February 20, 1999

Dr. William Hogarth

Regional Administrator
501 West Ocean Blvd.
Ste. 4200
Long Beach, CA 90802

Mr. Richard A. Wilson

Director of Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
P.O. Box 944246
Sacramento, CA 94244-2460

Dear Mr. Wilson and Dr. Hogarth,

Mendocino Redwood Co., LLC was created with a purpose: to demonstrate that productive forestlands could be managed with a high standard of environmental stewardship and at the same time be operated as a successful business. We believe that because we are a private company, not subject to the short-term pressures of public shareholders or excessive leverage, we are uniquely qualified to meet our purpose. We hope that if you choose to learn more about us that you will agree.

For several months you have been receiving petitions regarding several THPs previously approved but now the subject of litigation. The petitions also make a variety of allegations and observations which are emotionally charged, factually wrong in many cases and unreflective of our current and planned operations. In addition, these petitions erroneously yet intentionally infer another business, the Gap, headquartered in San Francisco is somehow connected. MRC has no legal, formal, or any other kind of business relationship with Gap Inc.

These petitions are being circulated by the thousands, electronically. While those who are circulating them and forwarding the petitions to you are probably doing so in good faith, those who are originating them know the information to be incorrect or at the very least suspect, but disseminate them anyway.

Nevertheless we believe it is our responsibility to respond to the petitioners with the current correct information. We respect the rights of citizens to petition but we also feel that such petitions should be submitted based on accurate information. We will continue to respond to each petitioner, with a goal of providing the most useful current information and facts. It may be important that you notify petitioners as well.

For your information, we have attached a copy of the letter we have sent to those petitioners whose names we can identify based on the copies of petitions that have been sent to us. So that you are as informed as possible about the facts, we are providing you with an even more detailed response to the petition below:

The petition is correct on at least two specific points.

  • First, members of the Fisher family and other investors did purchase more than 200,000 acres of primarily second and third growth redwood forest on the Mendocino coast from Louisiana Pacific in 1998.

  • Second, the Mendocino Redwood Company is in a unique position to restore and save a large portion of the redwood forest.

To provide additional information on the petition, we have simply responded directly to the specific quotes and comments from the petition text in the order in which they appear in the petition itself.

"Liquidation logging"

While it is true that L-P harvested its lands heavily, the lands still contain an estimated 2 billion board feet plus of merchantable standing inventory. The lands got into the condition that they are today with decades of tough management. We believe that these lands can be substantially improved, over time, through:

  1. A harvest rate less than the growth rate
  2. Investment in the road system to reduce sediment
  3. Carefully managing stream buffer zones
  4. Addressing the hardwood problem that has for so long been ignored on the North Coast
  5. Facilitating restoration work for streams and fish on our property

We are making substantial progress on each of the points above, and can address any of these in as much detail as you would like. Our operation of the property is probably the most expensive way we could approach the problem, and we are doing it this way to invest in the health and productivity of the land for the future.

"Redwood forest no longer productive"

MRC estimates that it has 9 million redwood and douglas fir trees on its property that have a diameter at 10" or greater. Redwood is a hearty and strong species that can stump and root sprout from a single downed tree. Even some land that MRC owns, which 100 years ago was treated as harshly as a forest can be treated, has today regenerated into a healthy and vibrant forest.

"Almost no old growth left"

For old growth, we have publicly stated a temporary policy to assure the community and our neighbors that while we take the time to develop a long-term policy for old growth, we won't be logging any significant stands of old growth trees. You can read the details of our temporary policy on our web site. We expect our long-term old growth policy to preserve many old growth trees. We have also put harvesting in the Russell Brook area on hold. This is the only area that has any old growth beyond a few scattered residuals. But even Russell Brook has been entered two or three times for diameter cuts (taking the biggest trees out, leaving only the smaller trees). In the coming months we will be working to finalize our long term old growth policy, continuing restoration work to improve our streams, and continuing to plan to improve our road system. These are actions that will help the land today and for the long term.

More generally, we are currently harvesting about 40 mmbf per year, which equates to about 2.0% of our inventory. We conservatively estimate that our harvest rate is about 60% of our growth rate, and probably significantly less than any other large producer of redwoods on the North Coast.

"The redwood tree... only grows in northern CA"

The coastal redwood, which we have on our lands, grows from as far south as Big Sur, California all the way into Oregon. The Sierra redwood grows in the Sierra Nevada's in California and Nevada. The third species of redwood grows in Japan.

Excluding the approximately 550 square miles of redwood lands held in parks, preserves, and government managed areas, there are approximately 1800 square miles of redwood lands being managed as productive forestland by timber companies in Northern California.

"The redwood tree...has become rare on MRC land"

We have lots of redwoods. Our lands span 350 square miles, and so it is hard to appreciate the magnitude of standing timber we have.

