Redwood logging plan criticized
By Robert Salladay
EXAMINER CAPITOL BUREAU


Wednesday, December 2, 1998



SACRAMENTO - A respected federal scientist says the
environmental plan designed to protect the
Headwaters Forest
from loggers is inadequate and will cause more
mudslides and the
probable elimination of a run of endangered coho
salmon.

Leslie M. Reid, who works for the U.S. Forest
Service, warns
in a report to be made public Wednesday that
logging of the
Humboldt County forest by Pacific Lumber could
strip away vital
vegetation that protects streams from erosion and
provides cool
waters for the dwindling numbers of coho.

Reid's report, which was requested by U.S. Rep.
George Miller,
D-Martinez, is being touted by environmentalists
who want to
scuttle an agreement with Pacific Lumber over the
fate of the
Headwaters Forest, the last privately owned,
pristine, old-growth
redwood forest in the world.

Along with Reid's report, environmental groups have
gathered
some allies in their fight: Humboldt County
residents worried that
continued logging by Pacific Lumber will cause ruinous
mudslides and foul their drinking water.

Some Stafford residents have already sued Pacific
Lumber over a
New Year's 1997 mudslide that crashed down a
clear-cut hillside
and destroyed 10 houses.

"We have been trying to say, "Stop, already,' "
said Nona
Kraus, 69, who lives near Eureka on 15 acres across
a road from
the north fork of the Elk River. "(Logging) is
really doing a lot of
damage to the stream. It has absolutely destroyed
the fishery in
the north fork. They have slide after slide after
slide. The value of
our property is declining, along with the water
quality."

The hard-fought Headwaters deal calls for taxpayers
to spend
$480 million to buy and permanently preserve about
10,000 acres
of redwood groves owned by Maxxam Inc., which owns
Pacific
Lumber and is controlled by financier Charles Hurwitz.

Wrapped up in the deal is an environmental plan
covering about
180,000 acres surrounding the new Headwaters
preserve. That
plan is being scrutinized by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service
and the National Marine Fisheries Service, but it
has powerful
supporters, including President Clinton, U.S. Sen.
Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif., Gov. Wilson and the
Legislature, making it
unlikely the plan will be altered.

Now comes Reid's report, which is highly critical of the
environmental protections the plan promises. Reid,
who prepared
the report for Miller and the Environmental
Protection Agency, is
an expert on logging erosion and has worked for 20
years with
fisheries biologists.

In a letter to Miller, she wrote:

*The Pacific Lumber environmental plan is not
strong enough to
prevent logging-related landslides, particularly
near small
streams. The plan will "decrease the likelihood of
survival of any
coho salmon migrating through" erosion-choked streams.

*The agreement does not allow for sufficient
amounts of woody
debris to collect downstream. For coho salmon and
other species
to survive, cooling shade is needed to cover
streams and filter
debris as it travels.

*Unless the plan is changed, mudslides will cause
"increasing
damage to downstream properties and infrastructure,
destroying
salmon (spawning grounds) and newly hatched fry, and
increasing rates of downstream bank erosion and
stream-side
landsliding."

*Because the plan protects Pacific Lumber from
liability,
"American taxpayers would become fiscally
responsible for
addressing" any problems that come up after the plan is
approved.

But Pacific Lumber questions Reid's fairness, and
points to other
scientists who have praised the environmental plan.
Company
President and CEO John Campbell said Pacific Lumber had
agreed to study and find ways to correct erosion
problems over
the next five years and, in the meantime, will not
log within 100
feet of large streams and 30 feet of smaller streams.

"We recognize Dr. Reid is a good scientist,"
Campbell said
Tuesday, "but we're disappointed she appears to
have abandoned
her scientific objectivity in this review. . . . I
think on this
particular review, it's important to understand
that this is the
opinion of just a few scientists."

Reid did not immediately return a message left at
her Arcata
office.

Environmental groups hope that by enlisting
Humboldt County
residents they can persuade federal authorities to
reconsider
Pacific Lumber's environmental plan.

The logging company, which has been cited by state
forestry
officials for 134 violations since 1996, was cited
again in
September for continually running heavy logging
equipment
through a large stream, said Karen Terrill, a
spokeswoman for
the state Department of Forestry, which recently
suspended
Pacific Lumber's logging license until at least Jan. 1.

Residents and environmentalists worry about additional
violations under the new Headwaters agreement.

"It's very real," said Paul Mason, president of the
Garberville-based Environmental Protection
Information Center.
"The claims that logging doesn't have an impact on
watershed are
hollow. People who have lived at the bases of these
watersheds
for 50 or 60 years have seen the shape of the
stream change from
being a narrow, deep channel to being filled with
silt."

Nona Kraus' husband, Ralph Kraus, 71, says he's
seen the Elk
River rise significantly in just hours when it used
to take days,
and their water quality decline. "Our domestic
water supply has
been ruined," said Kraus, a 40-year Eureka resident
and former
science teacher. "Even in the winter, it has a
distinct taste of
rotting vegetation."


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