Strawberry Rock, Trinidad, on the right of two clear cuts executed this summer by Green Diamond Resource Company. | Photo courtesy of Redwood Forest Defenders

Tree sitters defend forest near Strawberry Rock

The Redwood Forest Defenders demand Yurok tribal land be returned
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The Redwood Forest Defenders demand Yurok tribal land be returned

Green Diamond Resource Company, (GD), an Humboldt State University research partner and local logging company, made two clear cuts near Strawberry Rock in Trinidad this summer. Redwood Forest Defense partially blocked the logging by creating a tree sit village in the forest canopy.

A Redwood Forest Defense tree sitter risking arrest asked to remain anonymous, but provided the alias Lupine. Lupine said the tree sits were erected April 1 immediately after Humboldt County imposed the COVID-19 isolation order.

The company stopped about 20 acres, or 20 football fields, short of logging the whole area they originally intended. Roughly 100 acres between two timber harvest plans, Lupine said.

Karen Pickett from the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters and an Earth First!er since the early 1980s believes protecting the forest is crucial.

“I guess forest defense is an essential job too,” Pickett said. “I find it really inspiring that people are up there doing this.”

Lupine and the tree sitters have defended a five acre area this year. In previous years the sitter protected the remaining untouched 20 acres of the timber harvest plan. Green Diamond and the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust are in active discussion over the 20 acres, wanting to preserve a strip of forest for trail access to Strawberry Rock.

Sarah Lindgren-Akana, Yurok tribe member and secretary of the Tsurai Ancestral Society, an organization advocating for the Indigenous of the area whose land was stolen, said she supports the tree sitters.

“I really admire their dedication and I hope people are listening to their message,” Lindgren-Akana said. “While some may argue that this is just a small area, or that it is not an old growth forest, we need to keep in mind that over the past 500 years America has lost about 95 percent of its forest due to development and logging.”

Gary Rynearson, GD chief communications officer, claims the company stopped logging the clear cuts near Strawberry Rock more than three weeks ago.

“We think it’s dubious for them to say that [since] they have refused to file the completion paperwork [for the timber harvest plan],” Lupine said. “We are staying here since they are still legally entitled, within the timber harvest plan, to come here and cut.”

Lindgren-Akana disapproves of the management practices of GD advocating for the land to be returned to the tribe.

“The Strawberry Rock property is within the Tsurai village and should be returned to the tribe for proper management and care,” Lindfgren-Akana said. “The Yurok tribe can bring the land back into balance and ensure the plants and forest, animals and people all have something to enjoy for generations to come.”

Lupine supports Lindgren-Akana and the idea of the land being returned to its rightful protectors.

“The goal for this land is not to be held by an entity like the land trust, but to be returned to the Indigenous people it belongs to, the people it was stolen from,” Lupine said. “Whether that be the tribal council or groups like the Tsurai Ancestral Society.”

Lindgren-Akana stated that the GD was starting to move towards a streambed that directly impacts the surrounding ecosystem.

GD declined to comment on stream encroachment and sustainable forestry practices.

Lupine said very little is done to ensure the company complies with sustainable forestry practices.

“I think there is very little oversight whether it is from those types of third party certifiers or whether it is from the state and federal agencies who are tasked with overseeing these things,” Lupine said. “I often wonder if [third party] certifiers are doing more harm than good.”

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