May 22, 2003
by EMILY GURNON
Protesters attempting to stop Pacific Lumber Co. from cutting its trees must contend, these days, with more than just criminal trespassing charges.
In the last two years, the company has targeted more than 110 people in four separate civil suits, arguing that those who trespass on their land, provide food to treesitters or raise funds for them are guilty of "acts designed to interfere with [PL's] lawful business operations." The lawsuits ask for damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, in some cases.
Jim Branham of Pacific Lumber did not return phone calls on the lawsuits for the Journal. The company's law firm, Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney and Vrieze of Eureka, referred questions back to Pacific Lumber.
But PL's Mary Bullwinkel was quoted here 18 months ago as saying the suits' intent was "to send a message to people with no respect for the law that we will take whatever steps are appropriate to see they do not interfere with our legitimate right to do business."
One of the estimated 41 targets of the latest lawsuit, involving Freshwater treesitters and their supporters, was Jeanette Jungers, a 50-year-old special education teacher from Eureka.
Jungers said that for many of the protesters -- young people with few assets -- the lawsuits are little more than a minor hassle. They figure, "I don't have anything, so what can they take?" she said.
For people like her, however, it's a different story.
"From my perspective, it means a great deal, because I have a home, I have children, I don't want them to attach my wages, I don't want to lose my home," she said.
Jungers said she provided weekly meals for treesitters Nate Madsen and Jeny Card, aka Remedy, for three years. On the day PL-hired climbers removed Card from the ancient redwood she named "Jerry," Jungers locked herself to a nearby tree and was arrested.
The longtime Humboldt resident said she has already had to pay $250 to file an initial court document, and, since she has a job with an annual income of about $40,000, she is required to pay $65 an hour for the court-appointed public defender.
Failure to file the appropriate documents can lead to a default judgment against a defendant. In Junger's case, that would mean owing Pacific Lumber $335,000.
"They're trying to intimidate people to stop any type of public participation," said Card, also a target of the Freshwater civil suit.
Defendants call this kind of action a SLAPP suit, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.
Also known as a harassment suit, the tactic has been used occasionally by Pacific Lumber and other corporations over the years to discourage people from exercising their freedom of speech, said Karen Pickett, director of the Berkeley-based Bay Area Coalition for the Headwaters.
"But for a company to file one lawsuit right on the heels of another and try and cast this wide net so that they're tangling everybody up in their nefarious legal web is particularly outrageous," she said. "The courts should see the frivolous nature of these lawsuits and kick Pacific Lumber out on its corporate butt right out the court door."
The goal is intimidation, Pickett said. "The corporations know darn well that the people they're suing have far fewer resources than them, and even if people aren't scared away, the [suits] effectively tie people up because you have to meet this plethora of deadlines and jump through these hoops on time."
Pickett herself was sued after being arrested in Freshwater on March 18, the first day Pacific Lumber climbers went in to remove treesitters. She said she was not trespassing but simply taking photos. Pickett and others were handed copies of the civil suit at the time of their arrest by the same sheriff's deputies who were arresting them on the criminal charges.
The first SLAPP suit was filed in April of 2001 against more than 60 protesters in the Mattole watershed. The complaint against one defendant, Ellen Taylor, was thrown out when the court determined that the suit was filed "to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech," the court wrote. Taylor, a 60-year-old Petrolia resident, did not take part in trespassing or civil disobedience; she merely spoke about the actions on KMUD radio, she said.
Other protesters in that case are now in settlement negotiations with Pacific Lumber and other plaintiffs, which include Steve Wills Trucking, Lewis Logging and Columbia Helicopter, Inc.
The second suit involved five defendants who were accused of trespassing on Pacific Lumber land near the so-called "Hole in the Headwaters." The civil case was thrown out after the District Attorney's office said the witnesses to the alleged trespassing could not identify the defendants in court. The third suit involved four people who allegedly drove to PL's main entrance in Scotia in August 2002 and locked themselves to their vehicle. A trial date for that case is scheduled for July 17.
by ANDREW EDWARDS
"It's a doozy, huh?" said environmentalist Paul Mason.
