>Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 14:51:23 -0700
>From: Bob Martel <sheds@humboldt1.com>
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>To: Headwaters Forest Coordinating Committee <HFCC@lists.sanmateo.org>
>Subject: Chron re Watershed people
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> Paper: Houston Chronicle
> Date: MON 06/22/98
> Section: A
> Page: 1
> Edition: 3 STAR
> Suits: Bad logging makes bad neighbors /
> PacificLumber ruins watersheds, critics say
> By BILL DAWSON, Houston Chronicle Environment Writer
> Staff
> EUREKA, Calif. - The bomblike sounds that roused Mike O'Neal from bed
> one morning also woke him to the possibility that logging by a
>subsidiary of
> Houston-based Maxxam could cause problems for people living nearby.
> In the early hours of Dec. 31, 1996, O'Neal spied a huge landslide
> down a steep canyon from a tree-stripped area toward his tiny community
> Stafford.
> Huge trees "were snapping off like matches and hitting the ground," the
> driver recalled. He rushed to warn neighbors - "literally running ahead
>of the
> slide."
> Everyone escaped safely, but seven homes were destroyed and residents
> abandoned several others. "It wasn't good logging that caused this,"
> concluded.
> For Kristi Wrigley, a fourth-generation resident of Humboldt County who
> lives adjacent to Pacific Lumber's land in another rural area, the
> was more gradual.
> The Elk River, her domestic and agricultural water supply, had flooded
> old family home every 10 to 20 years, she said, but then did so three
>times in
> two rainy seasons.
> Wrigley and her children moved to a hilltop house nearby, where her
> has grown namesake Wrigley apples for decades. But unusually sticky and
> plentiful sediment started filling in the river where she swam as a
> threatening the orchard's future, she said.
> "I said something's wrong here. Something's really wrong."
> Some other Humboldt residents are saying the same thing - alleging
> erosion-related problems have increased because Pacific Lumber
> accelerated logging and expanded clearcutting after Houston financier
> Charles Hurwitz , Maxxam's chief executive, seized control in 1986.
> The best-known dispute over those policies is the long fight to prevent
> logging of the Headwaters Forest, the largest grove of ancient redwoods
> private hands. The company has agreed to sell it as a preserve, once
> government agencies adopt sweeping new logging rules negotiated for its
> other land.
> Headwaters was never the only environmental issue facing Pacific
> however. The impact of timber practices - especially erosion's effects
> salmon, which sediment can harm in various ways - is an old point of
> contention.
> In its debate with environmental critics, Pacific has pointed to an
> work force since the Maxxam takeover, and stressed its constitutional
> to use property zoned for logging.
> That property-rights argument now has an ironic twist, however, in
> charge that Pacific, the largest county landowner, is damaging their
> downstream property.
> The company's president, John Campbell, blames the area's recent spate
> flooding, landslides and water-supply complaints on natural causes - a
> naturally erosive landscape beset by strong earthquakes in 1992 and
> uncommonly heavy rains the past two years.
> "It's saturated soils, it's heavy precipitation, it's slope and it's
>gravity," he said,
> noting that many California areas without logging had recent
> "The urbanization of the forest" has degraded water quality in streams,
> newcomers seeking "a little rural lifestyle" installed septic tanks and
> erosion in areas like the Mattole River's flood plain, Campbell said.
> "If you want to talk about ironies," he said, "on rural real estate
> of that type there are no rules. The timber industry has an enormously
> complex regulatory scheme."
> But local attorney Bill Bertain, a conservative Republican long
>critical of
> Maxxam's policies who won a $7 million pension settlement for Pacific
> retirees, has a far different assessment.
> "What we're seeing, after 12 1/2 years of Hurwitz pounding the
> is a regionwide collapse of watersheds," he said. "More and more people
> seeing it."
> "Charles Hurwitz has nothing to do with these watersheds," Campbell
> "If anyone does, I do - and my foresters and scientists."
> Bertain represents 37 current and former residents of Stafford and 23
> residents near Elk River in lawsuits alleging they were harmed by
> "irresponsible logging" and "clear violations of the law."
> Pacific Lumber denies the accusations, though it bought the property of
> several Stafford residents, which Campbell said was "the right thing to
> Spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel said it is unknown if the landslide started
> land owned by Pacific or a smaller timber company, also named in the
> The basic thrust of Humboldt residents' complaints is supported by
> government officials, however.
