Maxxams Palco Stripping Our County
Just recently, Pacific Lumber has claimed that regulations placed on timber harvesting have ultimately forced them to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This is a ridiculous rationalization, especially considering the source.
If you know your local logging history, the old PALCO was much more compassionate to employees and the environment. In 1985, Texas-based MAXXAM Corp., headed by Charles Hurwitz, “purchased” PALCO through the nefarious manipulation of junk bonds. Workers and community residents opposed to the hostile takeover of the largest commercial employer in the area warned of the pending liquidation of PALCO and the future losses to employees, the community and the local environment.
After more than two decades, the signs of PALCO’s failures are more than apparent; you would have to be both blind and deaf not to acknowledge the tragedies that have been felled upon the local economy and environment. From stripped employee wages, benefits and retirement plans, to the stripped hillsides that in the past used to remind us that we lived in an untouched paradise, MAXXAM hijacked the small town steward of our forests. Cutting rates tripled, hillsides slid and, most troubling, loggers and protesters were injured. Some were even killed.
PALCO’s policy of blaming environmentalists and regulatory agencies for debts and financial woes has not changed, even after two decades. Instead of finding creative and sustainable ways of paying off Hurwitz’s junk-bond debt, PALCO continues to point its finger in the wrong direction. PALCO continues to liquidate its tree inventory, just as Hurwitz continues to liquidate PALCO of its assets. PALCO has not changed much in the past two decades. Even the scapegoats remain the same.
(Letter first published in the Eureka Reporter.)