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Pete Kayes

Redwood Uprising: From One Big Union to Earth First! and the Bombing of Judi Bari (Steve Ongerth)

Introduction
Chapter 1 : An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Chapter 2 : Pollution, Love it or Leave it!
Chapter 3 : He Could Clearcut Forests Like No Other
Chapter 4 : Maxxam’s on the Horizon
Chapter 5 : No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!
Chapter 6 : If Somebody Kills Themselves, Just Blame it on Earth First!
Chapter 7 : Way Up High in The Redwood Giants
Chapter 8 : Running for Our Lives
Chapter 9 : And they Spewed Out their Hatred
Chapter 10 : Fellow Workers, Meet Earth First!
Chapter 11 : I Knew Nothin’ Till I Met Judi
Chapter 12 : The Day of the Living Dead Hurwitzes
Chapter 13 : They’re Closing Down the Mill in Potter Valley
Chapter 14 : Mother Jones at the Georgia Pacific Mill
Chapter 15 : Hang Down Your Head John Campbell
Chapter 16 : I Like Spotted Owls…Fried
Chapter 17 : Logging to Infinity
Chapter 18 : The Arizona Power Lines
Chapter 19 : Aristocracy Forever
Chapter 20 : Timberlyin’
Chapter 21 : You Fucking Commie Hippies!
Chapter 22 : I am the Lorax; I speak for the Trees
Chapter 23 : Forests Forever
Chapter 24 : El Pio
Chapter 25 : Sabo Tabby vs. Killa Godzilla
Chapter 26 : They Weren’t Gonna Have No Wobbly Runnin’ Their Logging Show
Chapter 27 : Murdered by Capitalism
Chapter 28 : Letting the Cat Out of the Bag
Chapter 29 : Swimmin’ Cross the Rio Grande
Chapter 30 : She Called for Redwood Summer
Chapter 31 : Spike a Tree for Jesus
Chapter 32 : Now They Have These Public Hearings…
Chapter 33 : The Ghosts of Mississippi Will be Watchin’
Chapter 34 : We’ll Have an Earth Night Action
Chapter 35 : “You Brought it On Yourself, Judi”
Chapter 36 : A Pipe Bomb Went Rippin’ Through Her Womb
Chapter 37 : Who Bombed Judi Bari?
Chapter 38 : Conclusion

This entire book and all of its chapters are also available for viewing at judibari.info.

Eco Wobblies: Revolutionary Ecology and the Development of Earth First!-IWW Local #1

By Michael Gonzales - dissertation - May 19, 2017

Environmental historians have shown that the development of the modern environmental movement has been marked by a perceived tension between the interests and attitudes of workers and those of environmental activists. This paper details an important exception to that trend. In late 1989 members of the radical environmental group Earth First! joined with lumber workers in Northern California to form Earth First!-IWW Local #1.

In the words of Local #1 leader Judi Bari, this labor union acted as a “bridge between environmentalists and timber workers.” This essay examines the factors that brought workers and environmental activists together in this short-lived experiment in what some have termed “green syndicalism.” This essay utilizes archival documentary evidence and the accounts of movement activists to demonstrate a more complex relationship between Earth First! and the IWW (and between labor and environmentalism in general), with deeper historical roots than has been previously understood In doing so, this essay challenges the assumptions of the environment versus labor dichotomy and suggests the potential for solidarity and cooperation between environmentalists and workers.

Read the Report (PDF).

Chapter 28 : Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

At their first meeting, the members of IWW Local #1 had agreed upon a policy that they would not consent to interviews in the press because—while Earth First!ers could be open about their militant radicalism, since they didn’t have a direct economic relationship with the big timber companies or the gyppos—the workers, on the other hand, risked the loss of their job, or even their standing in the community if they spoke out. The G-P mill workers hit by the PCB spill were the exception, of course, because by the time they had turned to IWW Local #1, they had already had their standing taken away from them, and some—such as Treva Vandenbosch and Frank Murray—had been forced to quit. On the other hand, the P-L dissidents—such as Kelly Bettiga, Pete Kayes, Les Reynolds, and Bob Younger were already under intense scrutiny for the ESOP campaign and their unsuccessful appeals to the NLRB—and the L-P workers feeding information to Bari—including Don Beavers and Randy Veach, all could be fired in a heartbeat if they were linked to the “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs.” [1]

