Subject:
Lucky 13 Stipulations
Date:
Thu, 24 Mar 2011 12:57:15 -0700 (PDT)
From:
"Craig Dremann
To:
sschectman@openspace.org
CC:
"BOARD" <BOARD@openspace.org>, "Managers" <Managers@openspace.org>

 

Dear Ms. Schectman, Board and Managers,

Thank you for your email.

I mis-counted and find that there are actually 13 Stipulations, so let's
call them the Lucky-13 Stipulations, because if they are agreed to by the
District, then the natural resources at Russian Ridge may have the good
luck and good fortune to receive some attention from the District, to live
and survive into the future:

1.) Stipulate that the District acknowledges that the State of California
considers the District's non-serpentine native wildflower fields and
native bunchgrass habitats, are among the rarest and most endangered plant
communities in California--considering the tiny percentage of existing
relicts in 2011 when compared to their original statewide coverage in
pre-European times.

2.) Stipulate that the Russian Ridge preserve wildflower fields are the
best non-serpentine examples of that habitat in northern California,
within a 200 mile radius.

3.) Stipulate that a public resource agency should never use such a rare
and endangered natural resource--the best example of non-serpentine
wildflowers in Northern California at Russian Ridge--as a fire training
site for five fires, without doing any before-and-after vegetation impact
monitoring, nor doing any EIRs, without offering any alternatives, and
ignoring numerous reports of measured cumulative damages done to that rare
resource by the five fires.

4.) Stipulate that a full EIR should have been written for each of those
Russian Ridge burn projects, with thresholds and analyses,
before-and-after monitoring, alternatives given to the public including
the no-project alternative, and that the Board or CAL FIRE should have
held CEQA scoping meetings to get input from the public before the burn
projects proceeded.

5.) Stipulate that the Board knows that it cannot Categorically Exempt
itself from CEQA, to avoid ever having to write an EIR for "Management of
existing native vegetation,"--which is what the Board tried to do in their
2001 resolution--and that exemption is illegal under CEQA, is vague,
arbitrary, capricious, and unenforceable, and that error will be amended
by the Board with another Resolution at a Board meeting set for a date
certain, out of court.

6.) Stipulate that the planned burn by CAL FIRE for the Russian Ridge
preserve was canceled in 2010, according to the June 18 CAL FIRE email,
for "CEQA issues", and the District will outline in detail, exactly what
CEQA issues CAL FIRE is talking about, that caused the 2010 fire to be
postponed.

7.) Stipulate that all of the burns conducted by CAL FIRE, were done
without an EIR under CEQA, and that any pre-burn checklists done by CAL
FIRE for the five Russian Ridge burns, are not legal substitutes for an
EIR.

8.) Stipulate that the District acknowledges that damages have been done
to the wildflower and native grass resources by the five fires at Russian
Ridge.

9.) Stipulate that those damages can be measured by comparing the 1996
weed map and mapping the extent of the weeds today, plus comparing Erik
Goetze's Russian Ridge panorama wildflower pictures on the web with a
survey of those sites today, and that the Board is going to have that work
done by September 1 of this year.

10.) The District also stipulates that it could be as much as $20 million
to lower the weed cover and increase the natural resources back to
pre-burn levels, and the Board is going to get an independent quote for
the total costs, out of court, and inform the public what those costs will
be.

11.) The District stipulates that it is solely responsible for any
mitigation costs for damages caused by the five burns conducted by CAL
FIRE, including the $20 million in natural resource damages, in part
because of the hold-harmless agreement between the agencies.

12.) The District stipulates that it will repair the fire damages to
Russian Ridge, to control the weeds back to their pre-burn levels, and
restore the extent of the wildflower fields and bunchgrasses to their
preburn levels, with an EIR written before the project is begun, small
scale test plots conducted to test and develop successful methods, and
annual reports for the public published of their progress by September 1
of each year, and the fire damage mitigation project to be finished by
June 1, 2015.

13.) Stipulate that the District will conduct a full EIR for any native
plant management project or any weed management project in the future,
that is conducted within any grassland habitats on any of its preserves.
==============

I am hoping that some of the easier Stipulations could be agreed to
immediately by the Board, and put in writing, like the first two.

Plus, it should be very easy to explain exactly what issues CAL FIRE was
talking about in their email when they canceled the Russian Ridge fire
last year, because of "CEQA issues".

And it should also be very easy for the Board to show good faith in public
natural resource management, by passing a Resolution to cancel the illegal
CEQA Categorical Exemption that it passed in it 2001 Resolution, about
being exempt from writing any EIRs for management of existing native
vegetation?

Right this very minute at Russian Ridge, hundreds of millions of native
seeds are germinating, and the seedlings that are about an inch tall
today, but many will die, because of the weeds spread by the fires.

Those native seedlings are in the process of being killed and covered by a
tsunami of weed thatch and weed seedlings, as a direct result of the
cumulative fire damages to the environment, that must be repaired, for the
survival of the resource.

Sincerely, Craig Dremann