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and Save the Mattole @MattoleForest on twitter.
"THP 1-14-034 HUM (Long Reach THP) Humboldt Redwood Company, 626.5 acres. Moderate erosion hazard, steep slopes over 65%, steep roads, landslide terrain, 22 road drainage work sites, impaired 303.d watershed, herbicides, helicopter logging, coho watershed, 10 spotted owls within 1.3mi, golden eagle territory within 1 mi, cooper’s hawk sightings, white flowered rein orchid, pacific gillia, coast fawn lily, trees up to 40” dbh. Estimated public comment deadline: 05/14/14." Note: there are trees over 48" dbh.
"The THP provides for the harvest of high-quality Douglas-fir timber from drainages south of Long Ridge and east of Taylor Peak (see maps at the end of THP Section II)." ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/.../North.../THPs2014/1-14-034HUM
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Earth First! Newswire
Resistance is growing as Humboldt Redwood Company prepares to log over 500 acres of rare forest habitat in the Mattole River watershed in Northern California. The area is home to Golden Eagles, Pacific Fishers, Spotted Owls and many more rare species. The forest is a mix of tree species including Douglas Fir, Tanoak, Madrone and Big Leaf Maple. Old-growth trees of all species intermingle throughout the forest. Though the company claims to not log in old-growth forests, their narrow definition excludes forests with less than 8 old-growth trees per acre. They also define old-growth trees as being alive in the year 1800. Though much of the forest has never been cut into, the company has gone to lengths to define the whole area as previously logged, in order to appease their “sustainability” certifiers, the Forest Stewardship Council, who would otherwise consider the area to have a high conservation value.
Local forest defenders have hung a banner where logging and road building are planned directly bordering Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This area was a hotbed of community actions in the late 90′s and early 2000′s to resist the devastation of this forest by Maxxam/Pacific Lumber. This included a series of lawsuits, road blockades and groups of forest defenders occupying the threatened areas to disrupt the logging. Some of the same forest that was successfully defended is now threatened once again.
Update: Directions now available
What: A gathering of radical Earth lovers to train, share skills, strategize, have fun and bring attention to ongoing clear-cutting and old-growth logging. Events and workshops will include (but not limited to): Non-violent Direct Action, Basic and Intermediate Tree Climbing, Road Blockading, Hiking, Campfire revelry, Banner Painting, (Add your workshop here).
When: August 2nd to the 6th.
Where: 1 hour east of Arcata. See directions. Rideshares are being organized.
Why: Timber companies continue to clear-cut the forest at a rapid pace and rare old-growth forests are under threat of industrial logging this summer in places like the Mattole River, Redwood Creek and South Fork Mountain. These practices are being green-washed by groups like Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council. Their logos attract buyers who want to avoid harming the environment, but mask the reality of clear-cutting and old-growth logging on the ground. The companies and their certifiers need to be held accountable for their acts.
What to bring: Tent or tarp, sleeping bag, large backpack, sunscreen, comfortable footwear, a cup and dish. The weather will be fairly warm, but rain gear is still advised. Also bring contributions of food or cash for the kitchen and snacks or trail food for yourself.
For more info or to donate or offer rides call 707-845-1325 or email: [email protected]
After 4 years of defending this forest, we are excited to announce that Green Diamond has ended the logging plan! They now intend to sell about 2,000 acres, including this 60 acres and the surround area to the Trust For Public Land to become a community forest. We are looking forward to some much needed R&R, but will continue our work to defend our planet. Come on out to the Redwood Coast regional rendezvous August 2-7!
Here’s our press release, soon we’ll have a more thorough write up of this victory and the events that lead up to it.
For Immediate Release:
McKay Tract Tree-sitters Declare Victory
Cutten, Ca. - Monday, June 18th 2012 – After 4 years of continuous tree-sitting in the McKay Tract, Earth First! Humboldt is declaring success. Green Diamond Resource Company (GDRC) has sent paperwork to the Calfire’s forestry department, ending the clear-cut logging plan where the tree-sits are located. The logging company recently stated that it’s close to signing a deal to sell roughly 2,000 acres of the western McKay Tract to the Trust for Public Land. The Trust plans to manage the area as a community forest in a similar manner to Arcata’s community forest .
“These trees would have been logged in 2009 if we hadn’t gone up there, and the threat remained until now,” said forest defender Jeremy Jensen. “We are very relieved that there was a positive outcome, and that Green Diamond decided to do the right thing for this particular grove.”
