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CLEARCUTTING, GARLON SPRAYING — WHAT NEXT FROM THE GAP?

- John Fisher asks, "Who's going to pay for it?" -

- Gap logging triggers grass roots boycott of Gap stores -

The death of forest defender David "Gypsy" Chain has been associated with the "Headwaters deal," but Gypsy wasn’t in Headwaters Forest when Pacific Lumber loggers dropped the tree on him. He was in Grizzly Creek, trying to protect an area that, like millions of acres of Redwood forest lands in California, remains unprotected by the "Headwaters deal" and virtually unregulated, given California's useless forest practice rules on "sustained yield."

The condition of these unprotected Redwood forests is particularly acute in Mendocino County where timber corporations have been liquidating the forest for several decades. The situation has gotten so out-of-control that timber corporations began exiting the Redwood business this year, after entirely plundering the timber resource and sending the coho salmon to near extinction. The first to sell out were Coastal Forest Lands (south Mendocino coast) and Louisiana Pacific (owners of about a quarter of Mendocino County).

235,000 acres of L-P’s depleted forest lands and several L-P mills were purchased this summer by the Fisher family, founders of Gap clothing stores. Stranger still, the Fisher family’s logging company, Mendocino Redwood, immediately took up where L-P left off–didn’t skip a beat--and seems bent upon the final liquidation, specifically targeting the few remaining old growth trees on L-P lands, and pursuing L-P’s whole program of clearcutting, herbicide spraying, high-impact road construction, and "winter operations" (muddy roads, landslides, dirt in the streams - especially damaging to fisheries).

Alarmed by these practices, a group of Mendocino coast environmental groups--including the Sierra Club, the Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance, and the Kaisen Gulch group--met with John Fisher on May 28 in Elk. John Fisher, son of Gap founder Donald Fisher, is one of the partners in the purchase of L-P forest lands and mills, described by Mendocino Redwood Company as a "Fisher family investment."

We wanted to make sure that the Fisher family knows what its logging company is doing, and give them a chance to change its direction.

We provided Mr. Fisher with several hours worth of detail on the severely depleted condition of L-P forest lands. We explained our opposition to his company’s policies.

Speakers included Dr. Edmund Smith, Dr. Allen Cooperrider, fisherwoman Vivien Bolin, Dr. Hillary Adams representing the North Greenwood Community Association, Judith Vidaver, vice chair of the Sierra Club-Redwood Chapter, several members of the Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance, and other knowledgeable watershed and forest activists including the Kaisen Gulch group.

We were bitterly disappointed in Mr. Fisher’s response–and we learned a lot from it. For instance, his answer to the Kaisen Gulch group, who recommended that a small patch of remnant old growth in the Albion River be placed in a conservation easement, was, "Who's going to pay for it?"

Regarding our objections to clearcutting, garlon spraying and other abusive forest practices, Mr. Fisher stated that his family–whose fortune from Gap clothing stores is reported to be 11 billion dollars–"needs to balance business and the environment."

The long and the short of it was that the Fisher family supports clearcutting and garlon spraying and the whole program of depletion logging.

It is a question how much more L-P forests can take of these extremely damaging activities. After two decades of "liquidation logging," there are almost no Coho salmon left in coastal forest streams, and almost all the decent wildlife habitat has been removed, leaving only 3% or less of L-P acreage in trees 24 inch diameter or larger. The fish are gone. The trees are gone. The corporate Redwood business is coming to an end, as everybody in the business knows.

"Everybody knew they were cutting themselves out of business," said Richard Wilson, Director of the California Department of Forestry, last November, regarding L-P’s sell out.

The Fishers have now gone one better than L-P, and have lifted L-P’s partial moratorium on garlon spraying–in utter contempt of the opinion of Mendocino County’s health officer, Dr. Marvin Trotter, and other experts, and in the face of near total community opposition. They will be spraying all over the County--uphill from the local kids’ swimming hole (Navarro River), upstream from domestic water supplies, and in neighborhoods with children, pets and livestock all at risk. Spray crews, loggers, foresters, state inspectors, Park rangers, hikers, tourists and unsuspecting neighbors are all at risk of exposure.

