Railway Blockade on Unceded Nitassinan (Saguenay)

cross-posted from Montreal Counter-Information

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Wednesday evening, a collective of Indigenous and settler activists blocked the Roberval-Saguenay railroad belonging to the multinational corporation Rio Tinto in solidarity with the National Committee for First Peoples’ Rights which is paralyzing for a third consecutive day the railroad line located at the border of Labrador and Schefferville, which is used by the mining company Tata Steel. The solidarity blockade lasted one hour. These actions have the objective of reminding the governments that the members of the Indigenous communities in this country will no longer accept any compromises regarding criminal acts committed against them.

The band councils of Uashat mak Mani-utenam (ITUM) and Matimekush-Lac John are suspected of having obtained the majority of electoral votes through corruption, fraud, extortion, and breach of trust. The alleged acts took place between 2019 and 2022 and involved nearly $1.8 million in bribes and favors of various kinds. In the official complaint formulated to the Sûreté du Québec by the First Peoples’ Rights Committee, a list of evidence coming directly from ITUM’s accounting system shows that there were, without the knowledge of the members, approximately 325 billing payments from registrants for an approximate amount of $1,780,000. This amount would be the result of a contract signed with the mining company IOC Rio-Tinto in 2020, in which Chief Mike McKenzie’s team would have hidden the legal meaning of the numerous clauses of this agreement from the members, which would have had the effect of giving away, in an exclusive manner and without any time limit, all future rights to decision-making about exploitation of natural resources on the unceded Great Nitassinan, the territory of the Innuat people!

Today’s action by the collective in Saguenay is a reminder that the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) and the band councils, which are nothing more than organizations of colonial assimilation set up by the federal government, are not masters of unceded Nitassinan. Agreements signed illegally, by extortion, without the consent of the entire Innuat people, will never again be tolerated. The mining companies have been destroying and polluting the territory of the Innuat for several decades. Our action is a direct act of ancestral sovereignty of the First Peoples. We have been perpetuating this ancestral governance for thousands of years. We are also acting for future generations to leave them a healthy land and to perpetuate our ancestral rights, our sacred relationship with Assi (the Earth) and all living beings. Enough is enough! Today we are acting in the name of a movement by Indigenous people and their allies, to denounce these criminal acts sanctioned by the Canadian and Quebec courts. We call for the multiplication of solidarity actions in relation to this struggle.

Documentary: “STOP COP CITY: Atlanta’s Militant Forest Defenders”

cross-posted from Rose Warfare

Rad new documentary out about the Atlanta Forest Defense campaign:

STOP COP CITY is about the militant occupation of Atlanta’s South River Forest. For over a year, a coalition of militant anarchists, community organizers, and eco-activists have been resisting police and contractors to halt the deforestation of hundreds of acres of urban forest.”

Six arrested in Sacramento while protesting JDSF logging

Six people were arrested while protesting logging of Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Sacramento, where more than 50 reportedly rallied. (Roslyn Moore)

cross-posted from the Mendocino Voice

SACRAMENTO, CA, 8/31/22 — A coalition of Mendocino County activists and allies rallied in the state capital on Tuesday, where six were arrested after blocking the doors to the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) headquarters.

This was the culmination of a week of actions to “Save Jackson Forest,” which kicked off when Cal Fire announced that it would resume logging on open timber harvest plans (THPs) last week with some modifications to those plans, including a pause on cutting larger trees. The announcement came shortly after CNRA debuted a vision for tribal co-management of Mendocino County’s Jackson Demonstration State Forest, a 48,652-acre redwood forest and the site of Pomo ancestral lands. Michael Hunter, chair of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, said last week that the tribe was not consulted or notified ahead of time about the resumption of logging.

Over 50 people rallied in Sacramento on Tuesday afternoon to call for recognition of Pomo tribal sovereignty and for a pause on logging to return. Andy Wellspring, a member of the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest, told The Mendocino Voice that no one from CNRA emerged to negotiate with activists on Tuesday.

In a phone conversation with The Voice, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said he was “optimistic” about future management for the forest and “proud of the level of engagement and collaboration” his office has had with Hunter thus far.

“Our interest is in partnerships with all tribes that have the Jackson Forest as ancestral lands, which obviously is numerous tribal governments and communities,” Crowfoot said. “And my understanding is that both in recent weeks and recent days, there has been a lot of interaction with the Coyote Valley tribe about modifications to the timber harvest.”

He also said he feels Cal Fire’s pause on additional THP development while updates to the management plan take place is “really important and meaningful” — but that he feels work should continue on the four THPs that had been paused for about eight months.

“We do have these [existing THPs] that were already approved, went through a public process, were already started, and that local businesses and workers have been counting on,” he said. “We do think it’s appropriate for the already approved, already underway THPs to be completed. And we look forward to really intense work to update the management plan so that future THPs reflect this more modern vision of the forest that takes into account, in a more robust way, ecological restoration and climate science and tribal collaboration.”

But activists understood that a pause would be in place for the duration of negotiations — and have emphasized this point with a refrain of “no more broken promises.” Those protesting in the “Save Jackson Forest” rallies hope for an eventual moratorium on logging in the forest.

Naomi Wagner was among those arrested on Tuesday. (photo submitted by Roslyn Moore)

“Crowfoot needs to keep his promise,” said Anna Marie Stenberg, one of the Mendocino County residents arrested. “He said logging operations would be paused while he was negotiating with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. Why is Cal Fire ending the pause?”

