>Headwaters deal saved by 'miracle'
>By Nancy Vogel
>Bee Staff Writer
>(Published Sept. 2, 1998)
><Picture>After 10 years of battling over the grove of gigantic, ancient
>redwoods known as Headwaters, California has put money on the table to buy
>Early Tuesday, in what a key legislator called "a minor miracle," the
>Assembly agreed with no votes to spare to spend $245 million to purchase
>Headwaters and at least one nearby redwood grove. The Assembly and the
>Senate, which approved the measure just hours before, tied the money to
>tougher stream protections on Pacific Lumber Co.'s Humboldt County land.
>Gov. Pete Wilson is expected to sign the bill, and a weary-sounding Pacific
>Lumber President John Campbell described himself as "delighted with the
>"After 10 years and 10 failed efforts," said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
>who spent two years brokering a deal on the federal level, "the Headwaters
>The state money, plus the $250 million Congress set aside two years ago for
>Headwaters, will buy 9,500 acres of redwoods -- much of it old-growth.
>If, as expected, state and federal agencies approve a plan to protect
>endangered sea birds and salmon on the company's remaining 192,000 acres,
>company owner Charles Hurwitz will get the money and the public will own
>Thus will conclude an epic battle over some of the world's most rare
>forest, its combatants of proportions as exaggerated as the 12-foot-wide
>virgin redwoods. They include Hurwitz, a Houston billionaire who took over
>the family-run Pacific Lumber Co. in 1986, activists who padlocked
>themselves to logging equipment, and a woman named Butterfly who's spent
>the last nine months living in a redwood tree on Pacific Lumber Co.
>If the Legislature hadn't appropriated money for a Headwaters purchase
>before the end of the session Tuesday morning, a two-year effort to save
>the grove probably would have collapsed; Congress had set a March 1, 1999,
>deadline on use of its $250 million.
>The deal marks the first time that politicians -- in this case, the
>California Legislature -- have altered a habitat conservation plan. Such
>plans are designed to protect endangered species on private land and are
>supposed to be based on the best available science.
>The Headwaters HCP invited more political interference than most: It was
>part of a larger deal that required Congress and California legislators to
>spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars buying land.
>State Sen. Byron Sher, D-Palo Alto, and several other Democratic lawmakers
>refused to rubber-stamp the key elements of a habitat conservation plan
>hammered out last winter by Hurwitz, Feinstein and federal officials.
>Sher said he didn't think the plan did enough to protect salmon streams,
>and his bill increased the no-logging buffers along those streams from 30
>feet to 100 feet. That standard will be in place for several years, until
>federal scientists assess each watershed on Pacific Lumber Co. land and
>write logging restrictions on a stream-by-stream basis.
>"They said it couldn't be done," said Sher. "When we raised these questions
>at the beginning, they kind of patted us on the head and said the deal's
>On Tuesday, Feinstein phoned to thank Sher and three other legislators key
>to the negotiations -- Sen. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, Senate President
>Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, and Assemblywoman Carole Migden,
>The lawmakers, with backing from Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, added $115
>million to California's $130 million share of the Headwaters deal. Of that,
>$15 million will go to Humboldt County for lost property taxes. Up to $100
>million will be used to purchase the 904-acre Owl Creek grove, with the
>price to be based on an appraiser's estimate. Any money left over will go
>toward the purchase of Grizzly Creek grove.
>Under the original agreement brokered by Feinstein, one of those two groves
>would have been cut. A provision that will stand from the earlier agreement
>bans the company for at least the next 50 years from logging scattered
>redwood groves covering another roughly 7,000 acres.
>The deal approved Tuesday will be incorporated into a habitat conservation
>plan that must be approved by state and federal agencies by next March.
>While the Legislature's 11th- hour negotiations put the Headwaters deal on
>a fast track to completion, grumbling continues.
>To environmentalists, the logging restrictions still fall short. They had
>sought 300-foot buffers along streams used by salmon.
>"What we're seeing is pretty substantial protection for ancient groves,"
>said Elyssa Rosen, Sierra Club salmon coordinator. "Unfortunately, what
>gets overlooked are the salmon and the streams."
>The Environmental Information Protection Center in Garberville attacked the
>financing of the deal, calling Pacific Lumber Co. "some of the best
>shysters in America." President Paul Mason noted that Hurwitz, who bought
>the entire company in 1986 for $870 million, may now earn $480 million for
>giving up less than 5 percent of his land.
>But Sher and Feinstein said there was no way to preserve the groves without
>compensating Hurwitz for trees worth $20,000 or more each.
>"If you start with that attitude that he's an evil man and not one dollar
>should be paid to him," said Sher, "then these wonderful forests and the
>chance of survival for these endangered species are going to be lost."
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644
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