The following presents more details on the events leading up to and
occurring at the meeting of the Board of Forestry on July 11, 2001.
On May 18, 2001, acting on a lawsuit brought by the
Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, the Superior Court of
Mendocino issued a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the California
Department of Forestry (CDF) from logging in Jackson State Forest under its
long-outdated 1983 Management Plan.
Immediately after the decision, CDF and its oversight
body, the Board of Forestry, began planning how
to undercut the court ruling. CDF did not seem to care
that Judge Henderson found that "Even a
casual review of the  Plan reveals that the conditions on which it
was developed eighteen years ago have changed dramatically," and that
further logging was likely to result in "substantial and possibly
irreparable harm." Apparently,
CDF cared only that his ruling had stopped the flow of profits from
Jackson State -- profits that were funding a slew
of state forestry programs.
Although the lawsuit was filed almost a
year before, CDF had ignored the possibility of an injunction. It found
itself short of funds at the end of the budget cycle and with state coffers
depleted by the energy crisis. Although borrowing money from within the
state was a feasible option, as discussion of the Board later made clear,
CDF and the Board decided to try to circumvent the court.
CDF and the Board's plan to circumvent
the court had two parts. First, the Board would amend the
policies governing state forest to remove the requirement
for a "current management plan,"
thereby eliminating the primary basis for the
court’s injunction. Then, having removed that requirement, the plan was for
the Board immediately to authorize a resumption of logging under the 1983
All of this was to be done before
significant public opposition could be organized.
CDF and the Board gave no public warning of their intent to circumvent the
court until two items signaling this intent were posted on the agenda for
the Board of Forestry meeting of July 12. Although the agenda items were
published two weeks before the meeting, CDF did not release the language of
the proposed actions until one day before
the July 12 meeting. Further, the meeting was to
be held in San Bernadino, about as far from Jackson State Forest as
The Campaign Responds
As soon as it learned of the planned
action, the Campaign did its best to stop or slow
it down. Assemblyperson Virginia Strom-Martin and several
other organizations wrote asking for a delay. Our
lawyer, Paul Carroll wrote a letter telling them that their actions would
violate the California Environmental Quality Act and would be held illegal
The Campaign faxed letters to CDF and
the Board of Forestry. on July 9, only three days before the meeting,
after waiting futilely for a week to obtain the language of the proposed
The proposed amendments were not made
public until Tuesday, July 10, the day before the meeting. A detailed
analysis was created overnight and faxed to Stan Dixon, Acting Chair of the
Board of Forestry, at the hotel where the meeting was being held.
There was no hope of having the analysis read by anyone prior to the
meeting, but it was made part of the formal record of the hearing.
Theatre of the Absurd
The actual Board meeting was an elaborate staging of
theatre of the absurd. Everyone was rehearsed and ready. Board
members fell over one another to praise the proposed replacement of the
requirement to have a current management plan with a five-year review by
the Board (with no standards for review and no expiration date for the
plans): "Long overdue; makes the Board accountable; provides for public
The Board was so fixed on its path that no mention was
made of Virginia Strom-Martin’s request for delay until after a member of
the public brought it up, well into the Board’s deliberations. The letter
from Paul Carroll was never mentioned to the Board, and it is questionable
whether any of the letters received were distributed to the Board.
Certainly no Board member ever mentioned any of the contents.
All references to the lawsuit were
studiously avoided by the Board and CDF -- until a Board member asked why
it was important to act today instead of delaying it. CDF's Chief
Counsel, Norm Hill, apparently flustered by the question, was frank.
He said that Judge Henderson’s ruling had focused on the
requirement for a "current management plan," and that if the Board
eliminated that requirement, CDF could file immediately for a "writ of
mandate" and expected to have the case dismissed.
This would then allow JDSF to resume logging and generating revenue for
their forestry programs. The policy change needed to be passed today
because a month’s delay might make it too late for to get the injunction
lifted in time to resume logging in this cutting season.
Mr. Hill had mentioned the importance
of the logging revenues for funding forestry programs. A
Board member asked, "What would be the interest rate if CDF borrowed
internal state funds to pay for the forestry programs?" Mr. Hill evaded the
answer. The Board member persisted and asked again about the cost of loans.
The financial discussion was not in the
script. There was supposed to be no connection between the policy
amendment and the desire for revenue from Jackson State.
CDF Director Andrea Tuttle interrupted to shut down the financing
discussion. "We’ve done a number of calculations, but this is not the
appropriate place to get into them." Bob Heald then tried to reestablish
the pretense, saying that the policy change was needed on its own terms,
because it was good policy, and that it was coincidental that it was
What this discussion revealed, was that
even the underlying motive for amendment (the need to fund the
forest programs) was not so compelling. Delaying
action and allowing real public participation in the formulation of Board
policy would mean only that CDF might need to borrow money to fund the
A vote was called and the amendment
passed eight to one.
The Board turned to the next item: a resolution to
authorize continued logging in Jackson State Forest until July 2000 or a
new Management Plan was approved. Of course, if the Board could do this, it
could continue extending the period for logging indefinitely, no matter how
long it took for CDF to create a legally valid management plan.
