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#California: Tree sitters protest Sierra Pacific Industries clearcut logging – Camp fire smoke: A constant reminder lives are on the line

On November 16, Forest Defenders in Humboldt County took to the trees on forestland owned by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), California’s most massive clear cutter and largest landowner. They are defending old growth and mature trees on a timber plan very close to where they have been defending forests on Humboldt Redwood Company land. The site is deep in the forest, and the activists are risking arrest to call attention to corporate logging of large, fire-resistant trees, damage to water quality, and other destructive environmental impacts. 

Originally published by Indybay.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

North Coast Forest defenders are perched 100 ft up in a tree-sit protesting Sierra Pacific Industries’ (SPI) clear-cut logging in the Mattole River watershed. The site is deep in the forest, and the activists are risking arrest to call attention to corporate logging of large, fire resistant trees, damage to water quality and other destructive environmental impacts. 

In a daring attempt to slow down the destruction, activists climbed one hundred feet into the canopy of one of the threatened trees during the morning twilight hours on Friday. A bold forest defender who goes by the moniker of “Oats” is now living in this ancient tree. 

Image: Intrepid tree-sitter looking out over the forested landscape on SPI land in the Mattole River watershed.

For more than six years, protestors have been setting up blockades on the main access road into this area. Now, SPI has gained access with the help of the neighboring landowner Humboldt Redwood Co.’s (HRC) private security, and has begun the process of clear cutting a timber harvest unit which contains large, old trees that pre-date the state of California. 

Over the past decade and longer, local activists have focused on challenging Humboldt Redwood Co.’s logging plans within the Mattole watershed. However, SPI also owns hundreds of acres in Humboldt County, though most of their holdings are in the Sierra. With over one million acres of forestland, SPI is the largest private landowner in California, and is the most prolific clearcutter.


When asked why they are taking direct action against SPI, a bold forest defender who goes by the moniker of Oats replied, “The smoke from the devastating Camp Fire fills the air here, providing a constant reminder that lives are on the line. The health of these fire resistant forests is crucial to protecting the health of our planet both locally and globally. This type of timber extraction leaves the forest slashed, dried out and very fire prone.”

Intact, diverse forests are less prone to fire, and clearcutting leads to plantation forestry, much more vulnerable to wildfires. As well, old stands of temperate rainforest, increasingly rare, but still found in the Mattole watershed, stand as a safeguard against climate change because they sequester carbon dioxide at higher rates per acre than any other forest type.

Oats went on to say, “It is clear at this point that despite the rarity of older forest stands, corporations like SPI, if left unchecked, will continue to strip the land until there is nothing left. No one knows how forest regrowth will fare in the face of continued climate change.”

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