In your article last fall, "Rumble on the Rivers" (October 1997), writer Jim Hight did a superb job of insightful, balanced reporting on gravel mining in Humboldt County. I want to clarify one thing that appeared in the article, however.
I was quoted as having said that a move by several gravel mining operators to get new members appointed to the CHERT (County of Humboldt Extraction Review Team, which I chair) was intended to have mining plans "rubber stamp(ed)," rather than be subjected to critical scientific review as they are now.
While I still believe this to be true, my statement was in no way intended to call into question the ethics of the individuals being considered for appointment to CHERT. I have no knowledge of one of the two people, and the other I have worked with on projects outside Humboldt County and have respect for as a professional.
While I believe Humboldt County's gravel mining program is perhaps the best in the state if not the nation, it seems quite fragile at times due to the actions of a very small minority of gravel operators and their associates.
Very few communities have the concentration of scientists that ours does and fewer still have scientists who are willing to be actively involved in controversial land management issues. It would be a shame to see this sort of unique community involvement, which benefits both the people and the natural resources of this beautiful area, fall victim to the selfish actions of these few individuals.
Randy Klein, Arcata
Editor's note: For an update on this story, see article "Army Corps may scrap CHERT"
In last month's Journal, Jerry Partain (guest opinion, "PALCO violations in perspective") followed his usual leave-it-to-the-experts line: "Without the necessary data we are not in a position to make a judgment on the proper rate of harvest ..."
Attached are three pages of data compiled by the Environmental Protection Information Center from California Department of Forestry data about 103 violations on PL's harvest plans filed as far back as 1993 but not cited by CDF until "Sacramento headquarters sent six teams from out of the area" in October and November 1997.
Timber Harvest Plan No. 1-94-360 has eight violations (for): "failure to remove unstable soil from landing on slope greater than 65 percent; failure to remove crossings (caused a slide); dumped soil into water course in amount deleterious to fish."
Readers who want to judge if the rate of harvest is making waste of the forests may request a copy of details about other violations by calling Taxpayers for Headwaters at 825-0444.
It is time to give foresters who have a holistic approach like that of the Institute of Sustainable Forestry opportunity to show how truly sustainable yields from real forests -- not tree farms -- can produce high quality lumber as well as preserve our environment and econmy through more careful harvesting.
Margaret Dickinson, Don Jones, Renee Nitzel,
K.D. Simon, Taxpayers for Headwaters
Editor: Partain ... comes across as a PALCO apologist at a time when citizens all over this county are watching their watersheds destroyed, their homes flooded and covered with mud, their farmlands inundated with siltage ...
He also acts as an apologist for the CDF culpability. They didn't have enough personnel, they have to prioritize, they're doing their best.
I hope that comforts ... those who can no longer live in their homes, who are watching their drinking water disappear in a mass of mud ... who have been told by CDF that their watersheds are "uncorrectable."
In Freshwater the residents clocked 73 logging trucks loaded logging trucks in one 11-hour day as the steep slopes over their watershed continue to be denuded. All in the name of jobs.
Sylvia De Rooy, Westhaven
I was surprised to read Ron Ross' critique of the Tax Relief Act of 1997 in the Fiscal Fitness column (January 1997). Although I do share some of his frustrations with the system that creates tax laws, this reform act is not complex or confusing as it relates to most of us.
What could be wrong with a tax law package that increases the amount we can exclude from estate taxes to $1 million, allows non-working spouses to invest into retirement accounts, reduces the maximum capital gains tax by nearly one-third and creates an IRA that isn't taxed when removing the funds in retirement.
This package may require a little more record keeping but it seems to greatly encourage investment and is filled with financial planning and tax-savings opportunities.
Ken Houldsworth, CFP
LPL Financial Services, Eureka