Following are three letters: FSC letter to the New York Times in support of
the Gap Fishers' logging company, MRC, and in response to Save the
Redwoods/Boycott the Gap Campaign (SRBG) ad targeting Fisher deforestation;
excerpt from SRBG response to the FSC letter; WWF letter to the Mendocino
Forest Council with SRBG note):
1.) FSC Letter to the NY Times. Note that this letter obviously didn't make
it into the Times (we ran an AD--it was not a NY Times article or
editorial), but it magically appeared at the MRC web site. Note especially
that it was written prior to the certification team's deliberations
regarding the Fisher logging and without the team members' knowledge, with
the exception of Robert Hrubes, who signed the letter.
Letter to the Editor of the New York Times
"Clarification regarding FSC certification status of Mendocino Redwoods
On August 15, the organization, Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap ran a
full-page ad in which it was stated that Mendocino Redwoods Company's (MRC)
"unsustainable forestry practices were denied certification by two separate
evaluation teams from the independent Forest Stewardship Council." We wish
to clarify the record.
First, there are not two separate evaluation teams. Under the aegis of the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), MRC is in the process of being evaluated
by a joint team of experts affiliated with both SmartWood and Scientific
Certification Systems. This unusual step of engaging a joint evaluation team
should be construed as a willingness of MRC to undergo scrutiny within the
framework of voluntary, third-party certification.
Second, the certification events related to MRC that have occurred to date
cannot be construed as conclusive one way or the other regarding the
"sustainability" of the MRC management practices. The certification
evaluation process is ongoing and the final outcome has yet to be
determined. While MRC did not attain certification during the initial round
of evaluations (a not uncommon occurrence), the reasons for that initial
outcome should not be construed as a blanket indictment. MRC remains engaged
in the process and is addressing issues raised in the initial evaluation.
The evaluation process will resume later this summer.
Times' readers should be aware that MRC is voluntarily pursuing
certification according to the standards and protocols of the Forest
Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC label on timber and timber products is a
guarantee for consumers that the forest where the wood originated was
evaluated and certified to be managed according to the highest standards of
Hank Cauley, Executive. DirectorForest Stewardship Council - U.S.
Richard Donovan, Director, SmartWood (www.smartwood.org) |
Robert Hrubes, Senior Vice President., Scientific Certification Systems
2.) An excerpt from my response to this FSC letter, which I sent to the MRC
From: GUARDIANS OF ELK CREEK OLD GROWTH
To: Mark Baker, Dean Berg, Chris Maser, Robert Hrubes, Steve Radosovich,
Steve Smith, Yana Valachovic
Fax: 707-247-3555 (ISF/Smartwood)
Date: September 9, 2000
Re: MRC Certification
Members of the MRC Evaluation Team:
I already submitted my "initial round" of comments to you via email (to Yana
and Mark) on September 4, and I hope that each of you has read them.
Since then, I've read the FSC Letter to the Editor of the New York Times in
response to our ad on Fisher deforestation (attached--note that this letter
found its way to the MRC web site, although the Times did not publish it).
The letter dispels any shred of expectation of an independent, objective,
third-party evaluation on the part of the FSC, SCS, or Smartwood. Let me
tell you why:
1.) The first paragraph of the letter makes a feeble attempt to discredit us
by correcting our facts: It was not two separate evaluation teams, but a
joint team of experts from two separate companies (glad we got that
straight). Further, we are instructed to construe this "unusual step of
engaging a joint evaluation team" "as a willingness of MRC to undergo
scrutiny." May I suggest that the Public could equally construe MRC's
actions as a desire to cover all its bases - to eliminate competition, to
ensure that one company would not cast any doubt on the other's assessment,
in fact, to kill the possibility of any conflict by making it economically
worthwhile to *both* companies (the only FSC companies in the area) to
either certify MRC or play along with their "pursuit" of certification?
Given the sincerity of the Timber Industry in general and MRC's in
particular (and I can cite dozens of on-point gauges of their sincerity),
which would you believe if you were John Q. Public?
