Why CDF Opposes SB 1648
Home ] Up ] Seed Bank Merger ] Vetoes Timber Bill ] Governor Vetoes ] No Decision ] [ Why CDF Opposes SB 1648 ] PD Editor Letter ] Legal Fees Awarded ] Governor Favors Timber ] Drinkard Appointment ] Bill Ready ] Chronicle Endorses ] Governor Weighs ] Ukiah Support ] City Council Waits ] Locals Divided ] Supervisors Defer ] Living Laboratory ] Willits City Reacts ] Jackson Bill Advances ] Chesbro on SB 1648 ] AVA Interview ] Legislation Introduced ] Timber Decline Article ] A Place to Strut ]


Why Does CDF Oppose Reform of State Forests?

Published in the Fort Bragg Advocate News and the Ukiah Daily Journal, September 16, 2004

The California Department of Forestry (CDF) is mounting an aggressive effort to get the governor to veto SB 1648, Senator Chesbro's bill to reform management of state forests, especially of Jackson State Forest. Indeed, the only strong opposition comes from CDF. What accounts for the vehemence of its opposition?

First, we can eliminate two of its major arguments: 1) SB 1648 will turn Jackson Forest into a "park," and 2) SB 1648 could delay the resumption of timber harvesting in Jackson Forest. The first argument is a pure fabrication and is contradicted by the bill, which specifically lists timber production and research and demonstration of forest management, including timberland productivity, as uses of the forest. The second argument is equally unfounded.

Rather than delaying resumption of timber harvesting, SB 1648 contains extensive provisions that remove legal obstacles to the immediate resumption of timber harvesting. By contrast, defeat of SB 1648 will invite further legal challenges that could delay resumption of harvesting for an unknown number of years.

The real reason for CDF's opposition is that the bill would establish an appointed advisory committee to oversee management of Jackson Forest. Although CDF dismisses the advisory committee as an "unnecessary… bureaucratic layer" (Chris Rowney, CDF Deputy Director), its real fear is that the oversight would end its use of Jackson as a "cash cow" for funding forestry programs and, perhaps, reveal to the public the extent and cost of its mismanagement.

CDF's record of mismanagement, affirmed by two separate courts, shows that oversight is long overdue.

CDF's mismanagement has cost the state perhaps $50 million in lost revenues and cost timber workers a thousand or more person-years of lost work. No timber harvest plan has been approved and carried out in Jackson Forest since 1999. The courts have enjoined all later plans until CDF comes into compliance with the law. Thus, five years of revenue and jobs have been lost. Timber harvests in Jackson Forest were generating about $10 million of revenue and several hundred jobs each year until halted.

The courts have laid the responsibility for the logging halt and revenue loss squarely upon CDF mismanagement. Logging plans were enjoined because CDF had not updated a "10-year" management plan completed in 1984, despite the legal requirement that management plans be maintained current. In granting the injunction, Judge Henderson of the Mendocino Superior Court found, "It is also apparent that CDF has known for years that its Management Plan for Jackson Demonstration State Forest was out of date and in need of comprehensive revision."

The logging halt was extended in 2003 by the same judge, with obvious great reluctance, when he ruled a new environmental document (EIR) for the forest was invalid, "However, the failure of CDF to prepare an EIR that complies with the minimal statutory standards leaves me with no alternative but to direct CDF and the Board [of Forestry] to rescind the approval of the EIR."

Though there is not room for details here, CDF's internal management failures are as great as their planning failures. Jackson Forest, a 50,000-acre publicly owned redwood forest within a few hours of San Francisco has great values for salmon restoration, wildlife habitat, recreation and research. CDF has almost totally neglected these values in its single-minded pursuit of logging revenues. On the logging side, it has even failed to keep an accurate, current inventory of the trees in the forest, as required by law, continuing its vulnerability to further legal challenge.

CDF's continued obstinate opposition to all efforts to improve its management of the forest testify to the need for SB 1648, as does the need to get Jackson Forest back into operation.

Vince Taylor, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Jackson Forest Action Coalition