49,000 acres of recovering vibrant forest with large redwoods and other species, south of Fort Bragg on the Mendocino coast were purchased by the state of California in 1949, after having been logged in previous years. Its mission was to serve the purpose of the state operating a “Demonstration Forest” to practice and document sustainable forest management and logging, preserving water quality, and high quality habitat, as well as recreational uses. However, local environmental groups are raising an alarm that new proposed logging plans are contrary to anyone’s definition of restoration forestry, and rather reek of industrial logging in the model of timber corporations laying waste to California’s forests for profits.

Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) had, in fact, begun to develop old growth characteristics as a result of the selection logging of the past 7 decades, and those resulting big trees now have several tree-sitters occupying upper branches in actions calling to halt proposed logging until legal challenges can be heard. Tree-sits went up on Friday, April 9, and another Monday, along with a road blockade by north coast activists.

Two Timber Harvest Plans (THP) totaling about 1,000 acres are at issue, with habitat for salmon, the rare Pacific Giant Salamander, nesting habitat for Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelet, other species’ habitat, and water quality in area rivers in the balance. There exist significant cultural values in the area as well. The logging is under challenge by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo, who have entered into formal government to government consultation with CalFIRE, JDSF and the California Resource Protection Agency. Proposed logging operations are in the Tribe’s Northern Pomo and Coast Yuki ancestral territory.

These THPs put forward by CalFIRE would be the first logging in the particular area of the plans for 90 years, where a healthy, second growth forest is diversifying and providing valuable habitat.

In addition to the two plans being protested and hotly debated by various groups at the moment, CalFIRE, which owns and manages the forest on behalf of the people, has nine THPs lined up for the western portion of the forest over the next 5 years, to selectively log over 6,400 acres. The Forest’s Management Plan stresses research for sustainable forestry as the priority, but is not habitat restoration and preservation for climate mitigation a priority for sustainability in this day and age?

Manager for JDSF is Mike Powers, who can be reached at (707) 964-5674.

See Mendocino Trail Stewards for an in depth look at Jackson Forest’s ecological values and history.

See Redheaded Blackbelt for coverage of the tree sit.

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