After the FBI sting operation that entrapped five of their comrades in Arizona, North Coast Earth First!ers were understandably wary of their dealings with the press, with good reason. With the region increasingly resembling a pressure cooker on overdrive due to the Corporate Timber reaction to Earth First!’s direct actions, EPIC’s lawsuits, the potential listing of the spotted owl as endangered, L-P’s outsourcing, and several ballot initiatives, the bosses were more likely than ever to ramp up their propaganda mill. The added pressures of underground IWW union organizing activity required especially tight security from the activists. Sometimes even the left-liberal press, small and limited though its circulation tended to be, could cause more harm than good. Judi Bari was especially aware of this fact.

Even if a press interview was sympathetic to the efforts of IWW Local 1 and the workers’ privacy respected, there was a sense that reporters might sensationalize the matter. In December of 1989, freelance reported Julie Gilden, whose articles often ran in publications such as The Village Voice approached Judi Bari about conducting just such an interview with her and timber-worker members of IWW Local #1. Bari informed Gilden of the branch’s aforementioned policy, and the latter claimed to agree to respect the IWW members’ wishes, but wanted to ask Bari some background questions on the IWW’s history and the local culture of Humboldt and Mendocino County. Bari consented, assuming that Gilden was completely forthright. She wasn’t. [2]

Chapter 20 : Timberlyin’

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

For the past 3 years we’ve been talked at, talked about, talked down to, and talked up. Isn’t it time that we start talking? Time that we started talking to each other about what’s happening at Palcotraz. Talking about overtime. Talking about who we are really working for anyway? Talking about Uncle Charle selling our logs across the ocean and selling us down the river.

Of course, working for 50 or so hours a week there’s not much time to talk to anyone. Nobody remembers the last time they talked to their wife or kids. So we need a real employee newsletter, don’t we? We can’t count on Uncle Charlie or Soupman John to tell us the truth. Let’s stop listening to their timber lyin’!

—Anonymous Pacific Lumber Workers, July 1989.

As bad as things might have seemed for the marginally organized Georgia Pacific millworkers of IWA Local 3-469, the nonunion Pacific Lumber experiences could easily be described as several degrees worse. For example, on Friday, May 19, 1989, 63 year-old Pacific Lumber maintenance millworker Clifford L. Teague, a ten-year company veteran, died when he fell or was sucked into the machinery and was dismembered while tending the hog conveyer belt in Scotia mill B. P-L vice president and controller Howard Titterington claimed that nobody witnessed the event, but some employees were convinced he had fallen into the chipper which ground up unused wood scraps into hog fuel. Fellow P-L employee Bob Younger, Teague’s friend and a harsh critic of the Maxxam regime, was convinced that the accident happened due to fatigue as a result of the 60-hour workweeks now common since the takeover. “They’re working us too hard…There have been too many accidents in the last three months…when you get tired and don’t stay alert all the time, you do things you probably wouldn’t do again…people don’t pay as much attention as they should,” declared Younger, and noted an accident in which another employee had been hit by a forklift and another in which a separate employee had lost a toe. [1]

Fellow P-L dissident Pete Kayes agreed that accidents had risen since the institution of the longer workweeks, but wasn’t sure that Teague’s death was directly attributable to them, since it had happened early in the shift, though perhaps Kayes had not considered the possibility of cumulative exhaustion. Titterington, on the other hand, flat-out denied that accidents had increased, and neither TEAM nor WECARE had anything to say about the matter. [2] Nobody knew for sure why this happened, and Maxxam was not particularly forthcoming about it. None of the pro-(Corporate)-timber publications issued so much as a blurb about the incident, although the matter was serious enough to warrant a mention in the Earth First! Journal. Although the latter neglected to mention Teague by name and though they got some of the details (such as his age and the date of his death) wrong, they at least covered the story. [3]

Chapter 12 : The Day of the Living Dead Hurwitzes

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“I’m sure as owners and managers, the employees of (Pacific Lumber) will protect their resources through the concept of sustained yields…Pacific Lumber Co. and the redwoods are a national environmental issue. National public support for employee ownership will be forthcoming from around our great country.”

