|Back Row: Marc
Jameson, Russ Henly, Bill Snyder
Front Row: Kate Dargan, Kathy Bailey, Crawford Tuttle, Vince
June 23, 2006.
Signaling a welcome change at the top, managers of the California
Department of Forestry (CDF) came from Sacramento to Jackson Forest
expressly to tour the forest with Kathy Bailey of the Sierra Club and me,
Vince Taylor, Executive Director of the Campaign to Restore Jackson State
In April, I was invited to meet with Ruben Grijalva,
the newly appointed Director of the California Department of Forestry,
and his staff in Sacramento. All present stated their desire to find a
way out of the impasse that has shut down all timber operations in
Jackson Forest since 2001.
I approached the
meeting with hope but fear that CDF would maintain the stonewall that has
prevented all progress on Jackson Forest reform for six years. To my
surprise and delight, Mr. Grijalva quickly expressed a willingness to
explore new solutions and seek consensus.
Early in the meeting, I
said that to get an acceptable solution, CDF must be willing to fund its
unrelated forestry programs from sources other than cutting trees in
Jackson Forest. In the 1990s, timber revenues from Jackson funded almost
one-third of the total budget of CDF. The drive for timber revenue led to
the neglect of other forest values and, ultimately, to the formation of
the Campaign. Until this point, CDF had steadfastly refused to consider
lowering its timber harvests to promote other forest values. Jackson
revenue was viewed as too important to sacrifice.
Mr. Grijalva replied that he had
already publicly stated that he was willing to fund the department's
forestry programs from alternative sources, and that he meant it.
Suddenly, the discussion moved beyond fixed positions to seeking mutually
acceptable solutions. The rest of the long meeting affirmed that a breath
of fresh air has blown into CDF.
I believe that CDF is committed to
seeking a consensus on how to manage Jackson Forest for broad public
benefit. The Campaign has been invited to participate in the process of
reaching consensus. We welcome the invitation and pledge to work
constructively and honestly with all parties.
There is still a long way to go, but
a major obstacle that has halted progress is now gone. The prospects
for preserving and restoring Jackson Forest are the brightest they have
It is too early to celebrate, but not too early to thank
all of those who have contributed their time, energy, words, prayers, and
dollars to reach this point.