Commonly Asked Questions About Headwaters
Updated: July 14, 1998
What is the "Headwaters Agreement"?
In September of 1996, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, Deputy Secretary of Interior John Garamendi, and California Secretary for Resources Doug Wheeler, signed an agreement with Charles Hurwitz, Chairman and CEO of MAXXAM Corporation, the owner of Pacific Lumber Company (PL). This agreement committed the Federal and State Governments to provide $380 million for the purchase of the largest grove of old-growth redwood still in private hands anywhere in the world - the Headwaters Grove on PL lands, located in Humboldt County, California. In addition, the agreement specified that PL would develop a Habitat Conservation Plan and a Sustained Yield Plan for the remainder of its lands, approximately 200,000 acres.
Where will the $380 million come from?
Congress has already appropriated $250 million of federal money for the purchase of Headwaters, contingent upon completion of an acceptable Habitat Conservation Plan for the remainder of Pacific Lumber Companys lands (the approximately 200,000 acres that will remain in the Companys ownership after the Headwaters purchase). The State of California must still find a means to provide its share of the purchase price, $130 million. Governor Wilson included $130 million for Headwaters in his proposed State budget for fiscal year 1998-99, however, State Senator Byron Sher (D: Palo Alto) led an effort to remove this funding from the budget. At present, Senator Sher proposes a separate bill that would provide $130 million for the purchase of Headwaters if certain conditions are met. Those conditions consist of environmental protections that exceed what is currently found in the draft HCP/SYP.
What is the "Pre-Permit Application Agreement in Principle"?The "Pre-Permit Application Agreement in Principle" of February 27, 1998, is a commitment to the general conditions of a Habitat Conservation Plan and Sustained Yield Plan. The pre-permit agreement was signed by representatives of the state and federal governments, and by Pacific Lumber Company.
What is a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)?An HCP is a long-term conservation plan established under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. An approved HCP allows a private landowner to incidentally take listed species, provided adequate conservation measures are enacted that allow for the long term survival and recovery of the species. Congress intended the HCP process to reduce conflicts between listed species protection and economic development activities.
What is a Sustained Yield Plan (SYP)?An SYP is a state plan which provides for maximum sustained production of high-quality timber products over a 100 year planning period. An SYP requires protection of watersheds, wildlife, and fisheries, and must abide by applicable state and federal laws such as the endangered species acts of the state and federal governments. Following approval, an SYP is in force for a period of 10 years. In this case, PL is preparing a coordinated HCP/SYP.
Who prepared the Draft HCP/SYP and do government biologists think it is adequate?
The draft HCP/SYP was prepared by Pacific Lumber Company, however, the conservation and management guidelines for endangered species (and other covered species) were developed during long and difficult negotiations with government biologists. The present draft HCP/SYP, that is now available for public review and comment, contains conservation and management guidelines that meet the conservation needs of the fish and wildlife species, and comply with Federal and State law. It is important to note however, that this is only a draft document, and no final decisions regarding adequacy have been made by the government agencies. Such final determinations will be made after the public review and comment period.
What is a Timber Harvesting Plan (THP)?A THP is required by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) for commercial timber harvesting on all non-federal timberlands. PL must submit a THP for every proposed timber harvest, and must receive approval by CDF, even with the HCP/SYP. The advantage afforded by an HCP/SYP is that the general conservation provisions of each THP will already have been agreed to, and thus individual THPs will be processed more rapidly and with greater certainty for the landowner.
What is the relationship between an SYP and an HCP?The protections developed for watersheds, fish and wildlife resources in the HCP will fulfill the requirements of the SYP. In turn, the timber growth and harvest model developed in the SYP will provide for wildlife habitat projections over the life of the HCP.
How much land does the HCP/SYP cover?The HCP/SYP covers all of PL lands outside the Headwaters Preserve - just over 200,000 acres.
