Friends of the Van Duzen River
A Grass Roots community organization comprised of residents and visitors to the Van Duzen Region. We are Dedicated to helping to restore the river for future Generations

Packed Public Workshop on Pacific Lumber Logging Plans

Report by Remedy

Eureka, CA - A jam-packed audience attended a public workshop that aired
concerns surrounding controversial logging plans by Maxxam/Pacific
Lumber and the flooded-out residents who oppose them. In front of a
standing room only crowd that spilled into the lobby, opposing sides
gave their best to convince the North Coast Regional Water Board that
they should ­ or shouldn’t ­ approve permits for waste discharge for
logging in two impaired Humboldt County valleys.

Maxxam/PL president Robert Manne said the timber company was in
financial “crisis,” and that “California will be a lot worse off” if the
permits associated with the logging plans are not granted. PL scientist
Jeff Barrett tried to demonstrate that logging would help rather than
further harm the heavily-logged area, saying “elimination of all harvest
effects would do almost nothing to reduce flood frequency.”

“That’s tobacco science,” said McKinleyville resident Dr. Ken Miller.
“Really, smoking is good for you.”

A fiery presentation by Humboldt Watershed Council president Mark
Lovelace used PL’s own documents to show it knew increased logging would
cause flooding and lay-offs after the boom-and-bust timber cutting that
followed Maxxam’s hostile take-over of PL. Lovelace also said he was
“frustrated” that PL lobbyists had met for several days with the water
board in Santa Rosa without any input from affected downstream
residents. “It’s like putting a smiley face on a pigs butt,” he said.
“Any way you look at it, its dirty, its ugly and it stinks.”

Lovelace also questioned how a corporation that has earned $3.6 billion
dollars in the last twenty years could be on the verge of bankruptcy.
“Where did the money go,” he asked.

Elk River resident and farmer Kristi Wrigley said she first brought the
flooding issues to the water board eight years ago, and that damage from
over-logging is annually getting worse. Wrigley is the first downstream
landowner on a farm that’s been in her family for over a hundred years.
“I’m the best empirical science you have available,” she said. “It is
extremely offensive that you have spent 4 days talking to the polluter.”

Long time Elk River resident Jim Holdner said he didn’t see the damage
the other residents described, and that water quality in that valley has
always been bad. But another long-timer, Phillip Nicholous, said a
person would have to be “brain dead” not to see the damage Maxxam/PL has
cause Elk River.

“We’re here because of one man’s greed,” said attorney William Bertain,
who has represented former shareholders, PL retirees and local residents
in lawsuits against Maxxam, a Texas corporation which treats Freshwater
Creek and Elk River as “ditches for their industrial waste.”

During the rebuttal period of the workshop, PL general counsel Jared
Carter said PL’s 1990 Pacific Meridian Report cited by Lovelace to show
decline in both timber and jobs pre-dated the Maxxam take-over, and had
nothing to do with how the company is run today. Lovelace easily put the
lie to the corporate attorney by producing a copy of the Report, which
cites the option of returning “to the 1985 harvest level”. 1985 was the
year Maxxam took over the company and doubled the rate of cut.

Other PL lawyers have publicly stated the company has “free speech”
rights when negotiating with the state, otherwise known as the famous
“right-to-lie” defense for the alleged fraud committed by the company
during the Headwaters Forest negotiations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Water Board Executive Officer
Katherine Kuhlman said she would make her decision on Thursday, February
24, 2005. PL’s financial situation will not play a role in her final
decision, she said.

Friends of the Van Duzen River
PO Box 315
Carlotta, CA 95528
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