Last week we lost a force of nature, and one who has been involved in all manner of ecological issues on the northcoast for decades. Yurok elder Jene McCovey has certainly been very involved since long before she was an elder. It seemed that Jene was everywhere people were getting together to strategize on a myriad of issues. She showed up to testify at public hearings, to speak into a bullhorn or mic at rallies, and would show up at demonstrations out in the forest, treating her motorized wheelchair like a high-end off road vehicle. She was fearless.
I first met and got to know Jene during forest campaigns in the 80s and 90s, particularly the campaign for Headwaters Forest. She formed “Native Americans for Headwaters” and so became an organizational as well as individual participant at the table of that nearly 20-year campaign for old growth redwoods. In recent times, just in the circles that I personally have interacted with, Jene has joined in the activities of PAIEA (Pacific Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Activism), forest defense in the Mattole Watershed, opposing dams on the Klamath River, and offshore oil drilling. She was on the Board of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, and was advisor to the Yurok Tribe’s Natural Resource Advisory Council and the Tribe’s Home Support Services, and so much more. In 2018, Jene was honored by EPIC with the Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement award.
A couple years ago, Jene showed up at the national Earth First! Round River Rendezvous that was taking place in Northern California. I walked with her as she navigated her wheelchair over extremely uneven, rocky, sloped ground to an area under the oak trees to give one of several workshops she came to offer. She didn’t slow down for a minute.
I’ve been at so many rallies, meetings and other events that were opened by Jene, those events made stronger and more grounded by her spiritual infusion and presence. She will be missed by so many, but also remembered with affection and inspiration. We wish you well on your travels through transition, Jene.
GOOD NEWS for a change on the forest front: Redwoods and Natural Area Preserved
1,000 acres of a natural area of meadows, canyons, headwaters of the Garcia River, and 28 miles of salmon streams, and significant redwood groves, constitute a newly-protected reserve in the Anderson Valley area of southern Mendocino County. The Mailliard Ranch (as in Charlotte Mailliard Schultz, S.F. socialite who for many years was the Chief of Protocol for the city. Her husband, George Schultz was former Secretary of State as well as Labor and Treasury Secretary), owned by the family for over a century was recently brought under the protection of a conservation easement, via a negotiation by the Save the Redwood League. The other 14,000 acres of the Ranch will remain a “working forest”, subject to selective logging, but is protected from subdivision development, as those kinds of pressures continue to march northward from the Bay Area.
PLEASE SUPPORT OUR WORK WITH A DONATION. Donate securely online OR send a check made out to Ecology Center/BACH to Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, P.O. Box 2072, Berkeley, CA 94702. We thank you enthusiastically!
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