fwd: massive landslide threatens Headwaters

CamillaH camillah at aol.com
Wed Mar 4 05:52:08 EST 1998


On 2/20/98, larryc at teleport.com wrote:

<snip>
>Some of the things people do make landslides more likely, and we need to
>find out what those things are and avoid them if possible.  Recent studies
>indicate that about the worst thing you can do is run equipment in and
>cut a road into the face of a slope.  OTOH, burning it or logging it 
>evidently doesn't change the chances of a slide much, if at all.  However,
>you need to remember that people like to put fires out, and one of the
>first things they do is run a cat in and cut fire lines.  A fire line is
>a lot like a rough and dirty cat road.
>
>It's starting to look like we need to modify some of our fire fighting
>techniques.  This is all new information, not something people knew 10
>years ago, or even 5 years ago.
>
>As far as the vegetation soaking up water, I have seen research on soil
>infiltration.  The big culprit there is soil compaction from heavy 
>equipment.  You need to confine heavy equipment operation to the smallest
>area possible to avoid destroying the soil's ability to absorb and transmit
>moisture.  
>

This compaction impact isn't lessened with "settling" of the land, is it?  We'd
been told to cut a pad and let it settle for a year or two before building.  11
years later (still no house), it's the first place my kids run to after a
rainstorm because of the "lake".  


>Forest operations are just a lot more complex than the general public
>realizes, and what is appropriate behavior on one site might be foolish
>only a mile away.  Selective harvest is generally considered more enviro
>friendly than clear cutting, but selective harvest requires skidders to
>cover almost every square foot of a timber harvest, doing a lot of long
>term damage to the soil structure, and unless great care is taken, leaving
>a gene pool of weak trees and a reservoir of disease.  In many cases, it
>would be more beneficial to clear cut, replant, and accept the fact that
>the site will look ugly as sin for 15 years or so.  In a clear cut you
>can cable yard to a landing, and keep the equipment completely off the
>soil.
>
All the more reason, it would seem, to leave old growth alone.  

<snip>
>>I should talk.  My house is sitting on an old slide fan, from when one
>whole side of a valley cut loose.  The other side of the valley is still
>sitting there, just as steep, waiting to do the same.  I run the risk of
>a truly catastrophic landslide every winter.  But hey, the house is 
>sheltered by a monolithic outcropping 30 feet high, so it will take a
>*really* big slide to get me.  :)  I guess if we have a really big rain
>storm and an earthquake, they'll never find my body, though.
>
Sounds beautiful.

<snip>

>You're certainly right that it makes no sense to cut everything.  The 
>question then is how much needs to be preserved and where?  That's a
>pretty complex question, particularly if you consider the whole continent
>instead of just the USA.  The boreal forests are much more fragile than
>the doug fir forests down along the 45th parallel, and life is a lot
>more marginal in the far north than it is in the Cascades or the Siskiyous.
>
Stupid question, perhaps, but are "the" governments working on defining this?  

>In the USA, national parks and wilderness areas are exempt from logging,
>and the conservation movement has a good chance of preserving the remaining
>old growth in national forests and on BLM land.  
>

:D

>I find the Headwaters kind of issue more difficult to deal with, since
>Headwaters is private property.  Of course, Hurwitz is not part of the 
>management tradition that preserved that forest for long term yield.  
>He's just managed to corner title to a resource that he needs to 
>liquidate to bail himself out of a jam.  Twenty-four hours after the 
>last logging truck rolls, both the money and the resource will be gone,
>squandered by a high roller with no roots, either in the forest or the 
>communities that will suffer when their resource base vanishes.

Your description of Hurwitz is 100% correct,  FMP.  

I am very troubled that Constitutional protections are afforded to corporations
when they are not subject to the same laws as individual citizens.  
>
>Still, I find the prospect of judging people for their stewardship of
>resources to be troubling, particularly when the judges promise to
>be an absentee judiciary with no roots of their own and no personal
>stake in the decisions they make.  I'm afraid that I feel if the
>public wants to dictate the management of Headwaters, then the public
>owes Hurwitz the cash.  The residents of the small towns can lobby 
>for continued logging on a sustainable basis, but if they are 
>unsuccessful they will be pretty much out of luck.  If Hurwitz has
>his way, the resource will be gone shortly anyway, so things look 
>pretty bleak for the small towns.

Surely you're not saying, Larry, that judges should have a personal stake in
matters that they decide?  That's a dangerous suggestion, IMO.  

Headwaters involves so much more than simply Mr. Hurwitz' stewardship, or lack
of it, of the Headwaters Forest Complex or Pacific Lumber's lands.  I've been
involved, albeit minimally, in the fight for Headwaters for five years.  The
more I learn, the sicker this whole issue seems.  I cannot fathom how Hurwitz
has managed to escape having the FDIC address the $1.6 Billion failure of
United Savings Association of Texas.  I wish my creditors would wait patiently
for ten years and more for me to pay up.   I am still angry about the S&L
crisis of the 80's.  The thousands of people who lost their life savings in
that debacle were hard working, good people, and they didn't deserve what
happened.  Simplicity Pattern workers didn't deserve to have their pension
funds taken, nor did the workers at Pacific Lumber; but that's precisely what
happened when Charles Hurwitz arrived on the scene.  Prior to Hurwitz'
acquisition of Pacific Lumber in a hostile takeover using junk bonds, Pacific
Lumber had been a century-old family run business that had practiced
sustainable logging.  The reward the Murphy family received for being ahead of
their time was to see the spirit of their company stolen by someone who
manipulated the law to take the fruits of their vision away from them?!!! 
Pacific Lumber under the Murphys cared about its employees and the community. 
But it's okay for Charles Hurwitz to team up Michael Milliken and Ivan Boesky
and rob all those people of what they had built?  Not to me.  It goes on and on
and on and on and on and on, and it's been a life altering experience for me.



>The timber industry has always been feast or famine anyway.  This long
>economic expansion has made us forget that, but during economic downturns
>the housing market dries up, the lumber market dries up, and you
>can't give away 2 x 4's on main street.  All the mills shut down, 
>everybody gets laid off, and people just hope things pick up before
>the bank takes the house.
>
>> Thanks for taking the time to write, Larry.  :D  
>
>You're a good conversationalist.
>
Thanks, Larry.  You're pretty good yourself.   I'm hoping we can continue this
conversation even tho it took me 4ever to respond back.

Camilla


>-- Larry
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