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Mendocino County Natural Resources and the Environment

Mendocino County Forest Land Information: (Much of the data about MRC comes from the Greenwood Watershed Assoc.)and the other main source of forest information is Dr. Hans Burkhardt's book "Maximizing Forest Productivity".

also see "who owns mendocino county" page for region lists of major land owners.
also see CDF Timber Harvest Plan section: http://www.fire.ca.gov/ResourceManagement/THPStatus.asp

The grim data below is largely produced by the lack of enforcement of existing laws and charters by former Governor Pete Wilson, current Governor Gray Davis and their appointments to the Board of Forestry and the California Department of Forestry (CDF). The majority of the current board of Supervisors of Mendocino County is also to blame for not asking the State to enact county rules which had previously been proposed.

•A healthy "ancient forest" like some of the national parks will yield 100,000+ board feet per acre (bf/ac).

•A healthy commercial forest that has had good sustained yield practices for centuries will yield 40,000 BF/ac.

The three largest timber corporations in Mendocino County hold forest lands which now have the following depleted average yields:

Hawthorne-Campbell Co.(old GP co.): 10,000 BF/ac
MRC (old LP): 8,000 BF/ac
Pioneer Co. (old CFL): 4,000 BF/ac

Yet, even with these depleted forests, the companies still plan to clear cut at rates beyond ambitious sustainable yield rates. The above three corporation are major timber land owners in Mendocino County whose principal owners live in other areas. These companies own over 500,000 acres. The Mendocino Redwood Co (MRC) which is owned by the Fisher Family, who own the Gap and other retail stores, own 231,000 acres that they bought from Louisiana Pacific (LP). Most of these lands were heavily logged by the multinational corporation LP before MRC bought them. MRC plans to log these depleted forest lands at 40 million board feet a year for the next ten years, which by the most conservative estimates is at least twice the sustainable yield rate. "If these corporations are left unchecked, all merchantable reserves of trees will be eliminated by the year 2010."( K.S.)

The holdings of these three corporations "have been managed for at least two decades for short-term profit. Inventory has been depleted to the point where most reserves of merchantable trees are consumed. Forest productivity has declined to about 1/2 to 1/3 of its original capacity... Had this same forest been managed for sustainable, maximum yield, as required by law since 1973, today's volume and value would be approximately four times what it actually is today. During this period of two decades the County lost a potential wealth of 3 billion dollars and a potential timber volume of 2.3 billion board feet which was never allowed to be grown. After a period of just 20 years, net revenue, discounted revenue, annual growth, annual harvest volumes and employment would be higher today, had the law been implemented." Dr. Hans Burkhardt - Forester

The current logging practices by these large corporations and Gualala Redwoods Inc.( 28,000 acres owned by Ollie Edmunds MD of Tulane University, Louisiana) (see Gualala.net) is approximately as follows:

The majority of time their logging plans call for clear cutting. After logging road construction and clear cutting all of the Fir and Redwood trees, often the logging companies will start a fire storm by the aerial dropping of napalm (gasoline gel). Sometimes these fires burn beyond the intended area. Their intention is to clear the slash, bushes and trees that have low lumber value, such as, Tan Oak and Madrone etc. What ever living plants survive this fire storm are then sprayed with herbicide like Garlon, which is deadly to fish and problematic to the workers doing the spraying. Many times the companies cut very close to streams and CDF compounds the problems by allowing winter operations. Winter logging operations increase the chances that heavy erosion will take place before new trees or seeds can be planted. Many streams and their fisheries have been destroyed by this practice, not to mention homes and roads due to mud slides. The trees that are sometimes planted after this sterilization of the natural ecosystem are Fir or Redwood due to there market value. These new monoculture tree farms growing in this somewhat sterile environment are more prone to disease due to their non biologically hedged nature.

Why would a company treat one of their own assets this way?

1. Clear cutting yields greater short term profits at the expense of long term profits and American manager's compensation is usually based on annual performance which is a disincentive for true maximum sustained yield practices.

2. The company replants their land, after using the above clear cut method; they can then plant the maximum density of trees with the highest current market value. This tree count makes the "on paper" value of their land appear high. Of course, most reputable forestry experts will tell you that there is a greater possibly of disease decimating these "tree farms" in a few decades because the trees are a dense mono-culture with no natural stops.

These large timber companies cut and run, leaving the land and the local people worse off in the long run.


The below link was supplied by a user of this site.
This web site contains vast amount of information on the the hydrology/climate data from the Caspar Creek Experimental Watershed on the Jackson Demonstration State Forest.

Editors Note:
There are many other natural resources and environments being destroyed in Mendocino County due to non-enforcement and/or lack of protections, to name a few:
Local rivers and streams and their fisheries, local coastal waters and their natural life, natural county land animals and birds and plants. If anyone would like to send us any write-ups or links on the listed items to be included on this page, please contact us.