|Remarks to the Board of Forestry by the Executive Director of the Campaign|
June 7, 2007
Dear Chairman Dixon and Members of the Board:
We appear to be close to successfully negotiating the long, difficult and slippery road to getting Jackson Forest back into operation. I congratulate and commend the Board and the Department of Forestry for their willingness during the last year to encourage and support a broadly inclusive process for developing the new Alternative G for Jackson Forest.
In April of 2006, the then-new Director of CDF invited me to meet with him and staff – the first time in the six years of the Campaign that I received an invitation from anyone in CDF to discuss the issues. Director Grijalva emphasized his willingness to explore new solutions and to work toward consensus. Following up on this beginning, four people from the Mendocino County timber industry – Mike Anderson, Bruce Burton, Art Harwood, and Mike Jani -- myself, and Kathy Bailey of the Sierra Club formed a working group to find common ground. When approached, the Board enthusiastically endorsed our efforts.
In November of 2006, our group published a set of recommendations, supported by all but one member of the group, that constituted a roadmap for resuming operation of Jackson Forest and developing a long-range plan for the forest. Both the Board of Forestry and Director Grijalva pledged to work with the Mendocino working group to incorporate their recommendations, to the extent feasible, in the next round of environmental documents and management actions for Jackson Forest.
I believe that this decision reflected an understanding that the compromises embedded in the working group's recommendations provide the only way of putting to rest the conflicts that have kept Jackson Forest shut down for seven years. Everyone is anxious to end the stalemate.
I'm happy to say that, with one major exception, the key points of compromise have been incorporated in Alternative G: An interim period when harvests will be restricted in amount and kind and during which an advisory committee will work with the department to develop a long-term landscape plan and revised management plan. There are several minor issues that need to be addressed during the comment period, but only one major issue – the principles for determining the kinds and amounts of harvesting (silvicultural) methods to be used in managing the forest.
Alternative G presently incorporates the principle that the forest be managed to provide a broad range of diverse conditions to accommodate possible future research projects. This is interpreted in Alternative G to require a substantial amount of the forest area (26 percent) be managed with clearcutting and other related "even-age" techniques. An additional 15 percent is to be managed with group selection (small clearcuts up to 2-1/2 acres). This principle and its interpretation differs radically from the working group's.
The working group recommended that clearcutting and other even-age management be limited to, and I quote, "well justified research projects and as necessary to promote stand health. The size and scope of these projects should be no larger than the minimum needed for scientific validity."
The key difference between the two principles is that, in the one case, clearcutting variations can be widely applied without being related to a specific, reviewed and justified research project and plan, whereas in the other, a defined specific project of minimum size is required.
The working group principles, and I personally, accept clearcut harvests that are tied to a reviewed and approved research plan, but not to such harvests vaguely related to "possible future research opportunities."
For Alternative G to be acceptable, the fuzzy concept of providing for possible, unspecified future research opportunities needs to be replaced with a more defined principle or process tied to a research plan whose costs and benefits are capable of being evaluated and compared to those of alternative plans.
I respectfully request that the Board give direction to staff to cooperate with the working group during the comment period to develop language that will meet the need to make Jackson Forest responsive to its research mission while at the same time appropriately valuing the ecological and recreational values of this public forest.