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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense
Mattole Forest Blockade Update!
Logging operations on hold until end of December, but a new logging road and herbicide use are still on the agenda. Mattole Forest Defenders stay focused and strong, and shift organizing to broader resistance. More people are needed to protect the old growth and wildlife in this wild part of the North Coast.
An area in the Mattole River watershed on Northern California’s forested coast is called the “Lost Coast”, because of its relative remoteness from major highways and population centers. There lies mature Douglas Fir forest, unmolested by logging—left behind even by the rapacious Maxxam Pacific Lumber, in favor of more accessible redwood forest. Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC), the current owners, have been threatening to log in an area known as Rainbow Ridge. They have been met with staunch opposition from local residents and stalwart forest defenders who have maintained a formidable blockade for 5 months. HRC recently announced that they will not log, build roads or spray herbicides in the Long Ridge area for the remainder of 2017. This news prompted the Humboldt activists to remove the blockade for now, in order to focus slim resources on other avenues of organizing for this forest. But the campaign is not winding down.
However, HRC is still pursuing the building of a new logging road from Rainbow Ridge onto Long Ridge, which would lacerate the hillside across the top of a large area of ancient forest in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Mattole River. The ill-conceived project involves ripping through a large bedrock outcrop and wiping out a grove of mature trees growing in the loose stones and boulders at the foot of the rock.
HRC's proposed new road is above the headwaters of Sulphur Creek in the Mattole River watershed, as an attempt to go around blockaders. It is important to demonstrate opposition to the new road-building.
According to those on the ground in the Mattole, this move is seen as a counterattack by HRC in an attempt to bypass the site of a series of blockades from the year 2000 until now. The company mischaracterized the need the new road for logging and fire fighting, when the only apparent “problem with access” is the ongoing conflict over their logging plans. So they are essentially road-building to counter protests.
Since the road was not part of the original plan HRC filed with CalFire, public comment is once again open on this Amendment to the Long Ridge Cable Timber Harvest Plan (THP). You can contact the California Department of Forestry (CalFire) and "oppose Amendment No. 6 to the Long Ridge Cable THP 1-12-026 HUM". (The amendment is the road, not part of the original plan.)
CalFire’s email is: santarosapubliccomment [at] fire.ca.gov
In the subject line of the email put: Public Comment For THP 1-12-026
Since these logging permits can last 7 years, north coast activists are digging in and preparing for a sustained campaign that could continue for 4 more years or longer, in the absence of a resolution. This is just the latest chapter in the struggle for this unique and biologically precious place. There is a history of direct action on these same coastal ridges dating back to at least 1998, when North Coast Earth First! and Mattole Forest Defenders took direct action to protect these forested hillsides from Maxxam/Pacific Lumber before that company went bankrupt (while reaping millions from extreme logging). Now HRC is here, claiming to to have a policy barring the logging of old growth while doing just that, as well as using poison herbicides to kill off native tan oaks, madrones and canyon oaks, calling it “restoration". The herbicides are being used in previously "unentered" (unlogged) forest. While the local community thought these ancient groves were safe, it is clear the timber wars are not over.
As winter settles in, activists are busy monitoring the corporation’s activities and plans, surveying the land to determine the current extent of the unlogged forest, locating and documenting rare and endangered species and conducting outreach and trainings while preparing to resist the next offensive by the timber company. They have put out a call for help, for people of all skill and experience levels: supply runners, hikers, climbers, cooks, photographers, videographers, video editors, natural builders, logistically minded folks, artists, musicians, medics, and of course organizers.
Besides comments to CalFire, you can call Humboldt Redwood Company and voice your concerns at: 707-764-4161, or call Ben Hawk (head forester of Mattole region for HRC) 707-489-2871
If you are so inclined to get into the details, you can look up the THPs on the State’s website: ftp://thp.fire.ca.gov/THPLibrary/
The logging plans in question are 1-12-026 Long Ridge Cable THP and 1-14-034 Long Reach THP
You can reach the Earth First! Humboldt activists at: contactefhum [at] gmail.com
Check out the Facebook page for the direct action campaign:
Long Live the Wild Mattole Watershed!