Thursday, February 14, 2008

Maxxam's Other Plan: Keep the Best, Ditch the Rest.

Nothing whips up that sense of righteous indignation like a good ol' Hank Sims column on the PL bankruptcy. Beats the heck out of coffee.

Seriously though, Hank has brought to light some shady details from Maxxams alternative reorganization plans. The alternative plans seem to have largely slipped under the radar of local environmental watchdogs... until now.

... what no one talks about is that Maxxam has filed a second plan — what it calls "the alternative plans" (one for Palco, one for sister company Scotia Pacific). These alternative plans are much starker, and it seems that Maxxam is throwing them out there in the belief that squabbling amongst Marathon and the bondholders will prevent them from coming to accord. Under the "alternative plans," everyone gets something. Marathon takes the town of Scotia and the mill. The bondholders get most of the forest. But Maxxam walks away with the 6,600 acres it calls "The Ancient Forests" — the most mature, highest value stands in the company's stock.

What would it do with those stands? Perhaps it would continue to try to sell them to the government at highly inflated costs, leaving Hurwitz with one final payday. Perhaps it would simply log them, or threaten to. Though the assumption is that the stands are protected through the Headwaters Agreement, Palco argues in its paperwork with the court that it can do all kinds of stuff to them: "road use, upgrading, and construction; blasting; drilling and mining; hunting; thinning; timber removal; and related land-use activities.

Politicians such as California Attorney General Jerry Brown have said that they will fight tooth and nail if anyone tries to log in the Marbled Murrelet Conservation Areas (MMCA's) which Pacific Lumber has dubbed "The Ancient Forests". It almost goes without saying that local Earth First!ers and forest defenders would likewise shit a brick if Maxxam tries to log the MMCA's. These forests were supposed to be protected for 50 years after the signing of the 1998 Headwaters Deal which in turn allowed PL access to thousands of acres of other of the endangered Marbled Murrelet's habitat. The groves were explored, and some were named, by activists and along with Headwaters Grove were at the heart of the massive "Save Headwaters Forest" campaign of the 1990's.

They are: Elk Head Springs, All Species Grove, Shaw Creek, Allen Creek and the Cooper Mill and Elk River MMCA's. Though not all pristine, these areas do contain the largest remaining Oldgrowth Redwood groves on PL land and are arguably the best Marbled Murrelet habitat on the north coast due to giant trees and low levels of human activity.


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