Editor’s note: Beginning in April 2021, activists in Northern California have been engaged in a sustained campaign to protect the Jackson Demonstration State Forest from logging. Jackson is the largest State forest in California, stretching over nearly 50,000 acres, and is mostly made up of coast redwood, Douglas-fir, grand fir, hemlock, tanoak, madrone, and bay myrtle communities and is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Today, we celebrate a small but meaningful victory as Cal Fire, the state agency which manages the forest, has canceled three planned logging operations. But as David Brower, the first executive director of the Sierra Club who was later ousted for being too radical, used to say: “All our defeats are permanent, and all our victories temporary.” Logging continues to destroy other areas of the Jackson Forest, as well as forests across California, the country, and the world.
The ecological crisis is deepening and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to take focused, strategic action to prevent industrial civilization from destroying the planet.
Background via CounterPunch:
“Nonstop protests erupted in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) since April 2021, including tree-sits, frequent gate blockades, and work stoppages on active logging sites. Forest protectors on the ground reported almost every large tree was marked for cut, with many already felled. The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest, an alliance led by the Coyote Band of Pomo Indians, including environmental and legal groups E.P.I.C. (Environmental Protection and Information Center), The Mendocino Trail Stewards, Friends of Jackson Forest and Redwood Nation Earth First! is amplifying its call for a moratorium on logging in Jackson until the outdated Management Plan and Mission Statement are reworked to address climate change and protect Indigenous rights. Jackson is the ancestral home of the Pomo Tribes as recently recognized in a Resolution by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. Governor Newsom has issued a Directive to all State Lands agencies to begin practicing co-management with the California Tribes.”
“The timber industry regularly abuses the term “thinning” and instead uses this language as an excuse to harvest the most profitable (and therefore the largest and most fire resilient) trees in an area. But harvesting the largest trees from a forest leaves the forest even more susceptible to wildfire and exacerbates the exact problem that “thinning” is meant to solve. That’s why forests that have been logged the most aggressively also burn with the most severity.
If we want our forests to become part of the climate solution, we need to fundamentally rethink our relationship to them. Our forests produce far more value as carbon sequestration and storage machines than they do as lumber. It’s time for our State Agencies to accept that. Instead of treating our forests as timberlands, we should transform them into carbon reserves that will naturally help fight climate change.” – Environmental Protection Information Center
On May 28th, Cal Fire released its weekly report documenting the status of all Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) in California. The Save Jackson Coalition was pleased to learn that three controversial THPs located in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) had been withdrawn. The plans constitute a total of 1479 acres (over 2 square miles) of forest now taken off the chopping block.
As part of the larger campaign to change the management plan of JDSF, the Mitchell Creek THP, Little North Fork Big River THP, and Boundary Creek THP had all drawn considerable public opposition. Each had its own problems that were pointed out to Cal Fire by the public.
For example, the Little North Fork Big River THP was located adjacent to the popular Mendocino Woodlands State Park. According to the Little North Fork Big River THP “During timber operations, campers in the Mendocino Woodlands Outdoor Center will experience the acoustic effects of logging including falling trees, chainsaws, and yarder whistles.” Another example was the serious impacts to rare and sensitive plant species located in the Mitchell Creek THP.
The Mitchell Creek and Little North Fork Big River THPs were both recommended for approval in the Spring of 2021, with the Boundary Creek THP recommended for approval in March 2021. In response to community opposition, hundreds of public comments, and the advocacy of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Cal Fire has now withdrawn these THPs. Whether they intend to resubmit alternative plans remains to be seen.
“I think Cal Fire wrote these THPs assuming the public wasn’t paying attention to their destructive logging practices in Jackson Demonstration State Forest,” said Matt Simmons, an attorney with the Environmental Protection Information Center.
The Save Jackson Coalition has been demanding a moratorium on all logging in Jackson, including the approval of new THPs, until a new management plan can be written and implemented that better meets the needs of the Native American Tribes, the community, the environment, and also addresses the current climate reality. In recent weeks, Cal Fire has announced that they will be rewriting the JDSF management plan and now they have withdrawn these three controversial THPs. The Coalition considers this a good faith action on Cal Fire’s part toward that end. The Save Jackson Coalition continues to demand a moratorium.