Despite Growing Controversy, Community Outcry over its Logging Plans, and the League's Formal Complaint Judged to Have Merit
PETROLIA, Calif., June 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Activists on Rainbow Ridge have reported that logging by Humboldt Redwood Company (HRC) commenced late Wednesday, June 5, in the last remaining unprotected intact Douglas-fir/hardwood forest in coastal California.
Rainbow Ridge, located about 25 miles south of Eureka, has been the scene of resistance to old-growth logging since 1990. Lawsuits, blockades, and tree-sits have kept much of the forest standing.
The remote area is the home to numerous threatened and endangered species, including Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, and Northern Spotted Owl and is the headwaters for the wild Mattole River stocks of coho and Chinook salmon.
Despite negotiations between HRC and Mattole citizens groups (Lost Coast League, Mattole Restoration Council, Mattole Salmon Group) and other environmental organizations on the North Coast, HRC has refused to allow the groups to achieve permanent protection for these Mattole watershed lands. They lie adjacent to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to the largest contiguous stands of virgin Coast redwood in the world and habitat for many endangered species.
When logging appeared imminent in 2018, the Lost Coast League (LCL) challenged HRC's "green" sustainability certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) by filing a formal complaint. FSC's auditors (SCS Global Services) found the complaint had merit in two areas: lack of a plan to designate and protect High Conservation Value Forests, and lack of a plan to phase out the widespread use of herbicides HRC uses routinely.
LCL was assured by SCS Global's founder, Dr. Robert Hrubes, that logging would not happen until HRC completed its plans as required by SCS Global and delivered them to LCL for evaluation. Neither documents have been delivered to the LCL.
"We are shocked and disappointed that HRC would rush in to log these trees without fulfilling the promise of their FSC 'sustainability' audit," said Michael Evenson, Vice President of LCL. "Violating the terms of the audit should call into question the certification of their operations. This is an irreplaceable natural treasure."
Also brought to the public's attention by this logging is a re-examination of programs like Home Depot's that charge a premium price for lumber certified as sustainably sourced. "Claiming lumber from such sources to be sustainable," said long-time Mattole activist Jane Lapiner, "is cheating the consumer."
Activists observing the forest operations said that HRC has again hired the paramilitary-styled security company Lear Asset Management of Ukiah, which employs tasers, dogs, drones, and night-vision goggles. This equipment is familiar to Lear personnel who are veterans of U.S. wars in the Middle East.
"Tree-sitters and forest defenders told us they pledge to stop the logging until HRC comes to its senses and negotiates the protection of these natural treasures," Lapiner said.
"HRC is wholly owned by the Fisher family, San Francisco real estate moguls that also own the GAP. Though the Fishers claim to have serious environmental principles they have apparently given the go-ahead on this logging."
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