2.) The second paragraph carefully instructs us not to construe MRC's
failure to attain certification last year "as conclusive one way or the
other regarding the 'sustainability' of MRC's management practices." The
Public would like to know what it meant then - why did MRC fail to attain
certification last year? But instead we are told that the evaluation
process is ongoing, and we are left with the impression that it can continue
indefinitely with no conclusive results... Meantime, we should sit back,
relax, and be assured that MRC's "willingness" to pursue judgement according
to the "highest standards of responsible forestry" must mean they're doing
3.) In the final paragraph, you again patronizingly tell the Public what we
should "construe" from MRC's actions: an openness to be judged by the
"highest standards" in forest management. You imply that this openness -
this confidence - is based upon some measure of compliance with those
"highest standards." Let me propose a different source of MRC's confidence:
12.5 BILLION DOLLARS. Their "confidence" is, in fact, arrogance based on the
sound experience that money can buy anything: the Law, the Courts, the
politicians, public opinion, non-profits - and most certainly you, a small
for-profit certifying company and a small non-profit certifying company.
This outrageous, manipulative, patronizing letter that tells the Public what
to think, without giving them any facts - e.g., how MRC is logging these
forests, Why they were not certified last year - is an insult to the Public
and exposes your pro-MRC bias in boldface. *In fact, this letter sounds so
much like MRC it makes me laugh!* Did they draft it for you? Or is
Greenwash-speak becoming an official tongue of the corporations and their
lackeys? Down to your blustery "The FSC label on timber and timber
products is a guarantee for consumers that the forest where the wood
originated was evaluated and certified to be managed according to the
highest standards of responsible forestry." Says who? The FSC, of course!
3.) WWF letter to Mendocino Forest Council Dated 8/25/2000 (Note: This
environmental organization, WWF, has never approached the environmental
organizations that are opposing MRC certification, and has undoubtedly never
read an MRC logging plan. They clearly don't know the first thing about MRC
logging. MRC tried to shove an endorsement through the County Forest
Council, a public body, with no public notice whatsoever--using the WWF
letter. This was a sleazy, backroom political move--and typical of the way
the Gap Fishers and their logging company are operating. They are USING
EVERYBODY to get this logging done. (Local activist Linda Perkins happened
to be present at the meeting, and brought this sleaze-bag move to a halt on
public process grounds. Note, too, the WWF is a member of the FSC.)
To: Greg Giusti, UC, UCCE Mendocino County, County Ag Center, Ukiah CA
From: signed by Nick Brown, Ph.D, Manager for U.S. Forest Conservation, WWF.
Dear Mr. Giusti:
It has been brought to our attention that some very serious allegations
have been made about the practices of the Mendocino Redwoods [sic] Company
(MRC) in an advertisement published in the August 15th western edition of
the New York Times. Due to public profile [sic] ans serious nature [sic] of
these allegations, and given our knowledge of MRC's efforts to promote
responsible stewardship [sic], we feel a responsibility to encourage you to
look closely into these charges.
WWF is aware that MRC is currently undergoing a rigorous process of
independent certification according to the strict standards of the Forest
Stewardship Council by not one, but two, [sic] certification bodies
accredited by the FSC, SmartWood and Scientific Certification Systems. WWF
is a steadfast supporter [sic] of the Forest Stewardship Council, whose
standards we deem to be of the highest quality in sustainable forest
management. While the MRC certifications evaluation process is ongoing and
the final outcome has yet to be determined, [sic] it is our opinion, form
both first-hand visits and secondary sources, [unnamed] that MRC has taken
great strides to correct past management abuses by previous owners and
areas for improvement [sic] pointed out by the certification process to
We strongly encourage the county to look seriously into these allegations
and to dispel any misinformation that has been raised. [sic] These type
[sic] of allegations, if false, will only serve to hinder, rather than
promote, the responsible stewardship of all forests in Mendocino County.
[End of letter.]
The Fishers of Gap, Inc., and the Scam of "Sustainable" Logging
In Mendocino County, the struggle to stop the destruction of our redwood
forests has included many courageous protests, political efforts and public
interest lawsuits over several decades.
At the end of it all, we had a promise from the state Board of Forestry
that all corporate loggers in Mendocino would have "Sustained Yield Plans"
by the late 1990s. SYPs are long term forest management plans that
regulate the logging over time and provide protection for public trust
resources (fish, wildlife, water quality) in each forested area, in a
public review process.
It is now 2000. No "SYPs" have been approved. Early this year, every
corporate logger in Mendocino abandoned the "SYP" process, using a loophole
rule provided by the Board of Forestry.
Among those who have cheated us out of a public process of sustainable
forest management are the Fisher family of the Gap clothing stores. It is
an interesting story.
In October 1997, Louisiana Pacific -owner of a fifth of the forest land in
Mendocino -- announced that it was selling out of the redwood business.
Two weeks later, L-P released its "Sustained Yield Plan" for public
review-a bit late. By the following spring, L-P was gone.
