Time to Wake Up

March, 2006. The opposition to the timber-focused management of Jackson State Forest continues to mount. The revised Environmental Impact Report generated a flood of public opposition to the proposed management plan. Experts, agencies, and elected officials all criticized proposed plans for the largest state-owned forest and the only publicly owned redwood forest in Mendocino County.

The California Department of Forestry, CDF, began in the early 1990's to use Jackson Forest as a "cash cow" to fund its state forestry programs, neglecting everything about the forest except "getting out the cut." Citizen opposition to cutting the oldest and best remaining forest in Mendocino County began in 1995. It has been growing ever since.

CDF refused all requests for even modest changes in its management. Finally, in 2001 the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest took them to court, and has taken them back to court repeatedly since that time.

The first court ordered a new management plan. CDF responded in 2002 with a plan that insulted the public. It was a bigger and worse logging plan than the previous one. Thirty percent of the forest would have big clearcuts, and another 20 percent small clearcuts. Restoration and recreation were totally ignored.

In its haste to get back to logging, CDF cobbled together a fatally deficient Environmental Impact Report for the proposed plan. Nearly 5,000 people protested the proposed plan. In 2003, the court ruled the environmental plan invalid.

In 2004, Mendocino County's Senator Wesley Chesbro introduced a bill (SB 1648) to reform management of state forests in general and Jackson State Forest in particular. This compromise legislation, which balanced environmental concerns with industry's desire to see timber harvesting continue, passed both houses of the state legislature. On the recommendation of the forestry department, the governor vetoed it.

It took over two years to revise the defective environmental document. The resulting document is so huge and poorly organized that it would probably sink in court of its own weight. But more devastating to the state's hope of resuming logging soon, I showed conclusively in my comment that the inventory estimates used in the management plan and EIR are so greatly in error that the  management plan and environmental report are invalid. I have no doubt the court will concur with my findings.

Elected bodies and legislators, environmental organizations, and the public are all asking that management  of Jackson Forest be brought into the present century and reflect current concerns. Most are asking for only modest reforms that would continue timber harvesting, but at a reduced level compatible with the preserving and restoring wildlife and fish habitat.

The forces for reform are growing stronger every year, but to date the California Department of Forestry has resisted all calls to respond to the public's desires for its forest.

Logging has been stopped in Jackson Forest for five years and counting. The trees are growing, but critical road maintenance and repair is suffering, research and recreation are on hold, and no money is going to the state. Everyone other than the forestry department is seeking an acceptable way to put the forest back in operation.

"California Department of Forestry, Wake up!"

Vince Taylor
Executive Director
Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest