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Albion, Mendocino County--
Louisiana-Pacific Corporation is taking a six protesters to court for blocking a logging operation near Albion. Logging protests are nothing new in Mendocino County, but these six protesters had agreed to not interfere with LP operations by terms of settlement in a previous lawsuit.
Said one of the protesters, Linda Perkins, "We agreed that there is an injunction. Nobody said, 'I promise I won't violate the injunction.'" LP took the settlement to mean something more than just recognition.
The current round of troubles began on New Year's Day when LP logging contractors began falling trees about a mile and a half up the Albion River. Early the next morning protesters were on scene, blocking the crew at the entrance to the logging site.
On the surface the protest was over noise on the holiday. But, according to Perkins, it was only the "spark." "There are long simmering resentments toward LP," she said.
Ironically, the particular logging plan on Albion River has been called one of LP's better ones. Only half the trees over a minimal diameter were to be cut, and to avoid damage to the soil downed logs were to be lifted from the site by cable.
More recently, protesters have been upset by the sound of helicopters, which are being used for part of the logging operation. Helicopters are being used to move logs to landing zones, reducing the environmental impact of the operation.
Albion has had many logging protests. The "Enchanted Meadows" protest was particularly rancorous. In settling a lawsuit over that protest, six of the current protesters had allowed their lawyer to sign an injunction against interfering with LP logging operations.
Perkins claimed she never signed the agreement and that her lawyer's signature only indicated her "recognition" of the injunction, not her agreement to abide by it.
LP took the settlement to mean that protesters agreed to abide by it.
LP did not return a phone call about the case. But a source close to LP's legal staff said Perkin's interpretation is at least arguable. "I suppose you could say, 'my attorney did not have my consent,'" said the source.
The case will go to court on February 23 in Superior Court in Ukiah. Protesters face penalties or jail time or both if convicted.
What does LP want from the suit? According to the legal source, LP doesn't really want jail time or penalties; LP just wants the protesters to stay out of the woods.
And what do the protesters want? According to Perkins, "We want a real sustained-yield plan." LP's sustained yield plan calls for reducing inventory in the Albion area by a half or a third to "bring it into line" with the rest of the LP holdings.
LP has owned the timber lands in the Albion area for only nine years, and they are less depleted than other LP holdings. Starting last year, the California Board of Forestry requires logging companies to have a sustained-yield plan. LP's plan has not been popular with environmentalists. It calls for substantial reductions in some areas before inventories are scheduled to increase.
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