For immediate release
Oct. 21, 2022
Contact: Naomi Wagner 707-502-6181, 707-459-0548
“Hell No!” Rally at Ft. Bragg CalFire Office
Community Rejects CalFire Proposal for Co-management of Caspar 500 in Jackson Forest
Ft. Bragg, CA –On Thursday over fifty people with signs and banners proclaiming “Pomo Land Back” and “Hands Off Caspar,” rallied at the Town Hall in Ft. Bragg, then marched to the CalFire office to protest vehemently against the regulatory agency’s recent bogus proposal for “co-management” with local Indigenous tribes, now policy of the state of California, of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF)
CalFire’s take-or-leave it proposal, delivered in a Sept. 26 letter from Registered Professional Forester Kirk O’Dwyer to Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians Historic Preservation Officer, Priscilla Hunter, offered only 75 acres for tribal co-management on a portion of the hotly contested “Caspar 500” 500 acre timber harvest plan (THP) least valued by the contracted timber company and failed even to mention protection of numerous sacred and cultural sites that are at the heart of tribal concerns.
Native activists and community members expressed outrage at the “broken promise” of CalFire’s much vaunted “vision” for co-management of Jackson, the ancestral home of the northern Yuki and Pomo tribes. For Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, a CalFire proposed vision that does not address ancestral cultural site protection measures is not a vision at all acceptable to the Native community.
Her position is that years of logging, road building and skid trail operations straight through ancestral sites must be halted. In the Caspar 500 and Soda Gulch THP’s, both already approved for logging operations, road building is once again proposed straight through archaeological sites. Also currently under development by CalFire is a proposed THP that would place a road straight though Three Chop Village, which is considered the most important archaeological site in all of Mendocino County. So although Tribal Co-Management is given lip service in the CalFire Vision Statement in reality they are proceeding to unilaterally propose THP operations that continue to desecrate Sacred Sites.
The crowd chanted, prayed and beseeched CalFire to change its policies and take the opportunity to implement true equal co-management with the Tribes throughout the 50,000 acre publicly owned forest.
Four people locked themselves together in front of CalFire’s front doors, which displayed a “Closed” sign during regular working hours, using the metal lockboxes that are the hallmark of Earth First! style nonviolent Civil Disobedience. No arrests were made.
“This lockdown may be symbolic today,” long time forest activist Naomi Wagner told CalFire, “but if you try to cut trees in Caspar 500, or bulldoze Sacred Sites, this will be our response.” Wagner called CalFire a “captured regulatory agency controlled by the timber industry” and called out Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC), the largest forestland owner in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, specifically. MRC logs in Jackson, sits on the Jackson Advisory Committee and on the California Board of Forestry. She called for a buy-out of Willits Redwood Company’s contract on Caspar 500. CalFire was allocated $10 million for non-timber harvest related expenses this year and is slated to receive another $10 million in 2023. Girvin said Calfire is still preparing THPs however, without co-management plans or tribal consent.
Thirteen-year-old middle school student Ravel spoke passionately to the urgent need to protect redwoods for carbon storage and climate stabilization and queried CalFire: “We know you [Calfire] know about climate change, but do you care? Do you care about my future and your children’s future?”
Anna Marie Stenberg, one of the four locking down, promised CalFire the people wouldn’t stop protesting until their demands were met and a “moratorium” on cutting trees was reinstated so that dialogue could resume. CalFire had paused logging activities for some months during government-to-government negotiations with the Pomo but recently reneged, giving timber companies the green light to log again. This betrayal of good faith prompted Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Priscilla Hunter to demand: “No more broken promises!” Larry Aguilera, also locked down, prayed for help to win CalFire over to a better management system for the forest, one dedicated to restoration and protection for all.
The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest issued a response opposing the terms of the O’Dwyer letter, calling for a moratorium and enumerating six specific demands.
- Restoration of good-faith negotiations with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
- Protection measures for sacred sites
- Implementation of the Betts Commission Report (1999) recommendations to protect the many sacred sites within JDSF, including the Caspar 500 and Soda Gulch sites.
- An Indigenous model of management and scientific inquiry within JDSF that prioritizes forest protection and restoration over profit.
- Cessation of all herbicide and hack and squirt operations in JDSF in support of both Tribal cultural values and the goals of the Measure V Initiative passed overwhelmingly by the citizens of Mendocino County.