Ukiah, CA— Tribal members and forest activists confront Mendocino Redwood Company at mill site, completing their four day, 54-mile “March to Let the Forest Heal”
The trek from Comptche to Ukiah called attention to Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC)’s ongoing practice of “Hack and Squirt”. The method uses the herbicide Imazapyr, injected into a wound, to kill millions of tan oaks and madrones, leaving a forest of standing dead trees. Roundup and Garlon are also used to kill brush, which is bulldozed into huge flammable “slash” piles throughout MRC’S 220,000 acre holdings in Mendocino County. Carrying a redwood log and dead tan oak branches to symbolize the destruction taking place in the forest, the marchers braved rain and traffic, including log trucks, along southern Mendocino County rural routes 128 and 253, eliciting “thumbs up” from drivers and picking up more marchers along the way. Led by an intrepid core including local grandmothers, the procession at times swelled to over twenty people walking together.
Marchers included Juan and Carlos from Puerto Rico and Brendan from Ohio, workers in sustainable agriculture and forestry. Juan and Carlos wanted to return a favor from Margie Chandler, a Comptche organic farmer and organizer of the March, for her help in a campaign to save forests in Puerto Rico while visiting the U.S. island last year.
The noon rally and ceremony at Alex Thomas Plaza in Ukiah welcomed the marchers and honored the trees and water on which all life depends. Speakers included Bernadette Smith, tribal member from the Manchester band of Pomo Indians, who spoke about her ancestral land being desecrated by Mendocino Redwood Company near the coastal town of Point Arena. She stated that MRC continues to destroy traditional acorn gathering grounds and poison the once abundant mature Tan Oaks trees her people have relied on as a staple food since time immemorial.
Albion resident and small mill owner Bill Heil debunked MRC’s “increasing tilt towards the heavy industrial management style of Sierra Pacific Industries”, in contrast with MRC’s “bogus claims of so-called green forestry”. MRC is certified “sustainable” by the Forest Stewardship Council, the green label fetching higher prices. “They’re doing something really destructive right now, called ‘whole tree logging’, Heil told supporters at a stop in Philo, “hauling un-limbed trees to the landings, disturbing the soil and making a mess that will wash into our creeks when the rains come, taking the herbicides with it.”
The Comptche, Philo, Navarro and Boonville triangle is in the heart of MRC lands and is dotted with dead standing trees.
Measure V, passed by a 62% vote in June to halt Hack’n’Squirt, is based on increased hazards to firefighters and public health and safety. Yet MRC has stated that V does not apply to them, arguing only the State has authority to regulate herbicide use. MRC has until Oct. 22 to file for an injunction against the public nuisance ordinance.
After the rally, the group proceeded to the MRC log deck, chanting “Stop the poisoning, let the forest heal!” Once in the main office at the mill site they confronted a company forester. When one of the children from the Manchester Point Arena Pomo Reservation posed the question “why are you guys doing this to our acorn trees?” the forester replied “Well for a variety of reasons, for one we’re trying to make more room for redwood to grow.”
Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
Manchester Band of Pomo Indians
Save Our Little Lake Valley
Earth First! Redwood Nation
Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
Mendocino Environmental Center