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

PALCO facing bankruptcy? Official says ‘no comment’
(Eureka Reporter) 01/25/2005

PALCO facing bankruptcy? Official says ‘no comment’

by Glenn Franco Simmons

A Pacific Lumber Co. official told The Eureka Reporter that the company “has no comment” about an L.A. Times article today that says the company could face bankruptcy.

According to the article, PALCO needs to have more timber harvests approved by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, if it is going to sustain its mills and keep its employees working.

Erin Dunn of PALCO said company officials were still reading the article and did not have a response for media at that time, which was mid-morning today.

The Pacific Lumber Co. owns 220,000 acres of timberland in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Humboldt County that is zoned exclusively for timber production.

PALCO would like to harvest timber in nearly a dozen areas that are contested by some property owners and homeowners, such as some in the Elk and Freshwater watersheds outside Eureka.

In an interview today, Mark Lovelace of the Humboldt Watershed Council said, “In considering our petition for a stay on the Regional Water Board’s permits, the state board determined that the stay would not have harmed PL, saying, ‘PALCO’s presentation relied very heavily on speculation and a worse-case analysis that seems highly unlikely over the relevant time frame.’”

The watershed council asked for a stay on the board granting permits, but the water board approved the permits. The L.A. Times reported there are 11 more permits that PALCO wants the board to approve.

The water board has jurisdiction over logging, to the extent that logging can erode soil that ends up in waterways – which are under the board’s jurisdiction.

“PL is basically saying that (it) cannot operate at any level other than 100 percent,” Lovelace said. “If PL is structured so inflexibly that it cannot accommodate normal peaks and valleys in its operations, then that is no one’s fault but (its) own.”

The company has contended that most of the soil-erosion problems are the result of past logging practices when environmental regulations were not as strict as they are today.

However, some of the homeowners and property owners in the Freshwater and Elk River watersheds contend that increased logging has led to siltation of streams, more water run-off from slopes, contamination of wells and other problems.

“Landsliding and erosion due to the accelerated rate of logging in the 1980s and 1990s have caused these stream channels to fill in with sediment to the point that they simply cannot carry the volume of water they once did,” Lovelace said. “In addition, PL’s logging has increased the amount of water that comes off the slopes and into the streams. So there is more water going into a smaller stream channel, and that causes flooding. Flooding that used to happen a couple times per decade now happens four to five times a year.”

Lovelace says flooding is more than an inconvenience.

“This flooding has harmed people’s health and safety, their property and their liberty,” he said. “Many people in these watersheds have had to raise their homes above the rising floodwaters, or build walls around them. People have suffered loss of their wells, water supplies, septic systems, livestock, fences and other damages.

“Additionally, hundreds of residents in these watersheds are trapped in their homes virtually every time it rains. This means they can’t work, or they can’t get home to their families, or they can’t get emergency medical care if needed. Other residents have lost their businesses due to destruction of their farms, or loss of livestock. We are worried that eventually, if the situation doesn’t improve, someone is going to lose their life.”

According to the watershed council’s Web site, “The Humboldt Watershed Council is an organization of Humboldt County residents and property owners who are concerned with the degradation of our watersheds, and the tremendous impact this has upon our safety, property, and quality of life.

“We believe that maintaining the health of our watersheds is important not only for wildlife and the environment, but for the people and industries that call Humboldt County home.”

(Glenn Franco Simmons can be reached at

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