The following is a press release issued by Redwood Nation Earth First! and Mama Tree Network by Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters:
Logging began at daylight this morning in the intensely contested “Caspar 500” timber harvest plan (THP) in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), with large second-growth redwoods being felled within 6’ of protestors and a passing trail cyclist. Making their presence known with air horns and loud whistles, several protestors walked up to the fallers and asked them to stop but their pleas were refused by a Supervisor who insisted that tree falling must continue, despite the public’s presence.
After a tense stand-off and the Supervisor’s withdrawal, the protestors and cyclist were able to engage three fallers in nonviolent dialogue and eventually convinced them to voluntarily rest their saws. Other forest protestors grouped near a 96” diameter redwood known as the “Cable Scar Tree”. The massive Old Growth tree is not officially “marked for cut” as part of the THP, but IS being cut to build a new road on the plan.
Concerned community members called on Cal Fire State Forests Program Director Kevin Conway, to immediately halt logging operations while people are in the woods. Coastal Mendocino County resident and teacher Andy Wellspring said that Conway had claimed in a phone conversation this morning that “people could be present in an active logging zone at a ‘safe distance.” Wellspring asked if those regulations were concerning civilians close to tree felling or co-workers close to tree felling, but did not receive an answer.
After Wellspring told Conway his grave concern that “CalFire is endangering people’s lives by allowing logging to continue in Caspar 500”, Conway hung up on him. Protestors have been receiving mixed messages from CalFire. Previously, Conway had said logging should halt if workers could see an individual in the forest and had offered to “unmark” the well-known “Mama” and “Papa” trees where tree sits have been ongoing since April, and place a 400 ‘ buffer zone around them. However, the Registered Professional Forester Jason Curna, who is responsible for the THP, recently ordered the sitters to come down.
A support team for the forest protectors immediately notified Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall the CHP Officer Finnegan of the danger posed by unfettered tree falling near members of the public as well as reports of vehicular harassment and dangerous driving by drivers for Anderson Logging, the contractor for the cut. At a meeting the day before with Sheriff Kendall, it was agreed that their priority should be safety first.
“The protestors are exercising their First Amendment rights on public property”, said Linda Perkins, a liaison to law enforcement. Conway has said the protectors are there illegally but has cited no legal basis or California State Code to support his statement. Dozens of protestors have been risking arrest in every day since logging began on June 10 last week in an effort to intercept loggers arriving to cut down big redwoods.
“JDSF is the People’s forest”, said Sloth, the current resident of the Papa Tree. “This would be the perfect place to start implementing the Governor’s 30×30 plan to set aside thirty percent of the world’s lands for environmental values by the year 2030”. The Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest is calling for a moratorium on timber harvesting in JDSF until its Management Plan is updated with a current Environmental Impact Review, which has not been done since 2007. The next update is set for 2026 but many believe the climate crisis requires action urgent now. Activists vow to return on Wednesday en masse.