|August 20, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Vince Taylor, Ph.D.
Paul Carroll (legal) (650) 322-5652
Appeals Court Extends Halt in
Jackson State Forest Logging
Tells CDF "Do the job right." Facilitates Appeal of Mendocino Court
August 20, San Francisco. The California Court of Appeals today
inserted itself forcefully into contentious and complex litigation on
logging of California’s largest state-owned forest, 50,000-acre Jackson
State Redwood Forest.
In an unusual action, the Court dispensed with lawyer’s arguments.
Instead for nearly half an hour the three judges interrogated and lectured
Charles Getz, chief counsel for the California Department of Forestry
(CDF). They were openly hostile to CDF’s contention that a lower court’s
invalidation of a new management plan did not prevent them from carrying
out two disputed logging plans. They told CDF to stop litigating and to
get moving on developing a legally valid environmental study.
At the end, the court practically directed the lawyer for the Campaign
to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, the citizen’s group challenging
CDF, to appeal the lower court's failure to enjoin the disputed plans. They
extended a previously ordered logging-halt of these two plans until such
an appeal could be filed.
Dr. Vince Taylor, Campaign spokesperson, said, "Coming to the Court of
Appeals was like coming into a sane world after being in Mendocino in an
Alice-in-Wonderland world. CDF’s lawyer, Charles Getz, reinterpreted old
agreements, repudiated his clear previous statements, and invented legal
arguments out of thin air, to all of which Mendocino Judge Henderson
appeared to lend a sympathetic ear. Down was up and up was down.
"Today the Appeals Court told Mr. Getz in no uncertain terms that up
was up and down was down. It was a great relief to have sanity affirmed.
The Appeals Court clearly intends to provide the public forest the legal
protection it deserves."
Today’s action was the latest in a series of court actions, beginning
in 1991, that have largely prevented the state from logging of Jackson
State Forest. Under a settlement agreement following a court-ordered
logging halt in mid-1991, the state agreed to do no further logging until
it had prepared a new management plan and environmental study. Prior to
the court action, CDF had routinely been generating profits of $10-15
million per year from large-scale logging of the forest under a management
plan last updated in 1983. The Campaign successfully contended that
environmental circumstances had radically changed since 1983 and that
state law required an updated plan and environmental study.
The new environmental study was completed in the fall of 2002 and
immediately challenged in court again by the Campaign and a new partner,
Forests Forever of San Francisco.
In early 2003, CDF moved to begin logging on two large plans covering
900 acres. Dr. Taylor then said, "The Brandon Gulch and Camp 3 logging
plans target the oldest and ecologically most valuable redwood stands in
the forest – in the heart of the forest’s prime recreation area."
A Mendocino County judge allowed the two logging plans to begin in
Jackson Forest even though he said he was very likely to rule in favor of
the Campaign and invalidate the Forest’s legally required environmental
study. The Campaign then made an emergency request to the Court of
Appeals. The Court immediately granted a stay – but not before 1600 80-100
year-old trees were cut.
In late July, the Mendocino Superior Court invalidated the
environmental study and new management plan, but he did not explicitly
enjoin logging on the two plans that were the halted by the Appeals Court.
Following this decision, CDF contended that it could legally move forward
on the two logging plans, arguing that the although the new management
plan has been invalidated, the 1983 was never ruled invalid.
At the hearing today, Mr. Getz attempted defend the CDF’s ability to
carry out the two plans. The judges were openly and unanimously skeptical,
asking pointed questions and offering counter arguments to every point
raised by Mr. Getz.
At one point, in apparent frustration, a justice asked Mr. Getz, "Why
does CDF continue to try to evade and reinterpret previous rulings and
agreements? Why doesn’t it just move forward to get a valid EIR
[Environmental Impact Report] and management plan?"
When Mr. Getz responded by complaining about the delays created by the
litigation and the economic hardship the loss of logging revenue imposed
on the state, Chief Justice Haerle, interrupted and said very pointedly
and strongly, "In that case, the burden falls on the bureaucracy to do the
The judges then turned to Paul Carroll, lawyer for the Campaign to
Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest. The Chief Justice first noted that
the Mendocino Superior Court had not issued a final judgement. He then
counseled Mr. Carroll that for the Appeals Court to overturn the lower
court’s failure to enjoin the two logging plans, he would need to bring an
appeal to this court. "Are you planning to appeal?," Justice Haerle asked.
When Mr. Carroll finally replied affirmatively, Justice Haerle announced
the court’s action for the day:
"The Court defers a decision in this case until after a final judgement
is issued by the Mendocino Superior Court. The stay on logging remains in
Previous press releases, legal briefs and background on this issue are