John Campbell needs to write more often, his historical perspective is invaluable, and it is a story that has not been told.
Recently, while watching the first Board of Supervisors meeting to consider whether to place a moratorium on home construction on lands zoned for timber production, I noticed a witness who was advocating for the moratorium.
This individual was Greg King, who is the new executive officer of the North Coast Environmental Center.
Almost 20 years ago, I had a meeting with King, who at that time was a quasi-journalist, environmentalist and proponent of an extreme individual called Dave Foreman, who along with Mike Rozelle started Earth First.
This meeting occurred because I wanted to find out where this movement was going and what was its philosophy and goals. I naively thought a negotiation was possible.
After a brief discussion I realized I was dealing with an individual who was a derivative of this new radicalism.
I suggested that if he and his local group were successful, would he accompany me down to the sawmill and plant and would he suggest that I start to fire folks more than 50 years of age or those forty-nine or younger?
His reply was, “Mr. Campbell, you do not understand, with things of this magnitude, there has to be some ‘suffering.’” The meeting ended abruptly with me escorting Mr. King to the side door of my office.
Today, my question is, how much more suffering does this community need? Let’s add up so far.
1. Eel River Sawmills, 400 jobs, no timber from public forests.
2. Blue Lake Forest Products, 250 jobs, low volume from private lands. No timber from public forests.
3. Louisiana Pacific, 400 jobs, exited Humboldt County completely, following “Redwood Summer.”
4. Britt Lumber, Arcata, 250 jobs, lack of timely harvest plans.
5. The Pacific Lumber Co., 1200 jobs eliminated. Environmental litigation, protests, land and timber transferred to public ownership, etc.
6. Associated business ancillary to sawmills, trucking, heavy equipment, maintenance supplies, etc. 600 jobs.
This list refers to very good, well paid jobs that also had 401K plans, private medical plans and other benefits. Truly “living-wage” employment.
This tally just scratches the surface when one begins to see the tertiary effect on local schools.
Lower student enrollment, equate to less ADA dollars, as working families leave the area.
No traditional federal dollars for schools and roads due to zero harvest from national forests in our region.
Teachers’ pay has fallen behind statewide averages. It was reported quite recently that in Humboldt County more than 20 percent of children live in households with income at or below the federal poverty level.
Is it the wish of Mr. King and his associates to keep these children and families in bondage?
Local hospitals are financially strapped due in part to the removal of local private health care insurance programs and excessive government regulations. Recruiting new medical staff is difficult as we cannot compete with other areas.
The timber industry is struggling to survive, from excessive environmental regulation to protecting wildlife and fish habitats. Not from a lack of trees. This area has been harvesting trees for more than 130 years.
In “working” forests, trees are actually harvested, not “protected.” The Legislature considered this when the timber production zone designation was established in 1976.
If landowners are unable to harvest trees on land zoned for “maximum sustained production of forest products for the people of California” as legislated by the state, the land will go for other uses, fundamental economics will prevail. Recent catastrophic fires at Tahoe and in Southern California demonstrate the need for active not passive management in our local national forests.
We do not need more county rules. We do not need more suffering. We do need to let the professional foresters manage our forest lands for real, sustainable production and quality jobs.
Loggers need to get back to work in both private and national forests. We have sufficient land in public hands.
A recent piece earlier this month in The Economist (the international weekly) stated that on the West Coast of the United States there are “coastal soviets.” We need to be careful, otherwise “the planners” will tell you where to plant your organic products and what seeds and how many rows you can plant.
Our organic beef producers will be told which field to use and how many fences they will need along streams to protect fish which they will be unable to catch.
Every so often, people need to stop, take a deep breath and assess their situation. Humboldt County does not need more suffering.
Government at all levels should be encouraging and creating a climate where folks can achieve their hopes and dreams, not discouraging them with excessive rules, roadblocks and red tape.
It is paramount that private property rights be fully protected, not further compromised.
y John A. Campbell, 11/22/2007b
(John A. Campbell resides in Fortuna.)
Heraldo's snarky post on John Campbell's Op Ed. Heraldo may not like what he hears, but Campbell has a right to express his opinion, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that his opinion of Greg King would be negative. He has lived the side that has been affected by King/Darryl Cherney/Earth First!
King hasn't changed either, he is now more than happy to meddle in minor subdivisions in Arcata, his opinion being that he has a right to 'take' his share of the lots a developer proposes. He has also turned his sights on Green Diamond, using them and their 'transgressions' as lfundraising fodder.
It's about time people like Campbell spoke out and made sure that their side becomes part of the permanent record."