by Mendocino Forest Defenders Earth First! Newswire 7.20.16
Ukiah, CA- Calling for an end to Mendocino Redwood Company’s dead-end logging practices, twenty five protesters held signs and used large banners to blockade both entrances to MRC’s logging deck in Ukiah, CA. Six logging trucks stacked with redwood poles were stopped for over an hour. Protesters are demanding an end to Hack and Squirt, a practice which MRC continues to use in the face of measure V’s overwhelming voter mandate in mendocino county. MRC company officials met protesters at the second gate blockade, and made statements defending the herbicide practice, ignoring the will of the people.
The issue stems from the application of toxic herbicides on forests, killing so-called non-marketable hardwoods that are then left standing in place. Supervisors certified Measure V on July 12, just prior to the elapse of the required 30-day waiting period following the publishing of the official tally, thus clearing the way for the Measure to become law on July 22.
While Measure V focuses solely on the fire dangers posed by millions of dead standing trees in the fifth year of California’s drought, many people are equally concerned about the health and safety hazards of the herbicides themselves. However, local authority to regulate herbicides was usurped in the early 1990s by the State of California after a ballot initiative banning aerial spraying passed by Mendocino County voters was overturned by the Legislature. Public opinion finally forced cessation of the practice.
Speakers at the protest underscored the severe health hazards of herbicide use to the environment, as well as the workers and residents, from chemicals such as Imazypr, Glyphosate (brand name Roundup) and Trichlopyr (Garlon). Polly Girvin, legal aide for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, will document the devastating health effects on Latino workers who are among the most vulnerable to exploitation and who often suffer from chemical contamination associated with birth defects, which have been found to occur with higher frequency than in other populations. Those workers also have little recourse against wage theft and other labor violations.
Linda Perkins and Bill Heil addressed threats posed to the watershed by poisonous herbicides. The two well-known forest activists from Albion have long questioned Mendocino Redwood Co.’s (MRC) right to retain its profitable “certified sustainable” label, despite using herbicides.
“MRC makes money by using poisons, instead of cutting down and removing the trees. The Company claims manual removal would cost too much”, said Perkins. “Regardless of how they are killed, environmentalists oppose the whole-sale decimation of the tan oaks”, she emphasized, describing them as “nurse trees playing an important role in protecting the soil and encouraging biodiversity, which creates a healthier forest, rather than mono-cropping redwoods like tree farms.”
Bob Simpson, former CEO of MRC’s predecessor, Louisiana Pacific, recently stunned the public with his pro-Measure V statements before the vote, claiming tan oaks are “the most important trees in the forest” and decrying their mass annihilation. MRC had said they would phase out poisons, but instead, are actually applying more concentrated chemicals over a wider area. MRC, while not the sole timber company operating in the County, is the most egregious user of herbicides based on acreage, dousing thousands of acres of forestlands in 2016 alone.
Residents urged the Supervisors to be proactive in enforcing Measure V and holding the Company accountable for exacerbating the fire danger by continuing to create more dead standing trees, in the face of a clear voter mandate to stop. They also demand a Resolution for Full Disclosure to ensure that herbicide users notify the public before application. Currently, the contractor is only required to report information after herbicides have already been applied.
The message was carried from the County Seat directly to Mendocino Redwood Company at its mill site on North Sate St. where a protest was held under the banner of: “Let Our Forests Heal”. Activists call on MRC to stop poisoning Mendocino forests and workers and to adopt restorative forest practices.
“MRC masquerades as a sustainable business but it’s just an image, not the reality”, said longtime lay forestry expert, Bill Heil. “Their brand of greenwash is hogwash”.
- Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
- Save Our Little Lake Valley
- Redwood Nation Earth First!
- Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
- Mendocino Environmental Center
- Mendocino Forest Defenders