Undermining Land and Workers

Pacific Lumber Swings Their Axe Again

Forestt defenders in California’s northwoods are preparing for a spring of direct action protests as they struggle to preserve the last scraps of the worlds old growth redwood habitat – and they need your help. Keep your ears open for upcoming protests and campaigns, and keep your knapsack packed and ready to go! There will likely be protests against logging plans for residual old growth areas including Allen Creek if it gets approved, two more logging plans in Hole in the Headwaters (one section of forest in this area was already cut in the fall), and logging plans up for approval in the Mattole. Public action is also required around the Bureau of Land Management’s draft Management Plan on the (publicly owned) Headwaters Preserve. Public hearings are expected in April.

Pacific Lumber (PL), the largest private owner of redwoods in the Northwoods, recently submitted a proposal to log in the Allen Creek Grove, one of the six old growth groves set aside under protective status for 50 years under the infamous Headwaters Deal. These groves comprise the Marbled Murrelet (bird) Conservation Area, and are supposed to be protected under legally binding terms of the Deal, yet the company is poised to log mature second growth and residual old growth redwoods within the heart of this vitally important habitat.

PL is attempting to get around the agreement with the preposterous claim that their logging operation would “improve” Murrelet habitat. However, since these elusive seabirds rely on intact forest stands and are extremely susceptible to noise disturbances and predator species, their logging would have disastrous effects, resulting in reductions in canopy density and closure, increasing wind and weather impacts and increasing opportunities for predatory birds that predate on the Murrelet’s eggs.

The contract between Pacific Lumber and the state of California for the release of the bucketloads of money paid them as part of the Headwaters Deal ($480 million) clearly prohibits any kind of logging within the 13 Marbled Murrelet Conservation Areas for a period of 50 years. PL and the Calif. Dept. of Forestry are trying to ignore this fact and use their own creative interpretations of PL’s Habitat Conservation Plan to claim the logging could be allowed.

People are urged to contact the Calif. Dept. of Forestry (CDF) while the plan is still in comment period (no end date set; contact BACH for info) and tell them this logging plan, THP 1-01-352 HUM should be denied.

In addition, PL has plans in the hopper that would allow them to go into “occupied” Marbled Murrelet habitat (they have already logged 5000 acres of Murrelet habitat since the Headwaters Deal.) There was a lull before the storm after the 1999 Headwaters Deal that may have led some to think there would be a reduced level of logging in Humboldt county. There will be soon, as PL has about used up all the prime timber land under their ownership (see layoffs, below). But this lull was only due to plans being brought into compliance with the Deal’s so-called Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), and we are braced for a stormy spring.

In addition, cynically blaming not only environmentalists and state regulations, but claiming to be constrained by their own HCP, Pacific Lumber put 140 of its workers out of work in December. PL’s overcutting, which spiraled out of control with the takeover of the company by Maxxam Corporation in 1985, landed them where they are today, with a very depleted resource base but a wealthy parent company. (Charles Hurwitz, CEO of Maxxam, got an $11 million bonus for the Headwaters Deal, which could go a long way toward helping the people living in a county in economic decline.) Operations will continue at PL’s smaller Carlotta mill, but the Scotia mill is the visible PL icon on Highway 101, and central to Scotia, one of the last company towns in America. PL said those employees laid off must move out of their company-owned homes in 6 months.

For news about all of these upcoming actions, keep in touch with the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters hotline (510) 835-6303, monthly meetings (2nd Tues. @ Rockridge Library) their listserve and website: www.HeadwaterPreserve. And keep your knapsack packed.