In August of 2008 members of Earth First! Humboldt climbed an ancient Redwood in GDRC’s 60 acre “Mckay 09” timber harvest plan, and set up the first of many tree sits there.
In Februrary of 2009, GDRC timber fallers were sent in to log the 100 year old second-growth and residual old-growth Redwood forest, but discovered multiple tree-sit areas and a large crowd of protesters on the edge of the woods.
GDRC decided to take a mainly hands-off approach, deciding to try and wait out protesters rather than remove them from the trees. Since then, tree-sitters created a ropes course which has expanded over several acres. People from 11 different countries and multiple states across the US have come out to help the cause.
“Hundreds of folks have come out to participate, and community support has really kept this campaign going throughout the last 4 years,” says Kelsey Burll, one of the long term tree-sitters.
“This is a huge success for us, but our work is far from over. Old growth logging and clear-cuts are still happening at a rapid pace, and we will continue our work to protect pristine forests and persuade companies to adopt more sustainable practices.” said Kelsey.
The Earth First!ers are planning to hold a rendezvous in August to bring together people from around the region for discussions and trainings, as well as highlighting problematic industrial logging activities.
Two different timber companies have recently proposed logging plans in the North Fork Mattole River watershed.
Logging Plan #1-12-026 Primary Issue: Cutting in Old-growth forest and un-logged forest.
Humboldt Redwood Company proposes to log around 200 acres. Much of this forest, if not most, has never been logged. This is very rare in the Mattole due the historically heavy amount of logging. There are old-growth stands in the plan area with trees around 300 years old. Though the company says they don’t log un-entered old-growth forest, they have so far said that this area doesn’t qualify as old-growth forest because it doesn’t meet the criteria they have set of 6 or more trees that are over 212 years old per acre. Company policies state that they will not log individual trees over 212 and they appear to be sticking to that. The forest is a complex mixture of ages and tree species like Douglas Fir, Tanoak, Madrone and others. This is mostly located on the south slopes of Long Ridge above Alwardt and Rodgers Creek. There is an effort underway to get HRC to drop the portions of the logging plan that have never been logged and designate the forest as a conservation area, as it appears their certification by Forest Stewardship Council requires. (see pages 5 and 7)
Additionally, company president Mike Jani has stated that the main logging method they plan to use, Variable Retention, is only used by HRC for restoration forestry.
You can email HRC President Mike Jani at: [email protected] and let him know you think this forest should not be cut.
You can also email in comments on the logging plan to- [email protected]
To view the logging plan # 1-12-026 go here.
For maps go here.
Forest description here.
Logging Plan #1-12-032. Primary issue: Clear-cut logging.
Sierra Pacific Industries proposes to log 245 acres, primarily by clear-cutting, in the North Fork Mattole and Bear River. This is mostly second growth Douglas Fir, Oaks and Madrone, but may contain residual old-growth trees. The logging plan was returned to the company for re-writing by the Dept. of Forestry reviewer because there were too many unanswered questions and inconsistencies. They will have to re-write parts of the plan and re-submit it before it will be considered for approval.
When the plan has been re-submitted you can email comments to- [email protected]
To view the logging plan #1-12-032 go here.
To view maps go here.
Forest description here.
To why it was returned go here.
written by: Mattole Wildlands Defense
Mattole defenders recently braved the snows of Rainbow Ridge to check on the Old-Growth forests of the North Fork Mattole River. On the way we detoured to recover our camera trap and bring it with us to a much more remote location. We'd set up the camera in Rattlesnake creek on a tree next to an animal trail after our last foray into the North Fork was thwarted by deep snow. When we located the camera it was dangling upside down from the tree and partially stuck in the mud. There was little to indicate what had happened and we continued on our 15 mile moonlit journey. Upon our late night/early morning arrival in the headwaters of the North Fork we set up camp and settled in for the night. Before going to sleep we checked the camera and found pictures of a medium sized cinnamon colored bear inspecting the camera. Not exactly sasquatch but satisfying nonetheless.
Though there are no new logging plans in this area the Pacific Lumber Company is engaged in a watershed analysis which they hope will result in a weakening of watercourse protection rules thereby gaining access to currently off limits areas of Old-Growth and other mature forests. Maxxam, the holding company that owns PL, may lose control of PL through the bankruptcy and upcoming reorganization of the company. This would be a great thing as Maxxam owner and corporate raider Charles Hurwitz has basically sucked the company dry and run it into the ground. He acquired PL in the 80's through a hostile takeover and just about tripled the rate of logging of the company that had the world largest privately held Ancient Redwood forests. He kept Pacific Lumber in debt the whole time. The results- bankruptcy and a depleted forest.
