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Balanced approach for managing Jackson forest
July 1, 2004
By WESLEY CHESBRO
The Humboldt County community where I live and served on the City Council,
is the site of a unique publicly-owned resource called the Arcata
Community Forest. Since 1979, as the result of a local voter-approved
initiative, the city has managed this second growth forest in a way that
balances sustainable production with forest practices that protect
wildlife and environmental resources and encourage public recreational
For decades, forestry issues on the North Coast have deeply divided our
communities along stark lines: good vs. bad, new vs. old, logger vs.
environmentalist. But the experience of the Arcata Community Forest
demonstrates that there is another way: people working together to find
sensible solutions. Publicly owned forests provide a unique opportunity to
demonstrate that a new type of forest management is possible.
Jackson Demonstration State Forest is the largest of California's eight
forests and is also the largest publicly owned forest in the redwood
region between the Bay Area and Humboldt County. When the forest was
created as a public demonstration forest, the management direction was to
achieve maximum sustained production of high quality forest products.
However, after more than 50 years of maximum production, we need to
revisit how the forest is managed in order to minimize the negative
impacts on our fisheries, wildlife and recreational opportunities.
The effort to update the 1947-era management mandate for Jackson forest is
a story about people trying to settle long-standing differences over how
to manage a unique public asset. My bill, SB 1648, is the vehicle for a
compromise between the community, environmentalists and the timber
industry. Not everyone will be pleased with every provision. However,
major concerns have been considered and addressed. SB 1648 creates a
framework for moving forward cooperatively.
When I introduced SB 1648, I knew the process would be difficult. However,
my goal has been to make SB 1648 the vehicle for compromise. After four
years of no logging because of lawsuits, we need a balanced approach for
sustainable production that creates jobs and helps the local economy. In
addition, we want forest practices that protect wildlife and environmental
resources and encourage public recreational use. I believe SB 1648
accomplishes both goals.
Specifically, the bill does the following:
Implements the 1998 recommendations of the Department of Forestry's
Citizens Advisory Committee.
Continues the important role of research, expanding the current focus on
studying the impacts of harvesting techniques to also include research on
fisheries, watershed restoration and wildlife protection.
Establishes a permanent broadly based advisory committee to facilitate
communication between the public and the California Board of Forestry,
which has overall management decision-making authority and the California
Department of Forestry, which runs the forest on a day to day basis.
Permanently protects the old growth forest remaining at Jackson.
In addition, management must demonstrate how to balance sustained
production of high quality timber products with maintaining and restoring
high quality habitat in a way that provides ample opportunities for
research, recreation, education and public enjoyment.
Except for specific research purposes, the entire timber program will
implement uneven-aged management, eliminating clear-cutting.
Questions about forest management bring out strong opinions on the North
Coast, and people have not been shy in telling me how Jackson should be
managed. Those views have been central in putting together a new
management mandate that makes sense for the 21st Century. For more
information on the bill please go to
Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, represents California's 2nd Senatorial District.