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EarthLight is a magazine published quarterly by the Unity with Nature Committee
of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends [Quakers]

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Headwaters Forest background

from News of the Earth
[EL #24, Winter 1996-97, p 4]

The Headwaters Forest contains the world's largest unprotected ancient redwood groves - with many trees over 2000 years old. The 60,000 acre Headwaters Forest Complex is owned by Pacific Lumber, a company, which up until a hostile takeover in 1986, had a long history of sensitive and sustainable logging in this increasingly rare habitat.
In 1986, using funds generated by junk bonds, Maxxam Corporation's Charles Hurwitz engineered a hostile takeover of Pacific Lumber. Hurwitz forced Pacific Lumber to double production rates - proposing to liquidate the entire ancient forest in 20 years - in order to pay off the junk bonds and reap huge profits.
In recent years, opposition to Hurwitz' decimation of the ancient redwoods, of which only 4% remain today, has escalated dramatically. The protest has taken on national dimensions in the last two years, with major demonstrations at Pacific Lumber and entrances to the Headwaters area.
With a Gingrich-led conservative congress trying to end the Endangered Species Act in 1995-96, Hurwitz filed a federal suit seeking enormous damages, claiming the ESA was preventing him from cutting trees on his own private property. He then proceeded with plans to begin salvage logging in the ancient groves on September 16, 1996.
The previous year, in a planned event, some 2500 persons protested the threat to Headwaters, with 264 marchers arrested in a peaceful, organized civil disobedience on Pacific Lumber land. On September 15, 1996 - one day before the deadline - almost 8000 people gathered in front of PL's Carlotta mill and over 1000 were arrested for blocking the haul road into Headwaters.
For the next two weeks, making national headlines almost daily, direct action continued to prevent logging. Then on September 28, under great pressure, federal officials (Senator Diane Feinstein and Interior's John Garamendi) reached an agreement with the crafty Hurwitz. It set another moratorium (10 months) covering only two of Headwaters' six ancient groves (only 7000 acres), contingent on an absolute nightmare of a final deal.
Environmentalists and activists were in an uproar over this government "deal," under which Hurwitz would pocket $380 million in cash and unidentified "surplus" federal land, and agree to suspend (not dismiss) his "takings" lawsuit against the government.

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Page last updated on 2/25/97 by Tom Farley of Spontaneous Combustion -