GREENWOOD WATERSHED ASSOCIATION COMMENTS ON SANDY DEAN LETTER

The following letter by Sandy Dean, spokesperson for the Fisher family’s logging company, Mendocino Redwood, has been annotated by the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap in an effort to provide the public with the truth about this logging company and the forests that it is destroying. Mr. Dean’s letter contains so much mis-information that the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap has provided a detailed, paragraph by paragraph reply.

Mr. Dean’s statements appear in black type. The statements of Mary Bull and Bob Krebsbach, to whom Mr. Dean is replying, appear in boldface. The commentary of the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap appears in green.

Mr. Dean is sending this letter to people who are concerned about the old growth clearcutting in Greenwood Creek (Barn Gulch — THP 1-95-315 MEN Amendment no. 10) and also about the logging of old growth residual trees and second growth in the Albion River Kaisen Gulch area (THP 1-98-350 MEN).

On February 18, 1999, the Fishers sent a full crew of fallers into the Albion River plan area (Kaisen Gulch - THP 1-98-350 MEN) - in February, in the rain — to log for ten days, in continual rainfall, in an effort to beat the March 1 startup date for Spotted Owl surveys. The crew cut down numerous residual old growth and second growth trees (for later removal), before they had to stop on March 1. The logging began the morning after the California Department of Forestry approved the plan–before people in the community had even received CDF’s approval notice (the notices hadn’t even been mailed yet!). This wildlife habitat–where young Earth Firsters recently saw and photographed a Spotted Owl--is now gone. The Albion River Watershed Protection Association took this matter to court, to try to save the remaining forest. The hearing will take place in April.

The Greenwood Creek old growth logging plan (Barn Gulch — THP 1-95-315 MEN Amendment no. 10) has not yet been approved by the California Department of Forestry. CDF’s rubber stamp of this sloppy, last-minute plan amendment (changing the plan to strip clearcuts) could come at any time. CDF is right now trying to figure out how to approve this amendment despite the obvious evidence from numerous citizens (including the photos available at this site) that the area contains prime Marbled Murrelet and Spotted Owl habitat, and "late succession" (ancient) forest, none of which have been surveyed.

In the letter below, Mr. Dean asserts that these strip clearcuts will be a "lighter touch" upon the land. This is a ludicrous statement. The original plan (before MRC's Amendment) was for "commercial thinning," with parts of it to be yarded by helicopter - a low-impact plan. Mr. Dean also tries to minimize the importance of this forest by stating that it is not an old growth "stand." What he doesn’t tell you is that this "property," as he likes to call it (230,000 of severely depleted former Louisiana Pacific redwood forest) has almost no old growth trees left. Only 3% of this "property" contains any vestige of the ancient forest. 97% of it is in 1-21 inch diameter trees (as opposed to the potential of the coast redwood — 20 feet in diameter, 300 feet tall and 2,000 years of age!). The fact is that they are cutting the very last old growth trees in these forests.

In the case of Greenwood Creek, they are strip clearcutting one of the few remaining forests with old growth characteristics–numerous big old trees - at least 100 of them in the 200 to 600 year age range, with abundant habitat (multi-story canopy, large branches, lots of downed woody debris) essential to endangered birds and other wildlife. There is almost none of this kind of forest left on the Mendocino coast.

Mr. Dean’s other reason for quibbling over the word "stand" is to avoid Forest Practice Rules about "late succession" (ancient) forest. The pattern of this company has become very clear — just like L-P before them, they are constantly trying to get around the Rules in order to complete the liquidation of these forest lands.

Mr. Dean’s letter is kind of amazing in this context. Its lack of truthfulness goes very deep. It is only one example of the intense, well-funded "green-washing" campaign that the Fishers have mounted in order to get these last old growth trees logged before the public, or the law, catches up with them.

If you are concerned about these logging plans, fax a letter to the California Department of Forestry (FAX No. (707) 576-2608, TEL. No. (707) 576-2959, ADDRESS 135 Ridgway Ave./P.O. Box 670, Santa Rosa, CA 95402), and write to the Fisher family, of Gap, Inc., whose investment dollars are driving the decisions at their logging company. (Fisher family, c/o Robert Fisher, Gap, Inc., 900 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066.)

Here is Mr. Dean’s letter, and the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap (Gap Boycott)’s replies...


