Demonstrating What? Legal Victory Brings Relief for Jackson Demonstration Forest -- For Now
August 15, 2003
Founded in 1947, the 50,000-acre Jackson State Demonstration Forest is the largest of eight forests in California's state forest system. Only 459 acres of this lush forest in the mountains northeast of the town of Mendocino remain virgin. Mature 80- to 100-year-old redwoods cover about 10,000 acres.
Administered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), Jackson and its sister forests were to serve as "demonstration" forests--commercial woodlands where various approaches to logging could be tried with a "sustained yield" goal. Sustained Yield refers to management practice of allowing the forest to grow enough timber to replace what is cut in a forest.
State foresters say there is an acute need for research on various sustained yield scenarios. They stress that Jackson serves both the environment and the economy. Environmentalists disagree. According to Vince Taylor, Executive Director of the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest (JSF Campaign), "CDF manages the forest like PALCO (Pacific Lumber Company), and for the same purpose - profits. Conservationists want to see Jackson managed for recreational use, watershed protection, wildlife, and restoration.
Alarm over plans to clear-cut much of Jackson Forest led to a lawsuit against CDF by Forests Forever and the JSF Campaign. In early August, those groups prevailed when Mendocino Judge Richard Henderson invalidated the EIR and directed the Board of Forestry to rescind its approval of the Management Plan, also enjoining further timber operations.
The ruling by Judge Henderson found the state agency failed to comply with even minimal requirements to analyze the cumulative impacts o planned logging or dangers of flooding, both critical areas. He found that CDF violated CEQA in certifying the EIR for the Management Plan.
JSF Campaign's attorney Paul Carroll said "This is an agency that utterly failed to conduct anything like an environmental review. Perhaps this is why all major rivers on the north coast are impaired. The EIR did not say a word about the fact that JSF is surrounded by industrial timberland, because they do not want to come to grips with what they have brought about on those timberlands."
Before logging can resume, the deficiencies in the EIR must be remedied, at a minimum, and a public comment period would accompany a new EIR.
For more info see www.jacksonforest.com, or contact Jackson Forest Restoration Campaign (see Resources Directory).