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Louisiana-Pacific Corporation has produced a massive tome on how the company plans to balance cutting and regeneration of trees on its properties. The plan--7,000 pages, 3 feet thick, and 57 pounds--contains tree inventory, watershed analysis, and a rehabilitation plan. The company claims, "No timber company has ever done such a comprehensive job." But critics say the heart of the plan, the rehabilitation program, is flawed.

As rehabilitation on lands that are understocked, the plan calls for the cutting of all hardwoods and the thinning of conifers.

"This gives LP the ability to get at more land," according to Ron Cowan of Horizon Forest Products of Richmond. One Healdsburg forester who wished to remain anonymous said the plan allowed Louisiana-Pacific to get around California's Forest Practice Rules. Under the guise of rehabilitation, the company could effectively clear-cut areas.

As "stand rehabilitation," the company could also avoid specifying the size of such cuts, said the forester. He called it a "specist" approach in which hardwoods are seen as being in the way of conifers, which are favored as saw logs. At the same time, however, it allows the company to clear-cut hardwoods which the company then chips for particle board.

Under "Stand Rehabilitation followed by Even-aged Management" the plan allows cutting of all hardwoods and thinning of conifers to 30 square feet (total basal area) per acre under these conditions: 20% or more of the trees in a stand are hardwoods and the total basal area of conifers is 40 to 90 square feet. The plan calls a stand "dominated by hardwoods" when 20% or more are present.

Hardwoods are typically oaks and madrone; conifers are typically redwood and douglas fir.

These numbers are "bringing it down way far," according to the forester.

As an example, 10 trees with a radius at the base of about 1 foot (.9772) would have a total basal area of 30 square feet. That is what the LP rehabilitation prescription calls for per acre.

On September 1, both Louisiana-Pacific and Georgia-Pacific submitted sustained-yield plans for all of their timber holdings in Mendocino county. These documents were required by the California Department of Forestry when it rejected Mendocino county's own Forest Practice Rules in 1994. Mendocino county's rules reflected a concern that tree stocks were depleted due to overcutting.

The Georgia-Pacific document is about 300 pages. Because of the size of the Louisiana-Pacific document, access by the public may be limited. A copy costs about $2,500.


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