Mendocino Redwood Company, LLC
32600 Holquist Lane/P.O. Box 489
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Ms. Mary Bull
Mr. Robert Krebsbach
252/250 Frederick Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

March 18, 1999

Dear Mary and Robert,

Thank you for your letter regarding our Timber Harvest Plans, and your questions about old growth, Coho salmon, stream protection, and water quality. It gives us the chance to directly answer you and clear up any misconceptions about what our company is trying to achieve.

Before I respond to each of the specific issues your letter raised, let me alert you to the fact that we have a very complete Web site (www.mendocinoredwoodco.com) that talks about many of the issues you raised. In addition, our web site contains more general information about our company, our mission, and what we hope to accomplish in the coming years as we build a different kind of forest products company.

[Gap Boycott: Re: "...a different kind of forest products company." Click here for the photograph of the MRC log deck in Ukiah. The "different" kind of forest product that this company is producing is called a "pecker pole." It is a tree of about 12 inches diameter, of inferior quality wood called "yellow redwood" that has been made to grow too fast (has failed to put on the tight rings that one finds in an old growth tree), due to the use of clearcutting and herbicides--and that most carpenters won’t use. MRC forest lands are covered with this type of tree —97% of their forest acreage contains trees of only 1 to 21 inch diameter. Only 3% contains larger trees and decent wildlife habitat. Mr. Dean speaks of their "mission." Their true "mission" is to cut down that last 3% of big trees before the public realizes what they are doing.]

I want to respond to specific issues you raised with regard to THP 1-98-350 MEN and THP 1-95-315 MEN. To respond to your concerns most efficiently, I have simply quoted from your letter, and then followed this with the most relevant factual information we can provide at this time.

"...one of the few dwindling stands of old growth and mature second-growth redwood trees in the entire county..."

First let me begin by saying that neither one of these plans have any stands of old growth. Both harvest plan areas were clearcut and burned at or before the turn of this century. There is only an occasional residual older tree scattered throughout the landscape and we are retaining those trees that are at least 48 in diameter and 250 years old. The average age of the second growth trees in THP 350 ranges from 45 to 70 years old. THP 315 was logged a second time in the 1940s making the average stand age about 58 years old.

If these stands did contain any meaningful amount of old growth, they would be managed consistent with our stated policy on old growth, which you can read about on our web site.

[Gap Boycott: Re: "...neither one of these plans have any stands of old growth." THP 315 in (Barn Gulch) contains a very substantial stand of residual old growth and second growth redwood and Douglas fir, with at least a hundred trees that citizens have estimated to be between 200 and 600 years of age. This is clearly one of the very few such stands of its kind on these severely depleted former Louisiana Pacific lands. Citizen observations and photographs — and even the logging plan itself — reveal that this forest is not only full of residual old growth trees, it contains all of the characteristics of an old growth forest, such as a multistoried canopy, deformed trees with odd branches that birds like to nest upon, and downed wood debris (decaying trees where small rodents and other wildlife live). By stating that this forest is not a "stand" (when it so obviously is), Mr. Dean is trying to avoid following the Forest Practice Rules that require special assessment of such forest, and mitigations. This plan to clearcut the old growth in 15 strips down the watershed was filed as an amendment in order to avoid proper assessment of the stand.

[In figuring the average stand age for THP 315 at 58 years old, Mr. Dean is likely including the large understocked area (about a third of the plan), or other low volume areas, outside of the old growth clearcutting areas, in the average. From citizen reports, photographs and videotape, it is clear that the average stand age in the clearcutting areas is much higher. The timber industry often gives false information like this, to get around the rules. Mr. Dean refers to MRC’s "old growth policy" regarding trees 250+ years of age and 48+ inches diameter. Is he coring these trees to determine their age? How is he implementing this policy?

