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Logging giant Louisiana-Pacific Corporation has never been accused of doing things in a small way. Not when it comes to cutting trees, not when it comes to profits--according to the company's critics. When the company was required to produce a sustained-yield plan by the California Department of Forestry last year, it appears the company took it as a challenge to test its prowess as a publisher. The first document it produced--one for its holdings in Mendocino county--was massive.
Said John Munn of CDF, the man who is in charge of its review, "The document is very large. If you stand it on the floor and measure it from top to bottom, it's about 27 inches." It is 7,000 pages long and weights 57 pounds. It is not for the light reader.
The document addresses watershed and wildlife areas individually. "One of the reasons it's so long," said Munn, "is each one of these areas is described by itself in detail, rather than having one general description for the property."
Another reason for the length, according to Jim Lemieux, forestry resource systems manager for Louisiana-Pacific, is that the study goes beyond the boundaries of the Louisiana-Pacific property--a half million acres in California--and looks at the watersheds in which those properties lie. "We went to watershed boundaries for our analysis," said Lemieux, "and so when we go from ownership boundaries to watershed boundaries, we went from a half a million acres to 2 million acres."
To have done less, said Lemieux, would have been "a sub-professional job."
The plan, which cost Louisiana-Pacific $2 million and involved 85 employees at one point, could buy Louisiana-Pacific shorter timber harvest plans in the future. Said Lemieux, "The rules state that to the extent that issues and problems and concerns are addressed in the SYP (sustained-yield plan), then you can just reference the SYP when you turn in your project documents." Thus the company may be able to file much shorter timber harvest plans, which are required whenever logging is done.
Right now, however, it means a lot of late-night reading for CDF.
The review process for an SYP--a new document for logging companies and CDF--involves 3 stages: a 20-day filing period, a 45-day "sufficiency" review period, and a 90-day public review period including at least 1 public hearing at which the timber company must be present for questions.
After an SYP is delivered by a logging company to CDF, then CDF has 20 days to decide if all required subject areas have been addressed. The Mendocino county document was delivered on September 1, and it was filed by CDF on September 21.
In the sufficiency review period, CDF and other agencies, such as Fish & Game and Water Quality Control, look at the information to decide if it's adequate to evaluate the plan. The sufficiency review period may be extended, according to Munn; and in the case of the Louisiana-Pacific plan for Mendocino county it probably will, he said.
Sometime following the sufficiency review comes the public review period, and that may be extended too.
No one at CDF has yet read the entire Louisiana-Pacific document for Mendocino county. But CDF is ahead of the public, since it has a copy.
Concerning public review, Munn said, "That is a touchy subject. The rules only require the submitter to provide the department with one copy, and we recognized that really isn't adequate for public review."
Louisiana-Pacific has in fact supplied 3 complete copies of the plan to CDF offices at Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and Mendocino. Making a copy costs about $2,500, according to the company. "Those are available if the public chooses to go look at them," said Munn. The documents, however, cannot leave the offices.
Making the documents so expensive are 1,000 color, 11-by-17-inch maps. Ten additional copies without maps are being made by CDF for the reviewing agencies.
In the future, Louisiana-Pacific plans to put these types of documents on CD ROMS. But there just wasn't time for a CD version of the Mendocino plan, according to Lemieux. "CDs are a logical place to handle something of this nature. Paper production, when you get this big, is just unwieldy," he said.
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