Proposed Bill to Reform Management at Jackson Forest

The 50,000 acre Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) near Ft. Bragg is, by far, the largest publicly owned forest in the redwood region from Mendocino County to the Bay Area. About 10,000 acres are groves around 100 years old, some of the last old redwoods in a region that has been stripped of old forest by industrial timber companies.

Managed by the California Department of Forestry (CDF), Jackson has been the focus of protests and calls for reform since at least 1996. Litigation by the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest recently forced CDF to update Jackson’s Management Plan, its first update since 1983.

CDF received 4800 comments asking that the forest be preserved for habitat, recreation, and education and only 49 in favor of CDF’s plan. Despite this overwhelming public outcry, CDF and the Board of Forestry approved a new Management Plan that designates most of Jackson’s oldest forest groves for commercial logging, would clearcut one-half of the forest under the misleading guise of "variable retention," and adopts streamside measure that are much less protective than the recommendations of federal agencies for the region.

In response, Sierra Club has drafted reform legislation. Senator Wes Chesbro, who represents the district where Jackson is located, has been asked to carry the bill. So far, Senator Chesbro has not made a commitment.

Here’s what the legislation would require at Jackson:

  • Logging in groves over 80 years old would be limited to operations consistent with development of late seral (old-growth forest) characteristics.
  • Clearcutting, defined as the removal of more than 70% of the timber volume per acre would be prohibited.
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Salmonid Conservation Measures would be applied to a major watershed
  • The 5,426-acre Mendocino Woodlands Recreation Demonstration Area would be managed for late seral (old forest) development. This area surrounds a state park.
  • An inter-agency technical advisory committee would be established.
  • A 9-person citizen’s advisory committee would be appointed by the Secretary of Resources, including a wildlife biologist, fisheries biologist, geologist, representative of the visitor serving community, and three members of the general public nominated by elected representatives. The committee would have a majority of members without a financial interest in the timber industry and the majority would also come from Mendocino County.