Ukiah Daily Journal
Ukiah City Council: City backs forest bill
Friday, August 06, 2004 -
Residents who speak voice opposition to Chesbro's SB 1648
BY DAVID EDWARDS/The Daily Journal
The Ukiah City Council gave more of a jingling endorsement -- as
opposed to a ringing one -- to a contentious forest bill Wednesday.
In fact, Mayor Eric Larson spoke so softly in his motion to support the
bill that Council member Phil Baldwin, who sits next to Larson, said, "I
thought I heard your words I move,' so I second that."
Nonetheless, the council unanimously approved a letter of conditional
support for SB 1648.
The legislation, drafted by Sen. Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, proposes a
variety of changes to the management of the Jackson Demonstration State
Located in the mountains northwest of Ukiah, the forest has ignited a
fierce debate between logging and environmental interests. Lawsuits and
subsequent rulings have stymied commercial logging there for three years.
Most of the citizens who spoke at Wednesday's meeting opposed the bill.
A couple of them used the word "unnecessary" to describe it.
The only common thread of the opposing speakers, though, was their
opposition. The criticisms grew in number and in breadth throughout the
"If you vote for this bill, you're voting for a pig in a poke, because
you don't know what you're getting," Bill Smith, a retired forester from
Ukiah, told the council. "Their avowed intent is to turn Jackson State
Forest into a park. We need to send a message to industry that we are
supportive, and I think this bill is the final nail in the coffin of
industry in Mendocino County."
However, in a June 30 letter to Ukiah City Manager Candace Horsley,
Chesbro wrote, "We are not creating a park." He emphasized the statement
by writing it in bold type.
Julie Bawcom, an engineering geologist at the forest, also spoke
against the bill.
"The senator or his staff never came out for a tour of Jackson
Demonstration State Forest," Bawcom said. "The bill was written without
any firsthand knowledge of the forest, and it's inconceivable to me how
that could happen.
"You're trying to mandate science; science and politics don't go
together. We don't need this legislation. It will open up a can of worms,
and it will haunt us for many years."
Bawcom told The Ukiah Daily Journal after the meeting she was speaking
as an individual citizen, not as a representative of the California
Members of Chesbro's staff were not surprised by the amount of public
criticism at Wednesday's meeting.
Darby Kernan, a Chesbro spokeswoman, said the senator knew from the
beginning his bill struck many community nerves. In bringing the competing
interests into the discussion, he practically invited a political
That's exactly what has happened. On Wednesday, though, Chesbro aide
Jennifer Puser won over the council enough to earn the city's blessing.
Larson suggested the city pattern its letter after one written by the
Point Arena City Council. That letter highlighted several parts of the
bill Point Arena officials particularly liked.
Chesbro's struggle for passage of the bill has covered multiple fronts.
In the first place, he's had to deal with the tangle of the legislative
process. Then he faced the challenge of reaching a compromise with all the
parties involved. Finally, he had to garner the support of several local
A couple of sticking points remain in the bill and must be hammered
out. In spite of that, though, even the most critical of the local
government agencies -- the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors --
reconsidered its position.
Larson and the rest of the Ukiah City Council stressed that they
support many of the bill's concepts, such as resuming logging at Jackson
State Forest. In the end, they gave a thumbs-up, just not all the way.
"I have concerns about the bill, but they're dwindling," Larson said.
"I think there are worthwhile concerns raised by parties that have far
more at stake than we."