Agreement to Protect Humboldt Redwoods (CA)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 4/15/02— A national land conservation organization and a forest products company joined forces today when the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) announced an agreement to transfer 170 acres of redwood forest from SPI into public ownership. The agreement was forged as a solution to address the concerns of residents in the neighboring community of Sunnybrae — in Humboldt County — regarding the possible impacts of commercial harvesting and future development of the property.

“The Trust for Public Land has worked with SPI for more than a decade to conserve land throughout California. We appreciate their understanding of the need to balance timber harvesting impacts with recreational and other residential concerns,” says David Sutton, TPL senior project director.

TPL and SPI have agreed to a memorandum of understanding to sell the land currently owned by Sierra Pacific Industries. SPI received approval on its timber harvest plan for the property last fall but has agreed to hold off on logging to enable TPL time to raise funds to acquire the property.

“This transaction offers an opportunity to expand the model of a working, community forest, integrated within the residential – wildland interface” says Andrea Tuttle, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “I am pleased that SPI has agreed to defer timber operations while the community works to bring the property into public ownership.”

Details of the sale will be worked out within the next few months. Funding has not yet been secured but one option includes adding the property to the City of Arcata’s Town Forest using federal Forest Legacy funds, private donations, and other public funds.

“The City of Arcata may be the logical stewards of this property and we will be working with both parties to see if we can help acquire the funding needed to turn this into one of our model forests,” says Dan Hauser, Arcata city manager.

Sierra Pacific Industries and TPL have been collaborating since 1989 to exchange and transfer land owned by the forest products company to public ownership. Last summer, TPL and SPI announced the largest transfer of land for public purposes in California’s Sierra Nevada since the early 1900s — more than 30,000 acres. That agreement includes public acquisitions along the American, Yuba, Rubicon, Clavey, and Mokelumne rivers, and alongside the Granite Chief Wildnerness west of Lake Tahoe.

“This is part of our long-standing and ongoing effort to work with our neighbors where possible while managing our forests and our business of providing wood products people depend on,” says A.A.”Red” Emmerson, president of SPI.

“The success of this agreement will take the combined efforts of those who participated in the timber harvest plan review process, the City of Arcata, local community leaders, the Trust for Public Land and the state to raise the funds necessary to bring the project to completion,” said Director Tuttle.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization, specializing in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and real estate law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic, and cultural resources for future generations, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide and more than 230,000 acres in California.