The following is a press release from Redwood Nation Earth First!:
The Forest Protectors of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) are declaring victory after the California State Board of Forestry placed an indefinite “hold” on all operations, pending Government to Government engagement. (see page 2 at this link) “From the very beginning our steadfast demand was for a Moratorium on the whole of JDSF to make room for government-to-government Co-management. We did it!”said long time Earth First! organizer, Naomi Wagner.
For the past year and a half this 47,000 acre publicly owned forest has been the center of an intense struggle against CalFire’s outdated management plan. The public campaign began in early 2021. The price of lumber had risen dramatically and CalFire had accelerated logging, targeting the most valuable large second growth redwood trees. The community became alarmed when CalFire approved a timber harvest plan close to the tiny coastal town of Caspar. With logging due to start there in mid- April, letters, phone calls and petitions decrying the impending cut were sent to elected officials and CalFire without success.
On Friday April 9, 2021 a tree sit went up in a beautiful second growth redwood marked for cut. The “Mama Tree” was occupied by a local High School student. On the following Monday, more than fifty locals came out to logging road 500 in Jackson State Forest in the wee hours of the morning to protect the trees. Many were ready to be arrested. (photo of April 12, 2021) All participants believed that in this time of absolute climate crisis, it is unconscionable to cut the old Redwood and Douglas Fir trees in California’s largest publicly owned State Forest. The old redwoods don’t burn easily and are the world’s best at carbon sequestration. From that day on Forest Protectors did daily pre dawn reconnaissance and blockaded gates to the area.
The whirlwind Campaign to Save Jackson State Forest grew exponentially, with rallies organized by activists and youth in Ft. Bragg, e-bikers monitoring logging plans and stopping them, an Action Camp open daily to educate Jackson visitors, activists who slept in the woods to stop pre-dawn crews arriving to cut, road blockades, numerous all-day nonviolence trainings and many press releases. A People’s Moratorium was established.
On June 15th and 16th, with CalFire personnel leading them in before daylight, loggers started taking down trees in the Caspar timber harvest plan. Protectors placed themselves between the trees and live chainsaws for two days. Logging was then paused by CalFire on the Caspar 500 plan. CalFire’s eyes turned inland to Chamberlain Creek, Red Tail and Soda Gulch, three previously approved timber harvest plans slated for cutting. Direct action moved inland.
To maintain the People’s Moratorium, blockades and protests continued into the fall and winter, protecting the trees and preventing further desecration of threatened Indigenous cultural and sacred sites. Faced with growing public outrage CalFire declared a “Hold” in operations. The State also declined to put new timber sales out for bid this year and allocated $10,000,000 to the JDSF budget for non-timber production use.
Last November Governor Newsom directed all State Lands Agencies to enter into Co-management agreements with Indigenous Tribes whose traditional lands are occupied by the State. Jackson is the ancestral territory of the Pomo and Coast Yuki Tribes, many of whose ancestors fled to the woods to escape genocide at the hands of State sanctioned militias in the mid-1800’s. The forest was once a major inland-coastal trading route, now recognized as a “cultural landscape”. Statement of Administration Policy Native American Ancestral Lands September 25, 2020
JDSF was established in 1947 under a Mandate to produce high quality lumber products. Forest Protectors envision an entirely new Mandate for the forest as a Preserve based on traditional ecological knowledge, cutting edge climate change science, and the principles of reverence, restoration, and recreation.
“We stood our ground and refused all of CalFire’s so-called offers of compromise”, said long-time Earth First! activist Anna Marie Stenberg. “After sixteen months of non-stop direct action we have achieved a moratorium and the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the State are in ongoing government-to-government negotiations.”.
Ever vigilant, Protectors promise to return to the forest if logging resumes.