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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 373

Celebrating 10 years of Headwaters Forest Reserve

Representatives of government agencies, timber companies and the environmental community gathered March 4 at the Headwaters Forest Reserve near Eureka  to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Forest's transfer to public ownership.

The BLM's Arcata Field Office organized the celebration -- the first event in the Forest Reserve Education Center -- as a kick off for a year of observances of the milestone.  Transfer into public ownership culminated years of controversy over the fate of the forest.

Creation of the Reserve, a 7,400-acre forest containing stands of 1,500-year-old redwoods,occurred March 1,1999, with the appropriation of  $380 million, including $250 million in federal funds, and the balance from the state of California.  The reserve was established to protect about 3,000 acres of ancient trees and surrounding forests that provide habitat for threatened coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets

During the observance, speakers noted the significance of the Headwaters Forest Reserve:

BLM-California Associate State Director Jim Abbott at the podium 
BLM Associate State Director Jim Abbott marveled at the natural wonders of Headwaters, from redwoods that have been standing since the dawn of democracy (the Magna Carta in 1215) to the tenacity of its iconic seabird, the marbled murrelet.

 California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman
California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman celebrated the partnerships that led to protection of the reserve and the management successes shown by the BLM and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Gary Stacey, director of California Department of Fish and Game's Region One
Gary Stacey, director of  DFG's region one, noted the partners "have come a long way on a contentious issue," demonstrating the importance of working together.

At the podium: Carl Rountree, director of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System
Carl Rountree, director of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System, reminded the audience that Headwaters is nationally recognized as part of the BLM system of magnificent landscapes, a system envisioned by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

At the podium: Phile Detrich, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Phil Detrich, a wildlife biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reflected on 10 years of interaction between society and nature, citing "an amazing convergence of forces" that led to creation of the Headwaters Forest Reserve.  Detrich, a lead negotiator in the acquisition, commended the commitment of environmental activists who brought the Headwaters issue to national prominence.

Environmental activist Cecelia Lanman at the podium
Cecelia Lanman, an environmental activist heavily involved in preservation of the Headwaters Forest, noted that the preservation movement has always been about the larger headwaters landscape, not just the ancient grove.  She commended creation of the Reserve and asked for a continued effort to "fix the hole in Headwaters".   She referred to an area of privately held land within the boundaries of the Reserve.

Additionally,  Gina Banks, field services director for U. S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said the senator considers the Headwaters acquisition was one of her most important legacies.  The senator was instrumental in the difficult negotiations leading to the transfer to public ownership.  

Alison Talbott, aide to Congressman Mike Thompson, shared the congressman's appreciation for the hard work and partnerships that have led to habitat restoration successes at Headwaters.  She shared the congressman's assertion that the creation and management of the reserve are reminders that "we can all work together on difficult issues."

An afternoon in the field, with options to visit two locations, gave the participants a chance to experience the headwaters forest.

Several people speak together in front of the restored engine house at Headwaters
Above, participants gather at the restored engine house that will serve as the Reserve's educational center. The building once housed locomotives that hauled logs to a sawmill at Falk, on the northwestern edge of the Headwaters forest.   The building was taken apart and reassembled along an interpretive trail.

Hikers visit an old growth grove in Headwaters Forest Reserve
One group visited an old growth grove at the south end of the Reserve, hiking along a narrow path through an old growth grove, above.

A visiting group pauses along a trail to discuss management issues for Headwaters Forest Reserve
Above, BLM Arcata Field Manager Lynda Roush, second from right,  discusses management issues as the group pauses along the trail.  From left are  Secretary  Chrisman,  Gina Banks of Sen. Feinstein's staff,  California Resources Deputy Secretary Todd Ferrara, Phil Detrich, and Stephanie Tom Coupe of the California Department of Fish and Game.

- Jeff Fontana, 3/9/09

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 373

Last updated: 03-12-2009