The determination of CDF and the Board
of Forestry to log Jackson State despite the court's findings are powerful
arguments for reform. The Board and CDF have shown that, in
the current circumstances, they cannot be relied upon to
safeguard the values contained in this major
publicly owned forest.
What should be done? Two reforms
seem necessary. First, the present financial incentives to log the
forest need to be eliminated. Second, a broadly based advisory
committee with mandatory review authority needs to be established.
Remove the Profit Motive
Why would the agencies
of the state charged with safeguarding forest resources attempt to
circumvent a court order issued to prevent “significant and possibly
irreparable harm” to a public forest? The answer in one word is, “Money.”
Revenues from Jackson
State have in recent years have funded the Forest Resources Improvement
Fund (FRIF) to the tune of about $15 million per year. The FRIF contains a
number of forestry programs highly valued by CDF and others.
Although the lawsuit was filed almost a year before the injunction, CDF
made no contingency plans. It found itself short of funds at the end of the
budget cycle with state funds depleted by the energy crisis. Borrowing
money from within the state was a feasible option, as Board comments at the
July meeting made clear, but CDF and the Board determined instead to try to
circumvent the court.
This episode is only the latest and most dramatic example of the
long-standing harm caused by using Jackson State as revenue source for the
state. Profit incentives have caused CDF to manage Jackson State Forest
like a profit-driven corporation instead of a guardian of valuable
In order to get more net revenue for its favored programs, CDF Sacramento
has never allowed Jackson State a staff sufficient to provide modern
management for the forest.
Jackson State could not update the 1983 management plan because all
available staff had to be devoted to “getting out the cut” set by CDF
The legally mandated maximum level of timber harvesting in Jackson State
was exceeded in every year from 1997 through 2000. This violation is
directly attributable to CDF Sacramento’s perceived needs for revenue.
Profit incentives need to be removed from the management of Jackson State
Forest. The first and most important step is to fund FRIF from the
general revenues. This would place FRIF programs on an equal basis with
other state programs, as they should be. It would also prevent future FRIF
funding problems arising from unpredictable drops in redwood prices and
decreases in permitted logging caused by new environmental constraints.
To entirely remove the profit motive from the management of Jackson State,
revenues generated by logging in Jackson State should be spent only
within Jackson State. Only enough logging would be done to pay for
forest management, repair of past environmental damage, and restoration of
the forest toward old growth. Financial incentives would then work to
enhance the forest – as should they should for a publicly owned forest.
This is the current policy for Soquel State Forest in Santa Cruz County.
Jackson State deserves the same.
Establish an Oversight Committee
CDF and the Board of Forestry have
demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to safeguard the ecology,
recreation, and habitat values of the state forests. Headquartered in
Sacramento, they are apparently concerned primarily with finding revenues
to fund programs unrelated to the health of the state forests.
Appropriate, concerned management of
state forests requires oversight by persons with broader concerns than
profit and timber harvesting, by people who are directly affected by the
uses of the forest.
Legislation for Soquel State Forest in
Santa Cruz County provides a model. It mandates appointment by the
director of CDF of an advisory committee. The committee must include
representatives of the County Board of Supervisors, the Department of Parks
and Recreation, the Board of Forestry, the adjoining state park, and the
Department of Fish and Game.
For Jackson State Forest, the advisory
committee should include representatives of the Fort Bragg City
Council, the Woodlands, neighbors of the forest, and environmental
Legislation for Soquel Forest requires
that the management plan be approved by the advisory committee prior to
adoption by CDF. This key provision should be made applicable to all
state forests. It will ensure that management of state forests
reflects the desires of local government, neighbors, and the public
for environmental preservation, habitat for endangered species, and
To ensure the future safety of
Jackson State forest, we need to pass legislation
to reform the purposes and management of state forests. If you
are not a member, please join the
Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest