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Nader Letter on Headwaters Forest
Distributed to TAP-RESOURCES, a free Internet Distribution List
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TAXPAYER ASSETS PROJECT - NATURAL RESOURCES POLICY ADVISORY
(please distribute freely)
August 8, 1996
The Headwaters forest, the largest privately owned stand of
redwoods in the world is once again the focus of negotiations to bring it
under federal management. The Clinton administration is currently in
negotiations with Charles Hurwitz and the Pacific Lumber Co. on a possible
swap of existing public assets for a portion of Headwaters Forest.
Attached is a letter from Ralph Nader to Bill Clinton regarding the
negotiations with Hurwitz. For background on the efforts to save
Headwaters, see TAP's website at <http://www.tap.org> and the
Multinational Monitor's September 1994 articles _Ravaging the Redwoods_ at
http://www.essential.org/monitor/hyper/mm0994.html. The best book on the
struggle over Headwaters is _Timber Wars_ by Judi Bari, published by
Common Courage Press. It is available at some bookstores or from the
publisher at PO Box 702 / Monroe, ME 04951 / Tel:(207) 525-0900, Fax (207)
As negotiations between Hurwitz and the Clinton administration
continue, a grassroots coalition of organizations continues to battle
for permanent public ownership and protection of the entire 60,000 acres
of Headwaters. This coalition, the Headwaters Forest Coordinating
Committee, can be contacted at <email@example.com>, or
* * * * * * * * * *
July 23, 1996
William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Clinton,
I am writing to you regarding the fate of the Headwaters Forest,
the largest privately held redwood stand in the world. The forest
is presently owned by the Pacific Lumber Co. which became the
subject of a takeover by Charles Hurwitz and the MAXXAM Corporation
in 1985. Mr. Hurwitz and the Maxxam Corporation, also the parent
company of the failed savings and loan, United Savings Association
of Texas (USAT), have been accused of self dealing and causing the
thrift' s failure in a civil suit filed by the Office of Thrift
Supervsion. The estimated cost to taxpayers of USAT's failure is
$1.6 billion. USAT purchased over $1.3 billion worth of Drexel
Burnam Lambert underwritten junk bonds. During the same time
period, according to an FDIC lawsuit against Michael Milken,
"the Milken Group raised about $1.8 billion of financing for Mr.
Hurwitz'stakeover ventures". One such takeover resulted in Mr.
Hurwitz's control of the Headwaters Forest.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that
administration officials have been holding meetings on a possible
deal which would give Mr. Hurwitz development rights on the Navy-
owned Treasure Island or other taxpayer assets in exchange for
3,000 acres of Headwaters Forest. It is unconscionable to trade a
valuable publicly owned asset such as San Francisco Bay's Treasure
Island for the Headwaters forest, especially when ongoing
proceedings, administrative and in court, could affect Mr.
Hurwitz's control of Headwaters.
This priceless forest should be protected for the enjoyment of
all Americans and public ownership is the best avenue for
accomplishing this significant public purpose. I do not
believe, however, that your administration should kowtow to Mr.
Hurwitz who represents the antithesis of "corporate responsibility"
a theme recently echoed by your White Houseat a recent gathering of
corporate executives. The failure of USAT was a devastating blow
to citizens who had invested their savings in the institution and
will continue to be a burden on taxpayers of this country for many
years to come.
Your administration's priorities with regard to Mr. Hurwitz and
the Maxxam Corporation should begin with recovering the one billion
dollars of taxpayer money that went to bailing out USAT, through
which Hurwitz raised the capital for the takeover of Pacific Lumber.
If your administration proves what the Office of Thrift Supervsion
already alleges, then Headwaters Forest can become part of the public
domain as a portion of Hurwitz's and Maxxam's debt to society.
In terms of ecological priorities, we should respect the needs
of the entire ecosystem rather than protecting small, isolated
islands of trees. Given that 96 percent of redwoods in the U.S. have
been logged, it behooves us to protect our remaining old-growth
redwood forests in a way that guarantees future generations a chance
to enjoy these American treasures.
Your administration should not consider any transfer to Mr. Hurwitz
or his enterprises and should hold a public hearing to allow taxpayers
to comment on how their assets are managed. I look forward to hearing
from you on this issue.
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036
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