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Letter from Senators Urging Jackson Forest Reform

March 1, 2006

California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection
PO Box
, CA  94244

Re:  Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Dear Chairman Dixon and Members of the Board:

The management of California’s largest state forest, Jackson Demonstration State Forest, is an issue of broad and pressing public concern.  We strongly believe that the management of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest must reflect the best of forward thinking forest sciences, resource protection, community involvement and State leadership.  

While Jackson is in better condition than the surrounding industrial timberlands, management practices and choices at the forest have made Jackson a centerpiece of controversy.  In 2004, the Legislature sent a bill to the Governor to force some changes in the management at Jackson; regrettably the Governor failed to sign that bill.

Fortunately, the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has the opportunity to make the changes necessary to reduce the ongoing controversy and move Jackson’s management into the 21st Century.  We hope it is helpful for us to share our views on this matter. 

First, it is critical to recognize that Jackson’s role for the state is significantly different than it was even 10 years ago.  Over the past decade, California has witnessed the precipitous decline of a number of endangered species.  Most notable for this discussion is the extreme decline of coho (and other) salmon, and the marbled murrelet.  As you are aware, the Federal government recently changed the status of coho salmon in the region around Jackson from threatened to endangered.  Similarly, the murrelet has been listed as endangered for many years, but its numbers continue to decline at an alarming rate.  Additionally, both principal watersheds at Jackson are listed as water quality impaired due to logging-related impacts.

We remind you of these facts to give context to our first request – that Jackson Forest be managed first and foremost to protect the public trust resources of California.  It is the responsibility of the state to ensure the protection and restoration of public resources such as water quality and endangered species.  Clearly, we have not done an adequate job.     

Jackson is the only large publicly owned redwood forest in the Mendocino/Sonoma County area.  It is incumbent upon the state to focus actions at Jackson on recovering  endangered species and protecting other public trust resources.  The forest’s mandate calls for “consideration” of public trust values.  We believe “consideration” in this context logically requires maximizing the conservation benefit from our publicly owned forest.  To accomplish this goal, we urge you to adopt a management plan at Jackson that is at least as protective of water quality, fish and wildlife as “Alternative F” in the Draft Environmental Impact Report.  That approach provides heightened conservation for endangered species and water quality, while allowing the Department of Forestry to continue research and demonstrations and maintain a substantial commercial logging program. 

Secondly, there are several issues and practices that the general public finds unacceptable, particularly in our public forest, including logging of ancient trees, even-aged management, and herbicide use.  The Citizen’s Advisory Committee convened during the Wilson administration made near-consensus recommendations to sharply limit the use of even-aged management and herbicide use, and both the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and the Fort Bragg City Council, have recently gone on record supporting those recommendations.  We add our voice to the call to end even-aged management except as necessary for credible, well-documented scientific experiments.  Of course, it is entirely unacceptable to be logging any ancient trees on our state-owned forests – they are a diminishing part of our natural heritage that should be preserved for future generations. 

Finally, we recognize that many local elected officials have emphatically recommended that a greater proportion of the proceeds from timber production at Jackson be used to further the management goals at Jackson, including accelerated road rehabilitation, facilities maintenance, increased staffing, research, demonstration, and dissemination of forest management information.  We support that call and will work to make sure that the State Budget provides a reasonable and secure level of funding for Jackson Demonstration State Forest.

The Mendocino County Jackson Demonstration State Forest has the potential to be a model of cooperation that demonstrates economic substantiality with forests products, commercial and sport fisheries, tourism and recreation.  Thank you for your service on the Board and for your consideration of our views. 



Senate President Pro Tempore 
State Senator, 2nd District
DEBRA BOWEN  State Senator, 28th District    GILBERT CEDILLO   State Senator, 22nd District

Chair, Environmental Quality Committee