Revenue, Values, and Trust

A central motivation for logging the central forest appears to be revenue generation. And certainly, the idea of developing revenue sources other than dues for TSRA is good in general.

But we must not allow the value of revenue to blind us to the more important values that define our community.

The idea of the Commons is central to the values that formed the Sea Ranch. As Larry Halprin eloquently puts it (Halprin, 1995, p. 62):

The idea of the commons was central to the spirit in which The Sea Ranch was planned. ... As environmentalist and writer J.B. Jackson has pointed out, “a common ... is never permanently cultivated and nothing taken from the common can be sold or bartered.”

Turning our central forest into a tree farm is a double betrayal of this central idea: silviculture is cultivation, and selling logs taken from our commons should be anathema.

Many, perhaps most, Sea Ranchers do not seem to have been paying much attention to the logging plans. Many people have not even heard of the logging plans; of those who have, few have bothered with the details. Even one Sea Rancher who is in other ways extremely well informed about local environmental matters, and who declared herself a supporter of the logging plans, had the impression that the plans were for a single pass of logging the forest...not the endless cycle of logging again and again which is actually described in the NTMP.

The main reason so many of us have not paid attention is simple: we trust the volunteers who work hard at governing our community, notably our Board of Directors. As the preamble to our Restrictions (p. 6) puts it:

It must be assumed that all owners of property within The Sea Ranch... are motivated by the character of the natural environment... and accept, for and among themselves, the principle that the development and use of The Sea Ranch must preserve that character for its present and future enjoyment by other owners.

It is also assumed that those who are entrusted with the administration of The Sea Ranch will discharge their trust in full recognition of that principle...

And we are indeed used to assuming that. But in this case, ignoring the central value of our commons as an un-exploited forest betrays that trust.

It has been an abuse of the community's trust in the Board to take the greenwash of the logging proponents at face value. Due diligence would have revealed that second-growth redwood forests do not, in fact, require silvicultural management. The logging proponents have exhibited managed forests that are pretty (or at least not horrifyingly ugly). But have they exhibited a single unmanaged redwood forest that has suffered from that lack of management? And was there ever a serious attempt to investigate other ways of addressing the issues of fire safety and erosion in the central forest? We find no record of such investigations.

We hope that our Board will redeem our faith in them by halting this abuse of our Commons, and restore our trust in their vision by honoring the original intent to make this forested commons a preserve.