|The following article appeared as a "Close to
Home" feature in the Opinion Section of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
(Original title: "Time to Cut Headwaters Forest""
May 28, 2001
By VINCE TAYLOR
Press Democrat News Services
The state is in a budget crisis. Logging the Headwaters Forest would
contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's suffering
coffers. Good idea?
If it were up to the California Department of Forestry, that's just what
would be happening. Last week a judge of the Mendocino County Superior
Court issued an injunction that stopped the department's illegal logging of
the largest state forest, 50,000-acre Jackson State Forest. Rather than
apologizing to the public for logging the public forest for eight years
without a legal management plan, the department's public relations
department attacked the injunction for curtailing the revenue flow from its
Spokesperson Louis Blumberg said to The Press Democrat, "If the court
injunction is lifted, our operations in critical areas will be curtailed."
He didn't mention that CDF has had ample warning that a new management plan
was overdue, nor that it had been promising a new plan for six years
without producing it. Who is to blame for the present financial "crisis?"
Certainly not the court nor the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood
Forest, which brought the suit against CDF.
Blumberg went on to detail various forestry related programs that would
be affected, emphasizing those most favored by environmentalists, such as
North Coast watershed studies and watershed salmon restoration projects. He
didn't mention that most of the affected programs exist to deal with the
enormous environmental impacts of private logging.
But, the fundamental question is, "Should we be logging a precious
public redwood forest to underwrite the environmental costs of private
If you think so, then we should equally be logging Headwaters Forest. It
is only 7,000 acres and difficult to reach. Jackson State is 50,000 acres
and only three hours drive from the Bay Area.
Jackson State could and should be a major recreation resource for
Northern California. Jackson State doesn't have much old growth, but it has
thousands of acres that are on the verge of providing habitat for
old-growth dependent species -- if the state would stop destroying them.
But what about those programs that are being funded by Jackson State
Those that truly serve the public interest should be funded out of
general revenues, as are most programs funded by the state. Those that
primarily benefit the timber industry or repair its damage should be
financed by a timber tax.
It is bad government to tie funding of programs to the cutting of the
public's forest. Now, it is leading CDF to rush through a new management
plan so fast that public participation is being excluded -- to the
detriment of the public good. In the past, it caused CDF knowingly to
exceed its legally mandated allowable harvest level, damaging the forest to
inflate its politically popular slush fund.
The lesson of the CDF's current financial plight is that the public
forest ought not to be logged to fund operations unrelated to the forest. A
good beginning for reform of Jackson State management would be to require
that all funds generated by logging it be spent to repair the damage done
to it by 50 years of commercial logging.
If you care about the future of this public forest, contact the Campaign
to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest at www.jacksonforest.com.
Vince Taylor is a Mendocino resident and works with the Campaign to
Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest.