Letter to the Editor
Anderson Valley Advertiser
August 1, 2001
Albion, California, is a place where 80 years ago thousands of acres of ancient redwood forests flourished and supported diverse wildlife, plant and fungus populations. Today, after nearly 60 years of industrial logging, what remains is a checkerboard of cut forest lands and a struggling watershed and river drainage. Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) owns 235,000 acres of Mendocino County forestland. In the two years since MRC bought these forests they have filed to log 40% of their land holdings.
On Thursday, July 19, 2001, at around 5arn, a group of 40 concerned community members arrived at the gate to Timber Harvest Plan (THP) 424MEN, located above Enchanted Meadow in the immediate Albion river drainage. Blocking the gate with their bodies, the group of varied people, including residents, travelers, women, children and men, continued for nearly five hours. Upon arriving at the blockade, Sheriff's Sgt. D.J. Miller allowed each protester to tell why there were there. At 11 am the Sergeant declared the blockade an "unlawful assembly," and told the protesters to "disperse or get arrested."
The same day a group of around 15 people went into the forest to talk to the loggers and stop them from falling the huge redwoods. While the protesters were in the forest they documented several destructive forest practices, including four huge second growth trees felled over a V-shaped streambed. One of these huge trees fractured all the way through as it fell into the stream. Very little of this huge 200-year old (or older) tree could be salvaged. Most of the loggers turned off their chainsaws when they learned there were people in the forest nearby. One logger in particular, Javier, ran up to inform the other loggers that there were people in the forest near the falling trees.
On Friday, July 20, around 5 am, another group of concerned citizens gathered at the same gate to THP 424MEN. This time when the first fallers arrived, there were only seven protesters. The logger in the first truck declared he was going to visit a nearby family and was let through the blockade. The second faller decided to try to go past the people standing in front of his pickup, speeding up to the protesters at an intimidating speed and stopping inches from one person's body. He then proceeded to pop his clutch and jarred into this person twice. The third time the truck struck this person he was forced back five feet. The other people at the protest tried to get the logger to stop for a minute and talk. At this point the logger said, "I don't see no bodies, but I will take out some heads if I have to." The protesters then let the truck through. A report has been filed with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department regarding this assault.
At about 6:30 am Sheriff Edwards arrived and asked the protesters to disperse. Beth Bosk informed him of the procedure his sergeant used, and Edwards followed it, letting each protester voice their opposition to the THP. At 7 am, Edwards declared the protest an "unlawful assembly" and told the protesters to disperse or get arrested. The same day a group of concerned community members rallied at the Mendocino Redwood Company at their field office on Highway 1 and Ocean Drive in Fort Bragg. The protesters held banners, played music, exchanged news, and talked with Mendocino Redwood Company employees and motorists who stopped to get involved.
On Monday, July 23, another rally at Mendocino Redwood Company was held. Nearly 40 people were involved and many more honked and gave thumbs up to the protesters.
Weekly rallies will take place on Mondays at noon at Highway 1 and Ocean Drive just south of the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg. All persons interested in this issue are invited. For more info call 707/961-0682. Avis Anderson and Andy Van Pelt Fort Bragg