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River Views

Let’s begin with the absurd: Federal and state agencies (the US Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the California Department of Fish and Game) are allowing the public only 90 days to comment on permits that, if granted, would apply to Mendocino Redwood Company for 80 years. Add to the scenario that these agencies didn’t notify Mendocino County newspapers about the meetings at which the public would have a chance to comment on the proposed permits until December 6th.

In other words the 90-day public comment clock was already running, down to 77 days on December 6th. For further enjoyment: The documents detailing the permits run into thousands of pages. You might think that notices were mailed to neighbors of Mendocino Redwood Company. I live on a ranch surrounded by MRC timberlands to the east, south and west, but I received absolutely zero prior notice of the public comment period or the meetings.

From the absurd to the insane: Mendocino Redwood Company is unfit to care for the fish, birds, or any form of wildlife on its property in part because Mendocino Redwood Company displays a wanton disregard for the safety of human life on its lands, the property of its immediate neighbors and in the day to day practices of its timber harvest plans. I have witnessed this disregard for safety first hand. AVA readers may recall River Views columns from June of this year detailing how MRC’s contracted employees fell trees, without any prior notification or warning signs, over the dirt road I travel on, by foot and vehicle, each day. Only good fortune prevented injury and only a slight delay kept me from traveling down that road in my pickup just before the chainsawing began. The pickup would then have been stuck at the bottom of the hill while MRC left the fallen trees on the road for days. In a separate timber harvest plan about a mile downriver, MRC cable logged across the Albion. Canoeists and kayakers paddled along the Albion while these logging operations were ongoing; however, during the entire period that MRC’s cables hung over the river there was no warning whatsoever about the presence of the cables for boaters traveling underneath.

I notified a California Department of Forestry inspector, Chris Curtis, about these safety hazards; first asking if there were provisions in these two MRC timber harvest plans about warning boaters of overhead cables and prior notification to neighboring landowners about falling trees over the neighbor’s roadway. Essentially the response from Mr. Curtis was that there were no forest practice rules governing such basic safety situations. The 2012 California Forest Practice Rules book is more than 300 pages in length, but there are no rules concerning the safety of individuals on waterways or roads within areas covered by timber harvest plans! CalFire’s Chris Curtis’s solution: He wrote in safety amendments to MRC’s two Albion River timber harvest plans after the cable logging was finished over the Albion, after the trees were felled onto the road without warning. No fines for Mendocino Redwood Company or temporary suspensions of the timber operators’ licenses. In other words, the department of our state government designed to monitor timber harvesting covered up after the fact for the largest timberland owner in this county. No blood, no foul.

CalFire is, of course, one of the agencies that will grant Mendocino Redwood Company L.L.C. (a limited liability corporation that gets that limited liability license from the state of Delaware) permits pertaining to its timber harvesting that last for 80 years!

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