What are old-growth redwoods?Old-growth redwoods are centuries-old trees, distinguished from second growth trees which have regenerated after logging. The term "old-growth" can apply to groves of trees and/or individual trees. On PL lands in Humboldt County, there are groves of trees that have never been logged, such as Headwaters, Elkhead Springs (both of which are to be purchased under the Headwaters Agreement), Allen Creek, Shaw Gift, and Bell Lawrence. These unentered, or virgin, groves are termed "uncut" old-growth redwood. Elsewhere on PL lands, individual old-growth trees remaining after earlier selective logging are now surrounded by young, second-growth forest. These remnant individuals are termed "residual" old-growth, and can be found in abundance in PL groves such as Cooper Mill, Lower North Fork Elk, and Road 3.
How much old-growth redwood is being protected in the proposed Headwaters Preserve?The proposed Headwaters Preserve contains the Headwaters Grove and the Elkhead Springs Grove, which contain 3,117 acres of old-growth redwood, 665 acres of residual old-growth redwood, and 3,693 acres of second-growth redwood. The proposed Headwaters Preserve is 7,475 acres in size. Additional old-growth will be protected under the HCP as described below.
When purchased, what happens to the proposed Headwaters Preserve?The area will be jointly owned by the Federal and State Governments, and will be managed as a nature preserve. The area will be managed to promote the health of the redwood forest and all species found within the forest. The public will have access to the area. Final terms of the management goals and methods will be developed with full public participation.
Does Headwaters have public access now? Will it, under this plan?The area in the proposed Headwaters Preserve is now owned by Pacific Lumber Company, and the public does not have access to the area. The proposed Headwaters Preserve will have public access, most likely via a road to the edge of the Preserve and pedestrian trails within the Preserve.
Outside of the Headwaters Preserve, which contains the Headwaters Grove and the Elkhead Springs Grove, how many other groves of old-growth redwood are being protected?The proposed Habitat Conservation Plan, which applies to all of Pacific Lumber Company lands outside the Headwaters Preserve, identifies thirteen (13) marbled murrelet conservation areas outside the Headwaters Preserve, twelve (12) of which will be preserved. Five of the six uncut groves (the "lesser cathedrals") will be protected for the life of the permit in these conservation areas. The areas that will be protected for the life of the 50-year permit include Allen Creek, Allen Creek Extension, Shaw Gift, Bell Lawrence, Booth's Run, Cooper Mill, Lower North Fork Elk, Road 3, Right Road 9, the northern portion of Road 7 & 9, and either Owl Creek or Grizzly Creek. The last two are subject to an option.
What is the Option for Owl Creek or the Grizzly Creek under the HCP?This option requires Pacific Lumber Company to set aside for the life of the permit either Owl Creek or Grizzly Creek complex. The company has the option of harvesting one of these stands only if the other stand is placed under protection for the life of the permit.
How many acres of redwood will be protected under the HCP/SYP, and how many acres does Pacific Lumber Company own?The uncut old-growth and residual old-growth groves that will be protected for the life of the HCP represent approximately 8,200 acres, assuming that Pacific Lumber retains Grizzly Creek. This represents about 1,200 acres of uncut old-growth redwood, about 3,000 acres of residual old-growth redwood, about 3,800 acres of inter-woven second-growth redwood, and about 200 acres of old-growth Douglas Fir in Booth's Run Grove. After the Headwaters Preserve is purchased, Pacific Lumber Company will own over 200,000 acres of timberland, all of which will be covered by the HCP.
Will Pacific Lumber Company be able to harvest old-growth redwood under this HCP? If so, how much?Yes, PL will be able to cut a small amount of old-growth redwood and a moderate amount of residual old-growth redwood. The Headwaters Preserve and the HCP will protect about 84% of the uncut old-growth redwood, and about 29% of the residual old-growth redwood, that Pacific Lumber currently owns. This combination represents value to the taxpayers and protects the entire ownership consistent with State and Federal Law.
Explain the significance of old-growth redwood to the marbled murrelet?The marbled murrelet is a robin-sized seabird which nests on the limbs of old-growth trees, and is protected both by the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. The loss of old-growth forests throughout the Pacific Northwest, from central California to the border of Canada, has dramatically reduced the amount of available nesting habitat. An important component of recovering the murrelet in California is the protection of high quality old-growth redwood forests, their preferred habitat in California. The best murrelet nesting habitat consists of groves of uncut old-growth redwood. The uncut groves provide a dense canopy of trees which shelter and hide individual nests.
