Letter to the Editor
August 1, 2001
I and other concerned community members toured Mendocino Redwood Co.'s current logging operations on the Albion River near Enchanted Meadow. In response to public pressure, MRC representatives 'Tom Schultz, Nancy Budge, Ellen Potter and Brandon Lee had agreed to hike out there with us so we could show them elements of the operations we found to be of particular concern.
The first spot we visited was a Class III stream (meaning it only flows when it rains) that community-members Sal Eggleston and Bernie Macdonald had walked with MRC Head Forester Mike Jani before logging commenced. Sal says she and Mike both saw water running down the channel, and Mike assured her the stream would be flagged. As it turned out, the stream was flagged instead as a skid road, and much of its length through the Timber Harvest Plan has been buried and turned into a thoroughfare for tractors. The dust is ankle deep, and though they had mulched it with slash and put in one visible waterbar, it seems likely to erode substantially into the Coho habitat of the Albion River below.
Next we visited another Class III stream, into which timber had been felled. It is against regulations to fall trees in a stream, but Tom pointed out that the stream had been flagged as ending just below where the trees lay, implying that therefore, with regard to regulations, there was no stream beneath the trees. This didn't satisfy the folks on the tour, who pointed out the stream channel obviously continued well beyond the point where it had been marked to end.
After visiting Enchanted Meadow, a wetland to which the community gained title through struggle against Louisiana-Pacific in the '90s, we walked back along the river, and cut up the hillside to a (2-acre?) clear-cut on an extremely steep slope. Officially, it's against MRC policy to do clear-cuts. Thev call this Shelterwood Removal instead. But they cut everything, leaving a steep pile of slash and loose rock and a few fir stumps the roots of which Sal says will rot in three to five years, leaving the slope (not so high above the river) prone to slides. Furthermore, activists a few days before had noted that, due to the steepness of the land, numerous trees cut at the bottom edge of the THP had been felled into the watercourse protection zone below.
MRC folks were friendly and accommodating, and they pledged to look into our concerns. But it seems likely that similar problems will continue to occur. In three years, MRC has so far filed six timber harvest plans near each other in the Albion River watershed. They are taking up to one quarter of their total cut for the year on all their holdings out of the Albion watershed alone; a watershed which is home to endangered species like Coho salmon, Spotted owls, Marbled murrelets and Pacific fishers. And MRC has not made public an inventory of their timber or a long-term management plan for their holdings.
In response to the violations listed above, community members suggested MRC spend less money greenwashing themselves and more money on foresters. Until MRC makes public a long-term management plan that, protects the diversity of life on their land, and until their practices actually conform to such a plan, the company will face opposition in the woods and an information campaign to inform the public of MRC's disregard for ecological values.
Josh Morse, Caspar