He was referring to visiting Judge John Golden's ruling Monday on the Environmental Protection Information Center's case against the Pacific Lumber Co. and the California Department of Forestry.
The ruling, a major victory for EPIC, invalidates a pillar of the 1999 Headwaters Deal: the Sustained Yield Plan, which is supposed to govern harvest rates over the next 100 years. Judge Golden said, in essence, that no such document exists -- at least not in a form usable by regulators or members of the public.
The practical effect of the ruling remains to be seen. In this same case last fall, Golden issued an order that was read by environmentalists and others as requiring an immediate halt to logging on PL's land. Later, the judge essentially undermined himself when he exempted the logging operations on the grounds that halting them could cause undue economic hardship to the company.
One interpretation of the judge's ruling this week is that if the SYP is invalid, then so are all the logging permits that have been issued under its auspices. In other words, all the logging that has been carried out on PL lands since the signing of the Headwaters deal in the spring of 1999 has been illegal.
EPIC's attorney Sharon Duggan said that the ball is now in CDF's court, along with the other state agencies that signed onto the $490 million agreement in which the company agreed to set aside 7,500 acres containing large tracts of old-growth redwood.
"I want to know what the agencies are going to do about it today. I don't want to hear about their litigation position," Duggan said. "For four years the public has been completely snookered at the expense of the resource, and I expect them to take the lead in this."
As of press time Tuesday, CDF was still trying to absorb the ruling.
"All that I can say right now is we're studying the rulings," said CDF lead council Norm Hill, speaking by phone from his Sacramento office. "We're exploring the options that are available to us."
PL President Robert Manne said that Golden's rulings "could clearly have a significant impact on our company."
The ruling could strengthen District Attorney Paul Gallegos' controversial fraud lawsuit, which contends that the company deceived state officials involved in the Headwaters negotiations in order to gain access to timber located on slide-prone slopes.
Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen, in charge of the case, is filing additional charges this week related to the apparent lack of a valid SYP.
EPIC's co-plaintiff in the SYP litigation is the United Steelworkers of America, which represents timber workers. The union argued that the state failed to produce a plan that would ensure a steady supply of timber to workers.
In his ruling, Golden wrote that two things were presented to him as the SYP: the "amorphous" 80,000-page administrative record and a 2,600-page "post-hoc" compilation cobbled together by PL and CDF last year at Golden's request.
"The purported plans are not SYPs conforming to the Forest Practice Rules because they are not a consolidated, well defined and readily accessible document," Golden wrote.
by ANDREW EDWARDS
Ever since District Attorney Paul Gallegos filed his fraud lawsuit against the Pacific Lumber Co. back in February, the company has asserted that the case is devoid of merit.
That remains to be seen, but there's no disputing that the company has a history of deceptive practices.
In recently filed legal papers, Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen, who's in charge of the fraud case, cited Marbled Murrelet v. Pacific Lumber, a 1995 ruling in which a federal judge determined that PL had falsified scientific data and held out information until the last minute.
Sound familiar? It should, as those findings are very similar to the allegations contained in the fraud action.
Stoen's message: They've lied before, why wouldn't they lie again?
PL attorney Ed Washburn responded that fraud wasn't at issue in that case.
"That was over the Endangered Species Act, over whether [PL's logging] was a take," he said, speaking by phone from his San Francisco office. (A "take" under the act, a federal law, is harming a protected species.)
But the attorneys who won the case eight years ago understand why Stoen would reference it.
"Our evidence showed that by covering up the data, intimidating some of the survey gatherers and changing survey sheets, they skewed the data," said Steve Crandall, a prominent environmental litigator who worked on the case.
"You want to call that fraud? I call that fraud," Crandall added, speaking by telephone from his San Luis Obispo office.
The case chronicled the questionable history of PL's search for the endangered marbled murrelet in a 440-acre stand of virgin old-growth redwoods on Owl Creek in Southern Humboldt.
In April 1992, PL started looking for the bird shortly after the California Board of Forestry opened the stand up to logging on the condition that no "take" of marbled murrelets would occur.
PL had hired its usual team of marbled murrelet experts, augmenting them with some college kids looking for summer employment.
