>From Wednesdays's Times Standard (times-standard.com)

PL guilty of violating Forest Act

By David Anderson
The Times-Standard

The Pacific Lumber Co. and a subsidiary were
fined Tuesday after pleading no contest in
Humboldt Superior Court to three criminal
violations of the state Forest Practice Act.

In return, Deputy District Attorney Ariana
Seldon said, eight other criminal misdemeanor
counts were dropped. Judge Timothy Cissna
imposed $8,100 in fines and $21,600 in
restitution on PL and Scotia Pacific Holding Co.

The restitution will be paid to the Humboldt
County Resource Conservation District, which
will use it for erosion control projects.

But PL was also arraigned Tuesday on three
new criminal charges involving other alleged
offenses. A hearing on these was set for Feb. 23.

The charges settled Tuesday involved
violations allegedly committed between July and
October 1998 in the Elk River, Bear River and
Freshwater Creek watersheds. In December
the California Department of Forestry revoked
PL's conditional timber operator's license
for these violations. The company is
currently negotiating with the CDF for a new
conditional license.

Eight of the charges were filed against PL
itself and three against Scotia Pacific. The
former was convicted Tuesday of leaving slash
piles along the banks of the North Fork of
the Elk River and violating the terms of its
timber harvest plan on a site near Freshwater,
resulting in the destruction of a spotted owl
roost. Scotia Pacific was convicted of driving
heavy equipment through the bed of the Bear
River rather than building culverts.

The three new charges involve burning
vegetation in buffer zones along the Elk and Eel
rivers.

PL spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel said the
company is taking new steps to reduce
violations and meet conditions for a new
logging license. She said the company will
double the size of its compliance team, which
will have the authority to stop any operation
that violates the law.

The team was formed after the company was
issued a conditional license in 1998. State
officials said PL showed marked improvement
in reducing violations for the first six
months of that year.

Bullwinkel said PL has also hired a team of
outside experts to review its logging
procedures and recommend improvements. And it
has started a series of three-day training
sessions for its employees and logging
contractors.

She termed the steps "an unprecedented effort
to demonstrate (the company's) commitment
to maintain the highest standards of forest
practice."



1999 Times-Standard
Wednesday, Jan. 20, 1999; A1

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