The California Department of Forestry (CDF) this morning approved
the first of six controversial Maxxam/Pacific Lumber Co. (PL) timber
harvest plans - 1-99-475HUM - in the ancient forests of Rainbow Ridge.
PL assured CDF today they would not begin logging until Monday. Citizens
are preparing to defend these forests on all fronts.
The Lost Coast League, EPIC, and the Humboldt
Watershed Council, filed Lost Coast League et al. v. CDF et al.
this morning in the Superior Court, State of California, County of Humboldt
(Case #CV000668). "We requested an emergency hearing for a Temporary
Restraining Order in Humboldt County today. The fact that we can't get
that hearing for a week is typical Humboldt County justice. Once again,
all the damage will be done before citizens get their day in court,"
stated Paul Mason, Executive Director of EPIC. All legal options are
currently being pursued to avoid another PL disaster in the woods.
Rainbow Ridge, located in the Mattole River watershed of the Lost
Coast, harbors the largest unprotected contiguous lowland old-growth
Douglas Fir forest in California. This is the first of the so-called
"sacrifice zones" in which PL is allowed, under the terms
of the Headwaters Deal Habitat Conservation Plan, to ignore the Endangered
Species Act (ESA). This area is home to Coho salmon and steelhead
trout, river otters, northern goshawks, peregrine falcons, pacific
fishers, and a small rural community. It is a pristine, remote, very
steep and rugged 14,000-acre mix of forest and prairie, and receives
an average of 100 inches of rainfall annually, much in concentrated
deluges. It is also one of the most seismically active regions
in the US. Continuing landslides occur from 1985 clearcuts,
generating enormous quantities of sediment in the Mattole's North
Fork, intensifying seasonal flooding. Despite the ESA exemption, the
devastation of this old-growth forest is illegal on numerous grounds.
This THP approval follows a January 18th meeting with Susan Kennedy,
(Gov. Gray Davis' Deputy Chief of Staff), Maxxam DC lobbyist Tommy
Boggs (who netted a $30 million commission for greasing the skids
of the Headwaters Forest Deal), PL Exec. VP and General Counsel Jared
Carter, and the Directors and key Deputies of the CDF and Cal. Dept.
of Fish & Game. At that meeting Kennedy and Maxxam told the agencies
to "bend over backwards" to approve these clearcuts and
"back off" attempts to protect fish and wildlife according
to the dictates of state law (See report at http://188.8.131.52/press/124.html).
Paul Mason, Environmental Protection
Information Center (EPIC), 707-923-2931
Dave Walsh, Ancient Forest International, 707-923-3015
A letter was sent today from the Alliance
for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (ASJE) to Susan Kennedy, Deputy
Chief of Staff for Gov. Gray Davis, requesting State help in securing
a one-year logging moratorium on these parcels from Maxxam until a down
payment can be made. "There is widespread community support in
Humboldt County to purchase these lands, get Maxxam out of the Mattole,
and manage Rainbow for the long-term benefit of both the forests and
our community," stated Tracy Katelman, ASJE Environmental
Co-Chair, and Registered Professional Forester in the Mattole valley.
Naomi Wagner, Mattole Forest Defenders, 707-629-3546
and concerned citizens are prepared to use nonviolent direct action
to halt logging if necessary. A letter was delivered to John Campbell,
PL President, reminding him of California regulations that prohibit
tree falling while other people are near, such as caused the tragic
death of David Gypsy Chain on Sep. 17th, 1998.