Enter the Fisher family of the Gap. The Fishers bought L-P's overlogged
forests and logging operations (including over one hundred L-P logging
plans) in July 1998. They immediately started logging the L-P plans, and
began filing one hundred more plans. Adepts at P.R., the Fishers also
mounted an intense media campaign, promising to log sustainably. They
meanwhile shelved the "Sustained Yield Plan," and permanently abandoned the
public SYP process in early 2000.
The Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance has been monitoring logging in
Mendocino for eleven years. We read the actual Timber Harvest Plans--the
public documents that permit logging (of which hundreds are filed every
year). We also live in these forests that are being logged. We are not
easily fooled. We added up the numbers in Fisher logging plans.
Eighty percent of the the Fishers' current stockpile of over 200 logging
plans contain some form of clearcutting, including an estimated 75
"traditional," 100% clearcuts. In 1999, they stopped using the word
"clearcut" and began using the phrase "variable retention" (a 90%
clearcut). At the same time, they dramatically increased (by 75%) the area
of forest that is being entered and logged, over L-P levels in 1997-98.
According to the defunct SYP, only 3% of the average forest stands in this
ownership contain the bigger trees needed by wildlife (24 inch diameter or
greater). The Fishers' logging plans are concentrated in those areas-the
areas that contain the very last old growth and second growth trees.
According to L-P fish surveys, the once-abundant Coho salmon was absent in
19 of the 27 watersheds in this ownership and in 90% of the streams
overall. The Fishers are using the herbicide Garlon (toxic to salmon) in
their clearcutting areas, and fail to disclose fish and other endangered
species surveys in their logging plans.
With the last of this forest going down the road, and the last endangered
species heading for extinction--and with no SYP--the Fishers faced an
ever-worsening P.R. problem. The answer?
The Fishers are big contributors to the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC), which was instrumental in creating the Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC) and its private "green label" certification process. Logging
investor Robert Fisher (former President of the Gap) sits on the NRDC
board. The NRDC has a representative on the FSC board.
the FSC grants a 'green label' on the mere promise that the logging company
will phase out damaging practices such as clearcutting, logging of old
growth and the use of toxic herbicides. Further, the public has no right
to information and no right to participate in the secret FSC certification
I've got to hand it to them. It was brilliant. The Fishers' now have a
'green label.' They're still clearcutting, using toxic herbicides, and
logging old growth. They do promise, though, to stop their damaging
practices some day. Does nothing ever change?
Well, yes, one thing has changed. In 1995, an L-P fish survey found 10
Coho salmon in one of their creeks. 17 logging plans later (12 of them
belonging to the Fishers), in the year 2000, no Coho salmon were found.
Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance
To: "Editor (Examiner)"
Re: Tough evaluator OKs Mendocino timber firm's harvest practices (Brazil
11-18-00), the Fishers of Gap, Inc, were given a "green-label" for their
logging operations based on a promise that they will meet the Forest
Stewardship Council's low standards some day. For example, the certifiers
give the Fishers four years to reduce toxic herbicides by 60%.
Meanwhile, the Fishers can and are continuing their unsustainable logging
practices: clearcutting (80% of their 200+ plans contain some form of
clearcutting), old-growth logging, high-grading (taking 25% of their annual
cut from 7% of their holdings, because that 7% contains the last big trees),
overlogging (40 million boardfeet annually), etc.--without basic
protections, like a sustained-yield plan (required in 2.5 years) or wildlife
surveys (required in 2 years), in place.
The Fishers' inventory is extremely thin--less than 10,000 boardfeet/acre. A
healthy commercial forest contains 40,000 bf/acre, an ancient forest,
400,000. Former owner Louisiana-Pacific's Sustained Yield Plan states that
97% of Fisher holdings is in average stands of very young, small trees, 1-21
inches in diameter, and that there are no Coho left in 90% of the streams.
Other endangered species, like the Marbled Murrelet, are also facing
extinction. They will be gone before the Fishers have to make good on their
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this vastly depleted
forestland can no longer be logged sustainably, let alone withstand the
The FSC's loose guidelines and secret process have been sharply criticized
by many, including Sierra Club Canada. Follow the money and see that the
Fishers fund the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is a mainstay of
the FSC, from whom the Fishers bought this phony "green label."
Mary Bull, National Coordinator
Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap Campaign
252 Frederick Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
firstname.lastname@example.org 415-731-7924 http://www.gapsucks.org