December 2, 1998 Felicia Gealey 30161 Simpson Lane Fort Bragg, CA 95437 Dear Ms. Gealey, Thank you for your letter to the Fisher family, dated November 18th. They have asked me to provide additional, specific responses. Your new organization, Mendocino Students for a Sustainable Future, sounds like an important effort for students to undertake. The reason we are responding is because the Gap, its employees, and families of employees have nothing to do with Mendocino Redwood company. Having said this, and once you have read this letter, I hope you will reconsider your Boycott and consider visiting our forest to see what we are doing. We agree that old growth stands of trees (where old growth trees are defined as 48" in diameter at breast height and 250 years old) should not be logged. We believe that traditional clearcutting should be eliminated. We agree that no winter logging should be done that would damage Coho habitat. We agree to the limited use of any herbicide directly applied. Before I respond to each of the specific issues your letter raises, let me alert you to the fact that we have a very complete Web site ( that talks about many of the issues you raised, but in greater detail than I can in the space here. In addition there is also information about our company, our mission, and what we hope to accomplish. Please visit the Web site, it's the sole source for factual, reliable information about virtually every issue we face and what we're doing about the issues you care about. To be as specific as I can let me simply take quotes from your letter and respond to them directly: "Stop the spraying of Garlon and other 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 wil be used as carefully and specifically as possible. "Old growth" We are currently harvesting about 40 mmbf per year, which equates to about 2.0% of our inventory. We 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. 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. "Clearcutting" Here are the facts:
  • In 1998, approximately 1200 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 methods in an attempt to reverse the results of harvesting practices of the last 100 years.
  • These 1998 clearcuts were 'fuzzy' clearcuts, where young redwoods and Douglas-firs are 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 Mendocino Redwood co. 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, and aid in the regeneration of the forest. "Winter logging" Let me clarify about our winter harvesting plans. Numerous Timber Harvest Plans (THP's) have been approved for winter operations, but that does not mean that winter operations will occur. Here's what will actually happen. In general, MRC will minimize its winter operations because there is risk of sediment movement and road damage. Activities that do not pose these threats, particularly falling, cable yarding from rocked roads, loading, hauling on rocked roads, and operations during extended dry periods, will be conducted by MRC when conditions are appropriate. Through the THP process MRC, along with various government agencies, establish significant limitations and precautions for any winter harvesting activity. It seems there have been specific concerns about winter logging in the Albion. MRC has 6 active plans that have been approved in the Albion. MRC will limit its activity to falling on all but one of the Albion plans. Falling will occur at various times in the winter, particularly in the late winter, in anticipation of an ability to log and haul in the spring. Falling does not cause meaningful sediment movement or otherwise create problems due to winter conditions. Winter falling is limited to areas outside of the watercourse and lake protection zones. The one Albion THP that may be logged this winter will be limited to cable yarding and hauling from rocked roads and falling. The hauling and winter conditions will be monitored very carefully. In order to avoid causing sediment movements and damage to roads, we will not haul during periods of rainfall or when roadside ditches are flowing with surface runoff, or when roads are saturated and cannot support the heavy loads. At the first sign of measurable rain, trucks in the woods will make their final trip out, and trucks not yet in the woods will be asked to return home for the day. "Why not set a precedent for responsible timber practices" 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 certification of our lands (independent third party verification that the environmental practices employed on our lands are good), and are also already actively pursuing a number of restoration projects on our lands. We have already given the green light to three distinct stream and fish restoration projects, and think that these could be models for larger scale restoration projects on our lands. We have been in business for just over 150 days. While we believe we have accomplished quite a bit, we know we have a lot left to do. Our goal is to create a model forest products company that will demonstrate that excellent stewardship and good business can exist in the same company. Let me clear up one more misconception about Mendocino Redwood Company's inventory of trees and size of our trees on our property. MRC's forest lands comprise 230,000 acres of timberlands in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Of the trees on this land, a significant number are in both the 21-24 inch diameter range and in the over 24 inch range. 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 trees in the 21 to 24 inch diameter category.
  2. MRC conservatively estimates that its lands contain more than 1,000,000 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.
  4. MRC 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.
I hope this information has helped. This clearly shows that we have lots of trees in the 21 to 24 inch diameter classes. Thank you for writing and expressing your specific concerns. Our Web site has lots more information. If you don't have access to the internet, feel free to call our office and we would be happy to send you a print out of our web site by mail. After you have seen what we have presented so far, let me know if there are questions or concerns that we could further address. Let me personally invite MSSP to visit our land. Seeing 9 million large trees will be a very memorable experience. If it will be more convenient, I can come to your class and speak and answer questions. Let's sit down face to face soon. It is very important. Sincerely, Sandy Dean President Mendocino Redwood Company P.S. Please feel free to call me directly or call Karen Mulhair, a forester and communicator with communities and schools, to talk. Link to Letter from Felicia Gealey