Mendocino Redwood Company remains chained to the practices of its predecessor-in-interest, Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, fifteen years after purchasing more than two hundred thousand acres of Mendocino County timberland from L-P. At its inception, Mendocino Redwood Company continued to employ many of the same people as its forerunner. One of those was Jon Woessner, the former Albion area forester, who in recent years has moved on to MRC’s companion corporation, Humboldt Redwood Co. Tom Schultz, whose tenure with L-P goes back to its earliest days in the 1980s, has also moved on to a Humboldt Redwood posting, though the Humboldt and Mendocino Redwood paychecks ultimately derive from the same place: the Fisher family who run The Gap, Inc. clothing stores.
It may be important to interject that corporate ownership amongst Mendocino Redwood Company’s predecessors has proved a relatively fleeting thing. Louisiana-Pacific only owned its timberland for approximately a dozen years. My grandfather, John Macdonald, for example, worked as a logging contractor for Henry Wetherbee’s Albion Mill in the 1880s. In the 1890s and the first two decades of the 20th Century, Grandfather Macdonald cruised timber for two other ownership groups, direct corporate predecessors of Mendocino Redwood Company.
Roger Krueger is another holdover from the Louisiana-Pacific team, still employed by Mendocino Redwood Company. Twenty years ago he was referred to as a staff forester, a polite term for someone with a forestry background who is not trusted to actually go out in the woods. Krueger does pay unscrupulous attention to all pieces of paper important to the business, from the vaulted room of records at company headquarters to the reams of documents in the county recorder and assessor’s offices.
The shady dealings of employees like Schultz and Krueger in their Louisiana-Pacific years have come back to bite Mendocino Redwood Co. in 2013. The western corner of MRC’s current timber harvest plan alongside the lower Albion River rests on steep ground. Normally this would be cable logged. To do so in this timber harvest plan would require a tailhold on the neighboring Westfall property, but that ain’t happening. The reason goes back a little over twenty-two years to a time when then 83-year-old Bill Westfall stood his ground, refusing the cajolery and outright fabrications of Messrs. Schultz and Krueger about the location of the corner common to sections 15,16, 21, and 22 of Township 16 North, Range 17 West. This columnist has possession of copies of letters sent by Schultz and Krueger in 1990; the final one employing outright falsehoods in an attempt to persuade Mr. Westfall that the topographic survey calls he used to establish the section corner were false. In 2000, I accompanied Bill Westfall, then 97 years young, into the woods and chained off distances he quoted in his written replies to Schultz and Krueger. Bill Westfall’s measurements proved correct; apparently Krueger had not even done his research on the ground, relying on aerial topo maps that failed to depict crucial tributaries to the lower Albion River. Because Louisiana-Pacific would not accept the relatively small difference in distance between their misconception of a section corner and the correct survey line, Bill Westfall refused to grant the timber company any sort of easement to cross his land to remove logs from their steep timber holdings. Bill Westfall died last year in his 105th year. Apparently his descendants have honored his wishes in continuing to deny L-P’s successor-in-interest, MRC, an easement. Any disturbances caused by helicopter logging in the neighborhood can be chalked up to the un-neighborly behavior of MRC’s holdover employees, Schultz and Krueger, more than two decades ago.