Mendocino's Jackson State Forest is Saved from Clearcutting
I have good news!
When I last wrote in July 2007, I was urging you to write the Board of Forestry opposing open-ended clearcutting on our publicly owned Jackson State Redwood Forest.
You and others resoundingly told the Board of Forestry that you opposed clearcutting and supported the consensus plan for Jackson State Forest developed by a group of environmental and timber interests (the Mendocino Working Group). The Board received over 2000 letters with this message.
During this same period, the Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County, where Jackson State Forest is located, unanimously voted to write to the Board of Forestry in support of the Mendocino Working Group's consensus plan and opposition to unrestricted clearcutting. This was a landmark action by the Supervisors. Please give them your thanks.
In the latest development, the consensus plan, including strong safeguards on clearcutting, has now won the support of the California Board of Forestry, the body with the final say over management of Jackson State Forest. By six to two, with one abstention, the board voted in October 2007 to support in principle a new “Alternative G” for Jackson State Forest. The alternative includes major reforms proposed by the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, the Sierra Club, and the Mendocino Working Group.
No longer will timber production be the primary purpose for our publicly owned 50,000-acre redwood forest, as it has been ever since the state began managing the forest in the 1950’s. In the future, the forest will be managed for research, habitat, restoration, and recreation. Timber production will take place to provide the funds necessary to operate Jackson and, possibly, other state forests, but where and how it will occur will be decided in the context of the higher public values of the forest.
Very importantly, the Board of Forestry agreed to the establishment of an outside advisory committee. This committee is a key element in the consensus plan for Jackson Forest developed by the Mendocino working group. It will review harvest plans during a three-year interim period of restricted harvesting, and it will work with the forest managers during this interim period to develop a long-term landscape plan and a revised management plan.
These actions by the Board bring us close to the goal that the Campaign set out to accomplish in 2000 – but a number of outstanding issues remain to be resolved before we can stop campaigning and begin to work cooperatively on managing the forest for the public interest.
A potential major sticking point is the resolution of two timber contracts awarded by the state in 2001 for the cutting of 35,000 of the oldest trees in the forest from the center of the prime recreation area. The Campaign went to court to halt these devastating logging plans, and we won. The plans have been enjoined by court order and stipulated agreement ever since.
The Campaign is adamant that these contracts be renegotiated in a way that will satisfy the contract holders while preserving these valuable older forest groves at least until a coherent, consensus long-term plan is developed for the forest. So far, the state has been unwilling to commit to this.
As I write, the Board of Forestry is scheduled to consider in January, 2008, the revised environmental and management documents for Jackson State Forest. The Campaign and members of the Mendocino Working Group are working hard to ensure that these documents fully reflect the consensus plan before being brought to a vote. Everyone is anxious at this point to honor the hard work that has brought us close to a solution that can be embraced by all parties, and I am hopeful that the remaining few, but important, issues will be resolved prior to the final vote.
If the board approves the documents, as expected, the Campaign will have 30 days to challenge them in court. We are strongly committed to reaching a solution without litigation, but we stand ready to take such action if it appears the only way to protect irreplaceable values in our forest.
We are nearing success in our eight-year fight to save our redwood forest for our children’s children. My deep and sincere thanks to every one who helped bring us to this point. Please keep the forest in your thoughts and hearts this holiday season.
Donations to support our continuing efforts are welcomed. You can donate either by credit card online or by mail. We do our best to make sure that every dollar is spent effectively on your behalf.
Vince Taylor, Executive Director