But back to the Mattole. Activists and community members have fought long and hard to slow or stop Maxxam/PL's forestry practices with mixed results. There has been much direct action, lawsuits and at least two failed attempts to purchase the 18,000 acres of Mattole lands from PL.
On our patrol we visited two large areas of Old-Growth forest where logging has been stopped (though not permanently) thanks to the hard work of activists and community members. One area was in Sulphur Creek where, in 1998, activists climbed threatened trees and faced violence daily while the clear cut logging was fought in court. The lawsuit eventually prevailed and the remaining trees still stand.
The other grove we visited is on the steep north face of Long Ridge. This hillside is covered with cold springs that run year round. Pacific Lumber tried to log here years several years ago but met resistance in the form of widespread logging marker removal, a road blockade and, later on that year, a tree sit occupied by nine people right next to the Columbia helicopter landing deck. Logging contractors had been falling trees for weeks on Long Ridge and the tree-sit was a bit of a last ditch effort on the part of the activists. The idea was this; it's illegal to fly the chopper within 500 ft. of civilians so therefor the chopper would have to be grounded until the sitters were removed. After discovering the sitters, the helicopter crew decided to work anyway. They refueled several times at the landing deck during the course of the day, flying dangerously near the sitters who had meanwhile put a mylar blanket in the top of the tree for visibility. Much to all of our surprise, at the end of the day the entire logging operation was packed up and relocated about ten miles away. This included their fuel tanks and several trailers full of equipment.
We later discovered that nearly all of the Old-Growth on the north face of Long Ridge that had been marked for cut was still standing. The logging crew had been busy at work in there on the last day but had only gotten a small fraction of what had been approved for logging.
Hiking in this forest heightens ones awareness that although we have had some success here, the old growth in this area is still threatened and PL, or a new owner, may very well come back here and try to take these trees once again.
Story and photos by ARNO HOLSCHUH
published in the North Coast Journal May 2001
THE SUN'S LAST RAYS HIT THE FRONT YARD OF THE FARM just north of Arcata, washing the old pickup truck and storage shed in golden light. Ducks quacked, sheep stared dolefully into the distance, a giant turkey showed off his plumage and a dog chased some geese until they scattered in noisy, honking chaos.
And 10 young people in full camouflage packed their backpacks, preparing to trespass on private land to try to stop timber harvesting.
The 10 activists, members of the loosely knit group Earth First!, were part of a months-long campaign to stop the Pacific Lumber Co. from logging old-growth fir forests in the remote Mattole River valley of southern Humboldt County. The occupation of PL's 14,000 acres in the Mattole, nicknamed the Mattole Free State, was started during harvesting last fall and continued with little resistance until logging resumed for the summer May 9. (See map)
Over the last six months, more than 50 activists have been arrested, most within the last few weeks. Logging continues despite their efforts.
The crew's mission? To resupply the remaining protesters, many of whom had been holed up in the harvest area for months, reportedly occupying individual trees to protect them. After their mission was complete, the crew, which had met just a few days earlier at an Earth First! organizing event called Action Camp, could continue with a tree-sit themselves.
A man calling himself Devastation -- all the activists have assumed "forest names" to protect their identity when doing illegal actions -- was to guide them in to the remote Mattole valley. The group carried with them food, clothing, equipment and, for the first time, a reporter.
Picture: Devastation, the group's guide into the Mattole.
As the packing continued, one of the crew seemed distracted. Banzai, a young woman with freckles looked how I felt: scared.
I asked her if she was nervous. "Yeah," she said smiling, "a little bit. Tomorrow's my birthday, and I just don't want anything to go wrong." She didn't say what, but the thing that could "go wrong" was that she might be arrested. The soon-to-be-20 year old woman from Pennsylvania smiled, literally putting a brave face on the situation, and continued to pack.
The protesters guessed that their chances of coming back out of the woods on their feet rather than in a sheriff's vehicle were less than 50-50. Others have received jail sentences of as much as 120 days. A civil lawsuit filed against Earth First! and the Mattole Forest Defenders has added the potential for extra penalties if they should be caught or their identities discovered.
