Pacific Lumber Co. may soon be able to do "salvage" logging - removing dead and dying trees - on land that is considered critical habitat for the marbled murrelet. On Feb. 27, a state appeals court upheld a lower court ruling exempting the company from state species protection laws for salvage logging.
Now the company and environmental groups, which have battled PL on legal and regulatory fronts for years, are awaiting the outcome of a March 14 federal court hearing to decide if PL's salvage logging will be exempt from the federal Endangered Species Act.
According to President John Campbell, PL also is contemplating how to respond to a March 5 ruling by the California Board of Forestry that bars its subsidiary, Salmon Creek Corp., from constructing a logging road into the old-growth Headwaters Forest east of Fortuna.
About 250 employees of Louisiana-Pacific Corp.'s Samoa pulp mill were sent a letter in late March notifying them of an impending plant shutdown.
The letter said depressed prices in global pulp markets have caused inventory levels to grow "to unacceptable levels."
The closure was tentatively scheduled to begin April 10 and could last as long as three months. The pulp mill is the first of its kind in North America to eliminate chlorine from the manufacturing process.
As of May 1, Eureka will have a new city manager. Harvey M. Rose comes to the city from Perris, Calif. He alsohas been city manager of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and held positions with several universities.
Parents and students at Sunset Elementary School in Arcata were shocked and angered to learn that their principal, Diana Hendry, was unexpectedly demoted by the school board in a closed session March 11.
About 20 students protested on school grounds March 15, and parents gathered on Sunday, March 17 to hear from Hendry and to plan for an April 1 meeting of the board, where they'll press the members to reconsider Hendry's demotion.
Weeks after learning about it, many parents remain baffled by the action. School officials say they're forbidden by law from commenting on a personnel matter.
The mystery has led some parents to speculate that the superintendent and board unilaterally have chosen a new direction for the arts-oriented school. "We feel there's a hidden agenda," said Pam Yagotin, a parent who said she's supportive of Hendry.
Superintendent David Hochman denied that any move away from the arts orientation was contemplated. While reiterating that he is not free to comment on the specifics of the board's action, he asked for understanding. "Most people know that the school board wouldn't put the school and community in such turmoil for little or no reason," Hochman said.
Many small landowners on the North Coast will continue to find it difficult to harvest their timber because of a March 19 ruling by the California 1st District Court of Appeals.
The ruling upheld a September 1994 court decision in a suit brought by the Environmental Protection Information Center that forced the state Department of Forestry to stop granting "exemptions" for timber harvests of three acres or less.
The 1994 ruling held up a tide of small timber harvests that had been conducted without state environmental review. Many Humboldt County residents protested the harvests, especially when they occurred on a neighbor's property or when they involved old-growth redwoods.
Others supported the exemptions as a just mechanism to allow small-property owners to use and profit from their timber. (See July 1993 cover story in The North Coast Journal.)
Since 1994 property owners have been able to gain exemptions only when they are converting forested land (of three acres or less) to other zoned uses, such as a house pad or small farm, or clearing a fire hazard around a dwelling.
The CDF may appeal the case to the California Supreme Court. "It's very likely," said Ross Johnson, chief of forest practices regulation, adding that the exemptions were reasonable. "Those with three acres or less really don't have much else to do if they want to cut down some trees."
The heart of the city will beat a little more quietly this spring after the Arcata City Council approved an ordinance to ban loud music and jam sessions in the Plaza.
Business owners complaining about the noise - especially drumming - pushed the council to act over the objections of music lovers and musicians who believe spontaneous music on the Plaza is a vital part of life in Arcata.
Council members noted that citations will only be issued after a complaint is received. Upon first violation, music makers will be issued a warning; following violations may cost from $100 to $500, depending on how often the offense is repeated.
How well the ordinance works and how much conflict it generates between police and Plaza users will be revealed as warm weather draws more people out to the town square.
It was a wetter year than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary. The National Weather Service on Woodley Island reports 36.16 inches as of March 21, a little less than last year but about 5 inches above the average for that point in the July-June season, 30.96".
Since April 1995 federal wildlife agencies have been prohibited by a congressional moratorium from listing any more species as "threatened" or "endangered" or designating any "critical habitat" for species already listed.
Democrats and environmentalists narrowly lost their most recent attempt to overturn the moratorium when the Senate voted 51-49 on March 13 to continue it.
Despite the moratorium, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been ordered by a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle to complete its designation of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet, an endangered species listed before the moratorium took effect. Local FWS staffers say this will stretch already limited resources, especially since federal budgets have cut funds for the agency.
North Coast commercial fishermen are concerned about possible restrictions in coastal fisheries south of Mendocino County after the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a "biological opinion" March 11 calling for restrictions in offshore fishing of winter run chinook.
One of four chinook salmon species that spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, the winter-run chinook has been listed as endangered since 1994.
Despite expensive fish-saving technology and inconvenient water diversions in the central valley, the numbers of winter-run chinook continue to plummet; hence, the NMFS's opinion that the ocean fishing of the salmon should be cut by as much as 50 percent.
Local commercial fishermen who travel south in search of fish in the summers would be particularly hard hit. n
Got an interest in the future of Humboldt Bay? Then you'll be interested to know about the Humboldt Bay Symposium, scheduled for Sept. 12-14.
"The purpose is to bring together people who have their livelihoods and interests connected to the bay, get them networking and talking to each other, and develop a vision and coordinated plan for the future of the bay," says coordinator Ruth Blyther of Redwood Community Action Agency.
The initial sponsors, which include local, state and federal agencies, Citizens for Port Development, RCAA, look for even more individuals and groups to jump in and help plan the conference. For more information, call 269-2066.
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