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A bad reason to resume logging

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

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 (illegal) logging.

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 logging?"

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 logging revenues?

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

Vince Taylor is a Mendocino resident and works with the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest.