Many folks have asked me in the last few months about the THP (Timber Harvest Plan) and TCP (Timberland Conversion Permit) processes overseen by CalFire, due to the multiple THP and TCP applications being processed on Howell Mountain. Here are links to generic descriptions of those processes:
This writing below briefly describes* the process in general for conversion of a timbered area to a non-timber use. There are two parts to the process.
A Timberland Conversion Permit (TCP) is required for the Project Site, and processed by CalFire. The TCP triggers preparation of a CEQA document for the proposed conversion project. Often, given the potential for environmental impacts, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required to be prepared. In Napa County, a Napa County Erosion Control Plan (ECP) is also required for the proposed project. The environmental impacts of the TCP, the ECP, and the development of the vineyard on the site are evaluated against the CEQA baseline of the site.
A Timber Harvest Plan (THP) is prepared concurrently for the harvest of the forest. It is processed separately from the TCP although also approved by CAL FIRE. The THP is evaluated by CAL FIRE through a CEQA equivalent process consistent with the Forest Practice Rules.
As explained in the THP link above, a THP can be issued before the TCP process (including EIR) is complete. But the property owner cannot do anything other than harvest the trees. Ultimately, if the TCP (and ECP) are not approved, the former forest land will need to be restocked for timber, pursuant to the Forest Practice Rules.
Until recently, CalFire was always the lead agency in Napa County for any EIR required by the TCP process. However, due in part to many factors, including the real possibility that the County ECP environmental review would lead to preparation of a second EIR for the same project site, CalFire has agreed to transfer the lead agency status to Napa County for the preparation of the Le Colline TCP, which will also serve as the EIR for the ECP. In addition, Napa County will continue to serve as the CEQA lead agency for all new TCP applications submitted in the future.
*A very comprehensive discussion of the TCP process can be found in this 2008 Board of Forestry report, which was current as of September 2012 (when it was presented to the Board): http://www.bof.fire.ca.gov/board_business/binder_materials/2012/september/sept_2012fpc/fpc_3.1_timberland_conversion-issue_paper_8-29-08_final.pdf
Categories: General Information