There were also rumors of violence. According to the protesters, loggers had physically assaulted members of their crew. Requests to have neutral observers from the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission sent into the harvest area have been denied by the county board of supervisors.
Riding in a green custom van away from the farm just after dark, the crew was buzzing with excitement. A woman named Essence answered my misgivings about arrest by saying it "isn't that bad."
She said she wasn't "nearly as worried as I could be."
"Yeah, we've got one of the experts with us," said Ad Rock, a young man with blond dreadlocks.
That expert is Kangaroo, a 20-year-old protester with dark hair and a contagious smile. He earned the title of expert by surviving in the Mattole without arrest. A storehouse of knowledge, he'll tell you how to stay in a tree overnight by weaving yourself a web. Before leaving, he instructed me that I should unwrap all my individually packaged energy bars and consolidate them into a plastic bread bag.
"That way there's less trash," he said, "and if you're hiding from the cops and want to eat one, you don't have to crinkle those noisy wrappers to get one out."
But Kangaroo is more than a source of advice. Despite his youth, he is something like an elder to the group. They listened when Kangaroo talked; they respected his advice; for the most part, they obeyed his orders. Kangaroo is a leader, and it's clear from the ease with which he carried out this task that he is a natural.
Kangaroo had been in the Mattole for a long time, including this winter. Pacific Lumber has said that over the winter vandalism and property destruction took place. Among other alleged misdeeds, culverts were apparently blocked -- which could contribute to erosion, one of the things Earth First! says it is trying to stop.
Asked about whether the protesters had blocked a culvert, Kangaroo responded that someone might have without knowing what he or she was doing. "But any damage we have done is minuscule compared to what Pacific Lumber does out there every day," he said.
Picture: a blocked culvert, part of the vandalism PL alleges Earth First! has engaged in on the property.
Picture: an abandoned RV serves as an Earth First! blockade.
(Photos courtesy of Pacific Lumber Company)
Just about midnight the vehicle stopped at a locked gate at the end of the county road. As the group piled out, three older men emerged from the shadows at the side of the road. Recon, Shutterbug and Hummingbird had heard about the trip at Action Camp and wanted to help tote the supplies in.
The whole group assembled and received instructions from Kangaroo: Unload, get over the gate and wait quietly. They did, leaving behind the comforts of civilization, their normal lives and the law.
The hike into the Mattole was an arduous, all-night affair. The group walked across open meadows and through dense forests by starlight. The new moon made it harder to see potholes in the road in front of you, but the blanket of darkness it provided was comforting to a crew new to the Mattole.
The use of flashlights had been prohibited as they were visible for miles in the clear night air, although some people occasionally turned them on anyway.
The air was mild, the road was even and the stars were rolled out in a spectacular display, but the crew continued to be preoccupied and edgy. Nerves aside, there were moments of comedy, as when the group faced a vicious gang of ... cows.
Crossing a pasture, the frontrunners of the group spooked a herd of cattle and sent them running across the field. This in turn spooked the team, who huddled together and had the following conversation:
"I wonder if there's a bull out there," someone said.
"If there is, we could all be in trouble," replied a slightly shaky male voice.
"Maybe," reasoned a third voice, "if we all walk together really slowly, we'll be OK." Assent was murmured.
Thus assured about the relative unlikelihood of bovine injury, the 15 of us scuttled across the pasture to the trees on the opposite side.
The hike continued until morning. Walking was punctuated by frequent breaks for Shutterbug and Hummingbird, who were having trouble keeping up. In the dark you could not see their faces, but it was clear from their voices that they were suffering from the physical demands.
At the last rest stop, the glows from the crew's cigarettes were answered by a blinking radio antenna on a nearby ridge. The group was told by Kangaroo that the antenna is their landmark, and they were now close to their destination. Everyone gets admonished one more time to be extra quiet, as this area was suspected to be "hot," i.e., patrolled by security.
As the sky began to gray and the birds began their morning songs, the group left the trail and ran over open pastures to a shady grove to bivouac for a few hours.
"Make sure to get under the canopy before you fall asleep," Kangaroo said, "especially if you have a bright-colored sleeping bag. Otherwise you could bust the whole camp." As I rolled out my bag (bright magenta) I heard something that explained his caution: the percussive thup-thup-thup of a helicopter.
Kangaroo cocked his head and listened, then declared it was one of the large choppers used to yard cut logs. That was good news for the crew's safety, he said, as these helicopters wouldn't be out specifically trying to spot us.
