The total number of forested acres owned by the Bohemian Club may be delaying or perhaps even scuttling the club's quest for approval of a permanent logging plan for its 2,700-acre Russian River property. It may be an issue of too much forest for the trees.
"I'm just hoping somebody may come to their senses and say the easiest course of action would be to just withdraw it," says John Hooper, a fourth-generation club member who resigned in 2004 in opposition to ongoing logging of the club's Bohemian Grove, located slightly northeast of Monte Rio.
As reported in these pages, the San Francisco–based Bohemian Club spent the past two and a half years seeking approval for its proposed nonindustrial timber management plan. An NTMP is intended to let owners of 2,500 acres or less of forested land create a management plan that allows annual logging (in perpetuity) with only minimal paperwork and oversight. The current issue that's delaying the club's NTMP application, as Hooper sees it, is how much of the Bohemian Grove property is considered forested in order to qualify for this type of timber plan.
Bohemian Club officials claim their NTMP proposal to cut down as much as 1 million board-feet of timber annually is needed to reduce the fire risk and restore the old-growth forest. They say that selectively logging Douglas fir and other nonredwood trees will pay for clearing undergrowth and other foliage that could lead to a dangerous fire.
But the NTMP application has run into dogged opposition from environmental groups, who argue that the plan will destroy vital habitat, increase the fire danger and allow logging of redwood trees more than 100 years old.
The Bohemian Club's NTMP application is in "holding mode" until the club responds to requests for further information, says Leslie Markham of the California Department of Forestry. The office of Nick Kent, the professional forester who developed the NTMP application for the club, referred all calls to Bohemian Club general manager Matt Oggero, who could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this year the club said it was giving a Montana foundation a 160-acre conservation easement that would include some of the oldest redwood trees on the property. Club officials said the move was intended to refute allegations that old-growth redwood could be logged under the NTMP, but opponents charged that the club was trying to reduce the number of forested acres covered by the NTMP in order to be under the 2,500-acre limit.