CDF and the Board obviously realized that the resolution
was on shaky legal ground. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA,
pronounced SEEQUA) lays down strict procedural requirements on state
agencies when they take actions that affect the environment. The
requirements include publishing of an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) and
a period of public comment. Authorizing continued logging under the
outdated 1983 Management Plan arguably would be a CEQA action, and CDF and
the Board had good reason to expect the Campaign to ask a court to rule
that this was the case.
Attempting to justify the action, CDF had had its Chief
Counsel, Norm Hill, read an extended legal brief that quoted from an EIR
prepared in 1982 for timber operations in Jackson State Forest. He argued
that this EIR covered the current situation and was sufficient to justify
Board authorization of continued logging. This was an absurd argument.
First, the EIR did not even cover the 1983 Management Plan, as it predated
its adoption and covered only timber harvest operations, not the management
plan. Second, the court had already found that the environmental factors
had changed significantly since 1983. No one on the Board had quarreled
with Mr. Hill about the relevance of the 1982 EIR.
When the resolution was taken up by the Board, the first
order of business was to shore up the legal justification as much as
possible. Board Counsel Bill Cunningham, Bob
Heald, Kirk Marckwald, and Norm Hill all added
various "wherases" and other buttressing language.
Kathy Bailey Saves the Day
When the amending was done, the Board moved and seconded
the motion. It looked like the Board was going to railroad the resolution
through just like the policy change. Fortunately for Jackson Forest, Kathy
Bailey of the Sierra Club, a Mendocino County resident, called out to chair
that she would like to address the issue. Mr. Dixon agreed.
Ms. Bailey gave an impassioned and fact-filled speech.
First she recounted the history of management of the Forest in the 1990s,
how it had been run to generate revenue for CDF, not for research and
demonstration, how local citizens had banded together to oppose the
maltreatment of the forest, even to the point of chaining themselves to
gates, how then-Director Wilson had appointed a diverse Citizens Advisory
Committee (whose recommendations were ignored). She recounted that CDF had
rejected the Sierra Club’s 1999 request for a moratorium on logging until
the management plan was revised. She told how concerned citizens had then
formed the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest and pointed out
that the lawsuit was filed quite some time ago, so that the state should
not have been surprised by the court order.
Ms. Bailey then spoke of the importance of Jackson State
for recreation and environmental values. She described important ways in
which the environmental setting of Jackson State had changed since 1983:
the major increase in numbers and importance of tourism in Mendocino, the
listing of the Northern Spotted Owl, Marbled Murrelet, and Coho salmon, the
designation of Jackson Forest as critical habitat in the federal plan for
recovery of the Marbled Murrelet, the publication of the Citizens Advisory
Committee report, the acceptance by the state of Coho as a candidate for
listing as endangered, and the destruction of the surrounding private
She laid out in detail reasons why passing of the
resolution would violate CEQA provisions and she "feared very much" that
they would end up in court again if they passed the resolution.
Help from an Unexpected Quarter
Ms. Bailey’s presentation lasted over 20 minutes, causing
Chairperson Dixon to bring up the Board’s schedule immediately after she
finished. He mentioned that there were several critical items that needed
to be acted on that day and a public hearing scheduled for later that day.
In perhaps the happiest accident of the day, Mr. Dixon
asked Director Tuttle how the Department felt "about the necessity of
dealing with that action today." Director Tuttle, quite likely still
thinking about Ms. Bailey’s testimony, answered, "A lot of good points were
raised. The Department will look at them carefully. Kathy did a really good
job. I can understand your concerns, if I was a Board member I would have
them. We can live with, agree to, a continuance of this item if you’d like
to do that and take further information."
The Final Ending -- for Now
When the Board took up the resolution again, Mr. Heald,
ignoring Director Tuttle’s offer of continuance, suggested a further
amendment to resolution. When everyone was satisfied with his amendment,
Kathy came forward to the microphone and repeated Director Tuttle’s offer
of delay. Chairperson Dixon said he was aware of it but that it was up to
Board members to bring it up if they desired. Board member Mark Bosetti, an
industry representative, said, "I would be more comfortable personally if
we delayed action." Another member said, "That’s acceptable to me." The
steamroller had stopped.
Indicative of its agitated state, the Board took between
five and ten minutes to figure out how to delay the vote, miring themselves
ever deeper in Robert’s Rules of Order. Finally, new Board member Paula
Ross said, "You can simply move to table the item." A motion to table until
August was made and passed without dissent.
Right after the July Board meeting, the Campaign obtained
CDF documents written by senior CDF staff in 1994. These dramatically
undercut the Board and CDF’s argument that there is no harm in continuing
to log under the 1983 plan. One 1994 document states unequivocally that
even then the 1983 plan did not "reflect current legal, social, or economic
concerns." Another document characterizes the 1983 plan as based on
"policies from the dark ages of American forestry." The Campaign
immediately distributed these documents to state legislators, CDF and
Resource staff, and the Board of Forestry.
Whether because of the release of the documents or because
CDF and the Board realized their efforts could not stand up to public
scrutiny, the resolution to authorize continued logging in Jackson State
was withdrawn from the August Board agenda.
Vigilance, quick action, Kathy Bailey, and some lucky
breaks saved the day this time. Jackson State will not be safe, though,
until legislation is passed to that takes the profit motive out of
management of Jackson State and makes restoration to old growth the primary
goal for the forest.