Here are the facts.

Inventories of standing timber volumes are based on sampling and statistical interpretation. MRC's inventory was determined based on 11,000 test plots that were measured in 1993 and 1994.

MRC is in the process of determining the best way to update its inventory system, which will likely include substantial re-testing of plots across its landscape.

MRC's land has been operated at a harvest rate below its growth rate since its last inventory.

Based on its existing inventory system:

  1. MRC conservatively estimates that its lands contain more than 700,000 redwood, douglas fir and white fir (conifers) trees in the 21 to 24 inch diameter category.
  2. MRC conservatively estimates that its lands contain more than 1,000,000 conifer trees in the 24 inch and over diameter category.
  3. MRC estimates that its lands contain approximately 9,000,000 conifer trees with diameters of 10 inches or larger.

MRC conservatively estimates that it is harvesting at a rate equal to 60 percent of the annual new growth on its lands. Every year the inventory of trees 10 inches in diameter or larger is increasing.

"The Coho salmon will be extinct within a year"

It is no secret that the Coho is in trouble. Few people can know precisely why the Coho is in trouble, or what will bring it back. We are doing all we can to attempt to help this species, including:

  1. Operating with a well-dispersed acreage based harvesting plan, so no one watershed is harvested too heavily over any ten year period.
  2. Investing up to 20% of our stumpage revenue in the relocation, redesign, rehabilitation and repair of roads, to reduce sediment sources to streams.
  3. Carefully managing our stream buffer zones, often not harvesting at all within the buffer zones.
  4. Cable yarding about 80% of our harvest, including a substantial amount of ground that was tractor logged in the past.
  5. Facilitating fish habitat restoration projects in our streams and for the fish. Many factors affect the Coho.

What we can and are doing is provide the best habitat possible, and to encourage restoration projects that will give those Coho that are still alive the best chance of reproducing in large numbers. MRC's land management practices include reducing adverse environmental impacts from our own operations.

"Logging the last of the redwoods"

It is important to note that we are currently harvesting about 40 mmbf per year, which equates to about 2.0% of inventory. We conservatively estimate that our harvest rate is about 60% of our growth rate, and probably significantly less than any other large producer of redwoods on the North Coast.

MRC is "clearcutting"

Here are the facts:

  • In 1998, approximately 1,200 acres scattered throughout our property were harvested using clearcutting. This area represents 0.5% of our total acreage.
  • We have utilized clearcutting mainly to effect rehabilitation of land having a small stock of merchantable conifers (generally 10,000 board feet per acre or less) and substantial quantities of tanoak. MRC does not generally clearcut stands of timber that are primarily conifer stands, but rather uses this silvicultural method in an attempt to reverse the results of harvesting practices of the last 100 years.
  • These 1998 clearcuts were primarily 'fuzzy' clearcuts, where young redwoods and douglas firs were retained to serve as advanced regeneration.
  • For new harvest plans in 1999, we will be adopting a policy of variable retention, with a 10% minimum retention, in lieu of traditional clearcutting.

Variable retention is a commitment by MRC to leave structure (in the form of: individual trees, pockets of trees, and associated plant life) in the woods. The retained trees and associated plant life will serve as wildlife habitat, provide ecological functionality (by maintaining biological diversity), and aid in the regeneration of the forest. MRC adopted variable retention for new harvest plans in 1999 after consultation with several of the leading experts in "new forestry." We are excited to see the results.

MRC's "use of herbicides" MRC applies Garlon by hand to specific individual plants for the limited and specific purpose of re-establishing the conifer forest on what once was, and will again be, redwood and douglas fir dominated timberlands. MRC takes precautions above and beyond any regulatory requirements.
For example:

  • MRC notifies adjacent landowners when applying herbicide within 300 feet of their property (except for industrial timberland neighbors).
  • MRC does not apply herbicides within stream zone buffers. Specifically, MRC does not apply herbicides within 100 feet of a Class I watercourse and 75 feet of a Class II watercourse. MRC does not apply herbicides within 25 feet of either side of a Class III watercourse if any moisture is present.
  • Both MRC and the regional Water Quality Control Board will test watercourses adjacent to significant area of herbicide application to ensure that there are no herbicides present in the watercourses. We know that the use of herbicides is a concern to many people in the community. In 1999, MRC will begin investigating and testing using alternative approaches to herbicides that are environmentally and economically viable. Acreage will be set aside to assess alternative approaches. As a part of this process, MRC expects to develop some kind of community participation. As we search for alternatives to the use of chemicals in forestry, compounds such as Garlon will be used as carefully as possible.

