Thursday, November 12, 1998
Copyright 1998 Los Angeles Times

Chopping Down Logging Rules

For years the giant Pacific Lumber Co. has eagerly been trying to close a
deal to sell 7,500 acres of old-growth redwoods and other trees in Humboldt
County to the state and federal governments. But you'd never know that by
looking at the company's actions lately, actions that threaten to undermine
the whole transaction.

State regulators suspended Pacific's logging permit this week for gross
violation of rules designed to protect threatened and endangered species in
its North Coast lumber empire. The suspension comes as the two governments
and Pacific are attempting to reach final terms for the $495-million sale
of the so-called Headwaters Forest and smaller tracts of old trees.

Unless the sale is completed by March, Washington will withdraw the federal
share of the $495 million for Headwaters, the largest stand of old-growth
redwoods still in private ownership.

A key part of the agreement is that Pacific must comply with a habitat
conservation plan covering logging on more than 210,000 acres of other
environmentally sensitive groves it owns. The plan is designed to provide
protection for more than a score of threatened or endangered species,
including the spotted owl and coho salmon.

The state's suspension of Pacific's logging permit is the second in two
years. It shows Pacific cannot be trusted to follow acceptable logging
practices on its own. The final version of the habitat conservation plan
must contain strict regulation of logging operations and provide close
oversight to make certain the law is followed. Pacific retains no moral
standing in this deal. The sale should be contingent on its acceding to
tough state regulation.

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