Do federal and state scientists think the Headwaters Preserve and the HCP will be adequate protection and habitat for the marbled murrelet?Yes, federal and state scientists believe the Headwaters Preserve and the protection of groves under the HCP will allow for long-term survival of the marbled murrelet.
What impact does this agreement have on aquatic species such as coho salmon?The Headwaters Preserve and the HCP will provide high levels of protection for species dependent upon healthy streams and stream-side forests, such as coho salmon, steelhead, frogs, and salamanders. The terms of the HCP substantially exceed the current levels of protection for aquatic resources. State and federal biologists are confident that aquatic species will be protected, and that listed species will be allowed to recover under this conservation package.
How wide are stream-side buffers under the proposed terms of this HCP/SYP?The buffers are 170 feet wide on Class I streams with a 30 foot restricted entry band, and 100 feet wide on Class II streams with a 10 foot restricted entry band.
Will clearcuts be allowed in these stream-side buffers?No. Only selective harvesting will be allowed in the 30-170 foot band on Class I streams and in the 10-100 foot band on Class II streams. This means that there will always be protective tree cover on either side of Class I and II streams.
What are the differences between Class I, II, and III streams?Streams are classified as Class I if they provide fish spawning areas and fish habitat; Class II if they provide habitat for amphibians and insects; and Class III if they deliver water to Class II streams during storms. There will be equipment restrictions on Class III streams.
How will the proposed terms of this HCP/SYP prevent landslides and erosion?Roads on PL lands will be armored against erosion at the rate of 50 miles per year. In addition, areas susceptible to erosion and landslides will receive special protective measures developed by a professional geologist in collaboration with state and federal agencies.
What is FEMAT?In 1993 the federal government issued the Forest Ecosystem Management: An Ecological, Economic, and Social Assessment (FEMAT), which covers a variety of scientific information about Pacific Northwest forests. The report offers a range of 10 options for protecting forestlands. The federal government chose one of the 10 to govern its oversight of federal forestland in the Northwest. The scientific data in the FEMAT study was used by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in negotiating proposed terms of this HCP/SYP.
What is the next step?The next step is to carry out public review and comment on the draft Habitat Conservation Plan/Sustained Yield Plan. The public comment period began on July 14, 1998 and will last 90 days. In addition, the federal and state governments are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement and an Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) which will be available for public comment approximately one month after release of the draft HCP/SYP. The public comment period on the draft EIS/EIR will last 60 days, ending at the same time the comment period ends for the draft HCP/SYP. Additional information about public review is available on this site.
What is an Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR)?
An EIS/EIR is a joint document that evaluates the environmental impacts of a proposed project, and in this case, the proposed project is the draft HCP/SYP. The EIS/EIR will also evaluate a range of alternatives to the proposed project, some that are more environmentally protective and others that are less environmentally protective. The EIS is prepared under the auspices of the National Environmental Policy Act and the EIR is prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act. The EIS/EIR will allow the public to develop a better understanding of the impacts associated with the proposed project, and should assist the public in forming and expressing their opinions.
How significant is this agreement in terms of the HCP? Is this unprecedented? Does this set any new standards?The Headwaters purchase and HCP are unprecedented in that we are establishing a conservation solution for the last large uncut groves of old-growth redwood still in private hands anywhere in the world. The goals of this HCP are consistent with other HCPs around the country. Incidental take of listed species will be permitted, provided adequate habitat is set aside to allow for the survival and recovery of such species. Public funds to purchase habitat in coordination with the development of an HCP is a strategy that has been used in many other conservation solutions around the country, such as the San Bruno Mountain HCP near San Francisco and Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) in Southern California.
What does this do for jobs in Humboldt County?Congress appropriated $10 million to Humboldt County to compensate for any lost tax revenue, and PL says it does not anticipate any job losses due to this agreement.