Forest Defenders Brave Loggers, Cops and Lawsuits To Defend Old Growth!
For immediate Release:
The 3,000 old-growth Douglas Fir forest of the Mattole is enduring a Blitzkrieg logging siege by Maxxam/Pacific Lumber Company. Operating on two separate logging plans (THP 475 + THP 031) Columbia Helicopter and Lewis Logging fallers have leveled a majority of the 68 acres slated for clear cutting. Seven activists were arrested early this Monday morning sitting in the logging road, linking arms, stopping the convoy of logging crews and Humboldt County Sheriffs. For five mornings in a row, forest defenders have mobilized up to eighty activist and community members to block the outside gates, but with up to seven separate entrance at Maxxam's disposal stopping this convoy of 20+ vehicles has proven difficult. Forest Defenders and community members are braving a SLAPP civil suit filed by Maxxam intended to intimidate and silence the direct action that has been so effective in defending and drawing public attention to the Mattole ancient forests.
Non-violent resistance has been strong with 27 arrest since Wednesday evening. Activist have shut down logging for periods of time in different areas by climbing trees, and dialoguing with falling crews. Two women were arrested Friday morning who had locked down to a 55 gallon drum filled with concrete. Their efforts supported by five other blockades slowed several Maxxam operations all morning long, including the fleet of haul trucks used to transport downed ancient trees out of the Mattole. Before Wednesdays logging siege, the last five weeks have seen 19 arrest and since November 10th , a total of 49 activists have been arrested. Activist had halted Maxxam's logging operations in the Mattole for 161 days with a blockade nicknamed the Mattole Free State.
There has been violence against activists from logging crews in the woods and at the gates. Several backwoods activists report being beaten with sticks by loggers as Humboldt County Sheriff deputies looked the other way. These activists were also chased up trees and had wood debris built up at the base with one logger waving a can of gasoline threatening to burn them out. At several outer gates activists have been physically assaulted by truck drivers, punched, spit on, bumped by trucks and had hot coffee thrown in their faces. One activist received facial injuries by a sucker punch by crew supervisor of the logging crews. Charges are being filed in this incident and another where a women standing at the side of a logging road was violently shoved and punched in the head.
Together, both logging plans clearcut 68 acres of old growth Douglas Fir and fragment the contiguous ancient forest located on Long Ridge. During the past year, Maxxam/Pacific Lumber has initiated an onslaught of timber harvest plans in the most sensitive regions of its holdings: the Mattole River Watershed. These logging plans are clearcuts, exclusively in old growth Douglas Fir forests, and are planned in drainages which have extreme seismic activity (1992 saw 7.1, 6.9, and 7.2 earthquakes in a 24 hour period,) intense rainfall (up to 200 inches per year,) and easily erodible soils on steep mountainous terrain. Maxxam calls for the liquidation of a majority of their Mattole holdings within the next eight years.
This 3,000 acres of old growth Douglas Fir is the largest unprotected coastal old growth Doug-Fir forest left in the Pacific Northwest. It is a crucial habitat link between the old growth refuges of the Kings Range, Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Gilham Butte. The Mattole Watershed is located west of Scotia and Highway 101.
Earth First! will hold a mass public legal rally for the Mattole to bring as many people to the public side of Monument gate. The purpose of the rally will be to stand up against the SLAPP lawsuit filed against the Mattole defenders and to stand up for the forest.
Acting in Concert -- Rally for the Mattole
There will be two special May 24 events marking the 11th anniversary of the car bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney:
* Rally at Oakland Federal courthouse at noon
Please help spread the word. Downloadable flyer at judibari.org
Earth First! versus the FBI Rally for the Judi Bari Lawsuit
Thursday, May 24, 2001 12 Noon.
Federal Courthouse in Oakland
1301 Clay Street (and 12th)
Join:Attorneys Dennis Cunningham and Tony Serra (invited)
Activists Julia Butterfly, Darryl Cherney, Alicia Littletree and many more
Bring your fiddles, other instruments, posters, costumes.
Later, that evening(05/24/01), come to a
* Concert Benefit for the Bombing Lawsuit
Viva Judi Bari! Earth First!
For more information:
Images at http://www.earthfilms.org/
Images and Feature Page at http:/www.indybay.org/