The Coastal Post - November, 1996

Help Save The Redwoods

A small battle has been won in the war to save the redwoods of Humboldt County. A full day of negotiations between Senator Dianne Feinstein, Department of Interior John Garamendi, State Resources Secretary Douglas Wheeler and the owner of Maxxam Charles Hurwitz closed a deal to save 7,500 acres of ancient redwoods. The deal includes the 4,500-acre Headwaters Grove, the largest of the ancient groves, plus a 3,000-acre second growth buffer zone around the grove. Yet, this is only one small piece of the solution for those who want to see the Headwaters Forest survive.

"We will stay here until the entire forest is safe from Charles Hurwitz and Maxxam." This sentiment is shared by hoards of activists who contend that Maxxam should not have the right to liquidate trees to pay its 1.6 billion dollar debt to taxpayers.

The federal deal to save the Headwaters Grove is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough. Actions to save this forest won't end until all six groves and buffer zones, totaling 60,000 acres, have been protected, and Charles Hurwitz is prosecuted for his part in the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s.

Until 1985, Pacific Lumber was a model lumber company. A family-owned business, passed down through three generations, Pacific Lumber truly cared about its employees and exercised sustainable logging plans to ensure the Headwaters Forest would remain productive well into the future. The old Pacific Lumber maintained a company town, provided health care, educational facilities, social activities, better wages and benefits than any union, a well-funded pension plan and a secure future for its employees. Yet it is this pursuit of longevity and security which made Pacific Lumber as easy target for Maxxam. When Maxxam gained control of Pacific Lumber in 1985, this liquidated the pension fund, shut down company mills, and doubled cutting of PL's ancient redwood holdings to pay off the 1.6 billion dollar debt incurred in the takeover.

Environmentalists will continue to push for protection of 60,000 acres which have already been damaged too much for sustainable logging to be an option. As for the remaining 138,000 acres of Pacific Lumber holdings, sustainable logging is still an option. "Our goal isn't to put loggers out of work. We recognize that the lumber industry is a vital component of this region's economy. We are fighting to save 60,000 acres which have been logged passed the point of sustainability under the control of Maxxam. There is plenty of forest left for Pacific Lumber to continue logging sustainably as they had prior to 1985."

Forest activists will continue to stand in the way of Maxxam's destruction of this national treasure until the 60,000 acre area is set aside. Furthermore, measures should be taken which protect business which act responsibly so they are not vulnerable to corporations seeking an easy buck. Corporations such as Maxxam should not be allowed to profit from destroying socially responsible companies such as Pacific Lumber.

Make a stand against Maxxam. Write the FDIC urging them to file charges against Maxxam for its debt to taxpayers. For more information and to find out what you can do, call the Mendocino Environmental Center at (707) 468-1660. Send the message that destructive business practices will not be tolerated.