But as I lay my head back and was pulled from a bone-tired consciousness into sleep, it occurred to me that those choppers were in another way very bad news for the Earth First!ers: The chopper's presence meant that logging was going ahead unabated by the efforts of those awaiting resupply.
After a mere three hours of sleep, people started to rouse themselves. Food was broken out, mostly uncooked rolled oats with raisins and energy bars.
Hummingbird, a 61-year-old typist from San Francisco, announced he had twisted his ankle and could not go on.
"I think I'd better walk home," he said. "I'll just go back up to the road."
It is the nature of Earth First! that every person involved in an action specifies their level of commitment; in theory, everyone remains an autonomous individual.
In practice, that idea is difficult, as Hummingbird showed. If he walked along roads in broad daylight, he could get arrested. That didn't faze him -- the 30-year veteran of activism said it would "just be getting arrested, just the normal" -- but it would endanger everyone else by alerting law enforcement to the presence of protesters in this area.
Picture: 'I'm old enough to remember the beginning of the environmental movement. When I went to college, ecology was a one-unit elective for biology majors.'
-- Hummingbird, 61-year-old Earth First! activist from San Francisco
This point was raised, as was the fact that no one had room for all the cargo he had carried so far. Gradually a kind of peer pressure built to keep him with the group. Someone came up with an elastic bandage to wrap around his ankle and he was convinced to walk on. There may not be many rules in Earth First!, but there was social structure in this group.
While we packed our bags again to continue, Shutterbug called out for "the journalist." I raised my hand and the words tumbled out as he tried to explain why he thinks Earth First! actions are so important.
He did not initially raise the issues of trees or salmon at all but rather offered a social explanation: "It's about keeping the idea of a social movement alive," he said. "A cause, a cause, a cause. But what we have to ask ourselves," he said, staring quizzically at his cup of cowboy coffee, "is what the effect is."
At this point younger members of the group stepped forward to supplant Shutterbug's explanation with the Earth First! party line: They are breaking the law because they have exhausted all their legal options.
Asked what those already-exhausted options were, nobody seemed absolutely clear. Several seemed unfamiliar with the fact that extensive legal efforts had taken place.
Lawsuits had stopped logging in part of the Mattole. In 1999, a Petrolia resident named Michael Evenson sued the California Department of Forestry for approving a PL plan to log in another part of the Mattole watershed. Evenson, who represented himself, won on the grounds that CDF hadn't considered concerns from other agencies about the logging's effects.
But the legal battle over this particular plot of land had been lost. On Oct. 26, 2000, rulings came down in two separate cases in which environmental organizations were trying to stop the current PL logging in the Mattole. In both cases, the organizations lost.
The overwhelming feeling among these protesters is that they have been left no other choice but "direct action": the attempt to stop the logging through their physical presence rather than by using legal or political channels.
The group knew Pacific Lumber had won the legal right to cut down the trees because they were on PL land, but there was a widespread and often articulated perception in the group that property rights were secondary to the old-growth's survival.
It's easy to see how the younger activists can have that attitude: They did not own large tracts of rural property. But at least one in the group very literally practiced what he preached: Devastation owns land in Mendocino County but said he plans on signing it over to a land trust.
The preparations the group made for the day's hike were not limited to mundane packing or eating; spiritual preparations were also made as Essence took a tiny piece of sage out of her backpack. She lit it and let the fragrant smoke drift over her, passed it to Grizzly, who fanned himself with the smoke. The smoking twig was passed from one to the next, each new person extolling the virtues.
"It's a healing," said Essence. "It cleans your energy."
"It's like a smell mantra," said the lanky, bearded young man who called himself Breeze.
After they all had smelled their daily mantra, we were back on our feet and heading down into a valley holding one of the tributaries of the North Fork of the Mattole. Brush and poison oak made the passage difficult and once we had crossed the creek and were a little bit up the slope on the other side of the valley, we stopped for a rest.
The hikers gratefully dropped their packs and sprawled out. A conversation about a homeopathic cure for poison oak was interrupted when a noise was heard in the woods.
Picture: Earth First! activist Simplicity
Kangaroo snapped to attention. Donning his face mask to improve his camouflage, he crept outward into the woods to try and see what was going on. We were close enough to the timber harvest to hear the chainsaws and the possibility we had been discovered mainlined the crew with adrenaline.
Kangaroo cautiously whistled into the woods. An answering whistle came back, but we couldn't see anyone. After 10 tense minutes, Devastation emerged and said with an innocent smile that he had just been scouting out the area.
