San Francisco-based Bohemian Club blocked from cutting its forest 

A logging plan for the fabled forest grove of the Bohemian Club was rejected Thursday by a Sonoma County judge, but the group said it plans to try again with a less aggressive approach.

The 100-year logging plan submitted in late 2009 to harvest 1 million board feet per year from the club’s grove of redwood and Douglas fir trees was approved by state agencies.  However, a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and the Bohemian Redwood Rescue Club in February 2010 has stopped any action for now at the tract 75 miles north of San Francisco.

The logging proposal, known as a nonindustrial timber-management plan, would have allowed the club to prevent potential fire danger by removing trees over a century’s time without seeking agency approval for individual harvests in the 2,700-acre space.

The plan includes harvesting of tanoak, Douglas fir and young redwood trees, although Bohemian Club spokesman Sam Singer stressed no old-growth redwoods would be cut. He said the overall goal of the timber plan is to restore redwoods as the dominant species in the forest, and that the other trees did not occur naturally there.

“The club reveres old-growth redwood trees and that’s the reason they purchased the grove in the first place,” Singer said.

Singer said the Bohemian Club is pleased overall with the judge’s decision, which concurred with the Sierra Club’s main argument that the “alternatives” section of the plan violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

“Out of 800 pages of the forestry plan, [the judge] focused on one issue he wants clarification on,” Singer said. “[The Sierra Club] has thrown the proverbial spaghetti sauce at this plan and literally only one strand of spaghetti has stopped us.”

Singer said the club will resubmit the plan with a less aggressive harvest amount within the coming months.

The problem, argued Sierra Club attorney Paul Carroll, was that the Bohemian Club’s plan utilized boilerplate harvest alternatives, which included cutting on a different site that the Bohemian Club does not own, and turning the forest into a residential housing development.

“They hadn’t meaningfully considered alternatives,” Carroll said, adding that the Sierra Club would welcome a lighter harvest as a legitimate alternative.

The exclusive San Francisco-based male-only group, located on the Russian River near Monte Rio, was originally founded by newspapermen seeking cultural stimulation in the 1870s and now boasts a membership that has included every Republican president since Herbert Hoover. Its annual summer gathering is attended by the country’s top politicians and business leaders.

Former Bohemian Club member John Hooper sparked the lawsuit when he was hiking and discovered trees marked for harvest. He said other members aren’t as interested in the grove itself.

“Not very many people who are members of the club enjoy hiking,” Hooper said.


The Bohemian Club

Founded: 1872

Motto: “Weaving Spiders, Come Not Here”

Length of waiting list: 15 years

Famous members past and present:

  • Mark Twain
  • Jack London
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Gerald Ford
  • Barry Goldwater
  • William Randolph Hearst
  • Richard Nixon
  • Colin Powell
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • James Woods

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Dan Schreiber

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