A New Era of Timber Wars?

By
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Several trusted sources have reported that Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) has hired Lear Asset Management Company , a private security firm, to conduct paramilitary operations against forest protectors in the Mattole watershed. Last week, Lear security guards turned out in full force using dogs and tasers, ultimately making a citizen’s arrest of three people.

One forest defender reported that Lear employees were shaking the life line of an occupied treesit, risking the life of the treesitter that eventually came down and was “arrested” by Lear employees.

What’s at Stake?

The Mattole watershed has a unique forest composed of a mix of fir and hardwood compared with the majority of surrounding predominantly redwood forests in the region. A few years ago, HRC had promised to collaborate with local stakeholders, including EPIC, regarding management of the un-entered primary forests in the Mattole. These forests arguably fall outside of the company’s old-growth retention policy, but to EPIC and forest defenders, these areas warrant protection given their unique and wild nature. However, HRC never made any official commitments to protect these lands, insisting that the community should trust its promises. Now, paramilitary forces are being sent in to extract anyone in the way of the company’s logging plans. EPIC is disturbed by the sudden unrest in the forest and the heavy-handed tactics, reminiscent of Hurwitz’s PALCO.

History and Ownership

In 2008, after Pacific Lumber Company liquidated its assets, turning old growth redwood forests into denuded clearcuts, the Fisher family—owners of the Gap Clothing Company—took ownership of the 209,300 acres of redwood and Douglas-fir forests. The Gap/Fisher family gave the company a new name, Humboldt Redwood Company, and a new public relations strategy: to make nice within the community that had been left in shambles after Pacific Lumber went bankrupt. EPIC Has been closely following this controversy and will continue to monitor the project site. To read more about what’s going on in the Mattole, check out our previous articles: Road to Nowhere – HRC making a mess of the Mattole, Dead End – HRC Mattole Road Proposal Fails to Make the Grade & Tour of the Mattole Timber Harvest Plans.

A Call to Action

There are a few ways that you can support the Mattole River Watershed.

  1. Attend the rally at Humboldt Redwood Company office in Scotia for the preservation of the Mattoles’ ancient forests. The rally will be at 10am on Thursday, August 2nd.
  2. Call on Humboldt Redwood Company to sever its contract with Lear and find a way to work with community members in a humane manner.
  3. Post your photos of Humboldt Redwood Company’s logging and private security practices on social media. Tag it with #wearegapinc and #defendthesacred