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by Malcolm Macdonald, January 16, 2013
January 16th marks 225 years since Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Unlike some Mendocino County newspapers, the AVA did provide notice that Mendocino Redwood Company would be hosting public workshops on its proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP). The meetings will take place Wednesday, January 16 and Thursday, January 17 at MRC’s Holquist Lane office (just off Gibney Lane, south of Fort Bragg). Unfortunately, that means most of you reading this in print will have already missed one or both of these meetings.
I was only informed about them by phone message from Mendocino Redwood Company’s Albion area forester John Andersen less than a week ahead of time. Be that as it may, MRC is inviting input from those who miss out on January 16 and 17 to provide their ten cents worth to John Ramaley, who can be reached by phone at 463-5129.
Those who miss the meetings and don’t feel comfortable speaking directly to a Mendocino Redwood Company employee might follow the official method of public comment by writing to any one of the following:
• Eric Shott, National Marine Fisheries Service, 777 Sonoma Avenue, Room 325, Santa Rosa, CA 95404;
• John Hunter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521;
• Chris Browder, Cal Fire, Resource Management, P.O. Box 944246, Sacramento, CA 94244-2460; or
• Brad Valentine, Dept. of Fish and Game, 135 Ridgeway Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.
Keep in mind that Mendocino Redwood Company is seeking permits from four federal and state agencies that will run for eighty years. These permits will apply to almost all of the 200,000 acres of timberland MRC owns in Mendocino County. The current deadline for public comment on the proposed plans is February 21. However, I received a phone call late last week from Linda Perkins, a long time Sierra Club advocate in this area. She stated that John Hunter, from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, had told her that the deadline would probably be extended for another month. A six month extension for the public comment period would be much more realistic. Well over a thousand pages of documents and 80-some maps accompany Mendocino Redwood Company’s proposal.
Of course, it is my experience that public comment doesn’t mean a lot to Mendocino Redwood Company. At an equally poorly noticed meeting in December I made a very public comment regarding the hundred feet of barbed wire strung head high amidst MRC’s eucalyptus grove on a ridgeback separating Slaughterhouse Gulch from Deadman’s Gulch. The barbed wire could easily be walked or run into by humans or wildlife, particularly since much of it is camouflaged by fallen strips of eucalyptus bark. If someone informed me, especially at a public forum, that a hundred feet of barbed wire dangled dangerously on the Macdonald ranch I’d be out there the next day cutting it down. A month has transpired since that public meeting. No one from Mendocino Redwood Company, with far more manpower resources than my family’s ranch, has done anything about the hazardous barbed wire.
Nor for that matter has Mendocino Redwood Company dealt successfully with their plans to eradicate the eucalyptus that cover dozens of acres above Slaughterhouse Gulch. Several years ago MRC hacked the trees and squirted them with herbicide, but thousands of young eucalyptus, too small to be hacked, have sprouted up alongside in the meantime.