Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A legal battle over plans to log in the lower Gualala River flood plain is heading into a fifth year, despite a recent victory in state appeals court by Gualala Redwood Timber and Cal Fire which first approved the project back in 2016.
The fight over the 342-acre timber project in the northwest corner of Sonoma County adjacent Gualala Point Regional Park is now shifting to a new case gearing up in federal court.
But the bottom line is still the same. Gualala Redwood Timber and its owner, Roger Burch of Healdsburg, want to cut timber from the watershed to feed local sawmills that Burch also owns.
Friends of the Gualala River, a 30-year-old grassroots nonprofit organization supported by like-minded groups around the region, is seeking to block the harvest, which is targeting stands of second-growth forest including some century-old redwoods.
At issue is what’s described in the group’s federal suit as “one of California’s last remaining mature riparian redwood forest.”
Charles Ivor, president of Friends of the Gualala River characterized the forest as having evolved over thousands of years to provide a rich and balanced ecosystem only to be nearly wiped out by the log production that helped build San Francisco and much of the North Coast.
Gualala Redwood Timber agents have consistently maintained their plan adheres to state forest practice rules and restrictions developed specifically to protect imperiled steelhead trout and salmon runs in the Gualala River.