Back in 2000, MRC envisioned a long-term plan to manage its 213,000 acres of redwood forests in Mendocino County. MRC asked a half-dozen government agencies to create the regulatory framework for their 80-year plan. MRC was asking to simplify existing regulatory processes with a single document and integrated plan.
After a full decade of work, documents totaling more than 3,000 pages were presented to the public just before Christmas for an 88-day comment period.
MRC's chief forester, Mike Jani, said the company will still have to file individual harvest plans. He said the plan was partly in response to community input that harvesting be done differently than in the past.
"We felt this was a very strong commitment to the community that we are going to be here for the long haul," said Jani.
While some critics were comfortable dealing with the current MRC under current conditions, they wondered how the company and the times could change over 80 years. At two Fort Bragg public meetings, some suggested that timber harvesting for profit might not even be practiced in a society that exists 80 years from now.
One thing all sides agree upon is that the number of healthy trees will increase drastically over the next 80 years.
Past forest practices scalped hills, killed off salmon runs and destroyed the quality of redwood based on unscientific and careless replanting.
MRC continues legal logging including clear cutting today, but this logging is done in the company of biologists. In past years, bulldozer logging scalped entire hillsides, which were then replanted with same age-same sized trees. This type of replanting may have harmed the forest more than the bulldozer itself. Replanting is now done with more care and science.
The lands currently feature 2 billion board feet of harvestable timber, or 9,000 per acre. That will grow to 29,000 board feet per acre average on the same acreage over the next 25 years.
The 213,000 acres of MRC holdings include just 105 acres of old growth forest untouched by logging. There are about 500 acres where selective removal was practiced and some old growth trees remain, mostly in high and hard to reach areas.
Complete copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Draft Program Timberland Environmental Impact Report as well as the Habitat Conservation Plan - Natural Community Conservation Plan can be viewed locally at the state Department of Fish and Game office in North Noyo Harbor and local libraries, or online at http://www.fire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/resource_mgt_EPRP_PTEIR.php.