The Gray and the Blues
Some environmentalists say California Gov. Gray Davis (D) has succumbed to campaign contributions from the timber industry and is failing to push for more protections for the state’s forestland. Clear-cutting has exploded in the state in recent years, largely because of one company, Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns 1.5 million forest acres in the state, making it the second largest private landowner in the U.S. Since Davis was elected in 1998, Sierra Pacific has been active in helping to fill his campaign coffers, and the governor has appointed a company executive to the state Board of Forestry. Enviros say the state has been too lax in regulating timber cuts — last year, the state Department of Forestry approved 574 timber plans and rejected none. A strong reform bill is making its way through the state legislature. The Davis administration is proposing a different reform plan that would require less public and scientific review.