WILLITS, 4/9/21 — Protesters, aided by Earth First, have begun a tree sit in the western portion of Jackson Demonstration State Forest, against Cal Fire’s plans to log significant portions of the forest, asking that Cal Fire return to the table for talks. The Forest is a working “demonstration forest,” meaning that unlike in a typical state park, it was actually set up as a place for Cal Fire (AKA the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) to hone and practice logging techniques with the goal of demonstrating best practices for sustainable forestry.
However, in recent years this state goal of the forest has come into question, and organizations, including the Mendocino Trail Stewards, and the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, have asked for modifications. However, the Trail Stewards have made clear that they are not affiliated with the protest and do not as a group support the protesters.* One proposal from conservation groups asks that the western section of the Demonstration Forest be turned into a preserve, rather than a working forest.
Here’s the press release from the protesters:
Redwood Nation Earth First! RNEF!
Tree Sit Goes Up in Jackson State Forest
Locals Call on Calfire to Stop the Cutting, Start Talking
Caspar CA –At dawn this morning a small platform with a tree sitter perched atop it could be spotted 65 feet up in the tall redwood tree affectionately known to locals as the Mamma Tree. Located in the heart of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), near the tiny town of Caspar, the Mamma Tree is at the center of a passionate controversy, familiar not only to Mendocino County residents but to State, National, and Global communities as well: to cut or not to cut down big old trees. Are such trees more important to keep standing for their carbon sequestration, cultural, environmental and recreational values or for business and profit, to be converted into redwood decking and fancy houses?With logging imminent and no legal recourse yet in sight, a tree sitter calling himself Greasy Pete climbed into Mama tree and has taken up residence, commenting: “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.” A long banner suspended from the platform reads: “Save and Protect Jackson State, the Forest of the People”, also bearing the message: “If a tree falls in the forest We, the Concerned Citizens, are here and we would hear it!”Standing at 77” dbh (diameter at breast height) just off a well used trail, Mamma Tree is marked for cut, a blue line spray painted around her approximately 240” circumference. According to Calfire – the managing agency for THPs including in JDSF- coring shows the Mama Tree is just under 200 years old, an age most would consider Old Growth. Mama is in the growth stage known scientifically as mid-to-late Seral, when redwoods acquire the characteristic large limbs and craggy cavities that make good habitat for Spotted Owls and other endangered species. Many people visiting the area express shock that trees as big and old as this, especially in a publicly owned forest, would be cut down, calling it “mind boggling”.Many of the Mama Tree’s nearby 100-plus year old relatives are also marked for cut and have been sold to Willits Redwood Company, owned by ex-Willits Mayor Bruce Burton and partner Chris Baldo. Anderson Logging is the LTO (licensed timber operator) contracted to cut the trees and haul the logs inland over highway 20 to the Willits Redwood log deck near the intersection with Willits’ Main St. (formerly 101). Logging in the 48,000 acre mixed use State Forest accelerated under former President Trump and now impinges on recreational and residential uses, coming right ‘up to the bed sheets’ of campsites, trails and adjacent private homes. Notably, THPs and logging roads impact historic Indigenous trails and archeological sites. Although supposedly protected by confidentially laws, the significance and extent of sites are often minimized and underprotected, resulting in financial gain for contractors and the State.JDSF has been owned by the State of California since 1948. It provides clean, green, affordable outdoor recreation, habitat for rare and endangered species, clean water, fresh air, and urgently needed carbon sequestration. Originally dedicated to the demonstration of sustainable forest practices, restoration and recreation, the timber industry has taken full advantage of the public trust. Today, over half the area has been logged multiple times. Continued logging on the steep and fragile slopes of the Noyo River, Big River and Little River and tributaries crisscrossing Jackson, threatens already precarious runs of Coho and Steelhead salmon with increased erosion, siltation and low water levels.The effort to protect these forests is community based and multigenerational- local children have been actively involved in the efforts to save the Mamma Tree and her family, using yarn to attach art work with heartfelt messages and pleas to save the trees which are their heritage as citizens. “I grew up in Nature, in the forest”, said nine-year-old Rowan, who attended the nonviolence training offered to activists last week. “I’m a super tree lover so I want to protect it”.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that the Trail Stewards were “backing” the protest. A representative of the Stewards made clear to us that they do not back, nor have they lent any material support, to the protesters. We apologize for the error.
Cut the tree down!! Can guarantee they will find another place to sit.,,
I guess these tree sitters enjoy wildfire devastation. If we don’t prune and maintain our forests, they’re doomed to wildfire.
You should learn the facts. Big Trees basically prevent fires, they don’t cause them. When you cut trees and a forest like this one a brush patch wants to move in. It’s these former logged areas full of fast growing brush with a dead understory that are so dangerous The state is full of them. You could say logging causes forest fires without stretching the truth. We have to log but don’t pretend logging is the answer— it’s the problem. These brush patches have zero economic value or less in many cases, meaning there is nobody to pay the bill for former clearcut areas. Old forests almost never are the ones burning. JDSF is likely to be different as the loggers are likely required to replant over the course of years? We need to know, but the local media is unlikely to tell us. Kudos to The Voice for actually writing about this subject over the past few months, rather than just relying on articles in the PD and press releases as everybody else is doing . This is an issue that needs dug into and paid attention to, not just reacted to.