—Rick Ellis, Eureka Times-Standard, October 2, 1988

“Shouldn’t we stop exporting our logs and stop selling to other mills so our young employees will have a job in the future? What about the generation that follows?

—Lester Reynolds, Pacific Lumber monorail mechanic.

No sooner had the IWW joined forces with Earth First! on the North Coast when they found their hands full. One of the provisions of the recently passed Proposition 70 was the purchase (at least in theory) of several parcels of forest land, including the highly contested Goshawk Grove owned by Eel River Sawmills, which comprised a 900 acre tract of virgin redwoods and Douglas fir at the headwaters of the Mattole River. ERS had committed to negotiating the sale of that grove to the public, but their vice president, Dennis Scott, had made unreasonable demands including a prohibition on media coverage, no public comment, approval of several preexisting THPs within the parcel in question, an offer of much less land than had been proposed by the environmentalists, and finally that they be paid in old growth logs purchased from P-L instead of cash. P-L management no doubt approved of this Faustian bargain (indeed, it is not out of the question that they had suggested it), because it benefitted Maxxam’s bottom line. The CDF kept threatening to approve one of ERS’s demanded THPs (1-88-520), and EPIC responded by declaring that they would seek a TRO. Meanwhile, Earth First! and others organized their supporters for a direct action to prevent any logging there. [1]

On the surface, it seemed that defending the Sanctuary Forest would not be difficult. Like the fight for the nearby Sally Bell Grove, the fight to preserve this grove had gone on for at least a decade, and at least 250 local citizens, including veterans of various environmental campaigns in the “Mateel” region, Earth First!, and EPIC had pledged their support. As luck would have it, fate would deal them a number of twists. First, in what amounted to a clear case of bureaucratic stonewalling, the CDF kept obscuring and changing the perspective date for which they would review THP 520. Finally, on October 25, 1988, CDF resource manager Len Theiss approved it at 4:45 PM on October 25, 1988. By that time the 250 activists, including Greg King, were in position, along with an additional 21 Earth First!ers who had been temporarily recruited from Oregon following a local rendezvous recently held there, but Earth First! found its numbers divided by another action not too far away. [2]

Following the California Rendezvous, Judi Bari had immediately involved herself in organizing forest defense campaigns and building bridges with local activists hitherto ignored by Earth First!. Bari’s first move following the September gathering had been to call a meeting of Earth First! in Ukiah, at which Micheal Huddleston and Steven Day, who were not Earth First!ers, but sympathetic local watershed activists, attended and requested Earth First!’s assistance in defending the 16,000 acre Cahto Peak wilderness in northwestern Mendocino County that was in danger of being clearcut, again by ERS, in a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) timber sale. Ukiah Earth First! reached consensus in favor of assisting them, and planned a “wilderness walk” (essentially a trespass) to scope out the threatened area. [3] Huddleston and Day feared that cutting would begin in the spring of 1989, but rumors circulated that the date might be moved up to as late October. Sure enough, on October 24, the day before ERS was to begin logging in Goshawk Grove, A call came in from the newly opened Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC) in Ukiah—which was staffed by Earth First!ers Betty and Gary Ball—that announced that ERS was already cutting logging roads into the Cahto Wilderness! [4]

Quickly, Judi Bari scrambled approximately 30 additional Earth First!ers (including Darryl Cherney) and other local environmentalists to defend the Cahto Wilderness from ERS. While the Sanctuary Forest defenders successfully held off ERS there, the hastily mobilized Cahto “wilderness walk” managed to shut down the road building actions. The latter mobilization involved the use of two dozen cleverly placed road blockades to slow down the loggers’ advance—as there was only one remote forest road into the threatened stand—but the loggers got paid anyway (as it was a BLM sale). Additionally, since this action was organized on the fly in a huge hurry, the Earth First!ers and locals improvised cleverly, as Huddleston and Day contacted the Cahto Indian Tribe, who in turn contacted California Senator Alan Cranston, and discovered that the sale violated conditions of a treaty with the Cahto. [5] North Coast Earth First!ers and IWW members had helped manage to win what they thought was a two-front battle, but they soon learned that they had won on three fronts! [6]

Chapter 9 : And they Spewed Out their Hatred

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“We are witnessing the biggest assault in 20 years on the remaining ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, and the rhetoric could hardly be more Orwellian as far as the environment is concerned.”

