Illegal Bids
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Jackson State Forest Timber Sales Charged Illegal

June 4, 2003 Press Release For Immediate Release
Contact Vince Taylor, Ph.D. (707) 937-3001

The California Department of Forestry (CDF) has run into a new obstacle in its attempts to log Jackson State Forest. CDF is court fighting a charge that a new management plan for the forest fails to meet California environmental laws. While awaiting a ruling on a request for a preliminary injunction filed by the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, CDF has now been charged by the Campaign with trying to sell over $7 million of timber at below market prices.

Commenting on the Campaign’s charge, Dr. Vince Taylor, Executive Director of the Campaign, said, "It is totally inappropriate for the state to be selling logs from our publicly owned redwood forest when there are serious questions about the adequacy of the environmental review of its management plan. To sell the public forest at below-market prices would pile injury upon abuse. We’ve asked the legal office of the Department of General Services to ensure that all state laws are being followed before approving the contracts."

In a letter to the Department of General Services, which is reviewing two contracts for logging in Jackson State, the Campaign alleges that the state erred in putting the contracts out for bid when there was a clear risk of that the logging would be enjoined by court order. The letter quotes a court declaration by Christopher Rowney, Deputy Chief, State Forest Program Manager in which he states that the risk of an injunction lowers bid offers and results in the state being offered less than the prevailing market value for its timber. The letter concludes, "If the law requires that assets of the state not be sold for less than their full value, the pending sales should be voided."

The Campaign also raised other questions about the bidding process. It says that the Jackson timber sales are so large that competitive bidding is impossible given the shrunken state of the Northern California timber industry? Each of the contracts is equal to about 10% of all of the timber harvested in 2002 in Mendocino County, where Jackson State Forest is located. Because there are only a few mills big enough to finance such bids, only two bids were received on each contract -- and the firms involved trade logs with each other. The letter asked DGS to determine whether, under these circumstances, the bidding process met state requirements for competitive bidding.

The Campaign further asked DGS to investigate the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of the winning bidder in the Brandon Gulch sale and the awarding of the contract to the second bidder. The second bid was over $700,000 lower that the first bid. CDF had the option of rebidding the contract but chose not to do so. The Campaign asks DGS to determine whether it was legal for CDF to accept the much lower second bid rather that rebidding the contract.

See the full text of the letter to the Department of General Services