Battle Over Plan To Cut CA Redwoods

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Players on both sides of a logging proposal in Santa Clara County call it one of the most scrutinized timber harvest plans in the history of California, and it's not over. A public hearing is being held on a plan to log 1,000 acres of watershed between Lexington Reservoir and Summit Road, east of Highway 17.

Towering redwoods are at the center of proposed logging plan that has emotions running high.

Diana Crawford, Chemeketa Park Resident "The residents are justifiable in arms about it."

San Jose Water Company says the redwoods are a fire hazard and could devastate a valuable and precious watershed that serves 100,000 water customers.

John Tang, San Jose Water Company: "So you have overly dense forest that is in bad need of thinning, and so this plan is going to help us achieve that thinning."

The water company's wants to thin 1,000 acres of its property above Lexington Reservoir. Under the plan about 100 acres would be logged every other year and each operation would last about six weeks. People living in the area argue it makes more sense to reduce the fire threat by clearing out the underbrush. Many accuse the water company of wanting to log for financial gain. More than 4,000 people have signed a petition opposing the plan.

Kevin Flynn Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging: "They're a for profit company, on the New York Stock Exchange, and the only trees that are worth anything are the big trees."

John Tang, San Jose Water Company: "We're a company that is makes $180 million dollars in revenue, $500,000 dollars every other year, this is not a growth strategy."

Opponents will use technology to try to thwart the logging plan. San Jose Water is only able to apply for a lifetime logging permit on the basis it owns less than 2,500 acres of timberland. Google Earth engineer Rebecca Moore says hundreds of high resolution photos, and her company's software, indicates San Jose Water owns more than 2,700 acres.

Rebecca Moore, Google Earth: "They simply have too much land, it's not an emotional issue, it's not residents complaining about quality of life issues, it's a legal matter."

San Jose Water Company says it stands by its numbers and is ready for a vigorous debate.

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