"That kind of stuff happens all the time," Kangaroo said, sitting back down. "It's good, it keeps you on your toes.
"The funny thing is that the more paranoid you are the less likely you are to be caught."
After we climbed another half a mile up the valley's side, we found a spring on an old skid road. It was noon and the group decided to set up camp.
Sitting under a giant laurel tree, the supplies that had been carried in were dumped into a pile and an inventory was taken: bread, chocolate, oats, sugar, bagels, cookies, jam, a can of juice, cord, socks.
Kangaroo outlined the situation for the group: The activists in the trees had run out of cell phone batteries and hadn't been in touch with town for days. Their status was therefore unknown, but Kangaroo knew they would need more supplies.
He would lead a small team up to resupply the activists while another group would perform reconnaissance on a new route out of the area. I asked to come along to watch the resupply team, but my request was met with some concern.
"I'm not sure," Kangaroo said. "I don't know if the people up there would be comfortable with a reporter there." After a few minutes of spirited conversation, he denied my request and said he couldn't take me with him. He and four others left shortly thereafter and headed up the hill, their bags filled with food. The remaining activists watched them go up the hill and blend into the thick foliage.
"Young people have this innate clarity about their purpose," said Devastation as he watched Kangaroo go. A longtime veteran of Earth First!, Devastation said he "could never design missions like these. I can only assist in their execution. It makes me realize how precious youth is."
Picture: Blockades have been part of the Earth First! strategy since protests started last fall. Activists lock themselves down inside cars to try and prevent access to the property for logging trucks and crews.So far, none of the blockades have been successful in stopping the logging. (Photo courtesy The Pacific Lumber Co.)
But not everyone in the crew was young. In addition to Hummingbird and Shutterbug, there were two people in their 40s. And it's never too late to start -- Root, in his early 30s, said this action was his first.
"I saw a need to get involved for the next four years," he said, because of what he sees as an anti-environmental bent in Washington.
"I think there's going to be an uprising," he said, "just like in the early '80s when there were a lot of actions."
Root shows that not all Earth First!ers are dreadlocked young hippies; the cleancut man holds down a regular job as a manager of a salvage yard.
He isn't even an opponent of commercial timber harvesting. "In areas where they have already cut, second growth stuff, I don't care. Just let them keep tree farming there," he said. His only problem was the harvesting of old growth trees, he said. "I don't see the need for cutting more old-growth."
Hummingbird's reasons for being out with Earth First! are much more general. An activist since the Vietnam War, Hummingbird has been protesting for the majority of his adult life.
He was alerted to "the redwoods" by newspaper articles four or five years ago, he said. While the land Earth First! is occupying in the Mattole is fir forest and not redwood, Hummingbird said he still thought it necessary to try and save the trees.
"I'm old enough to remember the beginning of the environmental movement. When I went to college, ecology was a one-unit elective for biology majors," he said.
His long tenure as a member of the environmental movement has given him a unique perspective on its accomplishments, he said. "People often decry how unsuccessful we are at protecting the environment, but the thing is that we haven't been doing it that long."
He said the Earth First! actions in the Mattole were to his eyes "an experiment."
"There are trees on private property; what do you do?" he said. This technique would hopefully "raise awareness. It's like extended guerilla theater," he said.
But it was more than theater to most of the activists. The younger protesters were quite clear about what they were doing in the woods: They were going to save the trees. Being arrested made a fine point, but the group had ropes for climbing trees and chains for locking themselves down: They were interested in staying with the trees, not going to jail to raise awareness.
As the day's end neared, Root, Hummingbird and Devastation went searching for a good spot to watch the sunset. The conversation could have been picked up at any coffee shop. The men talked about their jobs, which magazines they like to read and the significance of the ancient Han culture of China.
But as the colors faded from the landscape, Devastation continued to scan for possible routes home. For all of the peace and beauty in the Mattole, it is still someplace he will have to escape from as a fugitive.
When I woke up the next morning and walked back to the meeting place under the big laurel tree, I found out that the resupply crew had made it back to camp the night before. They brought grim tidings for their comrades who had stayed: Of the five protesters who had been in the harvest area, all but two had been arrested in the last few days.
"There was a village set up" in the trees, said Grizzly. He described the village as a set of traverse lines from one tree to the next so that the protesters would be suspended between two trees.
"The people who were up there came down to defend other areas within the timber harvest plan that they were actively cutting," he said. Once in those active units of the plan, they were caught.
