In 2000, the Campaign to Restore Jackson State
Redwood Forest filed suit to halt logging in Jackson State Forest. Over
the next eight years, legal actions or the threat of legal actions
compelled the Department of Forestry (formerly abbreviated as CDF, now Cal
Fire) to refrain from any logging and to develop a new management plan and
accompanying environmental documents. Finally, in January of 2008, a new
management plan for Jackson State Forest was approved, with the support of
One issue remained unresolved – what was to happen with the two timber
harvest plans (THPs) filed in 2000, for Brandon Gulch and Camp 3. These
plans were subsequently halted by the legal actions of the Campaign. The
state contended that the THPs were still valid, although they were long
past the 5-year expiration limit in the statutes. With the approval of the
management plan, these plans could go forward.
The Campaign was unalterably opposed to allowing the plans to go forward.
The THPs were located within the central recreation area of the forest,
where numerous campgrounds and recreation trails are located. The stands
of forest are exceptional. They were last logged one-hundred years ago,
and in the century since, the redwoods and firs have completely restored a
high canopy, shading out the brush and creating the play of light and
shadow that make redwood forests seem like ancient cathedrals. Such stands
on public land are rare to the vanishing point.
Although agreeing with the new management plan, the Campaign pressed the
Board of Forestry and Cal Fire to renegotiate or terminate the contracts.
The Board and the Campaign agreed to extend the time for filing a legal
challenge to the management plan and environmental report while the
parties to the THP contracts attempted to reach a mutually acceptable
agreement. The threat of legal action, which all parties wanted to avoid,
created strong pressure for reaching agreement.
Finally, after numerous meetings among the parties (Cal Fire, the
Campaign, and the THP contract holders), the general outlines of a
settlement emerged. A key point for the Campaign was to shift the purpose
of the harvests from revenue generation to restoration toward old-growth
conditions (technically called “late-seral” conditions). Restoration of
the forest has been a key element in the platform of the Campaign. A key
element for the contractors was an agreement by Cal Fire to provide
substitute timber from other harvest plans to make up for the reduction in
harvests in Brandon Gulch and Camp 3 that would occur because of the shift
For me personally, one of the most wonderful parts of the agreement was
the removal of about 150 acres within Camp 3 from the harvest plan, to be
set aside as a “control” (Cal Fire’s view) or, in my view, as a preserve.
This preserve is right next to the central gathering point for campers and
recreationists. A recreation trail – yet to be built – will allow hikers
to explore through this beautiful forest stand, knowing it will be allowed
to continue to heal and grow, undisturbed by logging.
In early June, the last of the necessary signatures was affixed to the
settlement agreement. In addition to agreeing to the changes in the timber
harvest contracts, the parties agreed to forgo any rights to file legal
challenges to the management plan or the timber harvest plans. The
settlement agreement, thus, wrote the final chapter of the legal saga that
began in 2000.
Still to come, though, are the chapters of the new volume being written by
the independent Jackson Advisory Group. This group has until 2011 to
design a long-term landscape and management plan for the forest that will
provide an appropriate balance among the needs for wildlife habitat,
ecological health, recreation, research and education, and revenue to
support operations of Jackson Forest. It will be an interesting story.
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