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Judge Delays Plan to Cut Stand of Old Redwoods

November 11, 1987|LARRY B. STAMMER | Times Staff Writer

In a decision hailed Tuesday by environmentalists, a Humboldt County Superior Court judge has ruled that the state Department of Forestry appeared to have "rubber stamped" plans by the Pacific Lumber Co. to cut 385 acres of old-growth redwood trees and Douglas fir.

The decision, handed down last week in Eureka by Superior Court Judge Frank Petersen but not announced until Tuesday, said that the department had failed to properly assess the cumulative environmental impact of the proposed clear-cutting on fish and wildlife.

The court also said that the state Fish and Game Department and North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board merely took the word of the Pacific Lumber Co. that the timber operations would not effect "concerned or endangered species."

Cites 'Eagerness'

"It appears that California Department of Forestry rubber stamped the timber harvest plans as presented to them by Pacific Lumber company and their foresters," the judge wrote. "It is to be noted that in their eagerness to approve two of these (three) harvest plans (the department) approved them before they were completed," Petersen said.

The judge said the "most distressing" finding was that water quality and fish and game personnel believed that the Forestry Department would not take their findings into consideration.

"It is apparent," the judge said, "that the California Department of Forestry . . . does not want Fish and Game or Water Quality to cause any problems or raise any issues which would deter their approval of any timber harvest plan," the judge said.

Petersen directed Pacific Lumber Co. to resubmit the three timber harvest plans for "a proper and legal evaluation" by the state. The order came after the Environmental Protection Information Center of Garberville, a nonprofit environmental group, filed a petition to require the Forestry Department to obey the law.

Disappointed With Decision

State Forestry Director Jerry Partain and a Pacific Lumber Co. spokesman said Tuesday they were disappointed with the decision.

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