"The coast redwood forest will not recover"

MRC estimates that it has 9 million redwood and douglas fir trees on its property that have a diameter at 10" or greater. Redwood is a hearty and strong species that can stump and root sprout from a single downed tree. Even some land that MRC owns, which 100 years ago was treated as harshly as a forest can be treated, has today regenerated into a healthy and vibrant forest.

"Restoration efforts to save the Coho salmon"

MRC, like many other companies and people, is interested in maintaining and increasing Coho salmon and their habitat on the north coast. For our part, we'll be constantly improving existing road structures (which are a source of sediment to streams and therefore potentially damaging to Coho habitat) as well as carefully managing stream zone buffers (many current harvest plans avoid harvesting in stream zone buffers). These practices provide for shade canopy retention and Large Woody Debris recruitment measures that surpass those of the current Forest Practice Rules. This approach will help the aquatic habitat for the Coho salmon and other species of fish.

Beyond MRC's road and harvesting practices, we are actively engaged in initiating and facilitating stream restoration work on our lands. MRC is already collaborating on three distinct stream and fish restoration projects. MRC has begun working with Trout Unlimited to reduce sediment sources, build in-stream structures, and restore fish populations in the South fork of the Garcia River. We have begun working with local residents to implement a grant to repair road-related sediment sources in the Schooner Gulch area. We are working with the California Department of Fish and Game to pursue stream restoration and upslope watershed improvement projects on the North Fork of the Navarro River. Finally, we are continuing to cooperate with the California Conservation Corps (CCC's) in the Rockport and Albion areas for stream enhancement projects. Each of these projects has the potential to serve as a duplicable model.

"Help fisherfolk and loggers who've lost their jobs"

MRC is harvesting less than it is growing. MRC expects to be able to maintain its existing harvest rate indefinitely, and believes maintaining stability in its operations is one of the most important things it can do for the community. MRC and its related mill and distribution businesses, along with direct contractors, employ about 750 people.

THP 1-97-445 MEN

This Timber Harvest Plan (THP) is not currently an approved plan. It is currently being reviewed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, following I) MRC's decision to apply its new policy at variable retention to the plan, II) the National Marine Fisheries Service recent letter acknowledging changes made to the plan, and III) U.S. Fish and Wildlife's review of concerns for the Northern Spotted Owl.

THP 1-98-226 MEN

This plan has been mistakenly tied to us. This is a Redwood Empire harvest plan. It is not on our property.

THP 1-98-193 MEN

This is an approved plan on our property. The vegetative cover of this THP consists of second growth redwood, douglas fir and tanoak, with a few scattered residual older trees. The goals of this plan are to rehabilitate the site for conifer production, and to tie the existing road systems together. The larger conifers and the tanoak will be removed to allow the advanced regeneration to grow, while maintaining wildlife habitat. Certain roads close to streams will be abandoned and new roads will be built upslope in order to stay away from the streams.

THP 1-98-199 MEN

This THP is currently in litigation and as a result, no operations are underway. We are currently awaiting legal determination. Here is a brief summary of the plan to help you understand our intent of this harvest.

The timber is a stand of medium sized second growth redwood and douglas fir, with the majority consisting of redwood. The entire plan area is proposed as a selective harvest in order to minimize the potential for impacts to non-timber forest resources while still providing for timber production on this site. Harvesting will be limited to 40% or less of the average basal area. This means we would be harvesting less than we will be leaving.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Perhaps the most important tangible evidence of our commitment to the forest is our aggressive effort to become a certified forestry company through a Forest Stewardship Counsel (FSC) accredited certifier. This means that our operation will be monitored by independent third parties who will help assure our practices and procedures live up to the community's expectation.

Thank you for reading through this important information. We have established a comprehensive web site (www.mendocinoredwoodco.com) so that anyone interested or concerned or angry can have a source of current valid authorized information about our company. This site is updated regularly as we try to be as open about our operations as possible.

We recognize and respect the rights of every citizen to petition. At the same time, we feel a powerful obligation to make certain that informed petitioners have all the facts they feel they need.

After you have reviewed this information, let's discuss appropriate next steps. I can think of two. First, the originators of the petitions state that they have 10,000 signatures, we have only identified approximately 4,000 signatures. If you have more signatures please let us know so that we may respond to any additional petitioners that exist. Second, you may wish to make some response to the petitioners directly, reflective of the erroneous information in the petition. Our goal remains to disseminate accurate information on our actions and plans for Mendocino Redwood Co.


Sandy Dean

President Mendocino Redwood Company

Cc: Mary Nichols
Secretary of Resources Resources Agency
1416 9th Street
Room 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

CDF Forest Practice
135 Ridgeway Avenue
P.O. Box 670
Santa Rosa, CA 95402

Patrick J. Rutten
Northern California Protected Resources Director
National Marine Fisheries Service
777 Sonoma Ave., RM 325
Santa Rosa, CA 95404