Cops raid protest camp in Capitol Forest, lone man in canopy continues to block logging

Cross-posted from the Chameleon Blockade

For Immediate Release: 

Contacts: Chameleon Blockade, (360) 209 6426, chameleonblockade@protonmail.com

Ian Frederick, (360) 474 2387

Nathan McKay, mckayresources@protonmail.com

Cops raid protest camp in Capitol Forest, lone man in canopy continues to block logging

Capitol State Forest, WA – Early Wednesday afternoon, a convoy of trucks from at least four different law enforcement agencies parked on a logging road for an unannounced raid on a camp of forest protection activists, sweeping the camp away and leaving one man in the forest canopy tied to a contraption that continues to impede work on the controversial “Chameleon” timber sale. The officers came from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol, the state Fish and Game Department, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency which planned and sold the timber sale and manages all of the Capitol State Forest. Law enforcement temporarily closed the roads to through traffic while they cleared the activists from the camp.

Alex Johnson, 29, a teacher from Olympia, was on the ground making coffee when the cops arrived. “There were just so many of them,” he said. “It seems like a lot of force to bring to deal with two unarmed civilians eating lunch.”

The two activists were briefly detained before being allowed to walk away while the officers attempted to negotiate with the remaining “tree-sitter” who continued to block the logging road. The DNR law enforcement eventually brought in spotlights and a generator and began to prepare for an extended siege of the tree-sit, which Mr. Johnson predicted would last a long time.

“I think these cops underestimate John’s commitment and endurance,” he said. “He thought hard about this before doing it, and he’s prepared to stay for quite a while. He’s one of the most stubborn guys I’ve ever met, and I tried to tell the cops that but I don’t think it’s sunk in for them yet.”

Johnson was referring to his friend in the canopy, John “Tree’Angelo” Barksdale. Mr. Barksdale, 34, an outdoor educator from Tumwater, has watched with dismay over the past several years as the DNR has systematically clear-cut most of its remaining old-growth stands. An avid hiker, he’s seen many of his favorite local trails turned to moonscapes.

“Unit 1 of Chameleon is some of the most intact forest, the best habitat left across one hundred thousand acres,” Barksdale said. “If we want all this to actually be a forest and not just an oversized tree plantation, we need to save at least something. We can’t clear-cut all of it.”

Barksdale has used years of climbing experience to erect a unique “dunk-tank” platform atop an old-growth douglas-fir tree, tied to an abandoned Ford Explorer parked across the proposed logging road. If the car moves, his platform drops. It’s about one hundred feet down to the steep slopes of the forest below. Barksdale claims to have plenty of food and water and says he is prepared to wait out the DNR indefinitely.

“I’ve always wanted to tree-sit,” he says. “I love trees. I love camping. I can work remotely out here and attend Zoom meetings from right here on the platform. It’s super dreamy up here, and I’m trying to save these trees. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”

The protest camp, which was started ten days ago by a few friends of Mr. Barksdale, quickly picked up support from local hunters, fishermen and ATV users concerned about the health of the forest. Protectors of the Salish Sea, an indigenous water advocacy group, held space with songs and prayers at the blockade on Saturday. Multiple community groups across Thurston County have come out in support of the blockade and are calling for the cancellation of the timber sale.

“Governor Inslee claims to be the ‘climate Governor’, and even ran for President of the United States on a platform based on tackling climate change, yet he continues to allow the Department of Natural Resources to clearcut our state’s forests despite their potential to mitigate the climate crisis,” said Nathan McKay, a landscape architect from Lacey, Washington. “If Inslee was really a climate leader, he would call off this timber sale, and protect our forests for their carbon sequestration and storage potential.”

A rally is planned for today, Thursday, October 8, at 3pm at the gate of the logging road leading into the timber sale. Community members are invited to witness the siege and see the ancient trees in the proposed clearcut.