Garlon is a nasty chemical–a close cousin of Agent Orange–that is known to cause nausea, vomitting and weakness that can last for days. So, if you grow weak and nauseous in the forest, this is why: It costs John Fisher about $500 a day to send in hand crews to control brush and cut tanoak. It only costs him about $100 a day to use garlon. This is called "balancing business and the environment." John Fisher makes money. You pay.

Another thing that garlon is suspected of doing is causing disorientation in juvenile salmonids. Now, this really is a "need" of the Fisher family, in their effort to "balance business and the environment"–the "need" to rattle the brains of endangered coho salmon, so they can’t find their way, can’t find hiding holes, can’t find food, and can’t get to the sea. The less fish there are, the more trees they can cut. This adds to the business side of the "balance." What does it add to the environment side?

Perhaps the worst aspect of garlon spraying is that it indiscriminately hits birds, butterflies, mice, bobcats and other helpless wild creatures. These creatures have nowhere else that they can go. The forest is their home, and they are as important to the forest as the forest is to them. They form one ecology. Into the eyes of these creatures--and onto their feathers and skins, and into their lungs--we spray a toxic substance that doesn’t kill them, apparently, but simply makes them suffer. It may kill them in the long run. We don’t really know. It may cause deformed offspring and genetic changes. But even if it didn’t carry these poorly understood dangers, what right do we have to make them sick or give them pain?

Spraying garlon on wild animals is an unconscionable cruelty. Who cares what garlon does to us humans? Really. Perhaps we deserve everything we get–for living in houses made of wood, burning wood in our fireplaces and using too much toilet paper. We’re all at fault in this unfolding tragedy–that is, the ones who supposedly carry around superior brains and puff ourselves up as God’s chosen species.

Do we really need to gas the birds and the butterflies? Is that really a "need" of the Fisher family in their effort to "balance business and the environment?"

Clearly it is not. As Els Cooperrider patiently explained to Mr. Fisher, at our meeting on the 28th, Redwoods and Douglas firs do quite well in an unsprayed and un-clearcut forest. There is no need for these brutal tactics. In fact, the tanoak and the brush help the conifer saplings to grow, by providing their preferred early environment--shade and moisture.

The gentler way is also the best business practice–for a business that truly intends a long term commitment to the forest–and it doesn’t carry with it the crime of blinding and sickening wild creatures.

The "winter operations" that Mendocino Redwood Company is using so extensively are also very worrisome, for two reasons. One is that it indicates that MRC is in a great big hurry to get this logging done. They claim to be "here for the long term." It doesn’t look like it to us. We’re seeing numerous high-impact logging plans processed at CDF, in addition to all of L-P’s existing permits. MRC hasn’t slowed down; if anything, they have accelerated logging on L-P lands. On the Albion River, which has a relatively high percentage of the few big trees left on L-P lands, MRC currently has eight logging plans all with "winter operations."

In addition, "winter operations" are especially damaging to the Coho salmon. The coho salmon is the chief indicator of the health of the Redwood forest. If we lose the coho, we have lost the Redwood forest ecology. The few statistics that the public was able to extract from Louisiana Pacific, before they exited the Redwood business, show an alarming decline in the coho salmon species, from a once-abundant fishery of hundreds of thousands of fish, to samplings of 10 fish in Elk Creek and 200 in the Albion River.

"Winter operations" mean muddy roads, more landslides and increased sedimentation–one of the worst impacts on coho. Even "winter operations" on rocked roads are damaging, since the rocked roads are generally right along the river or creek, the rock easily degrades under heavy logging traffic, and dirt then goes directly into the watercourse.

The imminent extinction of the coho salmon calls for us--the human beings who have caused the disaster --to do everything we can to stop it from happening. It is not a time for bottom-line thinking. It is a time for sacrifice and effort.

The Fisher family is not hungry and poor--a circumstance that might somewhat excuse the crime of species annihilation. They don’t need to clearcut forests and spray them with garlon in order to make a living. And the men and women who do need to make a living from the forest will be much better off–healthier and more fully employed–by non-toxic and non-damaging forest practices.