The crew had decided upon seeing the state of the protest that they needed to start their own occupation. Grizzly said that they too would use "occupied traverses" instead of traditional tree-sits.
"We're looking for multiple sits in one area defending one grove," he said. That's a safety measure, he said, and "more effective."
Asked if this group would fare better than the ones before had in evading arrest, Grizzly responded that "we expect this could last for a while. ... It has the potential to be permanent. It all depends on what they -- Pacific Lumber -- do."
"There are some huge trees up there that really need our protection," he said.
Sitting in an Arcata coffee shop two days later, I was told by Earth First! activist Josh Brown that the activists I had met were probably doing well. I had come down out of the woods before I got a chance to see their tree sit go up and was now trying to find out what had happened.
"I'm sure they've gotten something set up," he said. He said there have also been blockades and there were plans for more soon. But in the long run, they will lose their war unless people outside the forest begin to take notice, he said.
"At this point we're resisting as much as we can and we stop logging for as long as we can. But really, it's about making headlines and news," he said. "The days of stopping logging with direct action have come and gone."
The protesters in the forest may not agree. Activists' reports from the Mattole since then have successful tree-sits happening: Members of the group I went up with are apparently climbing trees and then locking themselves together. None have been arrested, although stories of violence on loggers' part persist.
Will their efforts work? To what extent are they even hindering PL's logging? What price might they have to pay? Did they even have a clear idea of the consequences of their actions? I left the Mattole not knowing for sure. That they believe in what they are doing is clear; for them, that was enough.
Mattole Free State
from Mattole Forest Defenders/Northcoast Earth First!
A remarkable drama is playing itself out in the remote Mattole Valley on northern California’s Lost Coast. Residents of the remote watershed are rising up in growing numbers in opposition to logging in one of the last great stands of old growth Douglas fir still in private hands in the entire region. At stake is almost 3000 acres of previously unentered forest as well as the rights of a local community to protect their watershed and their future against the economic demands of a distantly run corporation.
The Mattole has been the scene of one of North America’s most comprehensive entirely citizen-run effort to take on the restoration of an entire watershed. Since 1975, the people of the Mattole have been struggling to rescue their once great salmon runs from an oblivion to which 40 years of intensive and often damaging logging seemed to have doomed them. (93% of the valleys forest lands were logged since WWII. Salmon runs are at about 5% of their original stature.) Now, residents of all ages and walks of life are rising up, literally, at three in the morning every day, to stand vigil at the gates that loggers must use to get to Rainbow Ridge, the site of the challenged timber harvest plans.
Rainbow Ridge is currently the property of Pacific Lumber Company, once a well-run family-owned operation, that was taken over by corporate raider, Charles Hurwitz and his Houston, Texas-based Maxxam corporation in 1985. Hurwitz has since been rapidly and systematically reducing the standing timber volume, especially the old growth, on the company’s 200,000 acres. Prior timber harvest plans on PL’s lands in the Rainbow Ridge area, like the current ones, call for clearcutting in old growth forest stands, a practice largely discredited elsewhere in California. The earlier logging has resulted in delivery into the river system of so much sediment from steep eroding slopes that the whole lower mainstem of the Mattole has been destabilized.
Most recently, PL gained a measure of attention when they sold to the government some of their last stands, amounting to thousands of acres, of old growth redwood. This “Headwaters deal” was sold to the public by the Clinton administration and others as an unqualified environmental success. In fact, the deal gave the company almost a half a billion dollars plus the latitude to log heavily on its other holdings under a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). These HCP’s have come to be the preferred tool in the Clinton era for abetting resource extraction that endangered species considerations might otherwise prevent.
Residents in the Mattole and in other watersheds in the area began to think of their valleys as “Orphans of Headwaters’ since their old growth and associated endangered species seemed to have been thrown up for grabs. When PL began to submit a series of eight timber harvest plans for Rainbow Ridge over the past two years, all of them calling for clear-cutting in old growth, people began to fight back. How they have fought is a combination of legal challenges, public relations campaigns and, when all other means to stop the logging failed, direct action in the woods and at the gates.
The leading edge of the citizen struggle are a group of dedicated young people who call themselves the Mattole Forest Defenders among whom were core members of the team that supported Julia Butterfly in her two-year long tree sit and defended Headwaters Forest with nonviolent direct action. Some are local, some from out of the area, all are willing to make considerable sacrifices. They set up a camp on Rainbow itself in the deepening winter, a 12 mile hike in, and faced rain, snow, cold and hunger while waiting for the logging to begin. When it finally did, they were ready.
