Here are some recent local actions against MRC’s dead-end logging practices that have been challenged by Mendocino County residents who voted Yes on Measure V, which declares the intentional leaving of dead standing trees a public nuisance because of fire danger. Despite the 62 percent vote in favor of Measure V, MRC has continued to leave dead standing trees through intentionally poisoning unwanted tan oaks and leaving them to die slowly, standing up. MRC has not committed to phasing out the poisonous hack-and-squirt practice. The company owns timberland in the Little Lake Valley watershed and sold roughly 900,000 cubic yards of toxic fill dirt from an old mill site north of Willits to Caltrans who used it to bury wetlands in creating the highway bypass project.
Ukiah, CA- Calling for an end to Mendocino Redwood Company’s dead-end logging practices, twenty five protesters held signs and used large banners to blockade both entrances to MRC’s logging deck in Ukiah, CA. Six logging trucks stacked with redwood poles were stopped for over an hour. Protesters are demanding an end to Hack and Squirt, a practice which MRC continues to use in the face of measure V’s overwhelming voter mandate in mendocino county. MRC company officials met protesters at the second gate blockade, and made statements defending the herbicide practice, ignoring the will of the people.
The issue stems from the application of toxic herbicides on forests, killing so-called non-marketable hardwoods that are then left standing in place. Supervisors certified Measure V on July 12, just prior to the elapse of the required 30-day waiting period following the publishing of the official tally, thus clearing the way for the Measure to become law on July 22.
While Measure V focuses solely on the fire dangers posed by millions of dead standing trees in the fifth year of California’s drought, many people are equally concerned about the health and safety hazards of the herbicides themselves. However, local authority to regulate herbicides was usurped in the early 1990s by the State of California after a ballot initiative banning aerial spraying passed by Mendocino County voters was overturned by the Legislature. Public opinion finally forced cessation of the practice.
Speakers at the protest underscored the severe health hazards of herbicide use to the environment, as well as the workers and residents, from chemicals such as Imazypr, Glyphosate (brand name Roundup) and Trichlopyr (Garlon). Polly Girvin, legal aide for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, will document the devastating health effects on Latino workers who are among the most vulnerable to exploitation and who often suffer from chemical contamination associated with birth defects, which have been found to occur with higher frequency than in other populations. Those workers also have little recourse against wage theft and other labor violations.
Linda Perkins and Bill Heil addressed threats posed to the watershed by poisonous herbicides. The two well-known forest activists from Albion have long questioned Mendocino Redwood Co.’s (MRC) right to retain its profitable “certified sustainable” label, despite using herbicides.
“MRC makes money by using poisons, instead of cutting down and removing the trees. The Company claims manual removal would cost too much”, said Perkins. “Regardless of how they are killed, environmentalists oppose the whole-sale decimation of the tan oaks”, she emphasized, describing them as “nurse trees playing an important role in protecting the soil and encouraging biodiversity, which creates a healthier forest, rather than mono-cropping redwoods like tree farms.”
Bob Simpson, former CEO of MRC’s predecessor, Louisiana Pacific, recently stunned the public with his pro-Measure V statements before the vote, claiming tan oaks are “the most important trees in the forest” and decrying their mass annihilation. MRC had said they would phase out poisons, but instead, are actually applying more concentrated chemicals over a wider area. MRC, while not the sole timber company operating in the County, is the most egregious user of herbicides based on acreage, dousing thousands of acres of forestlands in 2016 alone.
Residents urged the Supervisors to be proactive in enforcing Measure V and holding the Company accountable for exacerbating the fire danger by continuing to create more dead standing trees, in the face of a clear voter mandate to stop. They also demand a Resolution for Full Disclosure to ensure that herbicide users notify the public before application. Currently, the contractor is only required to report information after herbicides have already been applied.
The message was carried from the County Seat directly to Mendocino Redwood Company at its mill site on North Sate St. where a protest was held under the banner of: “Let Our Forests Heal”. Activists call on MRC to stop poisoning Mendocino forests and workers and to adopt restorative forest practices.
“MRC masquerades as a sustainable business but it’s just an image, not the reality”, said longtime lay forestry expert, Bill Heil. “Their brand of greenwash is hogwash”.
- Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
- Save Our Little Lake Valley
- Redwood Nation Earth First!
- Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
- Mendocino Environmental Center
- Mendocino Forest Defence Campaign
Lock-Down Blockade Against Mendocino Redwood Company
Comptche, CA-Activists today blocked trucks and vehicles transporting logging crews, in a protest against Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC). The company uses a practice known as “Hack’n’Squirt” to kill hardwoods on their forest holdings.
Protesters called for a “lock’n’block” protest at noon at the gates of MRC Timber Harvest Plan #1-14-148 MEN, nicknamed “Half Way to Hell,” near the tiny town of Comptche, in the heart of southern Mendocino County.
On June 7, a two-thirds majority of voters in Mendocino County passed Measure V, declaring the practice of leaving of dead standing trees a public nuisance. Despite the overwhelming voter mandate, MRC continues the practice of dousing the forest with the chemical Imazypr, leaving thousands of tan oaks and other hardwoods dead but standing, exacerbating an already critically high fire danger by adding dry fuels to the forest during the fifth year of drought in California.
“We locked down today because MRC is continuing to hack and squirt after the people went to the ballot box and told them to stop. When the normal civil channels don’t work, that’s when you get civil disobedience and non-violent direct action,” said longtime County resident, Lara Anderson. “We’re putting our bodies on the line to stop this dangerous practice and to expose the MRC’s dead-end brand of forestry,” she said.
A large crowd of supporters carried signs with messages like “Poison is Bad Forestry”, “Fisher Family – Go Back to the Gap.” A large banner expressed the groups’ central demand, reading: “MRC Stop Hack’n’Squirt Now!”
Long-time forest activist Linda Perkins of Albion explained, “The ‘Half Way to Hell’ plan is 580 acres of total decimation. They are taking it down to the nub.” The plan includes three silvicultural prescriptions designated Group Selection, Transition and Variable Retention, all “forms of Even Age management leading to more tanoak growth, more poisoning and more dead, standing trees,” said Perkins.
“MRC is converting the forest to monoculture tree plantations, claiming restoration, but they’re actually doing the opposite, taking too much too fast, reducing diversity. This is bad for the earth as we know it. They should heed the will of the people or have their FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] Sustainable Certification revoked,” she concluded.
The plan also includes an unknown acreage of previously hacked and squirted hardwoods, which will become dead standing trees. The Company refuses to disclose to the public the locations where it is applying the poisons. Currently, the contractor is only required to report the use of chemicals to the Agriculture Department within thirty days after use. The Mendocino County Ag Commissioner has warned about breathing smoke from burning materials treated with Imazapyr. The Initiative was heavily backed by local volunteer firefighters.
Measure V is awaiting certification after the required thirty-day period following the election. Proponents are bracing for an expected lawsuit by MRC challenging the law.
Save Our Little Lake Valley
Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
Earth First! Mendocino
Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters