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Green-Gold Fishers 

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Your article on the Fisher family timber companies ("Backwoods Statecraft," May 19) shed some much-needed light on their methods of operation. While they log their lands in Mendocino and Humboldt more responsibly than their predecessors, their business is built on PR and politics as much as sound forest practice.

The manager of Humboldt Redwood Company, Mike Jani, took a group of Elk River residents on a tour of their operations last summer, in what I call The Forgotten Headwaters - the North Fork of Elk River and upper Freshwater Creek that didn't get into the park. I'd been warned this walk in the woods would accomplish nothing. But I was impressed by Jani's willingness to listen to justifiably angry people whose homes and livelihood had been damaged by Maxxam's liquidation logging. Some of them came on the walk.

Jani and his forester took us to sites where they were doing restoration work as well as selectively cutting second-growth redwood and fir. We had doubts about silt, canopy removal, and cumulative damage, but it was a good show. They even brought sandwiches. Afterward, back on Wrigley Road, Jani and his forester unrolled plans to log the forest next to where we were standing.

Moss Elk was among the last timber harvest plans filed by Maxxam, essentially in the back yards of people who'd already been flooded out. It's the last buffer between them, the river and the devastated landscape above. The THP should never have been approved.

I'd heard the Fishers hated conservation easements, but I proposed to Jani that we buy recovery time, pay them just to wait 20 years to cut this parcel. A crazy notion? Maybe. But hey, they're certified sustainable. Jani said they'd consider their options. This week I hear Moss Elk is about to be logged.

I know, it's not a park. But we all have a stake in the health of our forests and rivers, and a right to be treated as neighbors, not just a public relations problem. The Fishers' green credentials are reminding me of Hurwitz's golden rule (whoever has it rules).

Jerry Martien, Arcata

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