April 1, 1999
MRC 'focused on the large and important task...'
Submitted by Sandy Dean
Let me see if I can address the more substantive questions Beth Bosk raised in her letter last week. She clearly knows a lot about meteorology, so I'll skip that part.
We agree that the forest needs lots of redwood and Douglas fir trees, and bigger trees over time. This is precisely what will result from Mendocino Redwood Co.'s forestland management. We are harvesting less wood than our forest is growing on an annual basis. The forest is recovering. In addition, by harvesting in areas that contain a high amount of tan oak and replanting with redwood and Douglas fir seedlings, we are restoring what once was, and will again be, a healthy and well-stocked redwood and Douglas fir forest.
By the way, between December 1, 1998 and January 31, 1999, we planted more than 500,000 redwood and Douglas fir seedlings throughout our property.
Since starting in business about nine months ago, Mendocino Redwood Co. has worked to build its relationships with Mendocino County and the many neighbors of our forest. Our foresters and I have talked with hundreds of residents in the county, including friends, employees, government officials, and critics. In all these conversations, the guiding principle for MRC is open, honest, and responsive communication.
We learned early that if we are open, if we talk about what we do with anyone who has an interest, question, or concern, literally 99 out of 100 will understand and either support us or worry about others who are really threats to the forest. We have spoken with many individuals who signed petitions against MRC over the Internet and elsewhere. Once they received our packet of information, reviewed the Web site, and spoke with us, the vast majority of these individuals also have decided either to support us or to worry about other more urgent matters in the forest.
Beth is correct, our mission is lofty. The evidence continues to come in that the community is comfortable with our long-term strategy to manage the forest. My personal forecast is for growing support from the county and endorsements by environmental groups and other organizations concerned about stewardship of forestlands on the North Coast. We remain committed to our purpose, namely managing these productive forestlands with a high standard of environmental stewardship while at the same time operating as a successful business.
Yes, we amended THP 95-315 from a commercial thinning to a group selection harvest. The proposed amendment will result in up to 2 acre harvest areas, or group selections where we harvest the larger conifers and tan oaks, and leave the small conifers, small tan oaks, any madrones, chinquapins, and any old growth conifers that are in the harvest units (an old growth tree is defined as 250 years old or older, and 48 inches in diameter at breast height or larger). Out of this 168-acre plan, 34 acres will be harvested and 134 acres will not be harvested. As an aside, group selection has been endorsed by key environmental organizations, as well as Forest Stewardship Council accredited certifiers.
Beth makes a number of comments about damage to streams that could result from THP 95-315. First of all, our protection of streams is on the leading edge for any forestry company. The facts about our operations for THP 95-315 are these:
1. The stream zone buffers are wider than required by regulation.
2. The plan will be cable yarded to avoid unnecessary soil disturbance, and the toe holds for the cable will be placed as high as possible to move the logs in the air as opposed to on the ground.
3. Only 34 out of 168 acres are being harvested in the plan.
4. Even in the areas that are harvested, significant structure will remain following harvest including the small conifers, small tan oaks, any madrones, chinquapins, and any old growth conifers that are in the harvest units (an old growth tree is defined as 250 years old or older, and 48 inches in diameter at breast height or larger).
The timing of harvest plan submissions is a key part of our operational planning. We begin operating plans promptly once approved by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) so as to get our harvest accomplished in dry periods as opposed to winter months.
Beth suggested that we acted without official CDF approval to begin helicopter yarding of logs on Columbus Day 1998. We comply with all CDF regulations and authority. The CDF will verify that MRC operated in complete compliance with its approval process on Columbus Day of last year.
As for the questions about an injured worker, it is true that one of the choker setters was injured while attaching a turn of logs to the helicopter hook. A tree limb fell and struck him in the back. The worker was immediately transported to the Mendocino Coast Hospital by his supervisor and was treated and released the same day. The worker was released to regular work on Nov. 18th. Working in the woods is a dangerous occupation and we make every effort to create and maintain a safe working environment.
Let's talk about the Northern Spotted Owl. The Northern Spotted Owl is doing very well on MRC's lands. We have a simple piece of anecdotal evidence to support this. The Northern Spotted Owl is believed to best like old growth conifers for habitat. MRC has over 100 "owl sites" (a site can either be a lone owl or a pair, and most of MRC's sites are occupied by pairs) on its property. The much more heavily wooded Jackson Demonstration State Forest (which has four times more timber volume per acre than MRC) has nine owl sites. If we adjusted these numbers for the difference in acres, MRC has 2 times as many owl sites as the much more heavily wooded Jackson. This leads us to believe that the owls on our land are doing well. I can also say that the owls will continue to do well, because we are committed to carefully maintaining owl habitat across our property.
MRC will continue to attempt to share as much factual information as broadly as possible to build trust and credibility with all members of the community. We will remain focused on the large and important task of creating a new and special forest products company.
Anyone interested in knowing more about our business can visit our web site at www.mendocinoredwoodco.com, or call our office at 485-8731, and we will be happy to send them a printed version of this material.
Copyright 1999 Mendocino Beacon
Letter from Beth Bosk