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County supports easement
to preserve Usal Forest timberland

On June 23, 2009, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous resolution supporting the Redwood Forest Foundation's (RFFI) effort to acquire state financial support to sell a Conservation Easement on their 51,000 acre Usal Redwood Forest.

Redwood Forest Fourth-district Supervisor, Kendall Smith, made the motion and First-district Supervisor, Carrie Brown seconded it. The resolution passed unanimously with all five supervisors present and voting. Selling the Conservation Easement will assure that this forest is protected and will be used as a timber-producing land in perpetuity. The proceeds from the sale of the easement will allow RFFI to manage the forest sustainably in support of their effort to restore a resource-based economy to the redwood region.

Henry Gundling, former and original RFFI Board Member, spoke in support of the resolution. He pointed out the importance of restoring this 51,000 acre forest to its original grandeur, while producing jobs, recreation and future revenue for the county.

In mid 2007, RFFI purchased the nearly 51,000 acre Usal Redwood Forest (Usal), which is located in northwestern Mendocino county. The purchase was made possible by an environmental loan from the Bank of America. Selling a conservation easement on the property will play a vital role in the financing that will allow RFFI to sustainably harvest timber from this site. After the meeting, Art Harwood, RFFI Executive Director, explained that selling the easement to the Conservation Fund with bond monies from the State of California is essential to maintaining the world's largest not-for-profit community benefit forest. Communities in the redwood region will be the beneficiaries of the eventual net revenue that is generated from the future timber harvests on this land.

Harwood pointed out that over half of the timberland in the US is privately owned. Seventy five percent of this privately-owned timberland has changed ownership in the past 20 years. Over 22% has changed hands in the past five years alone! There is substantial concern that the impact of this pattern of accelerating change in ownership will adversely impact forest eco-systems and the communities that are dependent on them. The Redwood Forest Foundation brings people with different perspectives together to address these types of issues. You can learn more about the Redwood Forest Foundation by visiting their website at www.rffi.org.

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