[MRC’s "old growth policy": Mr. Dean states that "we are retaining those trees that are at least 48 in diameter and 250 years old." This is not what the "old growth policy" says at MRC’s web site. It says that MRC is retaining such trees if they are found in unentered stands of 20+ acres, or entered or unentered stands of 5+ acres with 6 such trees per acre. These very depleted former Louisiana Pacific forest lands contain almost no such stands of old growth. So, the first part of the policy is virtually meaningless. Then, in the fine print ,the policy states that MRC will "evaluate" residual old growth trees on a "case by case basis" for their "importance" to wildlife. Almost all of the old growth left in these forests are residual old growth trees; MRC thereby leaves itself a very large loophole by which it can log virtually all of the remaining old growth in this 230,000 forest ownership. ]

[You will notice that Mr. Dean never gets to the question of "the few dwindling stands of old growth." He doesn’t tell you how much old growth there is left in Greenwood Creek or the Albion River, or in the Fishers’ ownership as a whole. The answer is this: 97% of the forest acreage in the Fishers’ ownership is in 1-21 inch diameter trees. The bulk of this is in 11 to 16 inch diameter trees. Only 3% is in trees of 24 inch diameter or greater–the last remaining old growth. By comparison, the coast redwood is capable of growing to 20 feet in diameter, 300 feet tall and 2,000 years of age.

[Greenwood Creek is one of 14 (out of 28) watersheds that has any old growth at all–it has about 4% left. The Albion River has the highest percent (16%). MRC currently has eight logging plans in the Albion, all targeting that last 16%, and six logging plans in Greenwood Creek–three of them with clearcutting--targeting that very last 4% of big trees. ]

As a matter of background, prior to harvesting in the area of either THP 315 or 350, wildlife surveys are conducted to establish the presence or absence of species that are federally or state-listed as Threatened, Endangered, or Sensitive ("TES species"). If TES species are located, appropriate protective measures are implemented. The protective measures, as established by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, and California Department of Forestry, are enacted so as to ensure that no harm is done to those species. The protective measures concentrate on habitat retention, with the purpose being to provide the needed habitat that will sustain the population of TES species.

The wildlife species that are found on MRC property represent a diverse group of animals, including species such as Marbled murrelets and Northern spotted owls. To maintain and promote biodiversity, our old growth policy and Federally mandated habitat retention measures are enacted. These and other actions will allow for the existence of a wide range of different types of animals and habitats in our ownership.

[Gap Boycott: No wildlife surveys were done for the extremely endangered Marbled Murrelet in either plan. The Northern Spotted Owl survey for THP 315 is almost five years old and has been given "rubber stamp" extensions by the Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game. New Spotted Owls may have moved into this last vestige of old growth habitat in Greenwood Creek, due to the logging of the old growth forest adjacent to this plan area last year. "NSO" surveys, as they are called, are routinely sloppy and inadequate — and are almost never done according to proper survey protocols. This is the case for the surveys in this plan as well. As for the NSO surveys for THP 350 (Albion River), Mr. Dean sent a full crew of fallers out into the area — in February, in the rain — in an effort to avoid the March 1 startup date for this season’s Spotted Owl surveys. They logged for ten days in the pouring rain, felling numerous residual old growth and second growth trees. The Spotted Owl habitat in that plan is now gone.

[The truth of the matter is that the Fisher family of the Gap and their logging company are right now removing the very last decent wildlife habitat in these 230,000 acres of severely cutover forest. The result of MRC’s logging will be the removal of all remaining ancient forest characteristics, and the extinction of many species.]

"...changes it from Commercial Thinning to a Group Selection plan (1.5 — 2.5 acre clearcuts, having a significantly higher impact."

The type of harvest planned for THP 315 has been amended from a commercial thinning, to a group selection. This change was due to the change of timberland ownership and a change of philosophy. The change to group selection will in fact be a much lighter touch on the land than the previously proposed commercial thinning. As now proposed, only about 31 acres in group selection areas are scheduled to be logged out of a total plan area of 168 acres. Within the group selection areas, trees greater than 10" DBH are proposed for harvest with the exception of wildlife trees. These group selection areas will then be planted. The areas outside of the group selection strips will remain untouched.

THP 350 is proposed for selection and group selection with the goal of transferring the growth of the harvest trees onto the residual trees. The selection and group selection will result in less volume of trees being harvested than is retained in the stand. The goal of the group selection and selection is to maintain a multistoried, uneven-aged stand by thinning out crowded trees and removing the less thrifty and damaged trees.

[Gap Boycott: "Group Selection" means clearcutting. The plan area, 168 acres, was inflated, by including a large understocked area, in order to get around the rules for "group selection" clearcuts. Some of these old growth clearcutting areas have almost no small trees. There will be almost nothing left to hold the extremely steep ridgeside together. The areas adjacent to the "group selection" clearcuts will suffer wind burn and blowdown for lack of the protection of other trees. These "group selection" clearcuts will fragment and destroy this forest. A few years from now, they will go back in and log the rest of it, possibly using the strip clearcut areas as skid trails.

[The original "commercial thinning" plan was described as "thinning from below" to improve the stand–culling out smaller and lesser quality trees--and part of the plan was helicopter logging (least impact). That old plan had logging in the steam zones. When they realized that they would have to stay out of the stream zones, to protect the Coho salmon–which has since been federally listed as a threatened species--they filed this amendment to entirely change the plan and go after the old growth a bit higher up on the slopes, with strip clearcuts. To state that this shredding of the forest and wildlife habitat with strip clearcuts is a "lighter touch" is ludicrous.

[The original THP 1-95-315 MEN — that is, the plan they are changing with Amendment No. 10–was a compromise plan, coming out of the "Breakfast First!" protests in 1990, where 17 local townspeople got arrested for blocking logging trucks, trying to defend their town water supply and other forest resources from overlogging. THP 315 was the compromise plan filed in 1995–one of the few low-impact plans that Louisiana Pacific ever filed. The Fishers are now changing this plan to strip clearcuts, and removing the lower-impact helicopter logging, in order to log the precious–and highly profitable–old growth, the last decent wildlife habitat in the watershed, at the least possible expense. This hasty, sloppy, last-minute amendment has been rushed through the review process–with completely inadequate cumulative effects assessment–in order to avoid public comment, and public outrage.]

"90% of the streams on MRC lands are no longer fish bearing".

MRC estimates that it has about 520 miles of Class I streams (streams that are fish bearing), and another 1180 miles of Class II and Class III streams (streams that are either flowing all the time or are intermittent, but not fish bearing).

Fish distribution surveys conducted in 1994-1996 on MRC’s 350 square mile ownership in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties spanned 20 basins. Fish were present in all basins. The 90% estimate does not line up with current known and public information.

The streams in THP 315 are being protected beyond what is required by state regulations. There will be "no harvest" buffers on all watercourses, which includes 25’ buffers on Class III watercourses, 75’ buffers on Class IIs, and 100’ buffers on a Class I watercourse.

The increase in protection to the watercourse and reduction in plan size and actual harvest area are more than adequate protection measures to avoid a taking of Coho salmon in THP 315.

[Gap Boycott: Mr. Dean appears to have misunderstood the letter. The 90% estimate refers to Coho salmon. The Fish Distribution Surveys conducted by previous owner Louisiana Pacific in 1994-1996 reveal that the Coho salmon was absent in 19 of 27 watersheds on the MRC ownership, and in 90% of their streams overall. The Coho salmon is on the verge of extinction in this ownership, due almost entirely to the impacts from logging--dirt in the streams that smothers salmon eggs, and extremely high stream temperatures, lethal to salmon, caused by denuding of the stream banks. The herbicide garlon–which Mr. Dean has elsewhere defended, and which MRC is using extensively–is known to cause disorientation in juvenile salmon. The steelhead is also in trouble on MRC lands, and is a candidate for federal listing.

[The MRC "no harvest buffers" use standard Forest Practice Rules stream widths. This is a very minimal protection. Federal scientists and independent scientists have called for no-cut zones of more than twice these widths, due to the extreme peril to the Coho salmon posed by logging operations. MRC is trying to get this minimum width accepted as the standard for their state Sustained Yield Plan and federal Habitat Conservation Plan. It is an industry-devised standard — originally used by L-P.

[Several of the strip clearcuts in THP 315 cross Class III streams, and some come down the ridge very close (nearly touching) Class II and III streams. There are many unstable areas (some of them unmapped), and the plan now has a new road above (with road failures already) and an old crumbling road below (next to the stream).

[The 15 strip clearcuts will cut the forest to shreds, leaving in some cases only a few scattered 10 inch diameter trees to hold the steep ridgeside together. In other areas, where the old growth is thick (all to be clearcut), there will be nothing left to hold the soil. Fragmenting a redwood forest weakens the remaining trees’ root systems, since redwood roots form an interconnected mat beneath the soil. The Erosion Hazard Rating is inaccurate–the THP gives a "moderate" to "high" EHR. Citizen observers report near vertical slopes in areas of the plan where clearcutting will occur.