The crews went to work, getting up 45 minutes before dawn to scout around in the morning mist for the fast-flying seabird, but from the beginning the search was hampered.
They were instructed to only record a detection if they were "100 percent" sure they had actually observed a murrelet. They were told not to record a detection if they heard just one of the bird's distinctive calls or the sound of its wing beats.
In addition, PL controlled when and where the surveys would be conducted.
"The company seems to have designed its wildlife studies in such a way that discovery of endangered species would never happen or at least be minimized," said Mark Harris, an Arcata attorney who worked on the case.
Over the next two months, multiple detections were made of the elusive seabird, 11 visual and 59 audible, despite fog and heavy rain during several of the surveys.
Curiously, despite all of that, PL's Chief of Forestry, Ray Miller, sent a letter to the California Department of Fish and Game on June 18 saying that "no activity sites were found to exist anywhere with or adjacent to the plan area," and that "timber operations will be commenced."
The very next day, before the wildlife agency had even received the letter, logging crews rolled into Owl Creek. They logged over a weekend, many times right on survey sites, until the forestry department ordered them to stop on the following Tuesday, June 23.
Fish and Game then ordered PL to resume the surveys, which they did until July.
According to the court record, at the end of the survey season (late July), the surveyors had a party at the house of PL's resource manager, Thomas Herman (now one of the leaders of the campaign to recall DA Paul Gallegos), where they played darts using a picture of a marbled murrelet as a target.
During October and November PL was informed by various federal agencies that they couldn't conduct additional logging in Owl Creek because it would hurt the marbled murrelet. Nevertheless, on the day before Thanksgiving the logging trucks rolled in again on the orders of PL President John Campbell. The logging that then ensued would come to be known in environmental circles as the "Thanksgiving Day massacre."
One PL logging manager, Dan McLaughlin, testified at trial that PL logged that weekend because it was afraid that it "might be stopped again."
"[The logging crews] were told to go right into the heart of [Owl Creek]," Harris said. "These guys were told `get out there and cut as fast as you can' right at the start."
Three days later, in response to an emergency request filed by the Garberville-based Environmental Protection Information Center, a judge stopped the logging.
EPIC filed suit the next year on behalf of the marbled murrelet.
It came out in court that PL had altered their surveyors' sheets and had intimidated them into "reconsidering" their detections. Miller had copied most of the survey sheets that he handed over to CDF, deleting relevant facts and going so far as to omit actual sightings.
PL's attorneys fought tooth-and-nail during the trial, according to Crandall.
"That's the reputation they want to have. It's an intimidation factor. `If you get in a case with us you're going to have to drag us kicking and screaming all the way,' and that's what they did," Crandall said. "We were lucky enough to drag them across the goal line."
In the end federal judge Louis J. Bechtle ordered a permanent injunction on logging in Owl Creek (since then it's been permanently protected) and stated that "the reliability" of any wildlife survey information coming from PL was "highly suspect."
The case was one of several that led up to the 1999 Headwaters deal and the Habitat Conservation Plan and Sustained Yield Plan, the last of which was deemed invalid on Monday by another judge in another EPIC legal challenge.
So, given this bit of history, the basic question raised by the DA's fraud lawsuit -- which pertains to alleged illegal actions committed on the eve of the Headwaters deal -- is this: Did PL change over the next several years, or were they still putting the government on in early 1999?
Eventually, the courts may provide an answer.
As a first step in creating an excursion train, the Timber Heritage Museum is raising funds to purchase a vintage logging locomotive and bring it back to Humboldt County.
The steam engine, Pacific Lumber Locomotive #37, has been idle in Wilmington, Del., since the 1950s. It has been offered to the Northern Counties Logging Interpretive Association for $48,000.
If all goes as planned, the 1925 locomotive will ferry tourists from Old Town, past the waterfront to Arcata, to Samoa and back.
Before that can happen, grant money will need to roll in for repairs to the ailing rails. In addition, some environmentalists have concerns that the train could potentially have a negative impact on the bird habitat in the marshland through which the railway traverses.
The tourist train is still only part of the picture. The long-term goal of the association -- which has been collecting logging industry artifacts for the past 25 years -- is to create a museum dedicated to Humboldt's logging history. Construction of such a facility is still years and millions of dollars away.
