>License to Log Ancient Forests Is Suspended
>Environment: Order against Pacific Lumber stems from violations, state
>says, and comes amid talks to purchase Headwaters. Company promises not to
>repeat its mistakes.
>By DAN MORAIN, MAX VANZI, Times Staff Writers
>SACRAMENTO--California forestry officials suspended Pacific Lumber Co.'s
>license to log in ancient Northern California forests Tuesday, turning up
>the pressure as authorities negotiate with the company to purchase the
>largest stand of redwoods still in private hands.
>╩╩╩╩╩In an order delivered to Pacific Lumber President John A. Campbell
>Tuesday morning, the California Department of Forestry cited "willful"
>violations of state forestry regulations and "gross negligence" and
>demanded that logging cease as of today.
>╩╩╩╩╩Campbell responded quickly by issuing an apology and vowing to take
>steps to ensure that such violations won't occur again.
>╩╩╩╩╩"Frankly," said Campbell, "the company and I are embarrassed by the
>suspension and we have reached the conclusion that no valid purpose would
>be served by appealing your decision."
>╩╩╩╩╩The order comes as the weather turns stormy--a time when logging
>operations slow down--limiting the immediate impact of the decision.
>Nonetheless, the company announced that it would lay off 180 loggers
>╩╩╩╩╩More important for Pacific Lumber, the action comes as state and
>federal authorities attempt to complete negotiations with the company over
>the $495-million purchase of the Headwaters Forest and other stands of
>redwoods in Humboldt County.
>╩╩╩╩╩The order probably will increase the leverage that state and federal
>authorities have as they negotiate over the final purchase of the
>7,500-acre Headwaters and several smaller stands nearby, and over details
>of the so-called habitat conservation plan that is designed to protect
>endangered and threatened species on 200,000 acres of Pacific Lumber's
>╩╩╩╩╩State forestry officials said that in recent months the company had
>violated regulations by allowing a fire to burn in a protected zone, by
>clear-cutting trees along a stream used by salmon for spawning, and by
>using heavy equipment in a nesting area of the northern spotted owl--an
>endangered species.
>╩╩╩╩╩"It's a systemic problem," Douglas Wheeler, the state Resources Agency
>secretary, said Tuesday.
>╩╩╩╩╩Wheeler added that Pacific Lumber must act quickly to remedy the
>situation because "they are two steps away from a final suspension."
>╩╩╩╩╩Tuesday's order was issued one day after state lawmakers led by Sen.
>Byron Sher (D-Stanford) called on state and federal authorities to take
>stronger steps to protect Headwaters and the adjacent forest, which is
>habitat for endangered and threatened species such as the spotted owl,
>marbled murrelet and coho salmon.
>╩╩╩╩╩Sher, who chaired the oversight hearing, said the latest violations
>make him "lose all confidence" that Pacific Lumber will protect Headwaters
>and the sensitive land nearby. The final Headwaters purchase agreement, he
>said, must include strict mechanisms for tough enforcement.
>╩╩╩╩╩"It's very disturbing that they continue to violate the law and don't
>clean up their act," said Sher, who had pushed for legislative approval to
>spend $245 million for the state's share of the Headwaters purchase.
>╩╩╩╩╩"This is not a situation where the company says, 'Trust us,' and we
>can believe them. We've got to have very clear requirements on them."
>╩╩╩╩╩Some environmental groups have remained opposed to the Headwaters deal
>because it would allow Pacific Lumber to cut trees in many other parts of
>the 200,000-acre forest where the Endangered Species Act would normally
>restrict or prohibit logging.
>╩╩╩╩╩The license suspension prompted opponents of the deal to argue that
>Pacific Lumber can't be trusted to abide by the habitat conservation plan's
>╩╩╩╩╩"The habitat conservation plan allows too much latitude as it is,"
>said Paul Mason, president of the north coast Environmental Protection
>Information Center. "For such a plan to offer even a semblance of
>protection, you have to be able to trust the company to look out for birds
>or not cut trees along streams where no one is ever going to check on
>╩╩╩╩╩State forestry officials suspended Pacific Lumber's license in 1997
>for violations of environmental laws. The company had been operating under
>a provisional license.
>╩╩╩╩╩Times staff writer Frank Clifford in Los Angeles contributed to this
>Copyright 1998 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved
David M. Walsh
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Redway, CA 95560
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