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Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 09:35:53 -0800
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Subject: TREE-SITTERS RECEIVE EVICTION NOTICES
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*****Also sent as Word 5.0 attachment*****
(PLEASE CIRCULATE AND PUBLISH)
Saturday, February 6, 1999
TREE-SITTERS RECEIVE EVICTION NOTICES
Pacific Lumber To Have Sheriff Remove Activists By Force
By Adam Miller
On March 1, 1999, the sacred Headwaters Deal will be complete, and
Charles Hurwitz, the CEO of Maxxam Corporation, and owner of the Pacific
Lumber Company (PL), will receive his long awaited check for half a
billion dollars. Even more coveted than the gold, is Incidental Take
Permit that Hurwitz receives as part of the deal: a license to kill
endangered species that make their homes in the forest ecosystems.
Most residents agree that the Headwaters Deal is the most disastrous
piece of environmental legislation of the century. As the pre-deal days
pass, the situation in Humboldt County becomes, as Lewis Carroll so
aptly put it, "curiouser and curiouser."
Earlier this week a representative of PL, accompanied by two uniformed
Humboldt County Sheriff‚s Deputies officially notified the tree-sitters
who are protesting illegal and irresponsible logging practices that they
are being evicted from their treetop platforms. Printed eviction
notices were nailed to the trunks of the occupied trees in Freshwater
and Stafford. The notice was handed to members of the tree-sitter‚s
ground support crew on Gypsy Mountain near Grizzly Creek State Park. No
arrests were made.
"They served Luna; they didn‚t serve me." said Julia Butterfly Hill, who
has remained in a thousand-year old redwood she calls Luna, for nearly
14 months. She is perched on a platform 175 feet above the posted
eviction notice. She said that if PL will protect the forests, she will
The eviction notices came only a week after Steve Bowling, a tree-sitter
near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park accidentally fell 100 feet,
breaking his pelvis. This occurred just a few yards away from where
activist David Nathan "Gypsy" Chain, was killed on Sept. 17 of last
Bowling‚s unfortunate accident apparently awakened the Maxxam legal
department back in Houston, Texas, to the possibility of being held
liable for injuries sustained by trespassing tree-sitters.
PL also printed the text of the eviction notice in the Eureka Times
Standard and the Humboldt Beacon. "We‚re making it official∑." PL
spokesperson Mary Bullwinkel said, "We‚ve never posted a notice prior
A neighbor in nearby Freshwater points out, "PL served the eviction
notices to cover their butts regarding legal liability. They‚re just
positioning themselves to force the Sheriff to go in and do their dirty
work. PL doesn‚t want the blood on their hand when they rip those brave
souls out of the tree-sits. They‚re going to let the Sheriff do it for
them, just like with the pepperspray."
The eviction notice ends with this paragraph: "Tree sitting becomes even
more dangerous during the high winds, snow, rain and storms of winter.
We request that you leave immediately for your own safety and that of
others. Neither law enforcement personnel nor company personnel should
be subjected to the risk of harm you are creating for yourself and
"I‚m taking responsibility for my own endangerment" says Nate Madsen, a
neighbor who got so fed up with PL‚s liquidation logging of Freshwater
Valley, that he has been sitting 160 feet up a tree above Freshwater
Road since October, 1998. "I want the Pacific Lumber Company to take
responsibility for their endangerment. Endangerment to: human life,
private property, soil integrity, water quality; endangerment to
watersheds, to fish and wildlife and, their habitat."
Madsen responded to the eviction notice by writing a letter to PL
stating, "I would like to point out that this activity [tree-sitting] I
am participating in of my own free will does not endanger you, your
staff, or any of your representatives. Your choice in response to my
action, on the other hand, could possibly affect such an endangerment.
Please do not wrongfully endanger your workers. Their work safety is
first in my book, as it should and I‚m sure is in yours. I have been
driven to this dangerous act by PL‚s lawbreaking habits and disrespect
for good land stewardship."
"When I climbed up here, I assumed the risk." Madsen explained via
cellular phone. "When they come up to remove me, they are certainly
assuming the risk."
On January 19, the California Department of Forestry approved helicopter
logging at in the timber harvest plan on Gypsy Mountain, where David
Chain was killed. This was evidently done as an amendment to the
approved plan. The resumption of logging increases the likelihood of a
confrontation between PL loggers and the activists who are still
maintaining the tree-sit there. Many residents fear that there will be
further acts of violence in the woods.
On December 9 PL climbers and Humboldt County Sheriff‚s Deputies
violently attacked tree-sitters on Gypsy Mountain. The tree-sitters,
who were a hundred feet up, "locked down." One young woman locked
herself by the arms to the platform, and a man locked himself by the
neck to the tree with a bicycle lock. Unable to remove the activists,
the PL climbers removed their survival supplies, cut all their ropes,
and cut off all the branches below them, leaving them no safe avenue of
descent, and departed shortly before dark. Many residents consider this
an act of unwarranted terrorism.
"PL certainly seems eager to helicopter log the remaining trees
surrounding the Grizzly Creek tree-sit," said one longtime forest
activist. "Once they‚ve completed logging this extremely steep slope,
next winter‚s storms are sure to unravel the stripped mountainside,
causing a massive landslide. The physical evidence of the David Chain
homicide will be buried under acres of mud."
"This situation here in Humboldt is a big headache for Charles Hurwitz."
said Julia Butterfly Hill. "He wants to get the cut out fast. He knows
that with the new Governor, the climate within the agencies that
regulate the timber industry are changing. Hurwitz knows he‚s got to
log all the old growth he can now. There certainly won‚t be much left
to cut after he‚s done. But, he‚s got to move fast before a judge or
one of the agencies slaps a temporary restraining order on him."
