Safety of employees, contractors and trespassing individuals is Humboldt Redwood Co.'s first priority. We are aware of trespassers on our property ("Straight from the PALCO Playbook," July 18). We have a fully licensed and bonded professional security group looking out for everyone's safety in the area of operations near Rainbow Ridge. Because someone is moving about illegally and without warning, it can create unpredictable circumstances. Entering our property illegally and during active logging operations is tremendously unsafe.
We have encouraged trespassers to come down with the offer of safe passage off the property. It is safest to come down. If they make a choice to stay in a tree, then it is safer to stay in one place rather than to move around unexpectedly and without warning. Hopefully, they will come down and take the offer of safe escort off the property.
Recently, the sheriff's office assessed another trespasser in a tree and felt her safe removal from the tree was unnecessary at that time. We will ask the sheriff to do another assessment of the health and safety of trespassers when convenient. The sheriff's office has a lot of demands on resources, so we appreciate the consistency and prompt response of its deputies to our property.
It appears the two trespassers have an interest in our forest management. We are happy to share our activities on all our timberland; we submit to annual Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) audits and review of our activities in addition to the seven state and federal agencies responsible for overseeing Timber Harvest Plan (THP) activities. Many people are aware a California THP is recognized as a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliant Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). CEQA is the most rigorous review and permitting required by California for any project. The process of earning a THP is extensive, thorough and subject to judicial challenge. We go beyond those high hurdles presented by local, state and federal governments in seeking third-party FSC audits.
Specific to the THP in the Mattole area, we went a hurdle beyond. Beginning in 2012, we sought additional input from stakeholders and the FSC, which led us to voluntarily modify the THP in 2016 and, in 2018, we voluntarily sought a third review with stakeholders and the FSC.
We have toured more than 50 people through the THP area. In 2019, we completed the reporting requested of the FSC auditor, which led to the start of operations. This reporting included specific areas voluntarily set aside for High Conservation Value Forest (HVCF), which we addressed to the satisfaction of the FSC auditor specifically for this THP. Old growth trees and old growth type trees are being protected down to the single tree — be they redwood, Douglas fir or anything else. We are currently performing an additional, voluntary review of the tens of thousands of acres we own in conjunction with the FSC auditor to evaluate, again, those areas beyond the current THP for HVCF areas.
Specific to old growth, we protect beyond the requirements of the FSC down to the single tree and to trees that show "characteristics of old growth." Our policy applies to redwood, Douglas fir and any tree on our property. This is true in the Mattole and across our entire ownership. In the case of the THP in the Mattole, dozens of interested parties, including FSC auditors, have reviewed the harvest to ensure we are in alignment with our policy of protecting old growth trees, among so many other commitments. The specifics of our Old Growth Policy can be found here: www.hrcllc.com/old-growth.
We have had a longstanding policy to take anyone anywhere on the property, to the place of their choosing, to see firsthand our forest management activities. Pick a place on the map, anywhere on our property, and we will go there together to look at it and talk about it. Over the 20 years our family of companies has been in business, we have done this with thousands of interested parties. We actively encourage and promote this sort of transparency. Beyond meeting people on the property, we are one of few, if any, timber companies publishing a breadth and depth of data alongside our commitment to policies and principles of our activities. It can all be found here: www.hrcllc.com.
We hope these policies and transparency can be a signal to other timberland owners to operate at a high environmental standard and be a successful business. We think it would be good for all forests and are trying to set a positive example in our part of the world.
Coming back to trespassing, it would be better to take us up on the offer to come see for oneself, either in the Mattole, at completion of operations, or anywhere on the map of our ownership.
Our first priority is the safety of our employees, contractors and trespassers. These are busy and active operations — logging and sawmills. It is safer to contact us and come see for oneself than to come and go illegally and without warning. To that end, we appreciate the sheriff's office responding promptly and consistently.
John Andersen is the director of forest policy for Humboldt Redwood Co. and Mendocino Redwood Co. and wrote this column in response to the July 18 opinion piece by Environmental Protection Information Center Executive Director Tom Wheeler ("Straight from the PALCO Playbook") in that capacity.
Have something you want to get off your chest? Think you can help guide and inform public discourse? Then the North Coast Journal wants to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to pitch your column ideas.