Report says state's logging rules are weak

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO- California's logging rules are inadequate, allowing widespread tree
cutting that causes mudslides, hurts water supplies and endangers fish and
wildlife, a
federal scientist says.

In a study released Tuesday, U.S. Forest Service geologist Leslie Reid
accuses the
California Department of Forestry of lax enforcement of the Forest
Practices Act, the
principal state law governing tree harvesting.

Reid urges state officials to shift authority over logging rules from the
Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention to the cabinet-level Resources
Agency, headed by Gov. Gray Davis' top environmental adviser.

California laws have failed to fully protect Northern California streams,
wrote Reid, who played a key role in a state-federal agreement to preserve
the Headwaters Forest Preserve near Fortuna.

Some CDF staff members see their primary mission as facilitating production of
''high-quality forest products,'' she added.

The study reflects Reid's research and was not endorsed by her agency. Her
study was
released by an environmental coalition that includes California's major
water agencies' lobby. It was commissioned by Assemblyman Fred Keeley, a
Boulder Creek Democrat who proposes tightening logging laws, boosting
inspections and requiring timber companies to pay for it.

CDF spokeswoman Karen Terrill declined to comment on the study, saying agency
officials had not yet seen it.

Logging practices have been a thorny subject for years along the North
Coast, where
landowners have complained that excessive logging causes mudslides during
heavy winter rain.

In December 1996, over-logging by Pacific Lumber Co. was blamed for a
mudslide that
destroyed homes in Stafford. The company denied the allegation.

The slide prompted the creation of a local homeowners' group seeking
tougher logging rules.

''Basically, it destroyed one-third of our town. It took out all the
property owners north of me, and this is not an isolated case,'' said Mike
O'Neal, a Stafford property owner whose land was hit by the mudslide.

Among supporters of Keeley's legislation is the Association of California
Water Agencies, which represents more than 400 water agencies across
California, most of whom provide drinking water.

The group is not often identified as part of an environmental coalition,
but spokeswoman Jennifer Persike-Becker said ACWA favors tough logging laws
to preserve fragile watersheds.

''More and more we've figured out that the watershed has to be protected,
instead of
dumping a bunch of chemicals at the other end, which is costly and not
necessarily the best treatment,'' she said.

Reid's study suggests that timber harvest plans, the documents that
companies seeking to log trees submit for state approval, ''do not
adequately examine the long-term impact of human activity, namely
logging,'' according to the environmental coalition.

Reid, whose research during the Headwaters Forest negotiations was credited by
environmentalists with prompting tougher logging restrictions for PL,
recommends that state forestry authorities be more open to outside

The financial impact of excessive logging is borne heavily by those who
depend on water for their livelihoods, such as fishermen and boating
guides, she wrote.

1999 Times-Standard
Wednesday, May 26, 1999; A1

Ellen Fred
Humboldt Watershed Council
828 G Street
Eureka, CA 95501
707.443.3331 (fax)

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