>Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 11:11:09 -0700 (PDT)
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>Subject: Sac Bee Editorial
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>Tom Philp: Logjams and setbacks complicate Headwaters talks
>A Sacramento Bee Editorial
> (Published June 23, 1998)
> At first blush, a deal to save the ancient redwood forest of Humboldt
>County known as the Headwaters seems straightforward enough. The company
>that owns the forest gets $380 million. In turn, it agrees to log its
>neighboring lands, some 300 square miles, in an environmentally sustainable
> Yet the closer the deadline comes to this deal actually happening, the
>cloudier the Headwaters arrangement has become. Only a few inside
>government and the company -- Charles Hurwitz's MAXXAM Corp. -- know what
>is happening. For the few of us on the outside trying to track the
>arm-twisting, lobbying and potential fudging by Hurwitz, it is impossible
>to see the proverbial forest through the trees.
> The clock is ticking. Congress has said it will provide $250 million for
>the Headwaters only if the deal is done by March. For all the environmental
>documents to be in place by then, drafts should have been released to the
>public a month ago. In Sacramento, meanwhile, state legislators are
>deliberating whether to provide the remaining $130 million for the
> The money is not in the Legislature's proposed budget. To put it in means
>a lot of money doesn't go somewhere else, such as to school. The 4,500-acre
>Headwaters, the largest stand of privately owned ancient redwoods left in
>the world, has many friends. Yet Hurwitz's tactics -- buying these lands
>with junk bonds and then doubling the logging to retire the debt -- has
>earned him enemies.
> The Headwaters deal is stacked like a house of cards. If Sacramento
>doesn't pony up the state money, neither will Congress. If there's money
>but no agreement on logging outside the Headwaters, there's no deal. A
>logging strategy that satisfies one endangered species, such as the marbled
>murrelet, doesn't close the deal unless there is a habitat plan for all the
>others, such as the coho salmon.
> With so many ways for this deal to collapse under its own bureaucratic
>weight, one would think that Hurwitz would be doing everything he can to
>prop it up. The alternative is an expensive court fight over the Endangered
>Species Act -- a result that, when all the legal briefings and courtroom
>debating are done, may
> produce far less profit for MAXXAM shareholders.
> But this is Hurwitz. And this is the Headwaters, where nothing has come
>easily. The behind-the-scenes maneuverings appear to center not on the
>Headwaters, but on the 200,000 acres outside the grove that will provide
>the timber for MAXXAM's Pacific Lumber Co. Except for the ridge tops,
>virtually everything else is on a slope that feeds streams. Some flow
>year-round, others seasonally. They are the liquid lifeblood of the coho,
>which come from the Pacific to spawn in these streams.
> Logging can be tough on the coho. The disruption of the slopes, followed
>by a dose of winter Humboldt rain, can send literally tons of sediment into
>streams. Too much logging too close to streams will eliminate a natural
>canopy that keeps the waters cool. Too much heat and too much dirt
>translate into too few salmon.
> Having never actually devised a logging strategy that recovers any species
>of fish, much less coho salmon, government scientists weren't exactly
>working from a tried and true restoration road map when they began
>negotiating with Hurwitz's biologists and lawyers. Initial talks last year,
>surprise, were fruitless. That prompted participants who know even less
>about salmon -- politicians -- to negotiate directly with Hurwitz. Based on
>firsthand reports, those talks went something like this:
> The federal scientists would privately outline a position to the
>politicians. The politicians would present it to Hurwitz. Hurwitz would say
>no and offer an alternative. The government scientists would review it and
>conclude it was unacceptable. That was relayed by the politicians to
>Hurwitz. Hurwitz would yell. Hurwitz would storm out of an office. Hurwitz
>would return. And the process would resume.
> Somehow negotiations last winter ended up producing a framework of a deal.
>The hardest fought sentences were over the logging near the salmon streams.
>Hurwitz, as the deal was portrayed, would agree to stormproof 50 miles of
>logging roads every year (the land has 1,500 miles of dirt roads). While
>logging gets the attention of many environmentalists, the biologists focus
>considerable attention on roads. A logging site is a temporary source of
>sediment. A bad road is a permanent one -- year after year, rain after
> The other half of the salmon deal was a logging formula that is
>incomprehensible to nonforesters. It was supposed to prohibit logging near
>streams as far back as 170 feet, depending on the existing density of the
> That was the framework. Now it faces a dismantling.
> On one side is Hurwitz. Bargaining for every last buck in recent
>negotiations, Hurwitz's representatives are seeking to undo the logging
>formula and replace it with one that allows precisely five more big trees
>per acre to be chopped near some streams, according to a government
>official. To the scientists, that is five trees too many.
> In Sacramento, meanwhile, some legislators want to create their own
>logging formula with a blanket prohibition on logging within 170 feet of
>salmon streams.
> So the hardball continues. Who will win this game? Nobody now can tell.
>This would be fun to track if it were purely sport. Yet the livelihoods of
>many Californians up and down the food chain are at stake, not to mention
>the future of the Headwaters. So the bargaining goes on. And the stomach
> TOM PHILP is an associate editor at The Sacramento Bee. He can be reached
>by phone at 321-1046; by fax at 321-1996; or by letter at PO Box 15779,
>Sacramento, CA., 95852-0779.
>The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)
>P.O. Box 397
>Garberville, CA 95542
>(707) 923-2931
>Fax 923-4210
>Contact us at epic@igc.org to join our listserver
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644

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