Maxxam Out of the Mattole MEDIA RELEASE o For Immediate Release o September 20, 2000
MAXXAM Abuses Another Loophole in the Forestry Rules
CDF Approves Salvage Logging in Mattole
Petrolia, California. On Tuesday, September 19, the California Department of Forestry (CDF) approved the second of seven controversial logging plans in the ancient Douglas fir forests of Rainbow Ridge. This plan - 1-00-218HUM - allows MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber (PL) to remove logs cut illegally in 1998. Once again, MAXXAM is circumventing the law and setting a dangerous precedent for forest management regulation.
When logging began in 1998 on timber harvest plans (THPs) 1-96-413HUM and 1-97-307HUM, two lawsuits were filed as citizens took to the woods to prevent the fallers from cutting the trees, while others blocked MAXXAM's gates. Over twenty were arrested in the campaign, which ended when EPIC and the Sierra Club obtained a federal court injunction on the logging. Despite these actions, some thirty acres of ancient Douglas-fir forest was leveled and lay on the forest floor when the court stepped in.
In January 1999, Mattole resident Michael Evenson argued the two state cases in Humboldt County Superior Court and prevailed. The judge ruled that CDF had abused its discretion in approving the plans without a credible assessment of the likely environmental consequences of the proposed harvest. It was a triumph for the community and the wildlife agencies, which had concerns over landslides generating from the proposed harvests.
On three occasions, MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber requested permission to remove the timber, but both state and federal courts refused them.
Despite the rulings of the court, early this year, PL filed THP 1-00-218 which called for the skidding and yarding of the same downed logs, as well as clearcutting one-half acre of green trees. The public pointed out to CDF that there had never been a legal cumulative impacts assessment on taking the trees down, but CDF disregarded these concerns. CDF ruled that there was no old-growth forest to harvest (since the trees had already been cut in 1998), therefore no environmental analysis was necessary, and they approved this controversial plan. This is yet another example of how MAXXAM continually skirts the law.
In addition, THP 00-218 includes a one-half acre clearcut of live trees. That area is the exact area local citizens protected in 1998, and therefore is still standing. This is clearly a "spite cut" from MAXXAM directed at Mattole residents.
"So here we have a 30-acre clearcut of ancient forest with no credible impacts analysis and CDF says it's legal. This sends the wrong message to the timber companies: that if they cut down a forest before the public has the opportunity to challenge it in court, the companies reap the rewards, even when the courts determine that the plan was illegal," stated Michael Evenson.
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