It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from us, but that doesn’t mean the campaign has wound down! The Campaign to Save Jackson Forest—the People’s Forest—is alive and well and entering a third year of determined nonviolent struggle for the return of ancestral lands and the protection of the environment.
Led by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians with the broad endorsement of many local and State-wide Tribes, the Coalition includes the Mendocino Trail Stewards (first to alert us to the ancient trees marked for cut in the Caspar 500 timber harvest plan), E.P.I.C., Families for the Forest, Earth First! Mama Tree Network, Mendocino County Youth for Climate, plus many concerned individuals and organizations.
The good news is that after two years of combined tribal government-to-government consultation, ceremony and prayer, direct action and community pressure, CalFire has been brought to a standstill. Logging in Jackson has been halted and no new timber harvest plans are being approved during an indefinite “pause” called by the Board of Forestry that came with a 2-year budget booster of $10 mil per year for “non-logging related” activities and CalFire salaries.
Last fall, CalFire offered a measly 75 acre tract (out of the 50,000 acre Jackson Forest) inside the Caspar 500 timber harvest plan (THP) for tribal co-management. California Resources Sec’y Wade Crowfoot praised traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge in a glowing speech, but just days later CalFire reversed itself, abruptly breaking off government-to-government consultations with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, declaring in a press release that talks were “completed” and all the “stakeholders” were satisfied. In fact, talks had just begun, Coyote Valley is a Sovereign Nation, not a “stakeholder” and no one was satisfied.
CalFire is supposed to follow Governor Newsom’s 2020 Directive that State lands should be examined for co-management with Tribes, or returned outright through the mechanism of the Governor’s 30X30 plan (conserving 30% of all State lands by the year 2030, in accordance with the U.N. Resolution) to address the climate crisis. These lands are ancestral territories stolen from the original inhabitants who have surviving descendants. This Directive is to be implemented by the Tribes and the managing agencies (CalFire, Natural Resources, Water Quality, Fish and Wildlife) working together in a Truth and Healing Council.
In a surprising new development, Willits Redwood Company’s contract on Caspar 500, home of the Mama, Papa and Gemini redwood trees and other ancient giants once headed for the saw, may be allowed to expire, according to JDSF Manager Kevin Conway, who said in a JAG (Jackson Advisory Group) meeting “we will be letting it expire”. Its expiration date is May 15th.
Unfortunately, Conway also said that the Caspar THP was not being withdrawn but will continue and be modified, with input from the tribes and community. A new THP would open public comment, creating the basis for legal challenge. Evidently, after so many big trees were taken out of the THP under intense pressure, it was no longer financially attractive to the mill owners. Willits Redwood specializes in Old Growth and has the only saw in the region capable of milling such large diameter logs. Meanwhile, the trees are still standing!
What now? Our focus is shifting from direct action (unless cutting resumes!) to State-wide organizing for legislative changes to the Jackson Forest mission and mandate. We continue to demand a full moratorium on all tree cutting and road building (roads regularly desecrate sacred and cultural sites). But we still need to be prepared to defend the trees and raise our voices in Sacramento! A “pause” is not a promise not to log!
We’ve achieved a great deal so far and have much to celebrate! Your continued support is very much needed and appreciated. Your letters and calls, petitions and donations, showing up for rallies and protests make a big difference and keep our spirits up!
The Coalition to Save Jackson Forest