Of the Beacon

By Naomi Jarvi
Mendocino Beacon
August 30, 2001

Last Wednesday, residents from Albion protesting from the logging practices of Mendocino Redwood Co. visited the San Francisco offices of John Fisher, who manages the Fisher Family investments including MRC and The Gap.

They presented a list of demands, including an immediate end to all old growth logging and herbicide use, correcting current violations of the state Forest Practice Act, developing and making public a watershed plan for the Albion River including thorough and accurate information on timber volume, flora and fauna and developing a public plan to restore biodiversity.

In a press release, Albion Nation's Chris Skyhawk, a spokesperson for the protesters, said, "The Albion River forest claims the highest percentage of big trees left on Fisher holdings and is home to the last significant run of wild coho salmon in the entire county, and it's being hammered. It's the final nail, in the coffin of the redwood forest and its dependent species..."

Albion resident Linda Perkins said in the press release, "We have been asking MRC for a management plan for the Albion since they arrived here more than three years ago. We are still waiting."

In a telephone interview late last week, MRC Director of Stewardship Nancy Budge was asked if indeed there is a plan. She said an inventory of the Albion was done two years ago and is on MRC's Website, www.mrc.com. She said the inventory was collected using plotting and sampling methods.

Also on the Website, she said, is a watershed analysis with stream habitat information done a year ago by a hydrologist and fisheries biologist. Neither inventory or analysis is a plan.

Budge said the company's forest practices were reviewed by an independent organization, the Forest Stewardship Council which is endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and other organizations. She said MRC received certification from the council. last, year for being good stewards of the land.

Perkins, a forest advocate, said MRC is not living up to the terms of their forest certification. "They are apparently content to manage these forests as a tree farm with little regard for other forest values .. and have no plans for the recruitment of habitat that would protect and encourage old-growth dependent species."

Budge said, "We are spending $1 million on restoration this year." MRC is also doing a landscape plan project which will be ready by the end of the year. "This is an extensive study," she said, by a team including foresters and a wildlife biologist. The finished product will be community friendly with maps, not just data, she said.

"MRC is harvesting less volume than growth in Albion," Budge said. "We go beyond the Forest Practice Rules for the protection of old growth trees and fish bearing streams." She added, "All of our policies are on our Website."

Budge said, "I'd like to say we've been providing access to Albion and will take anyone where they want to go, including our critics." She said they have provided a lot of field trips and have held a community forum.

She reiterated, "There is an open invitation to contact forester Mike Jani at 485-6751 to have a field trip and look at anything that might be of concern."

The protesters later on Wednesday took their cause to the Presidio Heights home of Don Fisher, John's father, who was hosting a 150-person luncheon; according to the press release.

Shouldering funeral items including a coffin and tombstones, amidst drumming and singing, protesters placed the tombstones at the front gate of the Fisher house.

They then revved five chainsaws 21 drawing partygoers' attention while mourners dropped roses in front of the tombstones accusing the Fisher of extinguishing species and destroying public trust resources.

Mary Bull, of Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap, said Gap profits were down 51 percent and "maybe they'll start listening now."