Why the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest?

A Public Treasure

Established in 1947, Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) is a public treasure.

By far California’s largest state forest, it embraces over 50,000 acres of Mendocino County, reaching from the Pacific coast to the ridge of the inland valleys to the east. The city of Fort Bragg and the town of Mendocino lie two miles from its western edge. It is criss–crossed by almost 100 miles of streams, including Casper Creek, Hare Creek and tributaries of the Noyo River and Big River. It is a trove of diversity, home to thousands of species, from the yellow-cheeked chipmunk to the spotted owl, some abundant, some declining, and some all but gone.

Because Jackson Forest is already publicly owned, it has the potential to provide enormous ecological, recreational, and educational benefits without any expenditure of taxpayer money. A recovering 50,000 acre redwood forest would provide a huge sanctuary for endangered species, a living laboratory and school for scientists, professionals and students, as well as recreation, solitude, and inspiration for the people of Mendocino, California, and the world.

But, to capture this potential, we must act quickly.

A Demonstration of Logging

Although publicly owned, Jackson State Forest has always been run by the California Department of Forestry to "demonstrate" large-scale, commercial logging. When acquired, the eastern third was virgin redwood forest and a majority of all the wood in the forest was in old-growth trees. Today, only two small groves and widely scattered individual trees remain. Thousands of acres have been clearcut and once-thriving salmon streams made barren.

Every year, the state continues to sell tens of thousands of redwood trees from Jackson State Forest to the highest bidder. Areas of old second-growth that haven’t been logged for decades are the first choice for cutting. Every year the condition of the forest worsens, making restoration more difficult and slower.

A Compelling Case

The need for a healthy public redwood forest has increased enormously since Jackson State Forest was acquired in 1947. Population has tripled, and people’s desire for solitude and nature has increased even more. At the same time, open spaces have been consumed by suburban sprawl and forests destroyed by liquidation logging. People, plants and animals would all benefit enormously from restoring Jackson Forest.

Jackson Forest was acquired to demonstrate that second-growth forests could be logged profitably. They have now been profitably logged almost to extinction. The great need now is for the state to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of restoring Jackson Forest.

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