The Willits News
City reacts to Chesbro
Wednesday, July 07,
Topic on council agenda
Claudia Reed/Staff Writer
For an item not yet on the agenda, a proposed forest
management bill generated a lot of heat at the last meeting of the Willits
"I'm here to express opposition to (state Senator
Wes) Chesbro's forest bill," said county Supervisor Hal Wagenet during the
public communications section of the June 23 city council meeting.
The legislation in question, SB1648, would elevate
the goals of "study, maintenance, restoration, education, recreation, and
public enjoyment" to the same status as the existing "maximum sustainable
timber production" at Jackson State Forest.
The bill has passed in the state senate and is
making its way though various committees in the state assembly. It's
expected to be placed on the agenda of the July 14 city council meeting
for purposes of review and comment.
"It's too bad they waited until they were 99 percent
through the process before asking for our opinion," said Councilman Bruce
Wagenet had the same reaction, adding that comments
from the board of supervisors were not included in the senate's public
hearing on the matter.
Wagenet charged SB1648 leads in the direction of
"making parks out of almost everything." He protested the "veto power" of
the advisory committee established by the bill, predicting committee
members would make decisions based on personal opinion, rather than on
science. He also predicted that acres of second growth forest would become
inappropriately off-limits to logging.
"The goal was to bring second-growth to this point
to harvest," he said.
Chesbro's aide, Jennifer Puser, was on hand to
refute the charges and explain the apparent lack of communication:
"We apologize to the locals for not consulting them
earlier. There was a May 25 deadline to get bills out of the house of
Puser said the "veto," a requirement that committee
members approve timber harvest plans before they are forwarded to the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), would be in
place only until a new management plan is prepared. The former plan,
developed by the CDF, has been successfully challenged in the courts.
The temporary nature of the veto may not have been
made clear in an earlier version of the bill. The address for the most
recent version is www.linfo.ca/gov/.
The second-growth issue refers to 12,000 acres that
haven't been logged for 80 to 100 years, a sticking point in planning
negotiations. The definition of old-growth trees, made off-limits by this
bill, includes an age of at least 154 years.
The bill, Puser pointed out, allows logging "to the
extent necessary to finance basic state forest operations" before the new
management plan is in place. As matters now stand no logging is permitted.
"Most timber company representatives are happy with
the bill," she said. "We hope this is a compromise both sides can live
The bill also requires the state to "reimburse local
agencies and school districts" for any revenue lost through harvesting
The advisory committee would be required to have
two-thirds its membership "without financial interest in the harvesting,
processing, transporting or selling of timber products" associated with
forest ownership of more than 2,500 acres. Two of the members would be
nominated by the state senator in the forest district, two by the state
assembly member, and two by the county board of supervisors.
There would have to be at least one member from each
of these categories: a professional forester not now or recently employed
by "an industrial timberland owner or CDF; a representative of the
county's timber industry; and an affiliate of the University of California
or of California State University.