dstaples at livingston.net
Wed Sep 2 17:21:41 EST 1998
California redwoods deal OKd. Maxxam unit sells over 200,000 acres
By LAURA GOLDBERG, Houston Chronicle, Sept 2, 1998
The California Legislature Tuesday approved its share of a $495 million
state preservation plan to buy
thousands of Northern California acres of ancient redwood trees from
Pacific Lumber Co., a subsidiary of
Houston based Maxxam.
The federal government has already approved $250 million for the deal,
which earlier last month nearly fell
apart. A spokesman for Gov. Pete Wilson said Tuesday the governor will
sign the bill.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California called the agreement "a
The deal, which has been in the works for two years, won't be final
until federal and state regulators sign off on a habitat conservation
plan for the rest of Pacific Lumber's land, which would total more than
200,000 acres after the deals completion. .
John A. Campbell, Pacific Lumbers president and chief executive
officer, said he expects the conservation plan to be approved.
While company officials and some lawmakers praised the deal, several
environmental groups criticized it and
faulted the conservation plan.
"We have greatly increased. environmental protections from the original
federal agreement while protecting our
regional economy and the future economic viability of Humbolt Countys
largest private employer," said
California state Sen. Mike Thompson in a written statement.
Said Campbell: Were delighted with the outcome."
Under the plan, California is to spend $130 million to help purchase
Headwaters Forest, the largest stand of
old-growth redwood trees left in private hands.
Federal dollars also will go toward buying 5,600 acres of the Headwaters
Forest and 9,600 acres of previously
logged land from another owner and turn 7,700 acres of it over to
Pacific Lumber for logging.
The legislation also included several new elements:
$80 million in state money to buy the 925-acre Owl Creek Grove from
Pacific Lumber and another $20 mil-
lion toward purchasing the 1,059-acre Grizzly Creek Grove. Conservation
groups are to raise other other
funds for Grizzly Creek, which Pacific Lumber has agreed to keep
available for three years. Before the sale both properties will be
appraised state of California at fair market value.
$15 million to Humbolt County for economic assistance.
Widening of buffer zones around streams in which logging is not allowed.
Among critics, the Sierra Club said the legislation does not safeguard
coastal salmon or its habitat or clean
water. Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's national executive director, said
several state lawmakers made substantial efforts to improve the deal.
Unfortunately, Gov. Wilson's capitulation to the Pacific Lumber Co.
and his administration's general failure
to regulate logging has placed federal and state officials in the
position of negotiating this deal with gun to their heads," Pope said in
a written statement.
If salmon protection isn't improved in final conservation plan, Pope
said, fishing and environmental interests could file suit against the
plan for violating federal endangered species law.
But Maxxam and Pacific Lumber officials said the critics are wrong.
"Some folks don't know when to take yes for an answer," said Maxxam
spokesman Robert Irelan. The
conservation plan, he said, is the most comprehensive developed for
Campbell said, "We think it will provide stream protection and it will
provide protection against landslides and protection against other
Paul Mason, president of the Environmental Protection Information Center
and a critic of the plan, said he
expects federal regulators to make some "incremental improvements" and
"It's just really a poorly designed plan," he said.
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