Ft. Bragg Advocate-News
City Council is undecided
Thursday, July 29, 2004 -
Sen. Wes Chesbro's field representative, Jennifer Puser, addressed
the newest changes in his Senate Bill 1648 during a special Fort Bragg
City Council meeting last Friday. The bill would change the focus of
California's state forest management from heavy timber production to
Puser said the most recent version of the bill was to be heard by
the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday morning, July 27.
She said the committee will have future hearings during which
changes can be made, adding that the most important will be the
interim harvest issue whether timber can be harvested during the
change over if the bill passes.
She summarized the changes, saying a few major components that have
been proposed include: no clear-cutting, multiple use mandates for the
state forests and appointment of a citizens advisory committee.
Puser said there were various changes to the bill's language, but
not to the intent.
Of JDSF's 48,652 acres, the amended bill says, "Among the forest
stands at Jackson are 11 small groves of old growth forest totaling
459 acres. In recognition of their unique qualities and regional
scarcity they will be permanently protected. In addition to the old
growth, somewhat less than 12,000 acres of the forest have not been
entered for timber harvest since 1925 or earlier. These stands are
uncommon biological, cultural and timber assets in the region. The
timber inventory of these stands shall be maintained separate from the
forest inventory as a whole, and harvest per decade in the actively
managed portion of these stands shall not exceed growth."
The new language also specified that at least some of these stands,
to be identified by management, shall be used for demonstrations that
employ scientific methodology to explore a variety of means.
Puser said forest dollars will go first to fund activities in the
forest, management and infrastructure.
A few people spoke in opposition to the bill, some supported it
with more changes, but even supporters of SB1648 did not accept it as
a final solution. Several people said they would support the bill but
that it was not the bill they would have written.
This included Jackson State Forest advocate Vince Taylor who said
management of JDSF has " ... ended up as a controversy that has deeply
divided our community." He said he'd like to see the community working
together. "The bill provides the kind of opportunity to end the
controversy...," he said.
He reminded everyone that the forests belong to all the people of
California and should be enjoyed by all.
Taylor said, "I think what Sen. Chesbro has done in this bill is
create something that really addresses the interest of everyone who is
concerned about this forest." He said SB1648 has given more than a
fair share to concerns of the timber industry because Chesbro
recognized that historically the industry has been a very important
part of this community. He has also put in something about habitat,
clean water and recreation to address the many concerns people have.
Chris Rowney, CDF's Deputy Chief in charge of state forest
programs, said CDF opposes SB1648. Rowney was formerly a member of the
state Board of Forestry.
He said some of the bill's elements regarding definitions were
apparently modified in the new version, but he hadn't had time to
review it. He said the apparent lack of change in other significant
parts of SB1648 is what CDF is objecting to. And, the change of the
mission of the state forests statewide, he said, has significant
He said the state Board of Forestry accepted the present JDSF
timber management plan and is the lead agency on the new environmental
impact report, which was required following a lawsuit brought by
Taylor's JDSF campaign.
Rowney asked why the bill is necessary. He said it locks in place a
single course with no change. He questioned the process that would
allow harvesting to begin next year when there is a "no logging" court
order put in place by Judge Henderson. He questioned why there is no
resolution in the bill that addresses this.
Bill Heil, coast resident, thanked Sen. Chesbro and his aides for
having the courage to "bite the bullet" on this issue and actually
introduce the bill.
He said over the years he'd watched land devastated by
Louisiana-Pacific and vowed there must be a better way to do things.
Heil said, "I depend on trees being cut since I am a sawmiller." He
said it was hard for small sawmillers to get logs out of JDSF.
His dream for Jackson State Forest is that it would be a model of
restoration. "I don't think this mandate [SB1648] says that is what is
going to happen. I do think it moves in the direction ...."
Heil said he'd been involved with JDSF since the mandate of 1948,
which was how the forest was being managed. There was no way to make a
substantial change without getting that mandate changed. A citizen's
advisory committee was formed, of which he was a member.
He said, "I'd like to think that CDF could write a management plan
that would meet the objectives of a citizens advisory committee, but
they had a chance and failed." Heil commented that the present manager
of JDSF and the present manager of state forest land are both former
employees of Georgia Pacific.
Another speaker, Alis Valencia, a Fort Bragg resident, said the
dispute over the future of JDSF has become more intense with the
introduction of the bill. She said the intent of the legislation is to
end the stalemate that has halted logging in JDSF because of lawsuits.
and to expand the mandate of the forest beyond maximum sustained
"The bill has led to dialogue concerning particulars...," she said.
She referred to restoration as a growth industry, generating new
jobs. She said Humboldt County has a restoration program.
Valencia said that in a study, "the Ford Foundation found that
300,000 restoration jobs were created."
She said exploring economic opportunity is a "way to go," and that
SB1648 opens the door to that.
Cathy Bailey, a Sierra Club member who has been working in
negotiations on the bill, said, "I want to see sustained ecology."
She said it is crucial to get together with CDF and find out what
their plans are. She added that it is reasonable to plan a one-year
prescription for starting harvesting.
Bailey said even-aged management includes a number of techniques,
of which clear cut is one. She recommended uneven-aged management of
the forests except for demonstration purposes.
Doug Hammerstrom expressed his frustration with government, but
said that wasn't the way to take a stand. He suggested that council
members encourage a positive stance, propose changes, and find a
position they can support rather than taking a negative position.
Paul Etter, a registered professional forester and ecology advisor,
agreed with Hammerstrom, that the Fort Bragg City Council should take
a stand in support of the bill but not as it is written. He disagreed
with some elements of the bill, saying it doesn't address all of the
Jim Little, a county planning commissioner and logger from
Branscomb, said one issue is still unresolved. "How do we get back to
work in the shortest possible time?" he asked, adding that he doesn't
see anything in the amended bill that speaks to this.
The council did not vote in opposition to SB1648, but will write a
letter asking that more changes be made before they could support the
bill. Most council members did not want the 12,000 acres to be
considered separately, and they wanted a definition written in on
Little said that he'd done more than 200 timber harvest plans and
"clear cutting is not a system I use much."
Council member Dan Gjerde said, in support of the bill, that he
doesn't want to see it watered down too much.
He was told by another council member that he was welcome to write
a letter in support of the bill as long as he doesn't use city
letterhead, or sign all of the council members' names.