Logging and maintaining our forests are the only way we can protect them and the communities around them. Old growth, second growth, reprod, root systems or brush it all burns. Old trees become infested with bugs that spread to everything. If it’s already burnt there’s a small window of opportunity to harvest before bugs and fungus moves in and infects all the seedlings to be planted.
After the last devastating summer we’ve had logging is the only way to clear out the damaged and start new.
Log it or lose it.
As President of the Mendocino Trail Stewards, we neither condone nor disavow this action. We are 100% in support of its aims, but we are a broad and diverse organization that is not in agreement as to whether this is the proper course of action. We did not organize it, nor, as an organization offer any material support to it. What individual members do is up to them.
However, in response to the above wildfire comment, all of the evidence confirms that cutting the biggest trees out of a forest does not improve wildfire resiliency. These are the very trees that will survive, as was shown in the Big Basin fire last year. A tour of the Caspar 500 THP reveals tens of thousands of small trees that are not marked for cut. These fields of kindling need to be removed to reduce wildfire risk, not the trees with the thickest bark that provide the most shade. We most certainly need to do conservation work–tons of it! But that is not what is being proposed here.
The article fails to give accurate information, yet portends to inform us ofunsubstantiated facts. Sad this kind of click bate exists.
The article is just a reprint of a press release and says as much. Also, you don’t know how to spell “bait”.
You can’t talk forest stewardship to Druids, unless they themselves are managing their own timberland—in which case they might just clearcut it, as the former Northwest Director of the Sierra Clib did on his timberland.
This forest was supposed to be where studies were done on renewable resources and proper logging to help keep a forest healthy and alive.
This “Greasy Pete” character is not “The Lorax” his woke earth first buddies canceled him….remember so this must be a worm trying to infect the wood of a tree that’s been marked for removal because it has this huge growth infecting it hanging on ropes.
Let the proper people handle things like this and Perdy quick they would figure out it’s not healthy.
As an RPF in California, it’s mind boggling how self centered corporate Environmental activists are and how they use dogmatic sciencism to perpetrate false narratives. Cut that tree down, you know what will happen? Life will go on. Resources will remain protected. Big Basin burned, some large old trees will survive, but the wildlife habitat for NSO and MM, that’s gone for 100 years+. These corporate environmental activists think they’re helping the forest, they’re only stroking their egos.
“I’m and RPF, I know more than you and environmentalists are just out to get you” is such and original take. Thanks so much for adding your useful insight to this conversation.
This person is using revers english to invent an idea. What is corporate Environmental activists supposed to mean ? What kind of anger is behind that phrase. why the pronoun ” “corporate “? Is that supposed to mean bad ? Is this just another way to make victims out of the destroyers of the forest ?
Could RR please explain the new phrase he introduced into this discussion ?
Most so-called “EF” activists are from the east coast and L.A. They know little about our eco systems. They just want to play social justice warrior. I email EF and they never respond. They are a clique of SJW’s from Portland, Vermont (Marxist Bernie country) and Los Angeles who know more about urban park bathrooms than redwoods or sequoias. They care more about printing tired leftwing zines and never bathing (when Netflix isn’t available). Total frauds. If you care about a forest, live in it and defend it like it’s your home, or go to indigenous lands where they need help stopping multinationals (if they invite you, of course). Otherwise, stay home in mom and dad’s comfy basement and play Fortnite all day long.
PS This is state property so we all “own” a bit, but outsiders need not apply to defend.
One of the impacts of cutting the big trees is the removal of nature’s moisture catchment system. Saplings and underbrush just can’t do the job. These aren’t tree farms. They are diverse plant, animal and soil communities that cannot be reduced to a handy “fire prevention” formula to justify over-logging.
The methods of trying to make a point are lost in “grandstanding” I agree with attempting to save the larger trees that remain fully healthy. I also agree with the previous comments that a ton of stewardship research needs to be done before any effective protests are legitimate. Even the young brush will effectively store carbon, just not the best way to do it! There are effective ways to do proper stewardship logging, controlled burning and removing rogue or “weed” species from quality growth.
Thanks for this discussion. Habitat is a big concern of mine, and these old trees ought to be cared for, with their environs, for that aim. The way we humans rely on the wild for our food chain and clean air to breathe is too complex to explain here, but it’s undeniable. And for me perhaps an even more pressing issue is the approaching fire season. I’d love to see every man who can wield a tractor or an axe, including every logging company, hard at work to clean and clear the forests and the backyards of California, lest we face a continued apocalypse of wildfire. Yes, the desertification of California is happening perhaps no matter what we do. But it can be mitigated; and crops, homes and people can be spared, if we can keep educating ourselves and do the work. Old forests are exactly the moist world we are losing so quickly, and we ought to preserve them with everything we’ve got, according to the research I’ve seen. Proscribed burns can be resurrected to our great benefit, and the people who know these ways are all around us. Thanks to everyone here, everyone, scratching our heads and trying to do the right thing.
The truth is old growth trees don’t burn but contribute their help via the roots etc to the Forrest. The drought is contributing to desertification and clear cutting helps such useless acts of greed. We will be nothing when we have destroyed nature.
See articles by George Wuertner on