TIPS FOR FOREST DEFENDERS ON THE PICKET LINE:
Above all else, our protest is non-violent. No one is our enemy--not the Gap employees, not the Fishers, not the people who disagree with us. Try to stay calm and polite at all times; smile. Don't bring alcohol or drugs to the picket or rally site. Don't engage in vandalism or name-calling. It's best to ignore hecklers, not to engage them. Most people are very supportive!
Where and What. Come equipped with clipboard, pens, flyers, and petitions. An ironing board or card table is useful--but not necessary. Position yourself in a public place, such as on the sidewalk in front of a Gap store. (Other events where a lot of potential supporters are gathering are also good places to gather signatures; get permission from the event producer first.) A good opening is, "Would you like to help save the redwoods today by simply signing a petition?" Followed by "Did you know the Fisher family, founders of the Gap, are clearcutting the redwood forest?" and so on. End by reminding them to boycott Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.
Gap employees. The Gap company line is to say that Gap, Inc. and its COO, Bob Fisher, have nothing to do with the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC, the Fisher family company that's devastating the Redwood ecosystem in Mendocino). Our response: "The press, Sandy Dean, MRC (see their web site: www.mendocinoredwoodco.com ), and Bob Fisher himself refer to MRC as a "Fisher family investment." Show them the enclosed letter from Bob Fisher to Mendocino activists in which he owns up to his relationship with MRC. (Remember: Gap employees are not directly responsible for cutting Redwoods. They have no direct control over what the Fishers do with the money they make from Gap stores. Gap, Inc., is a publicly owned corporation. Donald Fisher is Chair of the Board. Bob Fisher is COO. The Fishers are major investors. Some Gap employees may have shares in Gap, Inc.)
Private Property Rights. Some people will argue that since the Fishers own the land, they have a right to do anything they want to it. Our response: "WRONG! When you buy timberland (private industrial forestlands) you are obliged by law (the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Forest Practices Act and other environmental laws) to protect "public trust resources," such as air, water, fish, and wildlife. The Forest Practices Act further dictates that private industrial forestland owners employ practices that achieve "maximum sustained production of high quality timber products," otherwise known as "sustained yield" Overlogging--and the outrageous "liquidation logging" of Louisiana Pacific, and now Mendocino Redwood Company--are unequivocally counter to this mandate." Use the "Cedars of Lebanon" argument here, too: "Once Lebanon had great forests; the forests were all cut down; so now it's a desert wasteland...Get it?!"
Why are the Fishers doing this? If people express surprise that the Fishers are clearcutting Redwoods, and wonder why they bought such depleted forests in the first place, you might say that local environmentalists suspect that the Fishers' real goal is coastal real estate development.
"I'm a lumberjack/my dad's a lumberjack." Our response: "Then you--better than anyone--know the importance of good forest practice and sustained yield, because the lumber companies have logged you out of a job. Corporate liquidation logging has destroyed the timber and commercial fishing industries in Mendocino. Also, the herbicide spraying that is done after clearcutting is detrimental to the health of forest workers and local communities."
Our argument to MRC when they say they can't stop clearcutting because they need to keep 430 workers employed is this: "If you keep cutting at the rate you're going, they'll be out of a job in 6 months. Why not train and employ them as forest restoration workers to clean up the mess you've made?" To which they respond "er.. uh.. that's not practical." To which we respond: "Bottom line, if it's a question of giving 430 workers 6 more months of part-time employment or destroying the last of a forest that was hundreds of years in the making--we choose the forest!"
"Give us time." When Fisher front-man Sandy Dean tells us to wait six months to see what great stewards of the land the Fishers are, we respond: "In six months there will be no forest left. At present, less than 3% of the Fisher's 230,000 acres contain trees larger than 21 inches in diameter--the trees that provide adequate forest habitat. In addition to numerous clearcut plans though-out their holdings, MRC has filed nine new Timber Harvest Plans targeting the Albion watersheds, which contain the highest concentration of these few remaining big trees. They will be cutting these trees down all winter. What will be left in six months?
What are the Fishers and MRC doing now to show us what great stewards of the land they are? They are clearcutting on steep slopes and near coho fisheries, they are cutting the few remaining big trees in our already hammered watersheds, they are spraying garlon to kill trees and brush (this herbicide is very harmful to fish and causes juvenile coho to lose their orientation), they are engaging in winter operations: These are extremely damaging logging practices. If they were good stewards, they would stop these logging practices immediately.
The Fishers have a great opportunity to be a model of corporate responsibility. Because of their wealth, they can afford the needed forest restoration. However, continued rampant destruction of the Redwood habitat will likely lead to the lost patronage of the American consumer whose spending has built their fortune.