September 16, 2004. With his veto of SB 1648,
Schwarzenegger killed a moderate, compromise bill strongly supported by
the public and the environmental community, acceptable to the two firms
with the largest timber mills in Mendocino County, sponsored by district
Senator, and passed by the legislature. The only organized opposition
came from the California Department of Forestry (CDF) and its
What seems apparent is that the
governor is surrounded by people whose primary allegiance is to timber
production, not forest protection nor even protection of publicly owned
forests. In a fair hearing before an impartial governor, SB 1648 would
have been signed into law. (See,
For the Record)
The governor's veto of SB 1648 is only
the latest evidence that big timber is in firm control of Governor
Schwarzenegger when it comes to forestry policy and staffing.
Early on the governor appointed a
former timber industry lobbyist,
as undersecretary for legislation in the Resources Agency, home of the
California Department of Forestry.
More recently and more revealing of the
influence of the timber industry in the Schwarzenegger administration is
the story of the purging of Bob Heald from the Board of Forestry and his
replacement by a pro-timber, ex-CDF person.
Bob Heald was one of the five public
(as opposed to timber-industry) member of the Board of Forestry. He was
appointed by Governor Pete Wilson on June 17, 1992, re-appointed in 1996,
and was again re-appointed in 2000 by Governor Gray Davis. Mr. Heald is a
Registered Professional Forester and is Forest Manager for the University
of California's Blodgett Forest Research Station. He was always a
progressive, informed member of the board.
Governor Schwarzenegger declined to
reappoint him and instead appointed Nancy Drinkard to fill his public
member seat. As reported in the LA Times
on September 10, this appointment was strongly opposed by citizens who
were familiar with her pro-logging record in Santa Cruz county.
More shockingly, according to a Santa
Cruz environmentalist, Schwarzenegger had appointed Drinkard prior to
asking for public and legislative evaluations and then delayed informing
the legislature, as required by law, until after the legislature had
adjourned for the year. Details.
Schwarzenegger has said. "The
environment? No problem." Well, his record on forest protection looks
like a big problem.
Timber industry influence is explored
further in How
Come the Timber Industry Controls California Forestry Policy?