June 5, 2007. The long-in-the-making new management
alternative for Jackson Forest has been released. The new alternative was
developed following a huge public outcry over the previous management
alternative preferred by the California Department of Forestry (CDF), the
managers of publicly owned Jackson Forest.
The new plan goes a long way toward managing the forest
for broad public benefit -- except for one critical defect: the plan
allows clearcut variations on 26
percent of the forest and mini-clearcuts (so-called "group selection) on
another 15 percent. Clearcutting variations could be applied 2700
acres per decade!
The plan should make
single-tree selection the primary timber management method, allowing
clearcuts and group selection to be used only when part of specific
reviewed and approved research projects or when justified to improve
The failure of the plan
to appropriately restrict clearcutting and its variations ("even-age
management") is all the more disappointing because of the responsiveness
of CDF and the Board of Forestry to public concerns.
The new alternative
contains many positive steps. Research, restoration, habitat,
education, and recreation have become primary values of the forest. It
establishes an outside advisory committee to work with CDF to develop a
long-range landscape plan and a revised short-term management plan. It
restricts harvesting during the interim period during which the new plans
are being developed.
In a related
development, funds from timber harvests in Jackson have been
legislatively restricted to being spent first within Jackson Forest and
second in other state forests. The former practice of treating Jackson
Forest as a cash cow for statewide forestry programs will not occur.
If the Board of
Forestry as a whole will act to appropriately restrict clearcutting and
its variations, the new management alternative should garner widespread
public support -- but not unless this is done. The
good parts of the new plan can't justify needlessly destroying thousands
of acres of public redwood forest.
The public's input and
help will be critical. The first step is to attend the Board of Forestry
meeting at the Town Hall on Main Street in Fort Bragg on Thursday, June
7, beginning at 9:00 a.m. At a later time, the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Forest
will assist you to send in your comments. Please stay tuned and informed.