Report back from land defenders who kicked off a Week of Action to defend the old growth Mattole Forest in Northern California.
Humboldt County, CA – On Monday, Aug. 25, a “Week of Action for the Mattole Forest” launched with a demonstration at the Scotia offices of the Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC). The Mattole Forest Defenders organized the Week of Action, supported by many other groups and residents of the area. Residents have been working for decades to preserve the unlogged tracts and old growth trees of this forest in the Mattole River watershed in a remote area of the north coast in Humboldt County known as the Lost Coast.
The demonstration will took place at the corporate offices of the timber company at 125 Main St. in Scotia, CA, from 8 am to 2 pm. Following Monday’s event, other actions calling for the preservation of the Mattole Forest will take place at various locations through Friday, August 31. Information will be updated on the Save the Mattole Ancient Forest Facebook page, and at the action line: 707-336-2231.
The Mattole Forest Defenders have had an evolving and nearly constant blockade presence on a principal logging road for an extended time, including gate lock-downs and tripod sits. Meanwhile, other non-profit groups, local restorationists and residents have been pursuing a purchase and preservation plan for the most ecologically unique and threatened areas. The center of this controversy is the Rainbow Ridge area, a forest of Douglas Fir trees up to 500 years old in a refugia forest landscape that supports such rare and threatened species as the Pacific Fisher, Northern Spotted Owl, Coho Salmon, Northern goshawk, and a large, rare and old-growth dependant medicinal mushroom, the agarikon (Laricifomes officinalis)
Posted by Ryan Heather on Monday, August 27, 2018
The Forest Defenders say that in recent weeks, HRC has escalated their dealings with opposition to their proposed logging in the Mattole by bringing in aggressive contract security crews to break up the non-violent blockade, citing fire danger stemming from the blockaders presence. Activists call this claim disingenuous as a massive fire danger created by the logging company’s herbicide use in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties has drawn the attention of the Mendocino Fire Chiefs. Their “hack and squirt” herbicide applications leave vast swaths of standing dead hardwood trees, killed by applied herbicides.
Campaign local organizer Pluto declared, “They’ve left thousands of acres of standing dead trees, which puts our communities at great risk for forest fires. Part of the company’s management is to effectively convert this unique and diverse ecosystem into a monocrop tree farm, under the guise of what they call “restoration.” The trees they’re killing with herbicide—madrone, tan oak, canyon live oak play a tremendously vital role in the health and resilience of these forests, yet are considered “unmarketable” to big corporations like HRC. Walking through an herbicided forest is a devastating sight. It’s clear that while they say they practice sustainable forestry, all they care about is their bottom line.”
The over 1,100 acres of unlogged old growth Doug fir and hardwoods in Rainbow Ridge, believed to be the largest remaining acreage of that type, is also in the most seismically active region of the U.S., covered with highly unstable soils and steep, landslide-prone hillsides. The history of direct action and other types of forest preservation efforts there goes back to the so-called “Timber Wars” of the 1990s and since, when pitched battles defined the relationship between the then-owners Maxxam/Pacific Lumber and forests activists. HRC purchased PL’s 200,000 acres in 2008; by then much of the old growth redwood holdings had been decimated, save the 3,000 acres of old growth in the 7500-acre Headwaters Reserve, now managed by the Bureau of Land Management. But the old growth Douglas Fir had been largely ignored by Maxxam/PL in favor of the more lucrative redwood. The new owners, HRC, promised a “kinder, gentler” forestry, no cutting of old growth, no clear cuts, and with their promises, obtained Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. Many observing their practices at close range call that a sham.