The six people arrested at CNRA headquarters were members of Redwood Nation Earth First! who sat in front of the door and linked arms for around two hours beginning at 1 p.m., Wellspring said. Larry Aguilera, Naomi Wagner, Tom Shaver, Stenberg, Marggie Chandler, and Polly Girvin were charged with misdemeanors — failure to disperse, failure to obey a lawful order, and blocking a public egress — and were let go from the police station after receiving citations, for which they’ll appear in court.

“Being a Native American, I can sympathize with the Pomos, because this is their land,” Aguilera, a member of the Miwok tribe who moved to Willits about five years ago, told The Voice. “Wherever I go, I like to acknowledge whose land I’m standing on. … I realize how important sacred sites are.”

A news release from the Coalition described those arrested as “movement elders”; Girvin, a longtime activist in our area, saw the action as an important model for future generations.

“I went to jail today for my great grandchildren Daniel, Courtney, Chloee and Cambree,” Girvin said. “They are members of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and great grandchildren of Priscilla Hunter. I want them to remember that their auntie stood up for their future, so they can be out there in the forest gathering basket materials, gathering medicine, and learning about all the plants. I am a role model for Pomo youth, and that is why I took a stand today.”

At a Jackson Forest Advisory Group meeting earlier this month, State Forests Program Manager Kevin Conway told The Voice that Cal Fire hopes to host the first public comment period regarding the new management plan as soon as this winter. Crowfoot said he hopes the public will be involved in that development process.

“We’re hopeful that this effort to update the management plan really takes into account all of these perspectives,” he said. “We’re very much committed to really better understanding everyone’s perspective and concerns.”

Here’s our coverage on recent happenings around Jackson:

 

 

 

Army Corps of Engineers Halts Highway 95 Construction near Moscow

cross-posted from Wild Idaho Rising Tide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2022

Media contact:

Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition

prdc@paradise-ridge-defense.org

 

Army Corps of Engineers Halts Highway 95 Construction near Moscow

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended its authorization of the U.S. Highway 95 Thorn Creek Road to Moscow rerouting project, in a letter sent to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) dated August 29, 2022.  Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires an Army Corps permit for the realignment, because it would destroy wetlands along a six-mile stretch of Highway 95 proposed for expansion to four lanes, south of Moscow.

On March 9, 2021, the Corps granted ITD a Nationwide Permit 14 (NWP 14), a general, national permit for wetland impacts under the Clean Water Act, which applies to transportation projects that would destroy no more than a half-acre of wetlands at any one site.  The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC) hired two experienced wetland scientists to determine the accuracy of the wetland acreage that would be impacted by the easternmost E-2 alignment of U.S. 95 preferred by ITD.  PRDC’s contracted scientists determined that ITD omitted wetlands that would be destroyed at Site 1 on the southern end of the E-2 route.  Considering those wetlands, the E-2 alignment exceeds the half-acre limit of maximum wetland destruction.  As a result, the overall project does not qualify for a Nationwide Permit 14.

The Corps has now suspended all ITD project construction for 60 days or longer, at Site 1 and all 13 wetland crossings along the E-2 alignment.  In the attached letter to ITD, Kelly Urbanek, Regulatory Division Chief of the Army Corps in Boise, wrote, “It is unclear what type of Department of Army authorization will be required to construct ITD’s proposed (or any revised) highway improvement plan at Site 1.  For example, if expected losses to aquatic resources at Site 1 exceed 0.5 acre and cannot be authorized under NWP 14, an individual permit may be required.  …Effective immediately, you must stop all activities…  This suspension will remain in effect until the authorization is reinstated, modified, or revoked.”

In response, PRDC board member David Hall said, “This decision by the Army Corps should encourage ITD and the Corps to compare alignments and choose the least environmentally damaging alternative for this new highway section.  Public comments overwhelmingly support the central C-3 route and the stricter standards and public involvement of an individual, rather than a nationwide, Clean Water Act permit.”

Helen Yost of regional, climate activist collective Wild Idaho Rising Tide added, “Considering E-2’s higher elevation weather conditions, wildlife crossings, larger wetlands, and proximity to rare, native, Palouse Prairie remnants, the lower C-3 alignment is safer for drivers and healthier for the environment than E-2, and best utilizes current U.S. 95 infrastructure, as recommended by federal regulations.”

Spokesperson for the Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, Al Poplawsky, stated, “ITD knew they were building a highway on a house of cards.  Environmental laws benefit all living things, including people, and not following them is ultimately damaging and counterproductive.”

Zachary Griefen of Bricklin and Newman, legal counsel for PRDC, noted that, “We are pleased that the Army Corps has acknowledged, as PRDC has argued all along, that ITD misrepresented the extent to which the proposed route will destroy wetlands.  The Corps’ suspension of authorization for the project is a good first step toward reconsideration of this ill-conceived highway project.”

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition of Moscow, Idaho, is a non-profit, public interest organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Paradise Ridge and the native biodiversity of the Palouse region that surrounds Paradise Ridge.  With a mission to ensure and enhance the public safety, environmental integrity, and natural aesthetics of Paradise Ridge and its environs, the coalition includes the Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, the Palouse Group of the Sierra Club, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and individual members.