Thursday, September 09, 2004
By PEIJEAN TSAI/Ukiah Daily Journal
Calling its final version a historic compromise, North Coast
Senator Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata) said last week he is confident that
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will approve his bill for a new
direction of Mendocino County's Jackson Demonstration State
Forest, the largest of California's eight state forests.
After long negotiations, Chesbro's controversial legislation,
SB 1648, passed out of the state Legislature late Tuesday, Aug.
31, the last night of session. The governor has a Sept. 30
deadline to sign or veto it.
In an interview, Chesbro called the legislation a step forward
for Mendocino County residents.
"I've created better protections for the environment, while
breaking the gridlock over logging in the forest," Chesbro said
SB 1648 calls for managing the 50,000-acre Jackson state forest
in a manner that would 3provide sustainable timber production,
while implementing conservation and restoration goals.
Working with the two largest lumber companies in Mendocino
County Mendocino Forest Products and Harwood Forest Products SB
1648 has been amended to allow a harvest of up to 15 million board
feet of timber per year for three years, while managers prepare a
new environmental impact report as required by the courts. Two
environmentalist groups had sued the California Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection, which manages the forest, alleging
shortfalls in its management plan. Amidst the legal battle,
logging was halted at the forest.
The final bill is a compromise between both the timber industry
and environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Chesbro said.
"Timber issues are always contentious and divisive on the North
Coast, and bringing the sides together around the compromise is a
significant achievement," Chesbro said.
The bill focuses on scientific research, timber harvest
production, restoration of forest land resources, education and
public enjoyment. SB 1648 would also prohibit clear cutting and
the cutting of old growth timber.
On top of protecting the environment, the local community will
benefit with jobs restored in the lumber industry, the senator
said. The state will also benefit from $3 million to $5 million in
revenues since logging was stopped, offering to help the state
with its budget problem, Chesbro said.
If signed by the governor, the bill would take effect Jan. 1.
Chesbro said he expects that logging would begin by next spring.
He said he is hopeful that CDF, which has $2.3 million budgeted
this fiscal year to manage the forest, will not delay processing
the harvest plans.