Comptche, CA-Activists today blocked trucks and vehicles transporting logging crews, in a protest against Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC). The company uses a practice known as “Hack’n’Squirt” to kill hardwoods on their forest holdings.
Protesters called for a “lock’n’block” protest at noon at the gates of MRC Timber Harvest Plan #1-14-148 MEN, nicknamed “Half Way to Hell,” near the tiny town of Comptche, in the heart of southern Mendocino County.
On June 7, a two-thirds majority of voters in Mendocino County passed Measure V, declaring the practice of leaving of dead standing trees a public nuisance. Despite the overwhelming voter mandate, MRC continues the practice of dousing the forest with the chemical Imazypr, leaving thousands of tan oaks and other hardwoods dead but standing, exacerbating an already critically high fire danger by adding dry fuels to the forest during the fifth year of drought in California.
“We locked down today because MRC is continuing to hack and squirt after the people went to the ballot box and told them to stop. When the normal civil channels don’t work, that’s when you get civil disobedience and non-violent direct action,” said longtime County resident, Lara Anderson. “We’re putting our bodies on the line to stop this dangerous practice and to expose the MRC’s dead-end brand of forestry,” she said.
A large crowd of supporters carried signs with messages like “Poison is Bad Forestry”, “Fisher Family – Go Back to the Gap.” A large banner expressed the groups’ central demand, reading: “MRC Stop Hack’n’Squirt Now!”
Long-time forest activist Linda Perkins of Albion explained, “The ‘Half Way to Hell’ plan is 580 acres of total decimation. They are taking it down to the nub.” The plan includes three silvicultural prescriptions designated Group Selection, Transition and Variable Retention, all “forms of Even Age management leading to more tanoak growth, more poisoning and more dead, standing trees,” said Perkins.
“MRC is converting the forest to monoculture tree plantations, claiming restoration, but they’re actually doing the opposite, taking too much too fast, reducing diversity. This is bad for the earth as we know it. They should heed the will of the people or have their FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] Sustainable Certification revoked,” she concluded.
The plan also includes an unknown acreage of previously hacked and squirted hardwoods, which will become dead standing trees. The Company refuses to disclose to the public the locations where it is applying the poisons. Currently, the contractor is only required to report the use of chemicals to the Agriculture Department within thirty days after use. The Mendocino County Ag Commissioner has warned about breathing smoke from burning materials treated with Imazapyr. The Initiative was heavily backed by local volunteer firefighters.
Measure V is awaiting certification after the required thirty-day period following the election. Proponents are bracing for an expected lawsuit by MRC challenging the law.
Save Our Little Lake Valley
Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
Earth First! Mendocino
Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters