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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Santa Cruz Forest Defender says be careful and vigilant with new management at Pacific Lumber

The end of an era and certainly a step in the right direction: Pacific Lumber will no longer be clearcutting vast forest tracts in Humboldt County nor will they be felling the remnants of the magnificent old growth coastal redwoods once in their ownership. The North Coast activists (and forests) finally get an end to some terribly egregious logging practices. But what will actually replace them? Listen to the YouTube video with Mike Jani and he talks of ‘variable retention’ making it sound like a panacea. Some would vehemently disagree. I’ve personally seen some variable retention which looks like clearcuts with little islands of ‘wildlife habitat’ scattered about. Only time will tell just how much the forest management of these lands improves in the hands of Humboldt Redwood Company. While my pessimism is ever present, this is truly a giant step forward and something we can hope will carry over elsewhere. We need to end clearcutting practices across the state and stop the cutting of all old growth redwoods.

A bit of history re this drama: Mike Jani used to work for Big Creek Lumber. He was the driving force in getting Santa Cruz County to draft a set of rules to the Board of Forestry rather than change zoning to eliminate logging. For two years a dozen or more enviros and industry reps met to craft a mutually acceptable rule package. In the end, Mark Morganthaler negotiated the final changes on behalf of the environmental community while Jani negotiated for the timber industry. While neither side was completely happy with the compromise, we shook hands on the package. We spent the next year following the Board of Forestry around the state while they dissected the rules at each successive meeting. Amazingly, Jani lobbied hard against many of the package’s proposed rule changes. In the end, so few were adopted by the Board of Forestry, that Santa Cruz County Supervisors made the original zoning changes to prohibit logging in a variety of zone districts. More history: Cynthia Elkins, reporter for KMUD, was the Executive Director for EPIC for many years and personally engaged in many of the Pacific Lumber/Maxxam battles which finally led to this change in ownership. How ironic (and I would assume satisfying) that she is now reporting the changing of the guard. JodiFredi at


Under Palco, an average of 150 to 160 million bd. ft. was cut from 2000 to 2005. That figure dropped to 99 million bd. ft. in 2006, and fell to 77 million bd. ft. last year. Under the new management, annual harvesting will be limited to 55 million bd. ft. per year for the next decade and a no-cut policy for old growth will be observed.
"We chose a harvest rate that's based on careful assessment of the timber inventory," Dean said.
Although he expects the harvest rate to increase after 10 years, it will always follow Mendocino's principles of sustainable forestry-which include cutting less than what's grown.

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