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PalCo Bankruptcy Plan; Maxxam Sells Redwoods to Developers

by BACH & forest defense friends resist!! Thursday, Oct. 04, 2007 at 8:42 PM

At Pacific Lumber's Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearings, parent corporation Maxxam (Houston, TX headquarters) submits plan in Corpus Christi court to sell land for development to pay off their debt to creditors and continue logging with even less restrictions on their remaining land. CA residents are excluded from any decision making process in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Pacific Lumber Releases Plan for Post-Bankruptcy Management and Sale of Land

PACIFIC LUMBER REORGANIZATION PLAN WOULD SELL, DEVELOP AND LOG LAND

The long-awaited corporate reorganization plan that Pacific Lumber must, by law, submit to the bankruptcy court under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings is out, after two extensions. Under bankruptcy law, the debtor (PL) gets the first whack at a proposed management

plan, after which the court decides whether present management will retain control.

In brief, PL proposes to sell the Marbled Murrelet Conversation Areas, some 6,600 acres of ancient redwood forest contained in 6 groves that were set aside for 50 years under provisions of the 1999

Headwaters Deal. They propose to sell an additional 22,000 acres adjacent to and surrounding those groves as high-end housing development, sell the town of Scotia, and retain ownership of approximately 181,000 acres of forestland for timber production.

Our good friends at the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment have posted the entire plan, along with a map at;

http://asje.org/PL_Reorganization_Plan.html

While PL CEO George O'Brien calls the plan "win-win" in the business pages, there are clearly losers, and at best, the proposal assumes an assembling of buyers for the land they wish to sell at unbelievably inflated prices. (0 million for the ancient groves) Some

manipulations are fairly bald-faced, as in Maxxam's "forgiving" of a million "debt" that is an engineered claim against its own subsidiary in the first place, and PL financial architects clearly hope to woo the bondholders to their side of the court with their promises of cashing out the debt burden. The bondholders are owed about 5 million (from PL's refinancing of its original purchase debt) and would receive only (approx.) 67 cents on the dollar under

that plan.

PL also claims as a chit in their favor the real estate expertise of its parent Maxxam. Hurwitz's Maxxam has been in the real estate business far longer than they have been in the timber business. High end development is their ball game and they play hard ball. An interesting story from Maxxam's past involves a development in the Palm Springs area proposed for bighorn sheep lambing ground.

PL is fighting to keep other proposals from coming before the court. A hearing to extend that exclusivity to February is scheduled for Nov. 23.

The SF Chronicle ran a story today about the PL plan and are offering a comment opportunity at;

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/comments/view?f=/c/a/2007/10/02/MN41SI0CB.DTL

You can link to the;

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/article?f=/c/a/2007/10/02/MN41SI0CB.DTL

full story from there as well. Please weigh in, making the points that

*this is not a sustainable *reorganization*. It is proposed highway robbery with land values inflated in some cases 10 fold, and another attempt to raid private and public coffers and send hundreds

of millions of dollars to the pockets of Charles Hurwitz.

*Old growth forests and BUFFERS are not negotiable. Isolated old growth groves need buffers to survive and thrive as habitat. Housing developments are NOT biological buffers.

*The bankruptcy court should receive alternative plans for management from creditors, Humboldt county residents, workers and other stakeholders.

*No conversion, ever, of forest land to development. It has happened to an extreme degree in Sonoma, to a large degree in Mendocino, and must not happen in the redwoods in Humboldt county!

NOTE: BACH will have a public activist get-together soon to present the situation in full, and also to bring updates from the oak grove tree-sit. Please watch for the notice!



Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH)

2530 San Pablo Ave.

Berkeley, CA 94702

phone: 510 548 3113

email: bach [at] headwaterspreserve.org

http://www.HeadwatersPreserve.org



Here's some other suggestions for redwoods land reclamation & restoration;

Since the process of European colonization of North America adversely effected regional indigenous populations by removing them from their land base by military force, germ warfare and other forms of coercion, an ethical approach to both the forest ecosystem and the indigenous peoples would be reclamation of land from Maxxam/PL. Return and restore Maxxam/Pacific Lumber's excessively logged land to the region's indigenous peoples. This would include the Wiyot, Round Valley Tribes and others of the NorCal region who currently lack a significant land base for their cultural and physical survival. Logging by indigenous peoples on their own landbase would be an improvement to the corporate logging clearcuts evidenced by over two decades following Maxxam's takeover of Pacific Lumber..

