In a complicated three-way land swap proposal, 12.6 acres of rare Russian Gulch State Parks forestland would be transferred to Jackson Demonstration State Forest, which would then transfer 17 acres of its property to the city and county for development of the Mendocino Central Coast Waste Transfer Station. State Parks would then have the option of acquiring 60 acres of county and city property, formerly the site of the Caspar Landfill and waste transfer station.
How is this possible? The framework of this land swap was created by legislation brought forward by then-Assemblymen Wesley Chesbro. The proposed Central Coast Waste Transfer Station is currently undergoing environmental review. Numerous groups, citizens, and even public agencies have submitted comments expressing concerns about the proposed land swap and the adverse environmental consequences of the project, citing inadequate treatment of potential environmental impacts and inadequate consideration of other feasible alternatives.
So, what’s at stake? The 12.6 acres of Russian Gulch State Parks property currently proposed as part of the swap contain rare and important forest habitats, including Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodlands, Northern Bishop Pine forests, and also serve as important habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the marbled murrelet. These lands would be transferred to Jackson Demonstration State Forest, which is dedicated to experimental logging of its forestlands for sustainable wood production. Meanwhile, state parks would get in return lands that were once a landfill and waste transfer station.
Fortunately, there is still time to stop this ill-conceived plan. On August 17, 2015, the city and county will hold a hearing on whether or not to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the project. The FEIR, like the draft before it, is fatally flawed and should not be the basis for allowing the project to go forward.