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Mendocino Group

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Box 522
Mendocino, CA

(707) 937-0903

Old Growth Logging on the Skunk Train Line

The Mendocino Group urges its members to read and consider the following and to send a letter to CalFire protesting the cut of the old growth. Please contact Linda Perkins at if you need more information. Please see the sample letter (pdf).

The Skunk Train line was originally established in 1885 by the logging industry to haul out the old growth redwoods that grew along the Noyo River. The rail line still runs from coastal Fort Bragg to the city of Willits, 40 miles inland. Dubbed the "Skunk" at one point in its history because of the smelly exhaust, the train line retains the name but now hauls only tourists between the two cities, winding its way among the much-smaller trees that, nonetheless, continue to provide a scenic vista.

Along a six-mile stretch of the upper Noyo River, near Willits, the rail line loops back and forth through steep - and unstable - canyons, through a 426-acre parcel, 90 acres of which is old growth trees - a magnificent remnant patch of the tens of thousands of acres of old trees once found along the river. Willits Redwood Company is proposing to harvest many of these trees. Ironically enough, the company has purchased two rail cars by which they plan to haul the massive logs out to their Willits sawmill, just as it was done historically. This is a piece of history that rightfully belongs only in museums. The Mendocino Group has said "enough!" Let the Skunk continue to move people to see the old growth, rather than move the old growth to the sawmill. "All aboard" should apply to people - not to old growth redwoods.

Important Points to Consider about this Plan

  • No old growth trees should be cut.
  • In this 7000-acre upper Noyo River area, only 162 acres of the forest remain in late seral - that is, older forest - condition. The 90 acres on this timber plan represent over half of that.
  • Species dependent on large trees, large snags and large downed wood include northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, the fisher and American marten, pileated woodpecker, peregrine falcon, Vaux’s swift, purple martin.
  • Adverse impacts to coho salmon must be addressed.
  • Deep-seated landslides underlie this plan - this is unstable land, constantly moving, adding sediment to streams.
  • In addition to these natural inputs, the rail line adds more with its tracks looping back and forth for 6 miles throughout the plan and crossing a number of streams and rivers. Three of the crossings are in very bad shape, adding large amounts of sediment. The timber plan, with its road reconstruction along streams and its extensive use of tractor skid roads, will add more. Both the railway and the timber owner need to work together to deal with this sediment and to protect the river.

Sample letter (pdf).



June 2009
Well-reasoned comments on the Skunk Train THP's failure to adequately consider alternatives, and failure to consider the project's greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts, by attorney Paul Carroll.

Skunk Train THP letter from Paul Carroll

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