Currently in CA we can only cite the Hupa Nation's logging practices that avoid clearcutting and thus also prevent any herbicide spraying. However, other indigenous nations have also shown their ability to practice selective logging without the erosion and other destruction witnessed by Maxxam/PL's corporate clearcutting methods..

for Hupa forestry info;

http://www.sierrainstitute.us/Hoopa_case_cover.pdf.

"Against the Odds:(Re-) Building Community through Forestry on the Hoopa Reservation"

by Mark Baker

February 2003

article section;

"The forest plan alternative that was eventually chosen for the 1994-2003 period sets the annual allowable cut at 10.4 mm b.f., significantly lower than any prior post-WW II allowable cut. The plan prioritizes stand rehabilitation and conifer restocking of areas that were captured by brush and tanoak following previous timber harvesting activities using manual release and planting methods (herbicide application was banned by a tribal resolution in the late 1970s). It identifies a wide variety of watershed restoration activities needed to protect domestic water sources and protect and enhance salmonid habitat. In response to issues raised by tribal members concerning cultural and socioeconomic issues, the plan identifies a large number of archeological and ceremonial sites as well as eight specific cultural areas, which include mushroom gathering areas, Port Orford Cedar areas, and camps and campgrounds, in which little or no timber harvesting is allowed. These cultural areas total more than 6,000 acres. Additionally,silvicultural prescriptions for timber harvesting in areas that produce mushrooms and other non-timber forest products that are not included in those areas are developed in a manner that issensitive to the need to maintain and/or enhance their abundance. The plan also identifies forestareas important as viewsheds, wildlife areas (riparian corridors, travel corridors, falcon activity centers, traditional species activity areas, etc.), riparian areas, etc., in which timber harvesting isalso restricted or not allowed at all. In short, the current forest plan effectively maps onto the tribe’s forest ecosystem a wide variety of culturally informed and traditional forest management practices and uses. The extent to which a cultural overlay modifies, shapes, and conditions thetribe’s timber harvest operations is unprecedented in this century in the 20th Century. It represents the landscapes effects of the integration of sovereignty, technical forest managementcapacity, and a participatory process that encourages the expression of culturally rooted values and interests that pertain to the forest resource."

Why not give other indigenous peoples of the region the chance to model their forestry program on the Hupa's?

Problems with Maxxam/PL corporate logging methods;

Clearcutting - Opens large gaps in the canopy where "undesireable" sun tolerant species invade, these are often the targets of herbicide spraying. Succesional species in smaller clearings like tanoak, madrone and manzanita require patience, if a clearing opens in the canopy (could be natural, if storm falls large tree), these successional species will be first in line to replace the conifers. They are not "pests", and should not be treated as such by spraying toxic herbicides. Actually, these successional species are an important source of food and break up the monocultura of plantation forestry..

Herbicide spraying - No clearcutting = no herbicide spraying! In addition, selective loggin' results in more jobs than does clearcutting and other forms of mechanized logging..

Old Growth logging - Culling (removing) old growth trees in any THP is similar to gunning down senior citizens on the street (REALLY DUMB idea). The loss of these elders in the forest equates with the loss of the knowledge of our human elders in the ecosystem services they provide (ie., duff, leaf litter, canopy cover, etc..). We need to nurture and sustain BOTH our human and forest elders, NOT cull them!!

Steep slopes (varies between 55 - 80 + degrees) - Logging on erosion prone slopes in riparian habitat, canyons, etc.., provokes additional sediment runoff. Slope steepness varies based in substrata, crumbly shales are thus deemed steeper even if not as steep in actual gradient..

To be inclusive of the non-indigenous peoples who have resided in Humboldt region for some generations, additional land from Maxxam/PL could be reclaimed for specific towns (ie., Eureka, Fortuna, Rio Dell, etc..) as community forests with selective logging practices only (ie., no clearcutting). This practice of community forestry is happening in Weaverville, Sunny Brae and other towns throughout the west. Local control includes greater local input, no mas trials in Texas way far out of reach of residents and effected timber workers..

"WHAT IS A COMMUNITY FOREST?

A community forest is owned and/or managed by a local entity, whether it be a city, like the Arcata Community Forest, or another public entity. In fact, we have an excellent example of a successful community forest in Arcata. Their forest is 1100 acres, 900 acres of which are located next to the town. The forest is highly visible from Highway 101 and most parts of the town. It has been managed as a community forest for over 40 years.

With a community forest, the community gets to decide what the values are. In Weaverville, important values that have been expressed include high visual quality, fuels reduction, sustained revenue, recreation, timber harvesting, firewood collection, improved forest health and wildlife habitat. In addition, areas that are sensitive to ground disturbance, like historic resources, and unstable slopes, can be protected in the plan.

These values are not mutually exclusive. In addition, the jobs stay in the community, as well as the logs. Public input and awareness is welcomed and encouraged. As a result, the community has a stake in the forest, and can become better educated about forestry issues."

above info found @;

http://www.tcrcd.net/w-ville_forest/what_is_a_cf.htm

Remaining Maxxam/PL land restored to public forest land with zero cut, for the enjoyment and recreation (camping, fishing, nature observation, etc..) of residents and visitors..

If all this sounds too much like pie in the sky (oh my!), then consider that land reclamation is happening throughout South America, and it could benefit people and ecosystems in el norte also!!

Here's an example of land reclamation in Canada;

"Since the beginning of the reclamation the struggle has gone through a number of different stages. During the first stage, from February 28 to April 20 2006, the reclamation was a low-key protest at which a small group of a couple dozen people from Six Nations set up a camp at the entrance of the Douglas Creek Estates to prevent further construction on the subdivision. Tensions with residents from Caledonia were low and many locals stopped by to bring supplies and show their support. On March 10th Henco Industries, the developers of the subdivision, obtained a court injunction against the camp, and tensions began to increase. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) stepped up its surveillance, and the site protesters requested the presence of warrior societies from other Haudenosaunee communities to protect their encampment."

read on @;

http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/2630

Extra advice for potential developers;

Even thinking about development in the sacred redwoods ecoregion will bring in some additional neighbors, the guerrilla factions of ELF who are certainly not nearly as nice as the resident treesitters, forest defenders and North Coast Earth First!ers who are currently engaging in struggle with Maxxam/PL..

We will not accept corporate criminals like Maxxam CEO Charles Hurwitz to be given free reign to terrorize the redwoods ecosystem of CA's north coast..

Flashback info;

The current CEO (Charles Hurwitz) of Pacific Lumber's parent corporation Maxxam is a career white collar criminal who should have been arrested years ago for his involvement (w/ M. Milken and I. Boesky) in the collapse of the Texas Savings and Loan, were it not for the intervention by Rep. John Doolittle (R) with an FDIC investigation of Hurwitz..

"DeLay and two others helped put the brakes on a federal probe of a businessman. Evidence was published in the Congressional Record." ... "In a case that echoes the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, two Northern California Republican congressmen used their official positions to try to stop a federal investigation of a wealthy Texas businessman who provided them with political contributions." ... "Reps. John T. Doolittle [California Republican] and Richard W. Pombo [California Republican] joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay [Republican] of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking 0 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers .6 billion." ... "The investigation was ultimately dropped." ... "The effort to help Hurwitz began in 1999 when DeLay wrote a letter to the chairman of the FDIC denouncing the investigation of Hurwitz as a "form of harassment and deceit on the part of government employees." When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz."

"Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker." ... "The FDIC's chief spokesman characterized what Doolittle and Pombo did as "a seamy abuse of the legislative process." But soon afterward, in 2002, the FDIC dropped its case against Hurwitz, who had owned a controlling interest in the United Savings Assn. of Texas. United Savings' failure was one of the worst of the S&L debacles in the 1980s."... "

article @;

http://havenworks.com/people/a-z/d/doolittle-john-t/

Would any sane people trust the futures of their redwoods forest ecosystem to the career criminal at the helm of Maxxam corporation? Of course not, so we need to reclaim the land from Maxxam!!

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