The Union Democrat
Forest Watch looks at ways to reach goals
Published: March 17, 2005
By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Having lost its case at the state's last court of
appeal, a foothill environmental group is planning to
turn to the court of public opinion to block clear-cut
logging in area forests.
Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch representatives say they
hope to organize community groups, lobby county
officials and support state legislation as avenues for
blocking future clear cuts.
"If litigation doesn't work, there are other
strategies," Forest Watch President Bruce Castle said.
In 2002, the grassroots environmental group sued
California Department of Forestry over its approval of
Sierra Pacific Industries' clear-cutting logging plans
for SPI-owned land in El Dorado, Calaveras and
Tuolumne counties, saying the CDF was not considering
the cumulative effect of all the timber harvest plans
it was, one by one, approving.
And in each county's superior court, the environmental
It then combined El Dorado and Calaveras' appeals, but
lost again in California's Third Appellate Court last
August. Undaunted, Forest Watch filed a petition for
review with the California State Supreme Court — which
last month denied the petition.
The Tuolumne case is still on appeal.
While it will argue the Tuolumne case, the group says
it has regrouped and is deciding its next move in
Calaveras and El Dorado counties.
"We're exploring ways to empower the citizens," Castle
Two Forest Watch members, Murphys residents Addie
Jacobson and Penny Sarvis, recently attended a
workshop on organizing community activism.
"We believe we have a right to say what direction we
want our county and state to go in and corporations
should not completely dominate the rest of us,"
Jacobson said, adding that she's not exactly sure how
Forest Watch will engage the larger community.
Sarvis said as Forest Watch moves forward, the group
will find out what issues concern residents throughout
the Sierra Nevada, and explore ways to resist economic
activity that the citizens don't want happening in
"The concerns may be clear-cutting or big box stores,"
Sarvis said the 400-member organization may also seek
to have the counties formulate their own, stricter
Tom Nelson, director of forest policy for SPI, a major
logging outfit, said his firm feels the courts have
vindicated the company and the process CDF uses to
analyze timber harvest plans.
"If nothing else, I would think the public would feel
glad that we have a system and a recourse to challenge
things. It's a wonderful thing to use the system to
get your grievances aired," he said.
"We feel that happened and the judges at every level
deemed that the protections that are in place are more
Contact Sunny Lockwood at email@example.com.