> "The general problem, and Pacific Lumber is no exception, is that the
> watersheds are overharvested from a functional, riparian point of
>view," said
> Jim Lecky of the National Marine Fisheries Service. "In many instances,
> there are not enough trees left for stream bank integrity, and roads on
> have led to landslides and excessive sedimentation in streams."
> Ralph Kraus, a retired science teacher, said he and his wife can no
> pump Elk River water regularly, and it isn't suitable for drinking.
> In summer, he said, "There's a very heavy load of decaying organic
>matter on
> the bottom, which we didn't have before."
> In March, regional water-quality officials ordered Pacific to provide
> water to landowners along the Elk, but it has not complied yet and is
> appealing.
> The company received court fines of $5,250 in 1987 and $13,000 last
> for violations of state forestry rules noted last year, including
> problems.
> In an unprecedented action last December, the California Department of
> Forestry imposed new restrictions and threatened to yank Pacific's
>license to
> log with its own crews. Inspectors had found "substantially more"
> than at any comparable company, most related to erosion, official
> Ahlstrom said.
> Bertain said inadequate state enforcement is responsible for some
> and residents "are really planning to bend the ears" of the state Board
> Forestry at a rare meeting in Humboldt County next month.
> But Campbell said residents' complaints are "opportunistic," given
> heavy rains, with "known activists" joining "a lot of individuals who
>have been
> stirred up by regular activists."
> Kim Rollins, born in Pacific Lumber's company town of Scotia with "a
> lumber identity - almost a genetic thing," doesn't agree. A Stafford
>plaintiff, he
> moved his family following the landslide.
> "Up until this, I defended the bastards, whether I liked them or not,"
>he said
> of the company. "Nothing makes my neck redder than an Earth First!
> he said, referring to a countercultural group that obstructs logging.
> Wrigley also has a new view of a company she once respected. She was
> distressed when a Pacific official, hearing her concern that the
>shrinking Elk
> channel could kill her apple business, suggested she could cut her
>small stand
> of redwoods for cash.
> "Those trees don't just belong to me - they belong to every apple
> who's ever come and every one that ever will," she said. "Besides, they
> the soil."
> Mike Evenson, a former logger who ranches in the Mattole watershed,
> he doesn't entirely fault Pacific Lumber for his loss of seven acres to
>the river
> since last year.
> "It's an unstable area," he said, "but a good neighbor would not do
> on their land to aggravate an already significantly degraded
> One local official reflected on Maxxam's neighborliness: "Treat people
>like a
> colony long enough and we know what people do to colonialists - the
> get restless."
> Some citizens have organized a grass-roots group urging adoption of
> ordinances to regulate timber practices more strictly.
> Recent actions by Pacific Lumber may ease tensions somewhat. Last
> it held the first of a promised series of meetings to hear complaints
> Freshwater, a community near a clearcut area, where a "Remember
> banner went up last year.
> "We're taking steps to immediately address some of their concerns,"
> cutting truck traffic by half, Bullwinkel said.
> Maria Rea, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said recent
> with Pacific about correcting landslide-related problems produced
> progress."
> State forestry officials, meanwhile, see better compliance since
> threatened license revocation, Ahlstrom said.
> Campbell said an agency backlog in checking off corrective actions led
> that crisis. Still, he hired a new compliance team and sent "a very
>stern note"
> telling employees, "we were embarrassed, and it wasn't going to happen
> this company again."
> New conservation rules for Pacific Lumber's property would ban logging
> old-growth redwoods in large areas. But Evenson, a board member of the
> Mattole Salmon Group, fears they will "sacrifice" the Mattole watershed
> authorizing extensive logging of old-growth Douglas fir there.
> State, federal and company officials who negotiated the proposed rules
> they will do much to reduce erosion on Pacific's land.
> "We really have built roads that have failed. We really have had
>landslides off
> some of our inner-gorge clear cuts that have done bad things," said
> Barrett, recently hired as Pacific Lumber's fish and wildlife director.
> "The company desperately wants the environmental wars to come to an
> he said. "I've heard so many people tell me, we want our white hat
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644

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