>State Suspends Pacific Lumber Logging Again
>Alex Barnum, Chronicle Staff Writer ╩Wednesday,╩November 11, 1998
>For the second time in a year, state officials have suspended the logging
>license of Pacific Lumber Co. because of repeated violations of California
>The embattled timber company -- which is involved in a deal with the
>government to sell the ancient Headwaters Forest -- was notified yesterday
>by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection that its
>license is suspended until the end of the year.
>The suspension comes during a seasonal lull in the company's logging. And
>it does not apply to outside contractors, which will continue to be allowed
>to cut trees on the company's 200,000 acres of Humboldt County forest.
>But a Department of Forestry spokeswoman said the suspension is
>``unprecedented'' for one of the state's largest timber companies. She said
>the agency is considering a denial of the company's license for next year
>In its action, the department cited 16 violations since the company was
>granted a conditional license after the first suspension last December. The
>violations showed ``gross negligence and willful disregard'' for state
>forestry rules, the agency said in a letter to the company.
>Altogether, Pacific Lumber has had 128 violations over the past three
>years, the agency said, including logging too close to salmon-bearing
>streams, failing to construct adequate drainage systems and logging in a
>Northern spotted owl nesting area.
>Pacific Lumber President John Campbell said the company will cease
>operations for a couple of weeks and lay off 100 loggers and other workers
>while the company discusses the suspension with the state and assesses its
>But he defended the company's practices, saying it had made ``tremendous
>improvement'' in reducing the number of violations over the past year. And
>he said the forestry agency is under unusually heavy pressure to scrutinize
>the company because of the Headwaters deal.
>But environmentalists said the suspension was overdue.
>``It's about time,'' said Paul Mason, of the Environmental Protection
>Information Center. The company ``pushes the law on a regular basis. This
>is a pattern of practice with the company.''
>Mason said the suspension raised questions about whether Pacific Lumber can
>be trusted to abide by a long-term timber and wildlife management plan that
>is central to the $495 million Headwaters agreement.
>``This puts the `habitat conservation plan' into a different light,'' he
>said. ``It's a voluntary agreement that relies on the company's integrity,
>yet they can't be trusted to run a chain saw on their own property.''
>But state officials said the suspension shows the state intends to monitor
>the firm's compliance to the plan closely.
>``We're riding this company very hard to improve their forest practices,''
>said Jim Youngson, spokesman for the state Resources Agency. ``Today is
>proof of our commitment to that kind of scrutiny.''
>Forestry Department officials say the department typically suspends only a
>handful out of 2,000 licenses every year, and Pacific Lumber, one of the
>largest timber companies in the state, is by far the largest operator to be
>The department suspended Pacific Lumber's license last December, but it
>issued a conditional license several days later after the company agreed to
>greater restrictions and to give inspectors keys to its property so they
>could make spot inspections.
>Among the 16 violations this year are charges that company loggers built
>roads and logged too close to streams, both of which increase erosion and
>can destroy habitat for the threatened coho salmon and other species.
>Some of the company's half- dozen outside contractors also have been
>reprimanded. Last month, a contractor was charged by the state with
>clear-cutting trees in a protected stream zone. Campbell said he has since
>fired the contractor.
>But in a letter, the Forestry Department said the company had concealed the
>violation. ``This concealment and profiting from the concealment are
>willful violations'' of the company's conditional logging license, the
>Forestry Department officials would not speculate about whether the
>company's license will be renewed for next year. Spokeswoman Karen Terrill
>said the department's director, Richard A. Wilson, could consider the
>company's history of violations in its decision.
>The company also faces a lawsuit from Humboldt County property owners who
>charge that irresponsible logging practices led to 1997 New Year's
>mudslides that devastated homes in the tiny river town of Stafford.
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644
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