Their method was to stand between the loggers and the trees to slow down the rate at which the big stems could be fallen. It is very dangerous work. The fact that the loggers have been accompanied each day by 9 to 12 Humboldt County Deputy Sheriffs has not limited the activists’ effectiveness. The sheriff’s role in the woods was described by one of the Forest Defenders as that of “blocking backs for the tree fallers”.
It’s now been four months since Maxxam/Pacific Lumber sent in Columbia Helicopter loggers accompanied by Humboldt County Sheriffs to clearcut the old-growth. Since then, the Mattole Forest Defenders have moved almost 2 miles up Long Ridge to create the Mattole Free State, a blockade complete with several lockdowns, a junked car and hanging pods across the road. The idea is to stop Maxxam’s crews before they can get their chainsaws in the forest. Clearly Maxxam has chosen not to challenge the blockade and the near constant presence of 30 non-violent forest defenders in the woods has effectively shut down their operations for 16 weeks, a growing Humboldt County blockading record.
Meanwhile, groups of Mattole residents, with an average age of 50 years old, kept up blockades at the outer gates into the property to slow down access and engage loggers in dialogue. Their ultimate hope, though, is for PL to sell the land to a Humboldt County group that recently formed a non-profit organization to manage timber lands for maximum ecological and economic benefit to the local community. Maxxam still refuses to become a willing seller.
Editor’s note: "The Mattole Forest in northern California is a war zone. The defenders of ancient trees were raided and the barricades destroyed. The force used and the burning of individuals' property was reminiscent of the raid on the Minnehaha Free State. (The largest police action in Minnesota history broke up the Highway 55 resistance in 1998.)
"In the steep Mattole mountain forest, during the second week of April 2001, activists were chased and scattered frantically, some got caught, some injured, some arrested. One woman was lost for two days and nights in the forest and could have died. The timber company gets what it wants not just from the police's cooperation but from other government agencies. False information is put out by the government, on the forest and the protests. Pacific Lumber launched a slap suit against Earth First! and the Mattole Forest Defenders. However, resistance continues and solidarity increases, including when the automatons of industrial oppression are watching television and sleeping. Pepper spray was not used liberally when extricating locked down activists from the logging road being blocked, and this might have been because Humboldt County officials are nervous about the federal civil rights case filed by protesters tortured by Q-tip wielding Sheriff's deputies in 1997. Unconfirmed reports are that Maxxam would accept $70 million for the 3,000 acres of old growth doug fir."
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from Ancient Forest International
Nonprofits, concerned individuals, and funders are coming together to oppose the logging threat to Rainbow Ridge, an area of rare unentered virgin Douglas-fir habitat in northern California.
Forming the northeast boundary of the Mattole watershed, along the North Fork of the Mattole River, Rainbow Ridge is a place of enormous contrasts—extreme beauty and intense erosion, magnificent remnant forests interspersed with eroding clearcuts, and fabulous vistas of a coastal paradise broken by deep road cuts and gullies. Rainbow Ridge is the largest unprotected stand of lowland old-growth Douglas-fir in California and also contains critical stands of Douglas-fir mixed with hardwoods.
Rainbow Ridge's ancient forests provide habitat for many old-growth-dependent species, such as the northern spotted owl, the northern goshawk, the golden eagle, the Pacific fisher, the purple martin, and the torrent salamander.
Yet Maxxam/Pacific Lumber has several timber harvest plans filed, or about to be filed, on its 12,000 acres of land on and along Rainbow Ridge. It intends to cut 85% of the unentered old growth of Rainbow Ridge in the next few years. Since 1985, Maxxam has logged, mostly by clearcutting, almost 1,700 acres of that land. Resulting landslides, gullying, and debris torrents have sent hundreds of thousands of yards of sediment into the North Fork Mattole River—impacting chinook and Coho salmon and stripping productive agricultural land and dense riparian forests, among other effects. This destruction must stop.
We are entering a critical phase in the preservation of this wildland treasure. AFI is helping to orchestrate the protection of Rainbow Ridge and is searching for sources of acquisition and potentially of conservation easement funding, while helping to prepare the ground for negotiations.
Also underway is the development of a regional land trust to hold and monitor conservation easements and to keep title to lands of Rainbow Ridge's magnitude for nonprofit management.