Pacific Lumber suspends logging at accident site - company agrees to
by Mike Geniella
In a bid to ease tensions, Pacific Lumber Co. said Monday it will
voluntarily not resume logging operations at the Humboldt County scene
where an Earth First! follower dies Sept. 17 until a sheriff's
investigation is complete.
Company President John Campbell, acting upon a request by an attorney
for David Chain's family, gave the assurance on the day Chain's mother,
two sisters and other family arrived from Texas to attend memorial
services Monday night in Arcata and this afternoon in Garberville for
their son and brother. About 300 people attended Monday's service.
Chain, 24, of Austin, Texas was killed when a falling tree at a disputed
Pacific Lumber logging site in a remote area adjacent to Grizzly Creek
Redwoods State Park.
The family today plans to meet with activists at a blockade and shrine
they've erected in honor of Chain at the main entrance to the disputed
Campbell said Monday the company will extend "every courtesy to the
"I hope to meet with them personally and privately," he said. "We will,
of course, respect the desire they have expressed for privacy."
Campbell agreed to not resume logging at the request of attorney Steve
Schectman, who has been hired by the family. As the result of his own
preliminary inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Chain's death,
Schectman said Monday he will formally ask state and federal authorities
to intervene in the local investigation. Activists have expressed fears
the Humboldt County Sheriff Department is biased in favor of the timber
company, the county's biggest private employer.
Because of the high degree of emotions surrounding Chain's death,
sheriff spokesmen have said the investigation could take two or three
more weeks before any findings are turned over to Humboldt County
District Attorney Terry Farmer for review.
On Monday, Campbell said the company does not intend to resume logging
until the sheriff investigators are satisfied their work is finished,
"and they have told us that it is OK to go ahead."
But Campbell declined to address the possibility of a longer logging
suspension pending Schectman's petition to state and federal agencies.
"We have received no indication that state or federal authorities see
any reason to intervene," Campbell said.
Last week, state Attorney General Dan Lungren rejected activists'
request that his office intervene, saying he believes local law
enforcement can and will conduct a fair and impartial investigation into
Pacific Lumber contends Chain died accidentally, crushed by a falling
tree felled by a logger who was unaware the activist was in the
immediate vicinity. Logger A. E. Ammonds (sic) had earlier confronted
Chain and a group of intruders at the site, in a pattern that has become
typical of disrupted logging operations targeted by Earth First! and
other environmental activists.
Company critics claim the logger deliberately fell the tree in the
direction of Chain and the other activists, although they have contended
it does not appear he did it with the intention of killing anyone.
Nevertheless, they argue he should be criminally charged because of the
reckless behavior encouraged by company managers.
The resulting uproar over Chain's death has deeply divided a timber
region that's struggled with more than a decade of anti-logging
On Monday, a local timber industry support group called on environmental
activists to assume responsibility for the risks that they exposed
followers to by sending people into the woods in hopes of disrupting
active logging operations.
Citing the logging industry's reputation for being the nation's most
hazardous occupation, Claudia Lima of Women in Timber said,
"Environmental groups need to take their causes to a safer environment
that will not jeopardize the lives of their followers, or of our family
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