265 were arrested, more than twice the number expected
forest defense action in U.S. History ended on a triumphant note with the news that a Federal court had issued a restraining order banning timber cutting in Headwaters Forest for one week. Over 2,000 demonstrators cheered wildly when a spokesperson announced that lawyers from Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) had obtained the temporary ban on cutting, until a September 22 hearing for a preliminary injunction.
Organized by the Coalition to Save Headwaters Forest, the September 15 action was an outpouring of support for not only the 3,000 acre central Headwaters grove, but several smaller old-growth areas nearby. The Headwaters complex includes these as well as second-growth forests and clear-cut areas, adding up to 75,000 acres of sensitive habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species, several of them endangered.
The rally took place at Pacific Lumber's mill in Carlotta, followed by a 1.5 mile march by roughly half the protestors to the company's gate into the Headwaters area. Here 264 defenders -- well over twice what most observers expected -- walked across the company's property line into the waiting arms of police. The arrest process had to be interrupted when the police ran out of arresting officers, and two large buses had to make two trips to a pre-arranged area where officials cited and released those arrested.
Bari called for a "debt for nature" swap based on Hurwitz' milking of a Texas Savings & Loan
to EPIC's Cecelia Lanman, the company, with the willing assistance of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Forestry, "has done everything possible to skirt the laws and regulations pertaining to wildlife protection." The newest wrinkle, she says, is the use of helicoptors to drop off logging crews and take out downed trees. "That's why we're here." she said. "That's why the people have to put their voice out there. The courts aren't enough, legislation isn't enough, direct action isn't enough; we need a multitude of voices across all walks of life to put the pressure on right now so we won't see this forest go down"
Organizers contacted a number of environmental and other organizations after a hastily thrown-together protest last March, in which some 500 demonstrators rallied outside a Pacific Lumber gate. That and other public pressure forced the company to declare a moratorium on cutting until the end of the endangered marbled murrelet nesting season, determined to be September 15.
Behind that were more serious differences. Asked about Pacific Lumber's determination to cut in Headwaters, company spokesperson Mary Bullwinkle said that the company would prefer to save the grove, and had announced that it would sell the land if they could get fair market value for it.
Nobody has come up with the $600 million asking price for the central grove and a contiguous 1,500 acre buffer zone. (In 1986, Pacific Lumber CEO Charles Hurwitz bought the entire Pacific Lumber Company -- including almost 180,000 acres and several sawmills -- for only 900 million, incurring a junk-bond debt in the process which Pacific Lumber has attempted to pay off by massive clear-cutting.)
But Earth First! activist Judi Bari, speaking at the rally, disputed Pacific Lumber's claim to the Headwaters acreage. Speaking to those lined up to be arrested, Bari said "we're saying, without actions, that Hurwitz doesn't own this land and we're going to repossess it." She called for a "debt for nature" swap based on Hurwitz' milking of a Texas Savings & Loan, which led to a $1.6 billion bailout with Federal funds. Bari added, "We're not going to wait for legislative action; we're going to repossess that land now."
This coming Friday (September 22nd), the Federal court will hear arguments from EPIC asking for a preliminary injunction. This would hold off cutting until the court can try the issue of whether Pacific Lumber should be permanently banned, on environmental grounds, from entering the Headwaters area to cut trees.
That question will revolve on whether the "salvage" logging that Pacific Lumber claims it has to do "for the health of the forest" constitutes as a "take" of murrelet habitat. Says EPIC's Lanman, "The fact that the court would issue today's temporary injunction is very positive; it means we have a good shot at winning permanent protection. However, if we lose, it's back to square one; we'll have to start over again."
In related actions on Friday and Saturday, protestors blocked access to areas adjoining the Headwaters which Sierra Pacific Lumber Company is currently clear-cutting under an already-issued timber harvest plan (THP). Seeing people locked onto access gates, police and company officials sent workers home for the day. There were no arrests. Sierra Pacific has approved THPs for cutting in the area, but the company is proceeding slowly in hopes of finding a buyer for their holdings in the area.
This morning, dozens of Earth First! activists blocked Sierra Pacific workers from going in to log THP-096. Activists locked themselves to access gates and a bridge and chained themselves to logging equipment. No arrests have been reported.
Protests at site "forgotten" when Hamburg's bill failed
Taking Friday's massive
Headwaters demonstration one step further, Earth First! and Redwood Nation activists held a protest demonstration Saturday on a logging road into the Headwaters Forest complex near Eureka.
Six activists, using handcuffs, padlocks and "lockboxes," attached themselves to two gates and a bridge to prevent logging on land owned by Sierra Pacific. They were supported by a group of some twenty other Headwaters sympathizers.
According to demonstrators at the site, three logging trucks turned back after encountering the blocked entrances to the parcel.
Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies arrived shortly thereafter and cited four of the six people chained to the gates and bridge.
Tryphana Lewis of Miranda, who was interviewed on the scene still inside her lockbox, said deputies were able to free the two who had used handcuffs and padlocks. After assessing the situation, however, they did not attempt to remove four activists who used the lockbox devices to defeat bolt cutters.
According to spokesperson David Walsh, the land to be logged is directly adjacent to the northern border of Headwaters, which was the focus of the preceeding day's demonstration and arrests.
Walsh said that although the 1,500 acre parcel was included in the Headwaters Forest Act proposed by former Congressional representative Dan Hamburg, it had "been forgotten" in environmental actions taken since Hamburg's bill failed.
Explaining her actions, Lewis said, "Today we are showing... that we care about this part of the Headwaters Forest, too. Just because there's a property line there, [it] doesn't mean it's not part of the ecosystem."
Lewis' and Walsh's group dispersed soon after the departure of the sheriff's deputies. A second group of about sixty protesters arrived at the same site hours later, saying that they would hold a vigil in case workers returned.
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