An environmental group protested Mendocino Redwood Company’s practice of hack n’ squirt last weekend, by gathering at MRC’s log deck in Ukiah and then holding a ceremony. Here’s the press release, with details about the ceremony and who was there:
UKIAH 4/5/2017 — The “Walk to Heal the Forest”, begun in Comptche last fall, received a ceremonial sendoff from Ukiah on Sunday, April 2, on its next leg through Willits to Richardson Grove. The intention of the “Log Walk”, organized by the Pacific Alliance for Indigenous and Environmental Action and ACORN, is to raise awareness of the importance of the Pacific Coast Rainforests and Indigenous cultures in the context of climate change.
Over thirty-five people from Pt. Arena to Trinidad gathered to join the journey and wish the Log Walkers well, led by the Pt. Arena Band of Pomo Indians elder David Smith, daughter Bernadette and children, Yurok tribal elder Jene McCovey, members of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and a member of the Lakota-Sioux from the Standing Rock campaign.
The Walkers carry a redwood log to symbolize the regions’ signature specie and tanoak branches to call attention to the plight of the acorn trees. Tanoaks were and still are held sacred and considered an important food source by California Indigenous Tribes. A banner proclaimed “#AcornsMatter” and signs read “Stop Hack and Squirt—Get Herbicides Out of our Forests”.
Despite public outcry and the 2016 passage of Measure V declaring the leaving of dead standing trees for over ninety days illegal, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) continues to apply the cell-disrupting herbicide, Imazapyr, using a method known as Hack’n’Squirt, to kill millions of tanoaks across thousands of acres of forestlands in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties, creating a patchwork of dead standing trees that lasts for decades.
In the tradition made famous by Martin Luther in 1517 when he affixed his “Edict of Worms” to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany almost exactly 500 years ago, demanding a halt to the practice of selling ‘Indulgences’ in order to have sins overlooked, the delegation posted a large scrolled “Declaration” on MRC’s locked front gate of the Ukiah log deck. Addressed to the Mendocino Redwood Company, The Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance Certifiers, the Declaration called for the immediate cessation of herbicide use on MRC forestlands or the loss of the Company’s lucrative Sustainable Certification label.
“Certified Sustainability labels and carbon credits are like modern day ‘Indulgences’, said Marggie Chambers of Comptche, “when they’re used to greenwash timber companies’ use of poisons and other harmful and unsustainable practices. The MRC shouldn’t be profiting from these bad practices at the expense of the public and the environment”.
Calling the overwhelming vote for Measure V a “clear expression of the public’s will that the practice of hack and squirt be stopped”, the Declaration cited the Company’s “failure to operate in harmony with community norms as required by Sustainable Certification criteria” and said the Company’s continued flouting of a local Ordinance showed the company’s “complete disregard” for community standards. The MRC/HRC website describes its policies as “Socially Beneficial… respecting the rights of workers, communities and indigenous people.”
After being walked through Willits to the appreciative honks of drivers, the log was transferred to the warm welcome of Humboldt County Pacific Alliance members waiting in Richardson Grove. Under the canopy of ancient redwoods, prayers were sung and the Pomo youth danced in thanks for the beauty of the earth and the abundance of water.
Data from US Geological Drought Maps show the impressive extent to which Pacific Coast forests buffer the effects of extreme droughts and floods brought on by climate change. Though fragmented, their old growth trees and cooling canopies provide the largest carbon sinks of any forests on the planet. The traditional ecological knowledge and seventh generation perspective of Indigenous peoples are needed to reconnect the landscape and communities.
The next Walk through Richardson Grove and Avenue of the Giants to the South Fork Eel River will be announced.