Is it Timber Wars all over again or a kinder, gentler forestry? It depends whether you are prone to believe greenwash or science and ground-truthing.
Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC) and Mendocino Redwood Co. (MRC) came to their position as major forest owners in Northern California (400,000+ acres) via different trajectories: MRC owns 227,000 acres in Mendocino County purchased from the multi-national Louisiana-Pacific when they left Calif. after reaping millions, and HRC got what was Maxxam/Pacific Lumber’s ravished land in Humboldt County, minus small but precious protected groves of old growth redwoods surrounded by a sea of clearcuts.
But the buck stops for both companies at the Fisher family, or rather the bucks GO to the S.F.-based Fishers, owners of retail giants the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, the Oakland A’s (majority share), as well as HRC and MRC both, positioning the billionaire family as owners of more coastal redwood forest than any other private owner. As you might suspect, there are problems in this empire.
Throughout the long Headwaters Forest campaign, the Mattole River watershed was not targeted for the aggressive logging in the same way other parts of Maxxam/PL property was. The 18,000 acres in the Mattole River basin, known as Rainbow Ridge, lush with late seal (mature) forest with some old growth was largely spared, providing habitat salmon, steelhead, goshawks,pileated woodpeckers, red-legged frogs, red tree voles, Pacific Fisher and other wildlife increasingly scarce elsewhere. The area is now targeted for logging by HRC. A grassroots effort has come together, on the heels of direct action defending the forest from imminent logging. The Rainbow Ridge Project, part of the Lost Coast League, is formulating plans to protect key habitat areas via conservation easements and other means. More info can be found at http://www.lostcoastleague.org.
Activists and residents from Mendocino County have staged several recent protests–in the forest, at the County Supervisors chambers, and at corporate offices in S.F. Why? Besides unsustainable logging, MRC is on a course seemingly geared toward plantation forestry which involves eliminating unmarketable hardwoods–specifically tan oaks–to allow more room for their market species.
Workers chop a gash into the trunk, inject an herbicide, leaving large swaths of dead and dying trees, creating severe fire danger and risk to water sources and workers. The practice is known as “hack and squirt.”
This campaign is gearing up and pressure that can be mustered in the Bay Area against the other Fisher holdings like the Gap stores will bring further light onto the forest issues. Stay tuned.
Klamath Nat’l Forest: Fire impact brings in the largest “Salvage Logging” plan seen in decades in North Coast forests.
They are public lands, but the public is having a heck of a time being heard past the alliance between government (Forest Service) and timber corporations. Called the “Westside Plan,” it is characterized by our colleagues at EPIC as “absolutely the worst project…ever seen in Pacific Northwest national forests.”
In 2014, wildfires
burned huge swaths of land in Northern California, most of it in the Klamath NF. Now the U.S. Forest Service, through auctions to timber companies is subsidizing massive clearcutting, decimating the habitat of spotted owl, salmon and other wildlife most people assume have refuge in national forests.
Despite a record 14,000 comments in opposition during the public input period, the corporate loggers are paying only $2.50 per truckload for some sales. The land in the Klamath NF is also Karuk Ancestral Territory, and a traditional gathering area for materials for medicine and baskets. There have been direct actions and lawsuits recently. Two sources of information are KSWild and EPIC. We will let you know if an opportunity to support this forest arises again, particularly in the greater Bay Area.
Redwoods in Gualala
Finally, a quick update on an issue we sent news out about a few weeks ago–planned (and now commencing) logging in the mature forest within the floodplain of the lower Gualala River, near the Sonoma/Mendocino County border.
The two groups most active on this, Friends of Gualala River and Forests Unlimited, have filed suit against the regulatory agency (CalFire), pointing to failure to follow state law and meet mandated safeguards meant to protect sensitive floodplains from logging, disturbances like road-building. The legal action seeks to set aside CalFire’s approval of the plan, the “Dogwood” Timber Harvest Plan (THP).