are not a legally binding document and may be forgotten or changed by future YMCA managers.


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Posted by Robyn Pierce
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2006 at 4:20 pm

It is highly important that the logging plan be redone, because it is critical land for the Marbled Merilet. The Marbled Merilet is a bird that relise on old growth redwood to nest in. Jones Gulth YMCA camp is one of the last places for the Marlbed Merilet to go.
Also, if the logging plan is aproved, it will greatly impact the experiance that the children have that are going there to participate in the Outdoor Education program that happens at Jone's Gultch.


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