Chesbro on SB 1648
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Balanced Approach for Managing Jackson Forest

Press Democrat


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Balanced approach for managing Jackson forest

July 1, 2004


The Humboldt County community where I live and served on the City Council, is the site of a unique publicly-owned resource called the Arcata Community Forest. Since 1979, as the result of a local voter-approved initiative, the city has managed this second growth forest in a way that balances sustainable production with forest practices that protect wildlife and environmental resources and encourage public recreational use.

For decades, forestry issues on the North Coast have deeply divided our communities along stark lines: good vs. bad, new vs. old, logger vs. environmentalist. But the experience of the Arcata Community Forest demonstrates that there is another way: people working together to find sensible solutions. Publicly owned forests provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate that a new type of forest management is possible.

Jackson Demonstration State Forest is the largest of California's eight forests and is also the largest publicly owned forest in the redwood region between the Bay Area and Humboldt County. When the forest was created as a public demonstration forest, the management direction was to achieve maximum sustained production of high quality forest products. However, after more than 50 years of maximum production, we need to revisit how the forest is managed in order to minimize the negative impacts on our fisheries, wildlife and recreational opportunities.

The effort to update the 1947-era management mandate for Jackson forest is a story about people trying to settle long-standing differences over how to manage a unique public asset. My bill, SB 1648, is the vehicle for a compromise between the community, environmentalists and the timber industry. Not everyone will be pleased with every provision. However, major concerns have been considered and addressed. SB 1648 creates a framework for moving forward cooperatively.

When I introduced SB 1648, I knew the process would be difficult. However, my goal has been to make SB 1648 the vehicle for compromise. After four years of no logging because of lawsuits, we need a balanced approach for sustainable production that creates jobs and helps the local economy. In addition, we want forest practices that protect wildlife and environmental resources and encourage public recreational use. I believe SB 1648 accomplishes both goals.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

Implements the 1998 recommendations of the Department of Forestry's Citizens Advisory Committee.

Continues the important role of research, expanding the current focus on studying the impacts of harvesting techniques to also include research on fisheries, watershed restoration and wildlife protection.

Establishes a permanent broadly based advisory committee to facilitate communication between the public and the California Board of Forestry, which has overall management decision-making authority and the California Department of Forestry, which runs the forest on a day to day basis.

Permanently protects the old growth forest remaining at Jackson.

In addition, management must demonstrate how to balance sustained production of high quality timber products with maintaining and restoring high quality habitat in a way that provides ample opportunities for research, recreation, education and public enjoyment.

Except for specific research purposes, the entire timber program will implement uneven-aged management, eliminating clear-cutting.

Questions about forest management bring out strong opinions on the North Coast, and people have not been shy in telling me how Jackson should be managed. Those views have been central in putting together a new management mandate that makes sense for the 21st Century. For more information on the bill please go to


Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, represents California's 2nd Senatorial District.