Actions Show Big Timber in Control of the Governor

September, 2004. With his veto of SB 1648, Schwarzenegger killed a moderate, compromise bill strongly supported by the public and the environmental community, acceptable to the two firms with the largest timber mills in Mendocino County, sponsored by district Senator, and passed by the legislature. The only organized opposition came from the California Department of Forestry (CDF) and its timber-industry allies.

What seems apparent is that the governor is surrounded by people whose primary allegiance is to timber production, not forest protection nor even protection of publicly owned forests. In a fair hearing before an impartial governor, SB 1648 would have been signed into law. (See, For the Record)

The governor's veto of SB 1648 is only the latest evidence that big timber is in firm control of Governor Schwarzenegger when it comes to forestry policy and staffing.

Early on the governor appointed a former timber industry lobbyist, Melinda Terry, as undersecretary for legislation in the Resources Agency, home of the California Department of Forestry.

More recently and more revealing of the influence of the timber industry in the Schwarzenegger administration is the story of the purging of Bob Heald from the Board of Forestry and his replacement by a pro-timber, ex-CDF person.

Bob Heald was one of the five public (as opposed to timber-industry) member of the Board of Forestry. He was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson on June 17, 1992, re-appointed in 1996, and was again re-appointed in 2000 by Governor Gray Davis. Mr. Heald is a Registered Professional Forester and is Forest Manager for the University of California's Blodgett Forest Research Station. He was always a progressive, informed member of the board.

Governor Schwarzenegger declined to reappoint him and instead appointed Nancy Drinkard to fill his public member seat. As reported in the LA Times on September 10, this appointment was strongly opposed by citizens who were familiar with her pro-logging record in Santa Cruz county.

More shockingly, according to a Santa Cruz environmentalist, Schwarzenegger had appointed Drinkard prior to asking for public and legislative evaluations and then delayed informing the legislature, as required by law, until after the legislature had adjourned for the year. Details.

Schwarzenegger has said. "The environment? No problem." Well, his record on forest protection looks like a big problem.

Timber industry influence is explored further in How Come the Timber Industry Controls California Forestry Policy?

Vince Taylor
Executive Director
Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest