Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A decade after Headwaters deal, truce comes to Northern California redwood country

Ten years ago this week, the state and federal government spent $480 million to buy 7,472 acres from Pacific Lumber and other landowners to create the Headwaters Forest Reserve six miles south of Eureka. The deal ended one of the most bitter environmental conflicts in California history, pitting blue-collar loggers against tree-sitters in dreadlocks, and establishing Pacific Lumber owner Charles Hurwitz as the greatest eco-villain for U.S. environmental groups since the Exxon Valdez's Capt. Joseph Hazelwood. Today, the misty forest is a national preserve. Some of its trees are more than 320 feet tall — higher than the Statue of Liberty — and were growing during the Roman empire. But because of concerns over endangered species, the federal government has sharply limited public access, with only one year-round public trail into the forest. There is no visitor center and last year just 10,300 pilgrims came to this wooden cathedral, a fraction of the amount who visit Bay Area beaches on a single sunny weekend. Now the immense forest, 250 miles north of the Bay Area, is beginning a rebirth of sorts...Mercury News

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