MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Co. executives are threatening to declare bankruptcy and lay off hundreds of workers if the Schwarzenegger administration doesn’t allow them to increase logging on the company’s timberlands on the North Coast.

Company officials, including MAXXAM CEO Charles Hurwitz, held a private meeting in Sacramento with representatives of the governor on Jan. 11, according to a Jan. 25 L.A. Times article.

Pacific Lumber (PL) claims it is running out of trees to cut, and if not allowed to log in areas currently restricted by the conditions of the Headwaters Forest Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) it signed in 1999, will be forced to file for bankruptcy. And its creditors, PL says, may not live up to the terms of the agreement.

The HCP agreement was signed in conjunction with the 1999 purchase of some 7,000 acres of PL land by the state and federal governments. This purchase created the Headwaters Forest Preserve, while the HCP governs logging practices on PL’s entire holdings.

The company, which owns 217,000 acres of North coast timberlands, including most of the world’s remaining old-growth redwoods, is asking for 11 logging permits to be approved by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The water board reviews timber harvest plans (THPs) because logging on steep slopes and near streams can cause siltation, with resulting serious deterioration of water quality and fish populations. Logging on steep slopes often leads as well to landslides and flooding.

PL recently opened a new, $25-million high-tech mill in Scotia that it boasted would allow it to increase production using fewer workers. The new mill, according to the company website, "will help keep the Company competitive far into the future."

Skeptics of the company’s bankruptcy threat ask why PL would build a new mill if it believed it was about to run out of trees to process in it.

"If the company is unable to meet the terms of the Headwaters agreement then let it hand over the forests to companies capable of both turning a profit and obeying the law," said Paul Hughes, executive director of Forests Forever. "PL shouldn’t be allowed to back out of an agreement that helps protect wildlife habitat, streams and unstable, landslide-prone slopes."


Write to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and tell him to actively prevent PL from reneging on the Headwaters Habitat Conservation Plan.

(Feel free to rewrite in your own words)

Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger:

I understand that executives from MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Co. met with your staff recently to demand approval of logging permits by the North Coast Water Quality Board, and threatened to file for bankruptcy if their demands were not met.

This corporate blackmail is outrageous. The water quality board is quite right in withholding permission to log on unstable slopes and in areas that will compromise water quality and fisheries.

I urge you not to back down in the face of Pacific Lumber’s threats and demands.
The state has already given enough to MAXXAM and Pacific Lumber. They should be held to the terms of the conservation agreement they signed just a few years ago, and not be allowed to destroy streams and endanger local communities.

PL has been cited by the California Department of Forestry for countless violations of state logging rules in recent years. I hope you will not allow a lawless corporation to make its profits at the expense of vanishing redwood forests, clean water and healthy fisheries.


Your Name
Your Address

Send your letter to:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841; Fax: (916) 445-4633
Email: governor@governor.ca.gov


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places