Mendocino County settlement called a compromise between timber, environmental interests

A legal settlement will allow logging to resume in the Jackson State Demonstration Forest next year, ending a five-year, court-imposed hiatus.

The agreement, signed by Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Richard Henderson last week, ends an eight-year legal battle over management of the state's largest demonstration forest -- 48,652 acres located east of Fort Bragg.

"This has been a long time coming," said Mendocino Coast resident Vince Taylor, whose Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest initiated the legal fight.

He said the agreement is a good compromise between timber and environmental interests.

The new forest management plan stemming from the lawsuit and adopted in January should eventually create an environment that resembles an old growth-forest that is attractive both to wildlife and human visitors, he said.

The agreement specifically allows two timber harvest plans that were halted in 2003 to resume, but also opens the door to new harvest plans, said Russ Henly, assistant deputy director for resource protection and improvement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Under the agreement, larger trees will be left to grow old and develop deformities that provide habitat for wildlife and scenic value for campers and hikers, he said.

The harvest plans -- held by the Mendocino Redwood Company and Willits Redwood Company -- are expected to yield about 17.5 million board feet of timber from some 900 acres on the Brandon Gulch and Camp Three areas of the forest, Henly said.

Logging is not expected to begin until next year, after the plans have undergone a final evaluation by a review board created as part of the settlement, he said.

The Jackson State Demonstration Forest is by far the largest state forest used for both logging and recreational purposes. The state has about 80,000 acres of demonstration forest land, Henly said.

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