Acting without regard for
their environmental responsibilities, the public, or the courts, the
California Department of Forestry (CDF) and the Board of Forestry are
attempting to circumvent a court injunction that halted logging in Jackson
At the request of
CDF, the Board of Forestry recently amended its policies governing state
forests to remove the requirement that operations conform to a "current
management plan," thus eliminating the primary basis for the court's
decision. CDF has now filed a motion to dismiss the injunction and
suit on the grounds that "it can no longer be said that there is a
'violation' of Board policy in not maintaining the management plan ...
'current' simply because that policy no longer exists."
Having the ability to
amend forest policies to make them whatever they want, gives CDF and Board
of Forestry a decided legal advantage. But, while they may be able to
nullify the lawsuit, they cannot change the facts.
Judge Henderson said
in his decision, "Even a casual review of the  Plan reveals
that the conditions on which it was developed eighteen years ago have
changed dramatically." Further, based on extensive evidence presented
to the court, he found that logging under the outdated 1983 management plan
was likely to result in "substantial and
possibly irreparable harm" to
The plans that were
halted by the injunction would log the oldest and most ecologically
valuable second-growth redwood stands in the forest. They are in the
section of the forest most heavily used for recreation. A premier
hiking trail runs through the middle of one of them.
In acting to
circumvent the court, CDF and the Board of Forestry apparently are
unconcerned that their actions will do irreparable harm to a redwood
forest owned by the people of California. In light of their actions,
one must ask, "Are they appropriate guardians of our public forest?"
CDF's and the Board
of Forestry's lack of concern for public resources raises broader questions
about their role in protecting the public's interests in the vast private
timberlands of California.
Because of this
story's significance, we have created an
annotated chronology with references to
an extensive collection of letters and documents.
An abbreviated version of the
unfolding story follows below. A longer version of CDF's and the
Board of Forestry's actions to amend policies and authorize continued
logging is available.
On May 18, 2001, acting on a lawsuit brought by the
Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, the Superior Court of
Mendocino issued a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the California
Department of Forestry (CDF) from logging in Jackson State Forest under its
long-outdated 1983 Management Plan.
after the decision, CDF and its oversight body, the Board of Forestry,
began discussing how to undercut the court
ruling. They gave no weight to Judge Hendersonís
finding that further logging under the old plan was likely to result in
"substantial and possibly irreparable harm."
They appear to have cared only that his ruling
stopped the flow of profits from Jackson State --
profits that were funding a slew of state forestry programs.
CDF and the Board of Forestry developed a plan to amend the
policies governing state forest to remove the existing requirement that
operations on state forests be conducted under a "current management plan,"
thereby eliminating the primary basis for the
courtís injunction. Then, having removed that requirement, the plan was for
the Board immediately to authorize a resumption of logging under the 1983
All of this was to be done so
quickly that the public would not have time to
organize opposition. CDF and the Board
gave no public warning of their intent to circumvent the court until two
items signaling this intent appeared on the agenda
posted on June 29 for the Board of
Forestry meeting of July 12. Further, the meeting was to be held in San
Bernadino, about as far from Jackson State Forest as they could get.
The Board Acts - and Hesitates
At the meeting, the Board ignored all requests,
including one from Assemblyperson Virginia Strom-Martin, to delay
consideration of the two items. They quickly amended board policy to
eliminate the requirement for a current
management plan. They did so after being made
fully aware by CDF's Chief Counsel that CDF planned to file for dismissal
of the court's injunction once the amendment passed.
The Board then
took up a resolution to authorize a
resumption of logging in Jackson State under the old management plan. In
retrospect, now that CDF has filed for dismissal of the suit, it appears
superfluous. Perhaps it was planned as backup, in case the policy
amendment fails to persuade the court. At the time, the resolution
seemed the greatest threat to the forest. Based on the Board's quick
action on the policy amendment, the resolution seemed headed for easy
impassioned and fact-filled testimony of Kathy Bailey of the Sierra Club,
combined with a happy CDF miscue and Board time
constraints, caused the Board to table further
consideration of the resolution until August.
At the time, it seemed that the immediate threat of
further logging had been averted.
The resolution to authorize
continued logging in Jackson State did not appear on
the August Board agenda. Instead, CDF filed to
have the court's injunction against further logging dismissed on the
grounds that the changed policy eliminated grounds for the injunction.
Internal Documents Undercut CDF
Right after the July Board meeting, the Campaign
internal CDF documents written by senior CDF staff in 1994. These
dramatically undercut the Board and CDFís argument that there is no harm in
continuing to log under the 1983 plan. They state unequivocally that the
1983 plan did not even then "reflect current legal, social, or economic
concerns," and that it was based on "policies from the dark ages of
American forestry." The Campaign immediately distributed these documents to
state legislators, CDF and Resource staff, and the Board of Forestry.
Distribution of the these
documents did not deter CDF from it pre-determined course of action.
In the letter informing the Campaign of its filing of action to dismiss the
suit, CDF's attorney responded to the documents by saying CDF would "assert
privilege" and make a "motion to suppress" them as evidence. Again,
CDF has chosen to ignore the facts, even those produced by it own senior
staff, apparently blinded by its need for logging revenues from Jackson
If you want more details,
read the full story.
Reform Is Needed
The determination of CDF and the Board
of Forestry to log Jackson State show that they cannot be relied upon to
safeguard the values contained in this major publicly owned forest.
Reform is urgently needed.
To ensure the future safety of
Jackson State forest, we need to pass legislation
to reform the purposes and management of state forests. If you
are not a member, please join the
Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest