Usal Forest easement approved by Wildlife Conservation Board

Redwood Times

The Redwood Forest Foundation recently announced that California’s Wildlife Conservation Board approved $19,500,000 in funding for the conservation easement on Usal Redwood Forest. The funding was awarded to The Conservation Fund, which will purchase and oversee the terms of the easement.

"This is an important decision for all of you who have worked so hard to assure that this 50,000 acre forest will remain a working community forest for the benefit of our communities," according to RFFI’s press release.

"While the funding is approved, we still have much work to do to close, which is expected early fall. Once the project closes it will constitute the largest working forest conservation easement in California."

In 2007, the Usal Forest was acquired by RFFI, a non-profit corporation dedicated to creating community-based forests to protect critical habitat while improving community economic viability.

Several local foresters and restorationists are on RFFI’s board of directors, including Art Harwood, Kathy Moxon, Richard Gienger, and John Rogers, as well as Kendall Smith, 4th district supervisor in Mendocino County.

The Bank of America gave RFFI a 20-year loan, which RFFI plans to pay off through "sustainable timber harvest and the sale of conservation easements," as stated on its website, www.rffi.org.

To fulfill this responsibility and comply with the terms of the easement, RFFI has to adhere to a base conservation plan that will limit logging to a sustainable level.

The balance of the purchase price comes from sale of the easement recently approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board.

RFFI said the WCB received more than 760 letters in support of the easement and only two letters opposed to it.

"There will be some arduous real work that needs to be done in the coming months and years to see that the RFFI-envisioned community-based forest and forestry are truly manifested. Your help and support will continue to be needed and appreciated. Please stay tuned," Gienger wrote to supporters after sending out the announcement.

For more information, email info@rffi.org or fax a request to (320) 215-2999, or mail your request to Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 12, Mendocino CA 95460.

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