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PO Box 397, Garberville CA 95542
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March 2, 1999

Last Minute Negotiations Seal Headwaters Deal


Following a weekend of private negotiations with state and federal officials, Maxxam Corporation and Pacific Lumber Company agreed late last night to consummate the controversial Headwaters Forest agreement.  Details have not yet been released, but federal agency representatives reportedly
made concessions to the company, including a dramatic increase in the amount of logging allowed under a state-level Sustained Yield Plan (SYP)
during the next ten years.

"Secret, back-room negotiations aimed at undermining protection of water, fish and wildlife have characterized the Headwaters deal from the
beginning," according to EPIC spokesperson Kevin Bundy.  "It appears that government officials have at the very least exploited the loopholes in an
already flimsy agreement."

Maxxam rejected the deal last Friday, claiming that the SYP would only allow the company to log 136 million board feet of timber per year.  Over
the weekend, federal agencies "reinterpreted" the restrictions outlined in a Habitat Conservation Plan, promising that the company could harvest 180
million board feet per year instead.

"Federal negotiators seem to have given a wink and a nod to the company, promising that the plan's loopholes can be used to justify an  unsustainable level of logging," observed Bundy.  "Every additional board-foot will come at the expense of protection for our native fisheries."

The Habitat Conservation Plan prepared as part of the deal gives Pacific Lumber a 50-year permit to kill endangered species and destroy habitat that
should otherwise be protected under the Endangered Species Act.  Under the law, such permits may not threaten the survival and recovery of endangered fish and wildlife.  In the opinion of some top scientists, however, Pacific Lumber's plan may do just that.  A "No Surprises" guarantee further shields the company from responsibility for any additional conservation commitments over the life of the plan.

"If this deal is any indication, HCPs may prove to be recipes for disaster on a region-wide scale.  Killing endangered species in order to save them
makes little sense, especially when today's political decisions will be locked into place for decades no matter what," said Bundy.  "Fish and wildlife don't negotiate.  They can't compromise.  But they will bear the brunt of our mistakes, even to the point of extinction.  This deal may prove to be just such a mistake."

Local community members fear that Maxxam CEO Charles Hurwitz will take the cash provided by the deal and run, leaving Pacific Lumber--and hundreds of local workers--twisting in the wind.  "It seems highly unlikely that any of that money will even stay with Pacific Lumber, much less end up in the pockets of timber or restoration workers, where it truly belongs," observed Bundy.  According to some estimates, Maxxam has siphoned $2 billion from the Humboldt County economy since acquiring Pacific Lumber in 1985.  PL's debt load is now even greater than it was immediately following the
takeover, and many locals fear that Hurwitz will allow PL to slowly go bankrupt.

Conservationists, many of whom opposed the deal since its inception more than two and one-half years ago, point to numerous biological and legal

Last-minute compromises allow Pacific Lumber to propose changes that weaken protection for salmon at any time * Basic information about watersheds on company lands will not be developed for several years, although it should have been presented for review prior to plan approval * A so-called "watershed analysis" process could lead to significant decreases in the width of buffer zones along streams and allow logging in areas prone to landslides

The deal will transfer up to $400 million in cash and roughly 7,500 acres of timberland to Pacific Lumber in exchange for about 10,000 acres of forest, less than half of which contain uncut stands of old-growth redwood. Two ancient groves (about 3,000 acres) will be permanently protected in public ownership.  According to the terms of a state Wildlife Conservation Board contract approved last week, scattered other areas totaling about 7,728 acres will be "set aside" for 50 years as habitat for the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird.  Among these set-asides is the Owl Creek Grove, which EPIC successfully defended all the way to the Supreme Court, setting a precedent that kept many of the other groves standing while the deal was negotiated.

Cecelia Lanman, EPIC's Programs Director and a twelve-year veteran of efforts to protect Headwaters, concluded that "It took more than a decade
of litigation and protest to gain some measure of protection for the  marbled murrelet and the old growth redwoods.  It may take ten more years
to bring about protection for our native salmon and steelhead--if we're not already too late."

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