[Sediment from logging operations kills salmon. It is chief reason that the salmon is in such steep decline in coastal forests (which have no dams, unlike inland salmon runs). Elk County Water District turbidity graphs for this watershed indicate a serious sediment problem in this watershed. Sediment causes turbidity (the brown color of the water during storms). Turbidity is a pollutant. The public health standard is .5 ntu. During storm events, the Creek shows turbidity of 500 ntu and greater (it literally goes off the charts!). Neither MRC, nor L-P before them, has done anything whatever to monitor this public health and fishery problem. They just keep clearcutting and building more roads! ]

"...one third of the creek in 315 is misclassified".

The classification of this stream was reviewed and accepted by Biologists from Natural Resources Management, Mendocino Redwood Co., and the California Department of Fish and Game. All were in agreement with the classification contained in the harvest plan.

Because of concern over this issue, MRC and a representative from the local water district will together review the stream area in the next week or two. MRC is committed to providing appropriate protections to all of its streams.

[Gap Boycott: Natural Resources Management works for MRC — they write logging plans for them. Mendocino Redwood Co. biologists claimed there were no fish in the south fork of Elk Creek (adjacent to Greenwood Creek), when in fact they had L-P fish data in their hands indicating the presence of both Coho and steelhead. It took a lawsuit — and two brave young fishermen, who went up and found and photographed the fish in Elk Creek — for the truth to be revealed. The California Department of Fish and Game routinely rubber-stamps wrong stream classifications. They okayed the Elk Creek misclassification even though they knew it was wrong. All in all, this is a very unreliable list of "experts." ]

"There is also serious landslide potential and water quality issues, impacting a town water district in this plan".

There is no known "serious landslide potential" in Barn Gulch. While there are a few mapped unstable areas, there is no proposed harvesting in the mapped unstable areas. Most of the unstable areas are associated with watercourses and there are no proposed harvesting within the stream zone buffers for the Class I and II watercourses and no harvesting within 25 feet of Class III watercourses.

[Gap Boycott: Re: "...there is no proposed harvesting in the mapped unstable areas." This is not true. Clearcut unit G-1 has an unstable area right on its border at the headwaters of a Class III stream (a very short distance above Class I salmon spawning habitat). Clearcut unit G-2 crosses a Class III stream with several unstable areas in its headwaters, in close proximity to G-2. Clearcut units G-5 through G-8 involve strip clearcuts across a stream system with three mapped instabilities (and several unmapped ones). Clearcut unit 13 has a massive slide just to the north of it.]

[Timber corporations routinely underplay these erosion hazards — and then, after the logging is over, when additional landslides and road failures occur, they are long gone and take no responsibility for impacts on fish and town water. The Fisher family of the Gap and their logging company, Mendocino Redwood, are no different. They won’t be the ones to pay for this catastrophe-in-the-making.

[ "Most of the unstable areas are associated with watercourses...." Citizen observers found several road failures on the new road, a weak cutbank that will continue to fail, and numerous erosion problems on the old road by the creek. What he is trying to say here is that "it’s not us" — it’s not our roads, it’s the fault of the watercourses! This is nonsense. Watercourses cause very little erosion in an old growth forest. If you cut trees down, and place strip clearcuts at the heads of watercourses, then they erode. Question: If there is a problem with unstable areas on this property–whatever its cause–is the owner not responsible for it? What are they doing to repair these slides and prevent sediment from entering the water systems? The answer is nothing. And they are going to make the problem much, much worse with this clearcutting plan.]

There is a single domestic water source (a spring box) located uphill of the plan boundary and adjacent to the Greenwood-Philo Road. This spring box was given the same protection as a fish bearing stream. No operations will take place uphill of the spring box.

[Gap Boycott: It is ridiculous to dwell upon this "spring box" — when the water supply for an entire town is at risk. Of course there wont’ be any operations "uphill of the spring box"–it’s right next to the road! This is just "filler" — extra verbiage to make it sound like MRC is doing something.]

The plan area is approximately eight miles upstream from the mouth of Greenwood Creek on the ocean, just south of the town of Elk. The Elk County Water District operates two shallow wells adjacent to Greenwood Creek near the Highway 1 bridge, approximately eight miles downstream of the plan area. Because the Elk water system is not supplemented by deep wells, the system must rely on stored water during high turbidity periods, which occur under winter high flow conditions.