If the Fisher family cares anything for their environmental reputation, they will immediately halt all winter operations, and will begin setting straight the other policies that are irreparably damaging these forest lands. That was the message from all of us to John Fisher and his family, at the meeting on the 28th. It seemed to fall on deaf ears.

A GREEK TRAGEDY

As one advisor of mine put it recently, there is a huge "disconnect" between the Fishers and all the rest of us poor peons who live in and near these forests and who have few other riches than those of the natural world. This "disconnect" was readily apparent in our meeting with John Fisher. One local activist banged the table and yelled a couple of times, as if to wake this young billionaire up. How could he not see what we see? Another began to cry and spoke harshly from the sidelines, interrupting him. For the most part we were quiet, persistent, well-informed and, I think, deeply, deeply saddened by the long, difficult struggles we have all been through to save this forest environment, only to have a somewhat arrogant young man with too much money tell us what he "needs" to do to make more of it.

Our society has become very unjust, and very unbalanced, indeed. I was reminded of a Greek tragedy, where the young kings–Mr. Fisher and (MRC President) Mr. Dean–are royally screwing everything up, while the old crones cry out from the sidelines, "Hubris! You, too, will fall!" And it’s true. These young financial princes, and others like them, hold the power of life and death over our planet. No power can rival them. Our government doesn’t even try–it has become their servant. The future of the planet rests with them--who have no wisdom, who believe they are immortal, but who will suffer like any other human when there is no air left for them to breathe, no safe water to drink, no forest to play in.

There are darker, more sinister powers behind them: The aging monarch, Donald Fisher, contributor to rightwing causes and political candidates–a supporter of Pete Wilson, Dan Lungren, Newt Gingrich, and now M. David Stirling (running for California Attorney General against friend of the environment Bill Lockyer); and attorney Jared Carter, devious counselor to the young royals, also getting along in years, who has defended L-P through two decades of "liquidation logging." What these two may be up to, maneuvering in the background, is anybody’s guess. (Keeping the mills open until after the election?)

One and all seem bent upon degrading this forest to the point where it will not matter if it is subdivided. After the Fishers are finished logging, the endangered species will no longer be endangered; they will be gone–and no bother any more to foresters or developers. The ancient forest will be forgotten. People will start thinking of 30 year old Redwoods as "old growth." As for the salmon, it will become a legend, a totem, a distant, receding memory. People will never taste wild salmon again.

This is why one activist banged the table and another cried out from the sidelines. They didn’t really mean to interrupt the discourse on "balancing business with the environment." They were seized by the Furies of Ancient Greece and made to speak for the Gods: "Hubris!" While the rest of us formed a senate and spoke as if we had a right to speak, as if we were citizens, in calm discourse, the Furies blazed through the air--and the young kings were unmoved. That is a very dangerous stance to take, as any reader of Greek tragedy knows. One must take heed of all manner of wisdom, for, to be human is to be incomplete, flawed, and in need of a variety of counsels. Even kings make mistakes–and they tend to be very big mistakes.

Perhaps those of us with senatorial demeanor represented democratic Greece. I certainly hope so. We did our best. But, quite frankly, we got nowhere.

The Fisher-kings intend to have those very trees that are now so desperately needed for wildlife survival and forest recovery. No law can stop them. This is the circumstance that drove a passionate young man from Texas into the path of a falling Redwood.

THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING

The meeting concluded with an ultimatum–from us. The Sierra Club’s Judith Vidaver told Mr. Fisher that the Sierra Club California-Nevada Regional Conservation Committee has recommended a boycott of Gap stores to the Sierra Club National Committee. Mary Bull, of Chalice Productions in San Francisco, told him of the Petition drive, barely under way, which has already gathered over 1,500 signatures from across the United States and around the world, including the Netherlands, Australia, France, Finland, England, Japan and Mexico. The Petition asks the Fishers to stop this madness, place all L-P forests in a conservation land trust, and employ displaced fisher folk and loggers to restore them.

The Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance (RCWA) read a letter to the Fishers, signed by eleven northern California environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Mendocino Environmental Center. The letter rejects a lawsuit settlement proposal from MRC, regarding four particularly obnoxious L-P logging plans that Mendocino Redwood is now defending in court (using attorney Jared Carter). The MRC proposal involved trading one area (Enchanted Meadow in the Albion River) for another (clearcutting in Greenwood Creek).

The RCWA letter lays down six conditions for further discussions with MRC: stop clearcutting, stop logging old growth (trees 150 years and older), stop garlon use, stop all winter operations, settle the RCWA lawsuit (withdraw the plans, pay RCWA’s attorney’s fees) and begin work on a conservation easement for Kaisen Gulch.

MRC and its president, Sandy Dean, have been very good at talking with people and changing nothing. The pattern, and the P.R. manipulation, are very plain to see. The RCWA will not engage in further talks until MRC stops damaging the forest.

Meanwhile, a grassroots boycott of all Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Gap Kids stores has begun. For information, visit: www.elksoft.com/gwa, or www.gapsucks.org.

The thing about Ancient Greece is, they didn’t have the Internet.

 

MRC’s "NEW" GARLON POLICY

A week after the meeting with John Fisher, Sandy Dean made several announcements regarding MRC policy, on Els Cooperrider’s "Environment Show" on KZYX.

First, he announced that MRC has withdrawn L-P’s permit to use 2,4 D (highly toxic, controlled chemical, even worse than garlon).

To withdraw L-P’s permit for 2,4 D–a substance that, if sprayed in this County, would likely cause the populace to abandon non-violent protest–is not a concession, on the part of Mendocino Redwood Company. It is a recognition that there are some rules, after all–a few Geneva Conventions, if you will–that even the lords of the land must follow, in their warfare upon the Redwood forest.

He also told Els he didn’t know about the 2,4 D permit until Els told him about it–an incredible confession of ignorance about L-P operations. (Does anybody at MRC know if this highly toxic chemical has been used--and if so, where and when?)

Secondly, Mr. Dean announced MRC’s garlon policy. MRC will only notify neighbors whose property is within 300 feet of the spraying. As for streams, they will not spray within the stream zones–that is, the Forest Practice Rules "water and lake protection zones" (WLPZs) that were established to limit logging and heavy equipment use near streams (100 feet for Class I’s (fish bearing streams), 75 feet for Class II’s, and 25 feet for Class III’s).

Dr. Allen Cooperrider made the excellent suggestion that MRC post their garlon notices on their new web site (www.mendocinoredwoodco.com). Mr. Dean replied by merely repeating the standard neighbor notification policy. (I guess that means no.)

These Forest Practice Rule stream zones are minimum widths, and they are meant to control logging activities near streams. They were not meant as guidelines for the spraying of toxic chemicals near open water. Obviously they are inadequate for that purpose.

Garlon spraying is just that–spraying. The brush and trees that are sprayed are often taller than the spray crew. They have to lift the spray over their heads. They get the stuff on their skin, hair and clothes–often out in the summer heat, with nowhere to wash it off except the nearest stream. The spray drifts on the wind and might carry long distances. 100 feet is no great distance to an airborne chemical. It is inevitable that some of this stuff will get into open water. Then there is the soil and the water table. Garlon dissipates more easily in sunlight. Embedded in forest duff, and washed underground by rainstorms, it will last longer.

Garlon will be everywhere and in everything–in the air, soil, water, plants, people and animals.

 

MRC’S "NEW" OLD GROWTH POLICY: "FOLLOW THE LOOPHOLE"

Mr. Dean announced that MRC is developing an old growth policy as follows: they will not enter previously unentered forests of 20 acres or more (standard Forest Practice Rules); they will not log where there are an average of 6 old growth trees per acre on 5 contiguous acres; they are defining old growth as 250+ years old and 48+ inch diameter; and they will not log "scattered, residual" trees in that age/size class if they think they are valuable for wildlife.

As L-P’s own statistics show, only 3% or less of all L-P forest acreage contains anything over 24 inches in diameter. Trees of 250+ years and 48+ inch diameter are extremely rare not only on L-P lands but also on all private lands on the Mendocino coast–if they exist at all. Locating six of them together on one acre would be a rare find, indeed–let alone on 5 acres. As for "unentered" forests, there are two that we know of–on 235,000 acres of forest land: Russell Brook in Big River watershed (unentered, 20-30 acres; old growth, several hundred acres) and somewhere in Rockport where rumor has it that they are logging 3 foot diameter tanaok (although this might be a Georgia Pacific plan).

