The following is a press release from the Redwood Nation Earth First! Mama Tree Network:
Citizens are out in force this week in Jackson Demonstration State Forests (JDSF), despite the rain, monitoring timber harvesting operations in the 50, 000 acre multi-use public forest and stopping them, risking arrest in their quest to maintain a “Peoples’ Moratorium” in effect since mid-June. Calfire “paused” logging operations in the Caspar 500 timber harvest plan (THP), site of the now famous hundred year old redwood “Mama Tree”, after protectors nonviolently confronted loggers during tree falling. Since then, operations on all THPs in Jackson have been halted by forest protectors’ physical presence on active plans.
Road blocks were placed in three locations before dawn on Monday and Tuesday to prevent entry into Soda Gulch, after citizen monitors discovered road building and tree falling commencing there. A woman locked into a steel device flanked by supporters at Road 111, leading from highway 20 into the THP said, “No one should be using this road”. Logging had begun but was stopped by mid-morning after protectors arrived on site.
Road 111 has over fifty ‘map points’ requiring repair and is a “mess”, says long time forest observer and Albion resident Linda Perkins. “It was built by Jackson when they were logging the residual old growth in the area. It was badly built – by bulldozers – over extremely unstable slopes and has now, for decades, been badly maintained. At this point, repairing it requires so much dirt moving that the ‘fixes’ may actually create more impacts to the streams than they will fix. Instead of these attempts at reconstruction, this road needs to be abandoned.”
The engineering geologist’s report for the California Geological Survey noted that, due to large amounts of fill in the channel upstream, the stream morphology was “somewhat deranged [sic]”.
Located west of Willits and about three hours north of San Francisco, THP 1-20-00041 MEN aka Soda Gulch, is one of six plans activists are watching closely in Jackson to protect dwindling stands of mature second growth redwood and hardwoods threatened by herbicides in addition to Sudden Oak Death. The 440 acre plan is considered egregious for its poor roads and proposed massive herbicide use that activists say is unfortunately typical of JDSF’s poor management at taxpayers’ expense.
Jackson Forest stretches some twenty miles along both sides of Highway 20 between Willits and Ft. Bragg. Tourism and recreation now bring in six times more revenue than timber sales, most of which is recycled into Calfire’s JDSF management and fire fighting budget.
Herbicide treatment is expected to kill 90% of the tanoak trees up to 12” in diameter on 110 acres, comprising almost a quarter of the THP, mostly by injecting Imazapyr into the trunks through a gash in the bark. Larger hardwoods may also be destroyed. The ubiquitous method known as “hack and squirt” causes an explosion of unregulated cell growth that slowly kills the trees, leaving many dead and standing, constituting a fire hazard.
Repeated herbicide applications may occur at anytime for years. Once a staple of Indigenous nutrition, tan oak acorns are still a vital food source for wildlife and an integral part of the native landscape. 1947 photographs looked up by the plan’s Registered Professional Forester, Kirk O”Dwyer, show “a substantial hardwood presence, visible in areas between the [Old Growth] conifer overstory”. Traditionally, Pomo and Yuki peoples planted and tended tan oak “orchards” to sustain themselves, of which these imperiled groves may be remnants.
The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest is calling for a moratorium on logging activities in JDSF, based on the contention that the forest is being so badly managed and is out of touch with current realities of climate change, the need to sequester carbon and to respect Native American heritage, as to require a total repurposing of its mission as a 50,000 acre Reserve.