The Reader’s article on “Residents organizing to stop timber sale” [of old cedars on the Sunnyside Peninsula] quotes Fish and Game Supervisor Chip Corsi saying “Sunnyside Timber Harvest is the most effective means to manage woodlands in the Sunnyside region due to its landlocked nature, proximity to rural development and lack of public access.” He also said “the Sunnyside parcel is common Panhandle habitat.”
Fish & Game needs to broaden their perspective to include the Cedar Grove’s role in a wider Sunnyside Peninsula ecosystem that includes Pack River Delta, Oden Bay, and Shaw Bay. Sunnyside Cedar Grove occupies a significant amount of land (52 acres) near the tip of this relatively small peninsula that is surrounded on three sides by these important wetlands. Public access on the peninsula is heavily used and highly appreciated. Most of the peninsula’s interior is private and, due to previous logging, consists of younger, smaller trees. Our Fish & Game cedar grove probably contains the last remaining large old trees on the peninsula. Whether this type of forest is “common” in other areas of the Panhandle is irrelevant here.
Today, driving around the peninsula, I saw numerous bald eagles fishing, perched in trees, and flying overhead. In IDFG’s Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area plan, they list six “Conservation Targets” developed to guide management in conserving habitat. Their Target #4 is Mixed Conifer Forest Stands. Sunnyside Cedar Grove is this kind of stand. The plan says this type of forest provides for important life requirements for the bald eagle. “The bald eagle relies on large old-growth trees in stands greater than 10 acres for nest/perch trees.” Although Sunnyside Cedars is not a designated “old growth” forest by the IDFG, its trees are mature and the forest is very healthy. IDFG says one of their management strategies is to “protect old growth and mature trees or stands from human disturbance, such as . . . commercial logging, etc.” This grove is in an ideal condition to become the old growth forest IDFG strives to protect.
Sunnyside cedar grove is within a short eagle flight of both the Pack River Delta and Sunnyside point where eagles regularly fish. The managers at Fish and Game need to re-examine this management area and recognize that the most “effective” management tool for this grove is to leave it alone.
To see a video and more photos of the grove, visit the grove’s Facebook page, Sunnyside Cedar Grove. If you want to support efforts to protect the grove or see it in person, send an email to [email protected] and you will be included on the list to receive pertinent information and learn about upcoming tours.