[Gap Boycott: Doesn’t mention the turbidity readings that go off the charts. Doesn’t mention the cost to the town of cleaning up the water. Doesn’t mention that MRC opposes the listing of Greenwood Creek as an impaired watercourse, which would mean we could get government help for monitoring and reducing sediment. Doesn’t mention four community lawsuits in this watershed, with local people trying to get relief from corporate logging impacts on the water. Doesn’t mention the flooding that has nearly knocked out town well no. 1.]

In addition, the majority of the proposed harvesting will be by cable yarder, thus limiting the potential for increased sediment inputs.

[Gap Boycott: Doesn’t mention that the proposed Amendment no. 10 removes helicopter yarding from the plan — that would be the least impact. It’s also the most expensive.]

The residual timber stand will contain sufficient trees on site to stabilize soils.

[Gap Boycott: According to whom? Did he have a geologist or a hydrologist evaluate this risky plan? Did any state agency geologist or hydrologist evaluate it? At least one of the of the clearcut units has no small trees in it. It’s all old growth. They’re taking it all out. What will be left to "stabilize soils"? How can a few scattered 10 inch diameter trees hold these near vertical slopes in place? The Amendment entirely changes the plan — yet there were no inspections and no scientific evaluations of the risks.]

To further reduce the potential for sediment inputs, approximately 1 mile of existing WLPZ road in and adjacent to Barn Gulch has been abandoned by removing culverts, pulling back perched material, installing drainage facilities, installing large rock (riprap) to control erosion, and seeding and mulching numerous areas.

[Gap Boycott: These are merely standard road policies that L-P put in place long before it sold out to this new company. Proper road management is part of doing business in the woods — without it, their roads would be unusable. Are they supposed to get brownie points merely for cost-effective road management — when they are strip clearcutting the last old growth in Greenwood Creek, and about to create 15 "sediment transport corridors"–long, rectangular avenues for sludge aimed right down the steepest part of the watershed to the streams?]

Roads are the greatest source of sediment into streams and we have actively been making road improvements. A good example of this is near THP 350. In recent years, four bridges were put in to replace culverts and low water crossings. These permanent bridges greatly assist fish migration and reduce the sediment input into streams. In this same area we have been working with the California Conservation corps (CCC’s) for stream enhancement projects. This includes building in-stream structures to improve fish habitat.

[Gap Boycott: Timber Harvest Plans routinely assert that whatever outrage they propose —whether it’s clearcutting a steep ridgeside, or building miles and miles of new road to access trees–has "reduced" the sediment impact to a minimum. Each plan says this, in turn. Meanwhile, our rivers pour mud out into the ocean after every winter storm. The standard must be "zero net discharge"–that is, NO more sediment. Our fisheries are dying from this mud in the rivers. It is not a time to be "reducing" the sediment into streams. It must be eliminated from these operations — or we are going to see the Coho salmon go extinct in the very near future. Everybody involved in fish habitat restoration knows that it is quite useless to build in-stream structures, or perform other limited restoration work, while a timber corporation is unraveling a watershed.

[The fact is that MRC cut a badly constructed road of about a mile in length–a road that is already falling apart--into the top of Greenwood Creek/Barn Gulch watershed — adding considerable sediment to the water system right into the headwaters of all the Class III streams at the top of the ridge, and they will be creating 15 "sediment transport corridors" all down the ridge to the very bottom, right above a Class I stream. The road is necessary for cable-yarding. They eliminated helicopter yarding, with this Amendment No. 10, which would have been the least impact.]

Conclusions: We have been working with a number of experts on the best way to manage these lands for the long term. We are actively pursuing Forest Stewardship Council certification of our lands (independent third party verification that the environmental practices employed on our lands are good). Certification takes time, and we are confident that we are making good progress in this important effort.

[Gap Boycott: These former Louisiana Pacific forest lands are some of the most overlogged forests in northern California. If the Forest Stewardship Council were to "certify" these lands, while clearcutting, herbicide use and logging of old growth is still going on, they will become the laughingstock of the environmental community. This simply isn’t going to happen. Anyone can apply for "certification." Getting certified is quite another matter. It doesn’t take that much time if the landowner is doing the right thing. What Mr. Dean, MRC and the Fishers are doing here is playing for time — while they finish liquidating these depleted forests. ]

It is our intention to continue to provide information to you and others who have contacted us, those who have signed petitions, government officials, and others. Our Web site has lots more information. If you don’t have access to the Internet, feel free to call our office, (707) 485-8731, and we would be happy to send you a full print out of our web site by mail. Whether we agree or disagree you are entitled to know what we’re doing and have the opportunity to be heard. Thank you for writing.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Sandy Dean, President

Mendocino Redwood Co.

