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>Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 15:26:19 -0800
>To: Headwaters Forest Coordinating Council <HFCC@lists.sanmateo.org>
>From: Mark Bult <mark@enews.org>
>Subject: LATimes OpEd by Hamburg
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>Los Angeles Times
>Monday, July 13, 1998
>No Headwaters Deal May Be Best Option
>Redwoods: Legislators should take a long view before paying millions to a
>Texas financier to preserve our ancient trees.
>By Dan Hamburg
>The fate of ancient redwoods in Northern California's Headwaters Forest has
>become just a matter for horse-trading, as the state Legislature and the
>governor grind out a budget. But for the future of the north coast, the
>issue is critical.
>Many Democrats in Sacramento are lining up behind state Sen. Byron Sher
>(D-Stanford), whose bill would add logging restrictions to the deal
>negotiated in 1996 between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and corporate
>raider Charles Hurwitz, a Texan who took control of Pacific Lumber 12 years
>ago. Gov. Pete Wilson and his Republican friends in the Legislature are the
>main supporters of the Feinstein-Hurwitz deal. Sher claims that Hurwitz
>will walk away from the table and fire up the chain saws if
>environmentalists try to include additional environmental protections in
>the legislation. Wilson and his allies (both Democrats and Republicans) are
>anxious to reach an agreement. It helps that Hurwitz's timber political
>action committee is one of the most generous in the state, contributing
>$20,000 to Wilson's reelection campaign in 1994.
>There are many good reasons not to provide $130 million of state funding in
>this year's budget for either the Feinstein-Hurwitz or the Sher deal. (The
>state money, combined with $250 million in federal funds, would buy 7,500
>acres of virginold-growth redwoods in the Headwaters Forest.) Here are five
>key considerations:
>* Completion of either deal will lead to the destruction of more ancient
>redwoods and old-growth Douglas fir than if there were no deal. Under
>current law, particularly the Endangered Species Act, Hurwitz can only log
>small amounts of dead and downed wood in the areas of old-growth forests.
>The whole point of this deal, which would pay $380 million to Hurwitz, is
>toallow his Pacific Lumber Co. to log in areas otherwise prohibited by law.
>The first substantive clause of the Feinstein-Hurwitz deal states: "Pacific
>Lumber desires to obtain a permit under section 10(a) of the Endangered
>Species Act." Without this permit, which allows Hurwitz to harm or kill
>endangered species, Hurwitz's chain saws are largely idled in areas of old
>growth, but not on the rest of Pacific Lumber's 200,000-acre holdings.
>* Hurwitz wants the money and is not going to walk away from the table.
>Although Hurwitz and Feinstein keep saying that if no deal happens this
>year, no deal will ever happen, that's simply not the case. The value of
>this deal to Hurwitz is so much greater than the value of the land under
>existing laws and regulations that he and his lobbyists will continue to
>work for a deal until he gets the money.
>* The state does not know what it's buying for $130 million. The federal
>government is conducting an appraisal of the land to be acquired, at a cost
>of more than $500,000, but it will not be completed until the fall.
>Legislators are about to spend a very large sum of the public's money on
>real estate whose value has yet to be determined.
>* Hurwitz played a central role in the failure of a savings and loan that
>cost taxpayers $1.6 billion. Pending the resolution of charges against
>Hurwitz by the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit
>Insurance Corp., Hurwitz may owe taxpayers as much as $1 billion. Shouldn't
>we wait to find out how these claims are going to be settled before
>shoveling more public money to Hurwitz's holdings?
>* The Legislature forgot to require scientific peer review by an
>independent scientific body, such as the National Academy of Sciences, in
>its conditions for the Pacific Lumber's habitat conservation plan required
>under the Feinstein-Hurwitz deal. Before spending such a huge chunk of
>taxpayer money, shouldn't we be sure that the plan to protect endangered
>species from extinction uses credible scientific standards? Otherwise, our
>beleaguered salmon fishery will be destroyed even as the last 3% of our
>ancient redwoods are felled.
>- - -
>Dan Hamburg, a Former Democratic Member of Congress From Ukiah, Sponsored
>the 1994 Headwaters Forest Act. He Is Executive Director of the Nonprofit
>Vote Action Committee and the Green Party Candidate for Governor of
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644

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