Ukiah Daily Journal
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 -
BY DAVID EDWARDS/The Daily Journal
If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is counting on Mendocino County's
input on a controversial forestry bill, he'll have to check his
mailbox more than once.
Local foresters and business leaders sent an unmistakable message
to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. The message was
this: Tell Schwarzenegger to terminate SB 1648.
But more than an hour's worth of discussion and public comment went
for naught. Tripping over a technicality, the board scrapped the idea
of a joint letter. Chairman Hal Wagenet capped the proceedings by
suggesting supervisors write letters individually.
That means Mendocino County will project a public front of disunity
on a bill that has a direct impact on the county.
SB 1648 is the handiwork of Sen. Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, who hoped
to resume commercial logging at Jackson Demonstration State Forest,
located in northwestern Mendocino County.
Jobs and revenue from logging at the forest used to prop up the
local economy. That changed when a Caspar environmental group, Friends
of Jackson State Forest, filed a successful lawsuit to stop all
commercial logging at JDSF.
Chesbro sought a compromise. He wanted to see logging resume at the
forest, and he also tried to balance environmental concerns. His bill
has gone through numerous revisions on its way to the governor's desk.
Mike Delbar, the 1st District supervisor, said the bill's language
"It takes the original purpose of management and conservation and
changes it to preservation," Delbar said. "I have already sent my
letter to the governor opposing this."
Wagenet, the board chairman and 3rd District supervisor, said the
Sierra Club inserted a new section just before the bill went to the
"We would be remiss in our duties . . . if we did not take into
account how this came into existence," he said.
In June, board members sent a letter to Chesbro stating their
opposition. Chesbro then reworked the bill, mindful of the county's
The Ukiah City Council voted in August to write a letter of
conditional support for the bill. Most members of the public at that
meeting spoke against Chesbro's legislation.
Not much had changed by Tuesday. Almost everyone who addressed the
supervisors Tuesday urged a letter asking for the governor's veto of
the bill. The audience included several professional foresters, who
chafed at the change in forest management the bill would introduce.
They expressed their continued distaste for Chesbro's suggestion
that a citizen's advisory committee take over the management of JDSF.
Their comments expanded upon a recurrent theme: let professional
foresters do their job, keep bureaucracy out of any strategy and give
local people the chance to work out a solution.
As one sawmill owner described the situation, "Advisory overload is
about to occur."
Forest Tilley, a former manager of JDSF, was one of the foresters
who reacted to the implication that untrained citizens can do the job
"This bill is an affront to our past management," he said. "So I
would ask you to support a veto vote."
Parliamentary procedure intervened when the board tried to do that.
Fifth District Supervisor J. David Colfax had already asked the board
to consider a letter of support.
Because the agenda specified that, a letter of opposition was an
off-agenda topic. Therefore, it required a four-fifths vote. Colfax
eventually withdrew his motion, and only three supervisors voted to
switch the tenor of the letter. With that, any possibility of a joint
letter -- either supporting or opposing the bill -- vanished.
Colfax sensed the impasse and conceded defeat.
"It is my bet -- and I'm not a betting person -- that if we do not
pass this bill, we will have an even longer period of litigation,"
Colfax said. "As bad as this bill is in the eyes of many, it's the
best we have."
He asked opponents of the bill to consider that other people
approach the issue with the same zeal and dedication, but with a
He concluded by adding, "At least we gave this bill a fair