____________________________

A LETTER FROM THE GREENWOOD WATERSHED ASSOCIATION TO WEB SITE READERS:

Dear Web Site Readers:

Sandy Dean’s openness with the public seems like a good thing on the surface. It’s certainly different from Harry Merlo, the old CEO of Louisiana Pacific, who boldly stated that he was going to "log to infinity" (and that’s what ol’ Harry did!). Mr. Dean, on the other hand, spends a lot of time on public relations, answers letters personally, takes people on site visits, and seems willing to talk about things.

After paying careful attention to Mr. Dean’s public statements about timber policies and issues over the last year, and closely watching the activities of the Mendocino Redwood Company, those of us who have familiarity with these issues have concluded that this "openness" is merely a public relations technique–and is part of an intense and well-funded "green-washing" campaign by which the new owners–the Fisher family of the Gap--are trying to "sell" the old L-P logging program as if it were something new.

There has been no substantive change in the logging program. The level of logging, the types of logging, the types of timber harvest plans filed, and all other elements of the program are identical to that of L-P. For instance–according to California Department of Forestry documents–50% of the Fishers logging plans contain all or partial clearcutting, and well over 70% contain high-impact logging methods including clearcutting, the same percentages as L-P. The overall acreage of logging is about the same (slightly higher in 1998 with Fisher plans). If anything, the Fishers are intensifying certain bad practices such as the use of herbicides, and they are most certainly targeting old growth–even amending old plans, now, like the Greenwood plan, specifically to take out an old growth forest.

This "green-washing" campaign has included heavy use of the press including newspaper ads (five full page ads in one local paper), a three-page letter to over 10,000 people who signed the Petition to Save the Mendocino Coast Redwood Forest, radio interviews, public appearances, creation of a web site, and other items--all with the constantly repeating message, "We want to be good stewards of the land," and also including the invention and repetition of other soothing phrases, such as "variable retention" as a substitute for "clearcutting." (What they mean by "variable retention" is clearcutting 90% of the trees instead of 100%--which the foresters can easily get around by inflating the acreage of the clearcutting plan by 10%). It’s very like "brain-washing" and reflects a sophisticated understanding of advertising techniques.

Mr. Dean’s statements in this "green-washing" campaign are often false and misleading. For instance, he often repeats that MRC clearcutting is used primarily to "remove tanoak" (a species of hardwood that competes with redwood and Douglas fir, in cutover forests). Yet, MRC’s clearcutting areas generally contain substantial amounts of redwood and Douglas fir, often more than 50%. They don’t want you to know that they are clearcutting redwood and Douglas fir. They want you to believe that clearcutting is some sort of restoration program that will increase the amount of redwood and Douglas fir in their forests. Nothing could be further from the truth. Clearcutting causes tanoak to grow. (Previous clearcutting is why there is so much tanoak in these former L-P forests.)

We once corrected Mr. Dean about this in a radio interview–but he hasn’t retracted his mis-statement about the particular plan under discussion (THP 1-97-445 MEN, i Elk Creek)–a plan in which the clearcutting units contain 58% redwood and Douglas (he said it’s "primarily" tanoak)–nor has he corrected the general misinformation about the aim of their clearcutting.

A great deal of what Mr. Dean says is an attempt to justify L-P logging practices such as clearcutting and herbicide use. He misrepresents practices such as minimal stream protection zone widths, or better road building techniques, as something invented by MRC, when these policies were all devised by L-P to avoid more stringent regulation. He has also tried to debunk L-P statistics about tree sizes and fish populations–even though these L-P statistics merely confirm what is already known about L-P lands. L-P was notorious for its "liquidation logging." To verify the small tree sizes on MRC lands (97% of the forest acreage) you have only to look at the MRC log deck in Ukiah. [SEE PHOTO] To verify the condition of the coastal Coho salmon fishery, you have only to visit Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg. The salmon fishing fleet is gone.