There may be only one unentered forest of 20 acres or more on L-P/MRC lands.

It should be noted (with alarm bells ringing) that Mr. Dean describes this old growth policy as "in development" and his web site states that, while the policy is being developed, MRC will adhere to item nos. 1 and 2 (unentered or 5—acre stands as defined above), but as for item no. 3 ("scattered, residual" old growth), "MRC evaluates residual old growth trees on a case by case basis and attempts to preserve single old growth residual trees that have significant wild life value."

Virtually all that’s left of the old growth forest on L-P lands is the odd, deformed, burnt or awkwardly placed ancient tree–not worth the effort for previous loggers who had an "endless" forest of beautiful, straight, tall, magnificent Redwoods to chop down. These are the "single old growth residual" trees that will be evaulated by MRC "on a case by case basis."

Deep throat said, "Follow the money." I say, "Follow the loopholes."

MRC foresters (mostly L-P holdovers) will easily conclude that such a tree has no significant wildlife value and will quickly cut it down. If they happen upon any 20+ acre unentered stands, or 5+ acre old growth stands--if they don’t faint dead away–it’s easy enough to fool around with the core sample information, or the acreage. They’ve done it before. This is how they have removed all of the old growth from L-P lands, and why these lands are in their present state. All unentered stands were 19 acres or less. No merchantable tree had wildlife value.

This old growth policy isn’t "new." It is certainly not a concession. The best that can be said for it is that it is a cruel joke.

While MRC hunts the forest for its 250+ year old trees, and flags them for protection, we had better worry about the much younger old growth--the only decent wildlife habitat left. Old growth on the Mendocino coast has to be defined as least as low as 150 years of age, to be a meaningful policy. L-P lands are critically lacking even in trees of this age group, and are also lacking in the vital link between young trees and old growth. L-P statistics show a shocking zero percent on all L-P lands for the tree size class 21-24 inch diameter. The bulk of the trees (about 50%) are 11-16 inch diameter.

It’s possible that these forests can still be logged–far more gently, of course, than MRC is doing, and with restoration, not with profits, in mind. What is readily apparent, however, is that they cannot be logged at MRC’s purported rate of 40 million board feet per year, and they cannot be logged using L-P methods, without catastrophic consequences–the extinction of critically important species, and permanent degradation of soils, water quality and timber quality.

Compared to the potential of the Coast Redwood of 2,000 years of age, 300 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter, all of the trees on L-P lands are mere infants. Even the odd "residual" old growth tree of 250+ years old (should any be found) is a young tree. Remember this.

-- Mary Pjerrou

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BOYCOTT THE GAP

Until the Fisher family abandons clearcutting, herbicide use and the other extremely damaging forest practices that are described above, you are urged to boycott all Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Gap Kids clothings stores. A worldwide effort is under way, aimed at pre-Christmas sales, to boycott and picket Gap stores. To sign the Petition to the Fishers: www.elksoft.com/gwa , or call (707) 877-3405. To join the boycott: www.gapsucks.org

This Gap investors (Fisher family) clearcutting plan, on-going in Flynn Creek (Navarro River) is stripping the area of wildlife habitat, muddying the rivers and killing the fish. Next they will gas the area with garlon.

TO BE ADDED TO THE "WHAT YOU CAN DO" SECTION:

Send letters to newspapers and elected officials, and to: 1) Calif. Dept. of Forestry, Attn: Forest Practice, P.O. Box 670, Santa Rosa, CA 95402 (FAX: 707-576-2608). 2) The Fisher family ,Gap, Inc, 900 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066. 3) Dr. William Hogarth, National Marine Fisheries Service, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802-4213.

"Comment on THPs":

 

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MENDOCINO COUNTRY ENVIRONMENTALIST

Subscription to print version: $15 per year

RICHARD JOHNSON, MENDOCINO COUNTRY Publications,

Green Party of Mendocino County, Alliance for Human Rights,

P.O. Box 533, Talmage, CA 95481 * (707) 459-5490 ext 501 fax 468-1009.

Entertainment calendar information: www.pacific.net/~mce



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