EPIC: Jackson Demonstration State Forest Update

Matt Simmons, Staff Attorney for EPIC

Jackson Demonstration State Forest Protectors with a sign that reads: “Stop Logging our Future.”

There have been a lot of developments in the fight to Save Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). We thought we’d give you an update.

EPIC is working with a broad coalition in the campaign to Save Jackson, which includes local environmental organizations, community members and the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the original stewards of the forest, to provide permanent protections for the publicly owned forest. 

Recently, CAL FIRE has announced that it will be rewriting the JDSF management plan four years early. This comes after continuous pressure from the public. Some members of the Jackson Advisory Group are Senator McGuire and Secretary Wade Crowfoot.  This means the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the forest’s future four years earlier than they otherwise would have, and we can ensure that this state owned forest is managed in an ecologically and culturally informed way. EPIC will be following this process closely and will be sure to keep you informed about how best to influence the future of JDSF.

Additionally, CAL FIRE has proposed a compromise on the Caspar 500 THP. The controversial Caspar 500 THP set off the campaign to save JDSF when forest users noticed dozens of large, second growth trees had been marked for harvest in a popular hiking and mountain biking area. Last summer, forest defenders successfully managed to pause logging on the Caspar 500 THP, but the timber companies have been eager to return.

CAL FIRE’s compromise includes moving a proposed logging road, which would have run through the Gemini Tree that forest defenders occupied last year, pardoning the Gemini Tree. Second, 75 acres of the roughly 500 acre Timber Harvest Plan will be taken out of commercial harvest and will instead undergo light thinning at the direction of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. This last concession is an effort by CAL FIRE to begin some co-management on JDSF without agreeing to fully co-manage the forest. 

CAL FIRE’s compromise offer relies on the research of Steven Sillett, a professor at Cal Poly Humboldt. The idea is for the logging to continue but for CAL FIRE to select a couple Potential Elite Trees (PETs) per acre to permanently protect. These trees would be the most vigorous redwoods in the forest and would be permanently protected so that they would eventually become old-growth redwoods. However, neighboring trees that are not selected will still be logged.

On May 28, the Save Jackson Coalition was pleased to learn that three controversial THPs located in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) had been withdrawn by CAL FIRE. The plans constitute a total of 1,479 acres (over two square miles) of forest now taken off the chopping block.

The Mitchell Creek and Little North Fork Big River THPs were both recommended for approval in the Spring of 2021, with the Boundary Creek THP recommended for approval in March 2021. In response to community opposition, hundreds of public comments and the advocacy of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, CAL FIRE has now withdrawn these THPs. 

The Save Jackson Coalition has been demanding a moratorium on all logging in Jackson, including the approval of new THPs, until a new management plan can be written and implemented that better meets the needs of the Native American Tribes, the community, the environment, and also addresses the current climate reality. In recent weeks, CAL FIRE has announced that they will be rewriting the JDSF management plan and now they have withdrawn these three controversial THPs. The Coalition considers this a good faith action on CAL FIRE’s part toward that end. The Save Jackson Coalition continues to demand a moratorium.

Interested in becoming more involved? Check out the savejackson.org website.

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