To say otherwise–to try to assert, for instance, that the tree size statistics in L-P’s proposed "Sustained Yield" Plan are somehow mistaken–is mere "brain-washing," that is, an attempt to assert the opposite of the truth. This well-known advertising trick is called "the Big Lie." If you repeat a lie often enough, some people will actually come to believe it.

MRC is operating without an approved "Sustained Yield" Plan. They–and L-P before them--file logging plans under the bogus "Option C" Rules, which do not require a "Sustained Yield" Plan–and which were supposed to guarantee sustainability anyway. "Sustainable" logging on L-P lands is a joke. The company sold out leaving behind a landscape of pecker poles. Everybody knows this. Who does Sandy Dean think he is kidding?

The Rules were written by industry lawyers in cahoots with former Governor Pete Wilson’s campaign manager Terry Gorton, whom Wilson appointed to the Board of Forestry to quell the "liquidation logging" crisis of the early 1990s. They told the Mendocino County timber industry that they had to write "Sustained Yield" Plans, but they failed to give them a deadline for getting an SYP approved. That’s how L-P continued to liquidate their forests throughout the 1990s, and finally sold out, with no "Sustained Yield" Plan in place. The Fishers are continuing this farce. They just extended the decision date for this same SYP for another 120 days. They will be done liquidating the last merchantable timber in these forests before that date ever arrives.

One element of "sustainability" for cutover forests such as L-P’s is preserving the last vestiges of old growth habitat, so that ancient forest wildlife such as the Marbled Murrelet and the Spotted Owl can survive, and so that the forest can eventually recover. The Fishers are instead quickly removing these few areas of old growth habitat–such as the one in Greenwood Creek, and the one in Kaisen Gulch in the Albion.

It is difficult to counter "the Big Lie" when the people who are propounding it have a fortune reported to be over 11 billion dollars. The Fishers have virtually unlimited resources to "green-wash" and "brain-wash" the public about what they are doing.

We, the members of the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap and the Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance, are ordinary citizens who have become experts on forestry because we live here and we see our forests being destroyed. We are poor rural people who fund our efforts with dances, and T-shirt sales and modest donations and grants. We are all volunteers. The Fishers’ recent mailing to the 10,000 petition signers, for instance, must have cost thousands of dollars in typing time (transcribing the names and addresses of all those signers), and thousands more in printing and postage. We don’t have the resources to do things like that. All we have is the truth–what we know about these forests, and what we know about the Fishers’ activities here.

All of our resources currently are going into lawsuits — trying to keep a few of these last old growth trees in the ground. The Fishers have numerous approved logging plans (all of L-P’s uncompleted plans going back 3 to 5 years, and their own filings over the last nine months). We can only sue on the worst and most illegal plans. They are fighting us tooth and nail even on these — costing us thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, money that our small non-profit groups have to raise.

Why would the Fishers of Gap, Inc., be doing this? It seems like such a losing proposition — taking over forest lands such as these, which were so cutover already, and logging the last merchantable trees?

Many of us have concluded that the final liquidation of these forests is a preliminary to real estate development, the Fishers’ true goal here. Our last old growth — and the end of the ancient forest and all of its dependent species — is actually a matter of relatively small profit to the Fishers, compared to the profits to be gained from land speculation.

Mendocino County is ripe for development. It is a large rural county with a population on only 80,000 people--a place with the most beautiful coastal scenery in the world. The Fishers now own 230,000 acres of it, much of it along the coastline and along the inland Highway 101 corridor just up from the overdeveloped Santa Rosa area.

The Fishers are involved in several large development projects in San Francisco, and their 2,000 stores nation- and world-wide represent a lot of real estate in themselves. The truth is that Gap, Inc., is as much a real development corporation as it is a clothiers.

The Fishers’ creation of the Mendocino Redwood Company doesn’t make much sense as a "sustainable" logging venture. However, it begins to make sense–financial sense, that is–if you understand it as an investment in future development, with the logging of the last old growth as merely step one. Converted to real estate–subdivisions, shopping malls, fancy ranchettes and mansions–the values of this ancient forest will be lost forever. We believe that is what is happening here.

One thing is certain —there is so little merchantable timber left in these forests that Mendocino Redwood Company will not be here for "the long term." At the rate they are logging (40 million board feet per year), it will all be gone in a year or two. Then the subdivisions will begin.

Mary Pjerrou

for the Save The Redwoods/Boycott The Gap



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