EPIC To Defend Order Limiting Timber Harvest in Damaged Watersheds

EPIC To Defend Order Limiting Timber Harvest in Damaged Watersheds

July 28, 2005

For more information, please contact: Sam Johnston, EPIC, 415-752-7166

Humboldt County, CA — After Maxxam’s subsidiary Scotia Pacific narrowly averted default and possible bankruptcy last week, corporate negotiations have gone behind closed doors. Meanwhile, related consequences from two events Friday could affect the harvest levels of the financially troubled timber company.

On Friday, July 29, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) will appear in Humboldt County Superior Court to oppose an appeal by Maxxam/Pacific Lumber Co. (PL) challenging limitations on logging recently imposed by the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). At hearings in February and March, PL argued that the handful of logging plans at issue would determine their financial solvency, and threatened chaos and instability on the north coast if they were not allowed to cut.

EPIC attorney Sharon Duggan, also representing the Humboldt Watershed Council and the Sierra Club in the matter, will urge the court to keep in place the State Water Board’s halt order dated June 16, 2005. In that order, the State Water Board blocked an earlier order by the North Coast Regional Water Board which had allowed PL to log certain volumes of timber in two damaged watersheds–Elk River and Freshwater Creek—despite a clear risk of further damage to these imperiled watersheds.

The same day, July 29, Regional Water Board members will make a personal visit to those two watersheds. The tour will include representatives from EPIC, local residents and concerned public, and will examine some of the damaged sites in the two watersheds. Freshwater and Elk River watersheds are the subject of watershed-specific waste discharge requirements, now in comment period, that will be considered by the Regional Water Board in September.

While Maxxam and Pacific Lumber corporate managers meet with their bondholders in private, environmental and community groups prepare for the more public forums that will determine the future of the region. EPIC went before the County Board of Supervisors on July 19 to ask that the Supervisors convene a town hall forum for community members to air their views and visions of a sustainable future on the rural north coast.

“Maxxam/Pacific Lumber is logging right to the edge of its financial viability, and we cannot allow this company to take the health of Humboldt County’s economy with it when it scurries back to Texas,” said EPIC spokesperson Sam Johnston.

The hearing on the PL challenge to the State Water Board’s June 16 order will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the Humboldt County Courthouse, Room #4, 825 Fifth Street in Eureka.

The NCRWQCB tour meets at 8:30 a.m. at Freshwater School, 75 Greenwood Heights Road, Eureka. Reservations for the bus had been requested by July 22 by the Water Board, but members of the media wishing to attend should contact Board secretary Jean Lockett at (707) 576-2307 to determine space availability.