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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Some Earth First! Journal Love for Humboldt's Redwoods...

Treesitting Works!
A Breakthrough in the Battle Against PL/MAXXAM

By Jeff Muskrat

It’s official! Or, at least as official as you can get as far as a promise from another greenwashed capitalist corporation. Nanning Creek and Fern Gully have been promised by Mendocino Redwoods Company (MRC) head forester Mike Jani to be “protected.” It’s hard to believe this news, or to accept this promise from an employee of a corporation owned by GAP (the clothing company).
Mike Jani Meets Treesitters

I have to admit that I am beyond shocked. It’s almost as if I will wake up from this dream where dedicated activists actually win the three- and six-year long battles against the infamous, now bankrupt, Pacific Lumber (PL), which was recently bought by Humboldt Redwoods Company (HRC). I’m even more shocked about how cooperative and helpful MRC/HRC has been. Good intentions and public relations aside, I only hope MRC/HRC keeps its word about not cutting our old growth. I still don’t agree with what MRC/HRC calls sustainable forestry, which actually uses mono-cropped trees along with herbicides and clearcuts to manage crippled forests.

All company politics aside, we have such a noble victory to celebrate! So many wonderful and dedicated people were involved in the Nanning Creek and Fern Gully actions over these years, whether it was local businesses who donated the bread of the movement, or specialized and daring climbers who risked their lives to be the first up in these amazing trees. Thanks to the many caring and concerned community members to equip treesitters with gear to make them safe and comfortable, and to those who spent hundreds of nights on the trails, hiking in gear and supplies instead of sleeping.

Above all (great pun), there were the treesitters. These are the true heroes and heroines of both campaigns. Imagine the patience and dedication it took for these people to stay calmly and peacefully in a coast redwood hundreds of feet above the ground to eat food that was dumpstered or sometimes half-eaten by tree critters, like pesky-but-cute flying squirrels. To drink creek water full of tannins and silt. To suffer from dysentery and persistent staph infections. To wonder how long it will be until you see someone from the ground, or sit hoping the loggers won’t return to hurl insults and shoot their guns in the air.

Not everyone involved in forest defense can be a treesitter. It takes a very special type of person. I could never stay long myself; I got too stir crazy while trying to live portions of my life on a four-by-eight-foot sheet of plywood suspended high above the ground. I, along with those others who did the ground work and understood the sanctity of what we were trying to accomplish, always felt that the sitters deserved the best that we could get for them.

Our tactics were never compromised. Our actions were always peaceful and nonviolent actions. Safety was of the utmost importance, especially concerning climbing, dealing with the cops and social interactions.

So many beautiful, wonderful and diverse activists came through these majestic forests. It’s amazing to meet people who are our universal brothers and sisters, who have the same goals and passions for protecting life and doing what is truly right. It is easier to advocate for humans and animals, because most human beings can feel compassion for both. It is harder for our society to recognize the importance of protecting all lifeforms, including trees, because most people are too busy to consider their individual impact on the larger scale of existence. There is nothing sacred, unfortunately, for the few who control us and our environment.

We had so much diversity in our movement, particularly for the Pacific Northwest. We had international sitters. We had sitters who would stay one night, others who would stay for a few years. We had visitors who climbed hundreds of feet for an interview or just to give a treesitter a hug. Complete strangers would hike out to bring food, dump out piss jugs, bury shitbuckets and have the time of their lives dodging cops and security on the way up or down steep hills. People sent up cookies baked with love and kindness. Lifelong friendships were forged. Many of us would have returned season after season, year after year and even decade after decade to defend both of the groves.

Treesitting was never a guaranteed solution to prevent the destruction of both groves. If we waited out the time limits that the groves were allowed by the California Department of Forestry (CDF), there was still the uncertainty of what would happen in the future. PL ignored offers to buy the groves, even from major conservation groups. However, PL’s plunder of the forests finally timed out.

Sadly, most of the more than 200,000 acres owned by PL has been stripped of the old growth, along with much of the second growth. In 2008, more than 22 years after MAXXAM took control of the once local and somewhat sustainable PL, 10 years after forest defender “Gypsy” was murdered by a tree faller, Humboldt forest defenders can say that treesitting does work. It seems to me that peaceful, nonviolent actions can be safer, sustainable and most effective high in the branches of the trees, protected and free from the chaos and confusion of society below.

May the forests be with you, may you be the light you wish to see in this world, and may you seize the opportunity to do something courageous, inspiring and creative to build the world we all dream of and deserve.

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Photo by David "Soul" Askaripour,


W.C.H said...

Beautiful words. for me was a pleasure. All my love for you, HT and everyone overthere.

Mucho Amor!!!


Jeff Muskrat said...

We love you too, Winter. We miss you much!