If plans for the excursion train stay on track, the PL #37 could be tugging tourists along the redwood coast by 2006. Proposals were presented to Eureka City Council on Tuesday night.
-- reported by Helen Sanderson
Humboldt State University has rejected the donation of 3,800 acres of ranchland in Mendocino County.
Sitting more than three hours south of Arcata, just southeast of Ukiah, the Fred Galbreath Wildlands Center, as it was called, had played host to several wildlife biology classes in recent years while the university finalized the donation.
"It's a really beautiful place," said wildlife Professor Matt Johnson. "It has really nice oaks. I really wish it could have worked out, but things aren't always as simple as you'd like."
The deal began to break down several months ago in negotiations with the family of the late Fred Galbreath. According to HSU President Rollin Richmond, Galbreath had originally promised the entire ranch -- some 4,500 acres -- to the university. Apparently in the 11th hour Galbreath's daughter Nancy Johnson convinced him to leave the most valuable portion to her (about 700 acres).
"[That] significantly reduced the value to us," Richmond said in an interview this week.
The portion she inherited included a ranch house, the only water and utilities, as well as the road in.
Over the last year the university had been able to make some trips out to the center as long as they prearranged it with Johnson.
"It was a bit inconvenient," said Matt Johnson (no relation to Galbreath's daughter).
But inconvenience aside it was a boon to the university -- a different habitat for HSU students to explore and do research in. So what happened?
"Given the distance from the university, the problems of access, the dire financial straits the university finds itself in, we decided it wasn't worth it," Richmond said. He said that Johnson had concerns about students roaming all over her land and using the access road, which runs right past her ranch house.
One factor in the university's decision was that it would have had to build a new access road just to get on the property, a six-figure expense Richmond decided was unaffordable.
Most of the land that would have been donated to HSU is in a "conservation easement," so eventually it will go to some kind of nonprofit group.
-- reported by Andrew Edwards
A former school board member in the South Bay District has been charged with stealing more than $10,000 from the Pine Hill Elementary School parents' club.
Gay Lois Hylton, 42, of Eureka, who also works as a county employee in the Mental Health department, was charged with five counts of felony forgery and one count of felony grand theft.
She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
While she was serving as a volunteer treasurer of the parents' club last year, Hylton allegedly wrote several checks to herself out of the fund, said Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza.
Another member of the group noticed a discrepancy when crosschecking the bank statements and alerted school officials, Cardoza said.
Reached by phone Tuesday at her county office, Hylton said that she was making restitution in the case. "Why are you doing this to me?" she asked.
Rick Fauss, superintendent of the district, which includes two elementary schools in Eureka, said he asked Hylton about the checks in March when it came to his attention. "I just confronted her about it, and she fully admitted everything and resigned the following week" from the school board, he said. "It was a definite blow."
Hylton had been a board trustee for nine or 10 years, district officials said. No public announcement was made about the reason for her departure.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years and eight months in prison, although most sentences are considerably lighter, Cardoza said.
A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for May 29.
-- reported by Emily Gurnon
Sixty full-time positions are being eliminated at Humboldt State University to deal with the state budget crisis, which is forcing an $8 million reduction in the university's budget.
Both faculty and staff jobs are going by the wayside. In addition, the already rock-bottom academic affairs operating budget will be slashed $1.4 million. Course offerings are being reduced, as are services at the university library and services designed for Native American students.
In a further cascade of numbers, athletics will be slashed 10 percent.
Even at this late stage, with Gov. Gray Davis's May revised budget in the can, changes could be made. That could be good or bad. Several proposals in the state Legislature would cut even more out of the battered California State University system.
The North Coast lost two community leaders last week, a popular physician and a former Arcata mayor.
Dr. Ted Loring Sr., a Eureka obstetrician who delivered more than 5,000 babies over his lengthy career, died May 11 at the age of 86.
Loring held leadership positions in the Humboldt-Del Norte Medical Society, the California Medical Society, the American Medical Association and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
He was co-founder of the Humboldt State University School of Nursing; founder and first president of the Humboldt-Del Norte Foundation for Medical Care; the first physician director of the Union Labor Hospital Association (General Hospital); and founder of the Humboldt Prenatal Clinic for Indigent Females.
Loring's contributions to the community extended far beyond the medical community. He was director and past president of the board of directors of KEET-TV and held leadership positions in Boy Scouts of America, Rotary Club of Eureka, the Episcopal Church, the Ingomar Club and the Salvation Army.
Loring was born in British Honduras, graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1946 and served in the Army Medical Corps during and after World War II. He established his practice in Eureka in 1951.
Loring is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ruth Loring. Services were held last week.
On May 15 death claimed pharmacist and former Arcata Mayor Ward Falor, 81, a fourth generation Humboldt resident.
Falor served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1945-47 and graduated from California School of Pharmacy in San Francisco in 1951. He opened Falor's Pharmacy, the first of many pharmacies in Humboldt, in 1953. Falor was active in the effort to establish Mad River Community Hospital, where he served as administrator in the 1970s.
Falor's political career began with the Arcata Planning Commission in the mid-1950s. He was elected to the City Council in 1960 and was the first chairman of the Local Agency Formation Commission. Falor became mayor in 1962 and again in 1966 through 1970. He had an unsuccessful run for the state Senate in 1964.
During his time on the council, Falor was instrumental in convincing the city not to sell the Jacoby Creek Watershed. The creation of the Arcata Community Pool was one of his pet projects.
He was active in Kiwanis, VFW, American Legion, Rotary, Knights of Columbus and St. Mary's Catholic Church. Falor is survived by his wife, Jean Falor. The family plans to hold a memorial service at a later date.
-- reported by Judy Hodgson
In a victory for Eel River proponents, a California Court of Appeals struck down a plan to divert more of the Eel's summer flows into the Russian River.
The plan was proposed by the Sonoma County Water Agency, which wanted the water for new development in Sonoma and Marin counties.
Even without the new diversion, the Eel remains a troubled river. Low flows have been blamed for the growth of deadly algae, which killed several dogs last summer, and declining salmon populations.
A plan currently before the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee would increase flows to help endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout.
Environmentalists were jubilant at the victory.
"The Eel River's salmon and steelhead now have a fighting chance to make a comeback," said Nadananda, president of the Friends of the Eel River, in a press release. "The water agency's plan would have been the final nail in the Eel River's coffin."
A man who has pledged to walk the entire perimeter of the United States for diabetes awareness made his way through Humboldt County this past week.
Andrew Mandell, a 58-year-old diabetic and former marathon runner from Madeira Beach, Fla., has made it his mission to inform others about the devastating disease that almost took his own life.
His main message: "There are 11 million diabetics in this country who don't know they're diabetic," Mandell said. His admonition: Take the simple screening test on his organization's Web site, www.defeatdiabetes.org.
The warning signs of diabetes may include frequent urination, excessive thirst or hunger, rapid weight loss, fatigue, irritability, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, tingling in the legs or fingers and slow healing of cuts and bruises. But those in the early stages of the disease may have no symptoms. Children are increasing susceptible, and Native Americans, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders are more likely than other ethnic groups to develop the disease.
A 50-foot cell phone tower slated for the Arcata Bottoms is one step closer to reality.
In a 4-2 vote last week, the Humboldt County Planning Commission granted Cal-North Wireless a permit to build the tower near Moxon Road. The tower will be disguised as a telephone pole.
The commission made its ruling despite a recommendation from county staff to reject the project on the grounds that it was at odds with the Bottoms' rural landscape.
Concerns were raised at a public hearing last Thursday that radio waves produced by cell phone towers pose a health hazard. Most commissioners said they didn't believe such concerns were valid.
Rotary Club of Eureka and Rotary International are sponsoring the visit of three Russian physicians to Eureka the first two weeks in July.
The physicians will be houseguests of Dr. Kim Bauriedel as they meet and exchange information with local colleagues. The trio are also interested in establishing a sister hospital relationship with St. Joseph Hospital, according to Bauriedel.
Last year a Russian radiologist visited Humboldt County on a similar exchange.
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.