LA Times: In the redwoods, logging and tree sitting continue, even as the pandemic shuts mills

cross-posted from Redwood Forest Defense

Outside Trinidad, Calif., in an area known as Strawberry Rock, Walter, a 22-year-old UCLA student, is taking part in a tree sit-in to prevent a logging company from cutting redwoods and other trees.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

In the redwoods, logging and tree sitting continue, even as the pandemic shuts mills

By Susanne Rust

April 16, 2020

Two Forest Defenders Blockade Sawmill in Scotia, California

pics from Save the Mattole

Cross-posted from Save the Mattole

Bike blockades deployed today at HRC’s Scotia sawmill, with two forest defenders locking themselves to piles of bicycles, blocking the north and south gates into the mill. The human-bicycle team effort was able to turn away several log trucks heading into the mill before a small army of Humboldt County Sheriff deputies arrived on the scene. Both blockaders refused to unlock, and it took several deputies to carry both the bikes and the blockaders to the side of the road, where they were cited and released (all the bicycles were also released to continue their work against climate change).

Logging trucks blocked out by forest defender blockade.

Unfortunately, in the hubbub, a comrade who was standing by to support was arrested by none other than Conan Moore – the same sheriff who brutalized peaceful protesters in June and later personally extracted blockaders from a monopod and another gate lockdown. The person who was arrested was on the phone with local media when they were handcuffed. They were leaving the property, following orders to disperse. Now, they are being held in Humboldt County Jail on a $25,000 bail, with the deputies recommending felony charges. We are calling for the immediate release of this nonviolent forest defender!

Support arrestees by donating to our legal fund: tinyurl.com/helpforestaresstees

And most of all, support us by joining our efforts! Email efhum@riseup.net

Forest Defense Escalating in Northern California’s Mattole Watershed

Cross-posted from Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters.

Pre-Dawn Arrests at “Spectacular Mono-pod Blockade” at Logging Gate at Rainbow Ridge, Mattole

June 17, 2019

Photo is the 40? tall mono pod with a sitter in it. via Save the Mattole campaign.

Petrolia, CA—In the predawn darkness this morning, a 40 ft. “mono-pod” blockade structure was erected in the road at the main access gate to controversial logging plans in the Mattole River watershed, and several people on the ground were arrested. Twenty people were on site to protest logging by Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC) in the Rainbow Ridge area, where HRC first started operations in early June.

At least eight sheriffs’ vehicles arrived and immediately threw several people on the ground and subsequently arrested them, while they were standing on the public access road, ostensibly in a legal area. Lear Asset Management, the private security hired by HRC is also on site. So far reports are that several people were arrested and taken to jail, and there is a sitter in the pod.

Several trucks and heavy equipment have approached the gate and turned around.

The response of community members and activists has been swift and growing since the beginning of June when HRC began a long-controversial logging plan on Rainbow Ridge, prompting a public outcry and direct action protests. On June 8, a tree-sitter ascended a centuries-old tree, avoiding security patrols and drone flyovers, and has remained, despite harassment and serious endangerment by a Lear security climber last week. That hired climber cut down gear and heavy water jugs above the head of the sitter, sending supplies flying to the ground, and confiscated most of their food and water. The demonstration this morning is, in part, in solidarity and support of the tree-sitter, who goes by the name Rook.

On June 10, four septuagenarian local residents were arrested at a civil disobedience blockade at the gate, and now await trial.

Monopod sitter.

One of the arrestees this morning said from jail, “People in the local community and from all over have been putting their bodies on the line to protect this forest for over 20 years, and this action is part of continuing that important legacy. We’re at a crisis point and we can’t just sit back and let corporations destroy the last remaining wild places on the planet. Humboldt Redwood Co. pretends to care about what the community wants, but HRC is acting like the old Maxxam/Pacific Lumber right now. People in this bioregion have a responsibility to make sure these forests remain standing. That’s why I was there today, and why we’re not going to stop.”

Community efforts to protect this coast Douglas fir, oak and madrone forest from industrial logging have been ongoing since the 1990s. These forests are unique and remote, harboring many threatened and rare species. See Lost Coast League for more information.

This logging also shines a light on the marketing of the lumber at outlets like Home Depot, who sell HRC’s forest products as sustainable, despite the heavy use of herbicides and cutting of legacy forests. That sustainable certification is being challenged as well.

For information on the direct action response, see the FB page, Save the Mattole’s Ancient Forests.

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