Maxxam has left the building. Almost.

The much anticipated decision in the Pacific Lumber bankruptcy case came down today with a decision that takes control of Humboldt County’s redwoods out of Maxxam/Hurwitz/Pacific Lumber hands, at long last.

Our rallying cry of the last 2 decades: MAXXAM OUT OF HUMBOLDT! has finally come to pass!

I paste links to several news stories below, and to EPIC’s press release, to round out the information for you.

Judge Richard Schmidt ruled today in the Corpus Christi, Texas court that has been hearing the case since January, 2007, that of those vying for control of the company, management would be awarded to the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC), who had teamed up with one of PL’s major creditors, Marathon Investment.

MRC, owned by San Francisco’s Fisher family, also owner of the GAP/Banana Republic/Old Navy retail empire, has been logging redwood forest in Mendocino county for 10 years, since buying out the old Louisiana-Pacific lands there. While a great many people in Humboldt County reacted favorably to MRC jumping into the PL bankruptcy arena, in part because they proposed to keep the mill and timberlands together as one company, and because their operation is promoted as “lite” industrial logging, we still need to pay close attention as the new landscape unfolds. There is no doubt their proposed harvest rate is far and away less than the fast-tracked liquidation logging methods of PL/Maxxam, but what is needed on this wounded land is truly sustainable logging, as difficult as that is to achieve in PL’s wake. And their proposed harvest rate is just that: proposed, and not set in concrete.

In order to earn the support of those who have been fighting Maxxam for 20 years, and who remain committed to preserving the Coho and Marbled Murrelet habitat, and the precious redwoods themselves, MRC (or whatever it will call itself in Humboldt County) will need to seriously embrace principles that will ensure the survival into the future of these forests and of the local economy and community. Those principles, as we see them, are:

  • Keep the chain saws out of the old growth
  • Prioritize select cuts over clearcuts and herbicide use
  • Alter or withdraw the particularly destructive logging plans already filed (but not cut) by PL, like the plan recently filed in murrelet habitat above Grizzly Creek State Park (see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/06/02/18503921.php)
  • Carry out necessary restoration of severely damaged watersheds, like Freshwater, Elk River and Bear Creek.
  • Ensure that forestlands are not sold for development
  • Protect and restore the habitat of endangered species like the Marbled Murrelet and Coho salmon in perpetuity so those species can recover

There is reason for hope.
There is certainly reason for celebration as we say good riddance to Hurwitz!
There is little doubt that we will have to hold MRC’s feet to the fire.

There is more of our analysis of Mendocino Redwood Company track record in Mendocino County and prospects for management of Humboldt’s redwoods in BACH’s latest mini-newsletter from March 2008, and our alerts over the last weeks. I urge you to look at that material for a deeper look into MRC. I am unable to provide exact links because our website is transitioning to its new design in the next two days(!) but look for material at www.HeadwatersPreserve.org . We will post further discussion on the ruling very soon, and schedule a public discussion for further updates in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!

news clips:
Eureka Times Standard: http://www.times-standard.com/ci_9502248

SF Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/06/06/BAPH114LO4.DTL

Wall St. Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121272116835651189.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

EPIC’s press release: http://www.wildcalifornia.org/pages/page-281

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