June 7, 2007
Dear Chairman Dixon and Members of the Board:
We appear to be close
to successfully negotiating the long, difficult and slippery road to
getting Jackson Forest back into operation. I congratulate and commend
the Board and the Department of Forestry for their willingness during the
last year to encourage and support a broadly inclusive process for
developing the new Alternative G for Jackson Forest.
In April of 2006, the
then-new Director of CDF invited me to meet with him and staff – the
first time in the six years of the Campaign that I received an invitation
from anyone in CDF to discuss the issues. Director Grijalva emphasized
his willingness to explore new solutions and to work toward consensus.
Following up on this beginning, four people from the Mendocino County
timber industry – Mike Anderson, Bruce Burton, Art Harwood, and Mike Jani
-- myself, and Kathy Bailey of the Sierra Club formed a working group to
find common ground. When approached, the Board enthusiastically endorsed
In November of 2006,
our group published a set of recommendations, supported by all but one
member of the group, that constituted a roadmap for resuming operation of
Jackson Forest and developing a long-range plan for the forest. Both the
Board of Forestry and Director Grijalva pledged to work with the
Mendocino working group to incorporate their recommendations, to the
extent feasible, in the next round of environmental documents and
management actions for Jackson Forest.
I believe that this
decision reflected an understanding that the compromises embedded in the
working group's recommendations provide the only way of putting to rest
the conflicts that have kept Jackson Forest shut down for seven years.
Everyone is anxious to end the stalemate.
I'm happy to say that,
with one major exception, the key points of compromise have been
incorporated in Alternative G: An interim period when harvests will be
restricted in amount and kind and during which an advisory committee will
work with the department to develop a long-term landscape plan and
revised management plan. There are several minor issues that need to be
addressed during the comment period, but only one major issue – the
principles for determining the kinds and amounts of harvesting
(silvicultural) methods to be used in managing the forest.
presently incorporates the principle that the forest be managed to
provide a broad range of diverse conditions to accommodate possible
future research projects. This is interpreted in Alternative G to require
a substantial amount of the forest area (26 percent) be managed with
clearcutting and other related "even-age" techniques. An additional 15
percent is to be managed with group selection (small clearcuts up to
2-1/2 acres). This principle and its interpretation differs radically
from the working group's.
The working group
recommended that clearcutting and other even-age management be limited
to, and I quote, "well
justified research projects and as necessary to promote stand health. The
size and scope of these projects should be no larger than the minimum
needed for scientific validity."
The key difference
between the two principles is that, in the one case, clearcutting
variations can be widely applied without being related to a specific,
reviewed and justified research project and plan, whereas in the other, a
defined specific project of minimum size is required.
The working group
principles, and I personally, accept clearcut harvests that are tied to
a reviewed and approved research plan, but not to such harvests vaguely
related to "possible future research opportunities."
For Alternative G to
be acceptable, the fuzzy concept of providing for possible, unspecified
future research opportunities needs to be replaced with a more defined
principle or process tied to a research plan whose costs and benefits are
capable of being evaluated and compared to those of alternative plans.
I respectfully request
that the Board give direction to staff to cooperate with the working
group during the comment period to develop language that will meet the
need to make Jackson Forest responsive to its research mission while at
the same time appropriately valuing the ecological and recreational
values of this public forest.
June 7, 2007