For the third year in a row, Headwaters Forest supporters are in the woods demonstrating for the preservation of ALL 60,000 acres of Pacific Lumber Company’s (PL) Humboldt County redwood forest holdings. After years of encroaching chainsaw massacres, the last six groves of ancient trees stand tall in a sea of devastation. Caring activists have dedicated years to opposing the insatiable greed of this corporation. Last fall, PL and its Texan parent company Maxxam, entered into negotiations toward a deal for Headwaters that equals nothing but a big fat SELLOUT for the largest unprotected redwood forest on the planet. The resounding consensus is that Clinton’s slick election time dealmaking might leave the Headwaters complex more vulnerable to habitat loss, while saving less than 7500 acres and only two of the six ancient groves as a tree museum.
Earth First! is committed to oppose this pathetic whitewash at every turn. By maintaining high profile nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience throughout September and October, we hope to create political and financial pressure that presents a real crisis to the corporate and governmental powers-that-want to be. We know that true power-staying power– lies with the people united. Over 1500 supporters were arrested last fall, breaking the law for a greater good. This year we want to see those numbers skyrocket, as more and more folks come to the woods, gates and city streets to defy the property lines that serve to silence the will of the people.
The 1986 takeover of PL and the Headwaters Forest by Charles Hurwitz’s Maxxam is a classic robberbaron tale. After being bailed out of debt from his failed Texas Savings and Loan bank, the real estate tycoon bought PL and several other companies, hoping to use their profits to eventually pay off his debt. After 10 years on his chopping block, less than 5000 fragmented acres of the 60,000 remains untouched. The new PL is logging faster than ever before, as Hurwitz races against time to avoid losing out on potential profits. In exchange for the 7500 acres, the Feds are giving him 380 million dollars and other as yet undisclosed state lands. Congress approved the cash in July, but Pete Wilson is having a hard time dealing. Always paving the way for extractive industry, he seems stumped as to how to engineer something so unconventional. Alongside the land sale, PL is supposed to submit a Habitat Conservation Plan for the future management of all their Humboldt Co. forestland. It’s a process under the Endangered Species Act that’s supposed to define how the company or developer will avoid trashing an endangered species’ habitat., U.S. Fish and Wildlife consults, collects date and makes the final decision. What it usually ends up being is a loophole around the law.
On September 15, the endangered marbled murrelet’s nesting season officially ended, and PL can salvage again in all the groves except those in the Deal. Until then, while the parties are negotiating PL’s HCP and waiting for the money to come through, business continues as usual. Besides the six isolated groves of ancient trees in the Headwaters Forest, thousands of acres of residual ancient forest remains. With so much focus on setting the main Grove (3000 acres) aside for the deal, these residual stands are easily overshadowed, but they make up a network of crucial endangered wildlife habitat. EF! plans to give these places the attention they deserve.
Ecologically, the redwood forest is an endangered ecosystem that is found in its native state only in small regions far north and south of the Bay Area. The last viable ancient redwood wilderness is found only in Humboldt County. Outside of the National and State Parks, Headwaters Grove, at 3000 acres, is the very last of its size. Three different endangered species inhabit the old groves, and are quietly receding in numbers as their habitat shrinks. Marbled Murrelet, Spotted Owl and Coho Salmon are all indicator species- they rely on intact and mature forest habitat. The only way to bring their numbers back is to protect ALL of their habitat, and restore the forest that once supported them, and this cannot be done through compromises.
Last fall, huge fallen redwoods of Headwaters Forest suffered a major blow when PL carried out their plans to salvage downed trees by dragging them out of at least two smaller ancient groves with steel cables. EF! locked down to dozers and blocked their gates, but the dirty work was done in the blink of an eye. The salvage permit was issued by The California Department of Forestry (CDF) as an exemption to the Federal and State laws that had kept these groves unmolested for so long. The CDF takes policy orders from the state’s Board of Forestry, a panel of 9 timber pimps appointed by Pete Wilson, which speaks for itself. CDF is seriously on Earth Firsts! shit list.
The clenched fist of corporate greed has consumed every avenue we’ve used to defend this special place. Now is the time for a massive push from the grassroots, backed by the voices of future generations and the ancient ecological wisdom we have learned from this land. A nonviolent revolutionary mass movement for Headwaters Forest is the only thing that will create a serious disruption to business as usual. Either we watch the forest fall to fill the pockets of a corporate eco-terrorist, or we unite for justice, and reclaim the power to hold Hurwitz accountable for his crimes.