Preserving Valuable Timberland in the Sierras
Recognizing the need to ensure the long-term viability of the timber industry, the Legislature established the “Timberland Production Zoning” designation, allowing owners of TPZ lands tax relief between timber harvests. In 2008, Lassen County approved the rezoning of nearly 5,500 acres of TPZ lands owned by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) to allow non-timber uses, without fully reviewing the potential impacts of the rezoning, including the significant potential for suburban development. Lassen County taxpayers and environmentalists used CEQA to demonstrate that SPI had proposed similar rezonings on 40,000 acres in ten Northern California counties – all with the potential for suburban development – and joined the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention in calling for a cumulative impacts analysis. In a comprehensive settlement, Lassen County agreed to rescind the rezoning.