Decision Summary
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ENDORSED-FILED
July 30 2003
Superior Court of California Clerk of Mendocino County


Superior Court of California
Mendocino County
Ukiah Branch

CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE JACKSON
STATE REDWOOD FOREST; DHARMA
CLOUD CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, and
FORESTS FOREVER FOUNDATION,
                  Petitioners,
vs

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY
AND FIRE PROTECTION; CALIFORNIA
BOARD OF FORESTRY and Does I through X,
Respondents.


ANDERSON LOGGING, INC., WILLITS
REDWOOD COMPANY, INC., and
MENDOCINO FOREST PRODUCTS, LLC.
Real parties in Interest

Case No. 89022

Ruling on Petition for Administrative Mandate


In November 2002, respondent California Board of Forestry ("Board") adopted an
updated Management Plan ("Plan") for the 48,652 acre Jackson Demonstration State
Forest ("JDSF") to replace the existing plan which had been adopted in 1984. In that
action, the Board reviewed and considered an environmental impact report '"*EIR") which
had been previously prepared and certified by respondent California Department of
Forestry and Fire Prevention ("Department" or "CDF"). The petitioners challenge the
preparation and certification of the EIR on both procedural and substantive grounds.
They contend that the Board was the "lead agency" and that the Board, rather than CDF,
 

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[Pages 2-11 omitted]


...

Summary


The management of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest has been an area of
controversy for several years. The legislature established the state forest system for the
specific purpose of retaining the forest land "in timber production for research and
demonstration purposes" and charged CDF. as the manager of that system, "to achieve
maximum sustained production of high quality forest products while giving consideration
to values relating to recreation, watershed, wildlife, range and forage, fisheries and
aesthetic enjoyment."(16) Timber harvest from the JDSF represented 11.1% of the total
timber harvest within Mendocino County in 1991-2000 (AR: 50) and directly or
indirectly sustains approximately 550 jobs and contributes approximately $12 million in
wages. (AR: 9763-9767) Timber production in the county has declined gradually over the
last ten years, but very sharply in the last. two years. (AR: 50) The county's
unemployment rate (6.65) is 25% higher than the state average of 5.3 %. (AR: 47)
___________________


(16) Public Resources Code, Sec. 4631,4631.5,4639 and 4645.

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County residents, local employers and the timber industry are justifiably concerned about
any proposals to substantially reduce the annual timber harvest from JDSF.

A great number of people both from within and without the county believe that
the state forest system represents one of the best opportunities (and, perhaps, the last
opportunity) to remedy the over-cutting of timber and depletion of resources that has
occurred on much of the privately managed forest properties. They argue persuasively
and passionately that the primary purpose of the state forest system should be changed
from timber production to timber preservation. They have demonstrated great energy in
lobbying during the development and approval of forest management plans and a
willingness to resort to litigation, when necessary, to oppose decisions which they believe
improper.

CDF his been embroiled in this philosophical clash between opposing public
concerns for several years. Almost every one of the timber harvest plans approved within
the JDSF in recent years has been bitterly litigated. CDF must have anticipated that its
proposed JDSF Management Plan and the supporting environmental documents,
regardless of their contents and recommendations, would be microscopically examined
for any legal deficiencies. The courts may not and should not interfere with decisions that
are property made by governmental agencies and entities. However, the courts are
required by law to intercede if the decision-mailing agencies fail to follow the established
approval procedures. One of the primary purposes of CEQA. is to inform the public in
such a way that it can intelligently weigh the environmental consequences of a project
and have an appropriate voice in the formulation of the ultimate decision. (EPIC v
County of El Dorado (1982) 131 CA3d, 350, 354) To achieve these purposes, the
legislature has required that every EIR include a discussion and analysis of a number of
required topics and that this discussion be set forth in a separate section or appropriately
indexed. CDF inexplicably failed to follow the very clear legislative directives and
produced an EIR that failed to adequately discuss the environmental setting in the area
surrounding the JDSF and the cumulative impact the implementation of the management
Plan would have in combination with other activities in the area.

I realize that the burden of any suspension of logging operations within the JDSF
falls primarily and immediately upon both the employers and employees involved in

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coastal timber operations. However, the failure of CDF to prepare an EIR that complies
with the minimal statutory standards leaves me with no alternative but to direct CDF and
the Board to rescind the approval of the BIR. CDF and the Board [of Forestry] had every reason to
believe that their approval of the updated Management Plan would be subjected to close
judicial scrutiny. With that in mind, CDF and the Board should have scrupulously
followed the procedures adopted-by the legislature to minimize the risk of an inevitable
court challenge and the potential economic hardship on the management of the JDSF and
on the local timber industry. Instead, CDF virtually ignored the relatively clear guidelines
and conducted a deficient environmental review that will inevitably further delay logging
activities in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest.

Disposition
 

I find that the Board of Forestry was the project lead agency within the meaning
of Public Resources Code Sec. 21067 and that the Board failed to proceed in the manner
required by law in that It failed to certify the final EIR, to either adopt required findings
or to make a statement of overriding consideration regarding the significant
environmental impacts identified in the EIR and to specifically adopt a mitigation
measure monitoring program(17) and that such failures were prejudicial. I further find that
the EIR, upon which the Board relied in its approval of the Jackson Demonstration State
Forest Management Plan, is deficient in that it does not contain adequate discussions of
the project's environmental setting and cumulative environmental impacts.(18) Petitioners
are entitled to a writ of mandate directing respondent Board of Forestry to rescind its
November 2002 approval of the updated Jackson Demonstration State Forest
Management Plan and to make a return to the writ in not less than sixty days showing full
compliance therewith.

I further find that the conduct of timber operations will prejudice the
consideration or implementation of potential mitigation measures and could result in an
adverse change or alteration to the physical environment. The writ of mandate shall also
____________________
(17) PRC Sec. 21081 and 21081.6.
(18) Although the certification of an EIR that lacks adequate discussions of required elements, as does thesubject EIR, may constitutive prejudicial abuse of discretion, the Board did not certify this EIR. and, thus,did not abuse its discretion. However, the certification of the EIR, in to present form, would constitute a prejudicial abuse of discretion.

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enjoin respondents from conducting or allowing the conducting of any timber operations
within the meaning of Public Resources Code Sec. 4527 until further order of this court.
The injunction shall not restrain any timber operations conducted pursuant to any THP
approved prior to November 6, 2002.

Petitioners are designated as the prevailing party shall prepare, serve and submit a
proposed judgment and writ consistent with this ruling no later than August 15, 2003. If
petitioners fail to timely submit the proposed documents, respondents may prepare, serve
and submit the proposed documents. Any party, including real parties in interest, may
notice a hearing on the form of proposed judgment and writ.

Dated: July 30,2003

RICHARD J. HENDERSON
Judge of the Superior Court

Copies to Counsel
Paul V. Carroll
Charles W. Getz
James F. King

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