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Forest Defenders Blockade Logging Roads In Mattole Headwaters

Action report from Humboldt Earth First! on anti-logging action in the Humboldt area of so-called Northern California.

Early Thursday morning, 20 forest defenders barricaded logging roads in the headwaters of the upper North Fork Mattole River in anticipation of Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) logging operations. “Road building on steep, unstable slopes and logging of old-growth forest is unacceptable,” said a local resident participating in the blockade. “This logging plan will release a large amount of long term greenhouse gas, and along with industrial logging across the Pacific Northwest, constitutes a major driver of climate catastrophe.”

HRC plans to log over 300 acres just outside of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The activists say that while the company has policies against logging old growth forest, much of the unspoiled habitat here is excluded from protections.

“While we were building these blockades we were using piles of old logging debris for building material, and we uncovered pieces of tree sits cut down by Pacific Lumber in 2003. Those treesits successfully protected an old growth grove that contains an active Northern Spotted Owl nest site. HRC’s new logging plan proposes cutting in the same grove, where the trees are as big as 6 feet across and 180 ft tall.”

HRC foresters have admitted the presence of a tiny patch of old growth within the plan area, but forest defenders who have surveyed the area say this is a gross underrepresentation. While timberlands in surrounding areas were heavily logged during Pacific Lumber’s management, much of the Mattole headwaters contain intact late seral forest due to decades of resistance.

The plan also calls for the use of herbicides to kill oak, madrone and California bay trees, which are all native species and provide food for wildlife. The standing dead trees left after herbicide treatment constitute a major fire hazard. Activists say HRC actually pledged to phase out herbicide use two years ago in response to community opposition.

The forest defenders say they will continue their efforts to protect this place as long as logging and herbicide remain a threat.

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