><::><::><::><::><::><::><::>< FOREST UPDATES & EVENTS from the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters March 6, 2008 ><::><::><::><::><::><::><::>< Update on redwood and oaks campaigns: Bankruptcy and urban tree-sits Pacific Lumber: Are Hurwitz & Maxxam FINALLY on their way OUT of Humboldt County? We hope. Things have picked up considerable speed in the Pacific Lumber (PL) bankruptcy proceedings, unfolding both up on the North Coast and inside the courtroom down in Corpus Christi, Texas. A critical "Joint Disclosure" hearing took place on Feb. 28 to bring further details on those plans before the court-and to creditors who will vote on reorganization plans, , bringing us into the decision phase of this arduous process when the new managers of PL's approximately 210,000 acres of redwood and Doug fir forest will be chosen. It has become quite competitive; presented here in a nutshell are the contenders: Marathon/Mendocino Redwood Co.: Marathon Asset Mgmnt, major creditor, teamed up with Mendocino Redwood, owned by the billionaire Fisher family of Gap fame, who has been operating in Mendocino County since the late 90's when they bought Louisiana-Pacific land. They maintain they will do a better job than PL has, though Mendo watershed activists have been battling them over their clearcutting and herbicide use since they moved in to that county. Noteholders: Also referred to as the bondholders, this group of banking institutions hold the largest portion of PL's massive debt burden, secured by the forestland. Although they have at times argued a convincing environmental ethic, they are primarily out-of-state investment firms. They propose to hold an auction of the assets in order to pay off the debts and determine a new owner. The one advantage to this risky proposal is that it could allow a consortium of conservation organizations and community advocates who do not otherwise have legal "standing" to forward a reorganization proposal, to bid on the land (see below). But then others, Hurwitz clones et al, could also bid. Pacific Lumber/Maxxam: The way Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy works, is it allows the debtor company who created the financial mess to remain in control until it is booted out by the court. We hope that juncture is close. PL first submitted its reorganization proposal, as reported to you last fall (Oct. 2 BACH update), consisting of a plan to convert about 22,000 acres of redwood forest to luxury homes and sell the marbled murrelet Conversation Areas, along with the town of Scotia. Reaction from the community, including the county Board of Supervisors was swift and dissenting, causing the company to retool the plan into three different versions, but it is not much changed, and would still have Maxxam in the picture. Particularly because PL's proposals have been condemned across the board, the bankruptcy judge on Feb. 28 nearly eliminated PL from the running, but stopped just short of scrapping their reorganization proposals. The next phase involves voting by creditors (those entities owned money by PL) by March 25. Then everyone parades back to court, for hearings before presiding judge Richard Schmidt on April 4. That wouldn't be the absolute end of it, but much depends upon the proposal favored by creditors and the court. The noteholders' plan to sell the company and its lands, for example, opens the door to a whole other group of contenders vying to buy the land but who do not currently have standing to submit a proposal in this round. One of those contenders is a group calling itself the Community Forestry Team, whose plans were unveiled in January () bringing together the Nature Conservancy, Save the Redwood League, investment funds and representatives from community-stakeholders including the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, the Humboldt Watershed Council and the Mattole Restoration Council to collaborate on an innovative plan to sustainably manage and restore the damaged lands, and keep jobs and forest management decisions in the community. A very tough play, given the impossible stage set by Hurwitz and Maxxam through years of self-serving refinancing, but the only proposal with such a keen eye to the future. If the Community Forestry Team plan were to become a winning proposal, it would stand as a model for so many timber-dependant rural economies facing a slow death. Many people are looking favorably at the prospect of Mendocino Redwoods Co. running the show on PL land because they purport to have a "lite logging" plan coming in on the heels of PL/Maxxam's heavy-handed industrial logging in the streams and hillsides of Humboldt County. But just as we always specified that it was Maxxam/ PL, knowing where the management decisions were made (i.e., in Houston, Texas), we should be calling Mendocino Redwoods Fisher's Mendo Redwoods Co., because it is the Fisher family, known best for their GAP, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores that own the logging company. Because they are decidedly NOT a local company with a long history in the timber business, their promises to "cut logging down to a sustainable level" deserve a second and third look. Those watch-dogging Mendo Redwood's logging, including the Greenwood Watershed Association, Save-the-Redwoods, Boycott-the-Gap campaign and others, maintain that while their hand may be not quite as heavy as L-P's, the streams, the fish and the slopes of Mendocino County are in a state of devastation a decade after their entry. They targeted the big trees in the Albion watershed first, logged in slide-prone areas, and submitted a plan for a 400-acre clearcut above a fragile coho fishery. Sound familiar? There are not many entry points for public action and input in the bankruptcy process, but there are ways you can help! Right now, we need your help researching and compiling information about Mendo Redwoods. We need a web person, and also someone to help pull together news of recent events so we can have displays and handouts at our upcoming events. Please call us! OAKS The Tree-sits live! Very soon after one last hearing scheduled for Friday at 1:30 in Hayward (that's TOMORROW), we expect a decision from the court that has been considering the lawsuits challenging UC Berkeley's plans to level the grove of old oak trees for its sports training facility. Those lawsuits, including one filed by the City of Berkeley have been before the court for a year and a half, having gone to trial Sept. 2007, with many twists and turns in ensuing months. If the University were to prevail, there is no doubt they would move quickly on the tree-sit, now in its 15th month (!!!) but that is definitely not assured. Even if the neighbors, environmental groups and city prevail, UCB would likely still try to rework their planning documents and have another go at their plans, since they are heavily invested in the plan, but at some point, the costs of delays will prove to be crippling and they would have to look to the other sites for the facility. The other sites on University property not only don't involve desecrating a Native burial site and chopping down the oak grove, but do not sit directly adjacent to an active earthquake fault. Get a clue, UC regents! Meanwhile, the tree-sit is going strong, through the challenging winter months that brought rains, high winds, chain link fences, barbed wire and many arrests to the grove. Since erection of the double ring of fence surrounding the trees and the tree-sitters, re-supplying the intrepid sitters with food and water has become more challenging, but creative community support has seen us through. You are always welcome and encouraged to visit the tree sitters, but there are special events every Sunday at 2 pm when Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks gather community people to deliver water and food and blankets to the tree-sitters, under protection of mass of people. Reminder: Our benefit dance party, Stomp the Stumps! is coming up soon! Mark your calendar for Friday, March 21 and join us at Ashkenaz club in Berkeley for a wonderfully fun evening of great music and activism. If you can come as a volunteer (to load band equipment, shop for food, staff info table, sell t-shirts, etc.), you can get in free but make sure you call us to schedule. Put on your dancing shoes and stomp those stumps! -- Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH) 2530 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702 phone: 510 548 3113 email: bach@headwaterspreserve.org http://www.HeadwatersPreserve.org


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