The fight against logging in the ancient Mattole forest of Northern California – which has been resisted for over 20 years, is again coming to a head.
Petrolia, CA—For over 24 hours, security guards working for Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) have camped under an old-growth tree threatened with imminent destruction. They are hoping to arrest the person who is sitting on a net of cord woven between two level branches, Rook, who intends to stay aloft in the centuries old tree until it is saved. On Saturday, Rook ascended the tree, avoiding security patrols and drone flyovers, remaining undetected until they hailed security guards who were searching for them later the next day. Rook is choosing to remain anonymous at this time.
In addition, shortly before 5 am this morning, four Petrolia residents were arrested blocking the main logging gate. These residents are “elders defending the elders in the forest;” the blockaders’ average age is 75. There is a statement available from these residents, part of the Lost Coast League, as to why they took this action this morning. The Lost Coast League had filed a legal challenge of HRC’s sustainability certification and have been trying to discuss acquiring the land with HRC. This marks the third consecutive workday that protesters have rallied at the gate, turning away loggers and road construction crews.
The treesitter Rook stated, “I’m up here because we need intact forests more than we need forest products. HRC wants to say their logging is sustainable but they didn’t plant the trees they’re cutting. This tree is 200 years old and they’ll invent some technicality so they can fell it to build a road and still say “we don’t log old growth’.”
Rook is referring to HRC’s policy which, according to their website, allows for the cutting of old growth trees if it “is required for road construction.” The new logging road would provide access to log approximately 100 acres.
The company recently began a controversial logging operation on Rainbow Ridge totaling over 200 acres, prompting a public outcry and days of protests.
When asked why they decided to take this drastic action, Rook stated, “The reality is that we’re in a climate and ecological crisis. Mattole watershed residents are using every legal means to preserve the remaining ancient forest here, but HRC is just rushing ahead anyway to convert it all into Douglas fir plantation. They’re acting in bad faith and this is one way to slow them down.”
Community efforts to protect this unlogged coastal Douglas fir, oak and madrone forest from industrial logging have been ongoing since the 1990’s.