"We don‚t have the millions of dollars that Charles Hurwitz has to buy
big PR firms to spin the story in the media." Julia Butterfly Hill
explained, her voice on the phone barely audible over the roar of the
engines from nearby helicopter logging. "We have to be sitting in trees
to get the attention of the media. We‚d love to be safe and warm on the
"Today, they‚re using the őJaws of Death‚ to pull off the last of the
logs. This morning the guys from Columbia Helicopter shouted up to me,
őMiss Butterfly, the big one‚s coming in today.‚ They‚re using this
gigantic helicopter. It‚s not as close to me as it was last January."
"Last year, the guys from Columbia told me, őYou‚d better lock down or
something, cause the downdraft from the helicopter is 300 miles an
hour.‚ This literally blows trees over. I‚ve seen some trees airborne
with the root balls still attached. The downdraft twists the trees up,
and they unwind like a rubber band. A lot of the trees down there look
like they‚ve had a bad haircut. And it‚s pretty dangerous for
In January 1998, Hill videotaped helicopter logging so close to her
tree-sit that it endangered her safety. When Hill sent a copy of the
videotape to the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA wrote a letter
to Columbia Helicopters reprimanding them for their violations of buffer
Hill explained, "The guy from the FAA told me, őLook, I‚m not taking
sides, but if they come back that close, again: I‚ll pull their
license.‚ You see, they‚re required to leave a 150-foot buffer zone
around Luna. The first time they were up here, I saw about eight guys
on the ground and I thought they were coming to get me out of the tree.
Then I saw them lay down this bright ribbon of plastic tape around the
base of the tree, like a police line, marking off the 150-foot circle
they weren‚t supposed to enter."
"But on the very first morning of helicopter logging, they came right
for me, really close, and the downdraft from the helicopter blades blew
the plastic tape away." Hill said.
* * *
On the morning of Thursday, February 4, two Fortuna residents were
having breakfast at the local Denny‚s Restaurant. They overheard a
waitress say her husband worked as a supervisor for PL, and he was in an
important meeting across the street at the Riverlodge Convention
Center. She said the meeting was about, "∑the legal aspects of how to
get those tree-sitters out of the trees for good."
After breakfast, the residents walked to the convention center and
observed about 40 cars and trucks in the parking lot. Two dozen of the
vehicles had PL logos.
The residents entered the building and were confronted by an agitated
woman who identified herself as the manager of the facility. She
physically blocked the residents from entering the meeting. However,
the residents could see through the door into the meeting room. Inside,
they saw about 100 men from the local timber industry.
"There weren‚t any men in business suits. They were dressed in work
clothes," said one of the residents, "and we didn‚t see John Campbell‚s
[President of Pacific Lumber] car in the parking lot, or any vehicles
with government license plates."
The residents asked the facility manager who was holding the meeting and
she threatened to call the police. When they repeated their questions,
and the manager did call the police, the residents departed. Police did
arrive, however there were no arrests.
The Riverlodge convention center is owned by the City of Fortuna.
Sharon Bonino, the manager of the facility, was out of town and
unavailable for comment. The February 4 meeting was convened by the
California Lumberman‚s Accident Prevention Association (CLAPA).
Ruth Wells of Sacramento, identified herself as a spokesperson for the
obscure CLAPA and said that the meeting was a "logging safety training."
She stated that she did not attend.
When questioned about the secretive nature of the association‚s meeting,
Wells insisted that the media was notified about the Fortuna meeting.
However, when this reporter contacted local television stations and
newspapers, they had never heard of CLAPA, and were quite unaware of the
February 4th meeting in Fortuna.
Additionally, representatives of the Humboldt County Sheriff‚s
Department, the Redwood Region Logging Conference, the state Board of
Forestry, the Associated California Loggers, the Forest Landowners of
California, as well as Chief Bradshaw of the Fortuna Police Department,
all said that they had never heard of CLAPA.
According to Wells, "The seminar leader was Gary Kessler of the Potlatch
Corporation in Idaho. He‚s a resource coordinator with a background in
logging. He used to work for OSHA."
Wells explained that CLAPA is funded by member‚s dues. She denied having
any knowledge of timber industry employees engaging in unsafe or violent
conduct directed at forest activists.
When questioned about the coincidental nature of this meeting occurring
the very day after the tree-sitters received their eviction notices,
Wells said, "The meeting has been planned since last summer. We‚re not
participating in a political process. We‚re participating in a safety
process." Curiously, Wells refused to give her illusive agency‚s
mailing address and ended the conversation abruptly.
* * *
Predictably, Mary Bullwinkel, spokeswoman for PL has heard of CLAPA.
"This organization has been around since the 1920s" she said. Oddly,
she also refused to provide this reporter with the association‚s address
or phone number.
Few county residents are aware that Ms. Bullwinkel, the seemingly small
town, small time spokesperson is in fact the local front person for the
international public relations titan Burson-Marsteller Public Relations.
A visit to the Burson-Marsteller website is truly an Orwellian
experience. One is confronted with the statements "Managing perceptions
that drive performance" and "Perceptions are real. They color what we
see∑ What we believe..."
Pat Riley, Director of Public Affairs Practice at Burson-Marsteller
acknowledged that Mary Bullwinkel "∑is not authorized to handle certain
media situations regarding our client, the Pacific Lumber Company."
Industry analysts speculate that the PL account is worth several million
dollars a year to Burson-Marsteller.
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