SEPTEMBER 01, 06:43 EDT
Calif. Passes Bill To Buy Forest
By SETH HETTENA
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ÷ The world's largest privately owned stand of
>ancient redwoods will be transformed into a public preserve now that
lawmakers have agreed on a bill that ends 12 years of negotiations.
The $245 million bill, which passed early today, provides the last of the
money needed to buy the 7,500-acre Headwaters Forest, though
environmentalists and the timber industry remained sharply at odds over the
Gov. Pete Wilson said he will sign the bill into law.
``The agreement represents the last, best hope to save the Headwaters,''
said John A. Campbell, president of the company that owns the land, Pacific
Lumber Co. The pristine property is about 280 miles north of San Francisco.
``It's extortion!'' a protester screamed from the Senate gallery moments
after the bill passed. Activists have protested the deal by climbing Golden
Gate Bridge, and one woman has spent several months camped out atop one
tree, 18 stories high.
Opponents argued that the deal saved only a small portion of the redwoods
and sacrificed too much for timber. Critics also complained that the deal
means millions for Charles Hurwitz, the Texas financier and CEO of
Houston-based Maxxam Corp., which owns Pacific Lumber.
The measure just squeaked through, with numerous amendments on the
session's last day Monday and three failed votes in the Assembly before it
The final deal gave concessions to timber interests and environmentalists.
The state will pay $130 million to buy Pacific Lumber's 7,500 acres of
redwoods and turn it into a public park. Congress has already approved its
$250 million share of the deal.
Pacific Lumber will also get up to $100 million more for 2,000 acres of
``lesser cathedrals'' of redwoods. The state also agreed to pay $15 million
to compensate Humboldt County for the loss of timber and related jobs.
Environmentalists won an expanded buffer zone along streams that are home
to coho salmon. For five years, loggers can't cut within 100 feet of such
streams. Pacific Lumber no longer will be able to overrule federal
scientists who recommend curbs on logging to protect streams and fish.
Pacific Lumber argued that extending the buffers to 100 feet from 30 feet
would prevent it from logging thousands of acres of redwoods on its
remaining 200,000 acres of timber.
As part of the agreement, the logging company also agreed to draft a plan
for environmentally safe harvesting on all its other properties.
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