Two Protestors Arrested at Rainbow Ridge Logging Blockade
Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) owns the property and has received approval to log it.
For about a month this year and for a time last year, a tripod with a small platform has been anchored to trees near one of the entrances to the Rainbow Ridge area. According to one of the activists who wishes to remain anonymous,
It has been up about a month this year but it has been blocked season after season for many years…At the moment, there is a blockade blocking the only entrance to several logging units that HRC wants to log. The Tripod is set up on the roadway to make it inaccessible to large machinery. In the top, is a platform that someone is sitting in. The tripod is anchored to several trees.
The activist explained that those wishing to get through can only do so by toppling the tripod. “If the company wants to pass the road they basically want to kill someone or seriously injure them,” he explained.
According to him, the arrests were made in order to keep supplies from the sitter in the Tripod. “[HRC is]waiting for the person who is in the trees to run out of supplies and have to come down,” he said.
The activist explained, “This morning about 5 a.m., five of the private security contractors that are working on behalf of HRC wanted to remove the blockade–presumably to get heavy machinery through…They had tasers and were threatening to use their tasers.”
According to the activist, they didn’t give those at the Tripod a chance to leave. “They were really aggressive and not wanting to talk,” he said. “They had their tasers drawn. These were projectile tasers.”
The activist said that two protesters were detained. One of the security personnel allegedly told those arrested that he was Paul Trouette.
Lapiner explained that HRC is usually known for being one of the more environmentally sound logging companies. She explained, “Humboldt Redwood Company is priding themselves on doing sustainable logging and making money. However, [Rainbow Ridge] needs to be kept intact. It is home to rare fungus and endangered species.”
In February, UC Berkeley’s Cal Alumni magazine said Rainbow Ridge was “perhaps the hottest spot” in the “simmering insurgency” of today’s timber conflicts.
According to the UC Berkeley Alumni magazine,
A group of Mattole Valley residents maintain Rainbow Ridge is a nonpareil, a property so unique, supporting forest ecosystems so rare, that it should never be logged. Given the impacts of climate change, they claim, its higher value is as a research center to study the potential of old-growth forests for carbon sequestration and water retention. Accordingly, the group wants the property transferred to the UC Natural Reserve system, an ambition that is garnering support at the university.
The magazine quotes Trevor Keenan,
a scientist in the climate and ecosystem sciences division of Berkeley Lab [as saying] “Rainbow Ridge has the largest intact old-growth Douglas fir forest in California. What makes it particularly valuable is the various states of old-growth stands. Some are more than 300 years old, some 150 to 300 years old, and some 100 to 150 years old. That provides a fantastic chance to obtain not just old-growth data, but data from old-growth forests in different stages.”
The protestors are concerned that attempts to log may happen soon. An action is planned for tomorrow. “We are kinda worried about the blockade,” explained the activist. “Right now there is only one person up in the blockade. We’ve had contact with them throughout the day.”
The activist said,
Tomorrow at seven, there is going to be a gathering of people at the Monument Gate [up Monument Road out of Rio Dell]. We would like a rally to show support for the person who is in the woods and show them they are not alone. There is a huge base of support for the ancient Douglas Fir forests.
According to Jane Lapiner of the Lost Coast League, HRC may not attempt to move into the Rainbow Ridge tomorrow or even the next day but she thinks that it is possible.
We’ll update when more information comes in.
UPDATE 11:37 p.m.:
Five employees of Lear Asset Management, including CEO Paul Trouette (707/489-9663), security contractor for Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC), swept down on protesters camped near a logging road on Rainbow Ridge in the Mattole River watershed at about 5 a.m. today. With tasers drawn the guards forcibly restrained two non-resisting protesters who had refused a request to leave, placing them under citizens arrest and confiscating personal equipment including solar panels and a camera.
The guards contacted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept., which arrived on the scene about 8 a.m. and took custody of the arrestees, who were later booked and released with pending court dates. At this writing the road blockade remains in place.
Location of the blockade is here: https://goo.gl/maps/aQ79i7mGLjv
“This shows the blockade has been really effective,” said one of the arrested protesters, who declined to provide his/her name. “During the time (HRC) was not doing anything about the blockade it shows the cost-benefit calculation of doing arrests didn’t make sense for them.” The timing of these arrests thus demonstrates that logging may be imminent, the protester said.
At issue is about 1100 acres of primary, or ancient, forest consisting of Douglas-fir and diverse hardwoods, as well as natural coastal prairies. The area is vital habitat for listed species including but not limited to the Pacific fisher, pine marten, Northern spotted owl, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, coho salmon, Sonoma tree vole, and the rare fungus agarikon (Fomitopsis officinalis).
Logging of these forests along Rainbow Ridge could take place under two currently approved Timber Harvesting Plans. Opponents of the plans have raised objections about the validity of at least one of these plans, as well as calling into question the “green” certification accorded to HRC by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Not only is HRC logging virgin forest on its lands, but also is poisoning hardwoods through the use of a highly controversial practice known as “hack and squirt.” Such practices should disqualify any timber company from FSC certification, critics say.
Rainbow Ridge is run by San Francisco’s Sansome Partners, of which the Fisher family (best known for its GAP clothing) are major investors.
On the other side of the fight are citizens groups including the Lost Coast League (LCL), which has undertaken conservation projects in the area since the 1970s. LCL has sought from HRC to permanently protect Rainbow Ridge, outright purchase being one option, but thus far the company has refused.
Rainbow Ridge is bordered to the east by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home of the Rockefeller Grove, at 9000 acres the largest contiguous virgin redwood forest remaining in the world. To the west lies the King Range National Conservation Area.
Preservation of Rainbow Ridge would thus safeguard a corridor between the two neighboring areas, providing enormous conservation values in an age of species decline and global warming.
Opponents of the logging of Rainbow Ridge will hold a rally tomorrow (July 23) at 7 a.m. at the Monument Gate, located on Monument Road about five miles west of Rio Dell, Calif.