—North Coast Environmental Center director Tim McKay, June 1988 [1]

“PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!” shouts Oz, the Great and Terrible in the theatrical version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, just after Dorothy’s dog, Toto, pulls aside the screen exposing the simple man-who-would-be-wizard. As elaborate a ruse as it was, L Frank Baum’s loveable humbug couldn’t hold a candle to the heads of modern corporations. Corporate Timber maintained economic and political control over the Pacific Northwest using the many methods to manufacture consent, including: the concentration of timber holdings and production capital (namely mills and milling equipment) in the hands of a few corporations; reliance on gyppo logging firms and either nonunion millworkers or millworkers with mostly compliant union representation; insurance of the gyppos’ loyalty through forestry and bidding practices that made the latter financially dependent upon the corporations; dominance of regulatory agencies by subservient or likeminded officials, sometimes even former timber executives; ideological and financial domination over timber dependent communities, their public institutions, and their locally elected officials; the donation of just enough charitable contributions to those often financially starved institutions as a “carrot”; the threat of capital flight—which was becoming increasingly feasible due to new technologies—as a “stick”; appeals to cultural ideals particular to the region, namely rugged individualism, cultural conservatism, and private property; and the establishment of ostensibly grassroots false front groups to foster the illusion of populist counter-opposition to the corporations’ political opponents. [2] In the spring of 1988, Pacific Lumber used this last tool extensively.

After Jerry Partain rejected the Shaw Creek and Lawrence Creek THPs proposed by Pacific Lumber, the following letter by Ramona Moore appeared in the Eureka Times-Standard and the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance:

“I’ve lived in Humboldt County since 1954 and have been employed at the Pacific Lumber Company for 24 years, and my husband for 29 years. Our four children were raised in Scotia…

“We take great pride in knowing we have always paid our full share of taxes, never drawn welfare funds nor filed unemployment because we didn’t want to work, and contributed what we could to charitable organizations. What have Earth First and EPIC people contributed? They have opposed everything from importing bananas to cutting trees and are only for legalizing marijuana. They are mostly unemployed which means they are drawing unemployment benefits or on welfare, and maybe growing ‘pot’ to supplement their income. They certainly are not paying federal, state, and county taxes…

“…We have to work for our living and whether they realize it or not, it’s our work and contributions in taxes that allows them the benefits they’re living on. So what gives them the right to play God with our future?

“Humboldt County relies on fishing, tourism, and timber (a renewable resource) for their livelihood. If Earth First and EPIC people win their endeavors, none of these things will be available. Pacific Lumber contributes $30 million in wages yearly, and millions are contributed in taxes. If this is taken from the community and thousands of people are without work, only one thing can happen—disaster!” [3]

This was but one of many very similar letters published between April 19 and June 10, 1988, including those by Steve White, published in the Eureka Times-Standard, April 19, 1988 [4]; Dann Johnson, Times-Standard on April 23, 1988 [5]; Rodney and Melodee Sanderson, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance on May 10, 1988 [6]; Richard Adams [7] and Lee Ann Walstrom [8], Times-Standard, May 21, 1988; Samuel and Linda Bartlett [9], Mary L. Fowler [10], Kevin Morris [11], Nita M Whitaker [12], Keith Kersell [13], and Lee Ann Walstrum [14], Beacon and Fortuna Advance, May 22, 1988; Gaird Hamilton, Times-Standard, May 23, 1988 [15]; Lynda Lyons, Times-Standard, May 24, 1988 [16]; Richard Ward [17] and Fred Johnson [18], Times-Standard, May 25, 1988; Forrest Johnson, Times-Standard, May 26, 1988 [19]; Dennis Coleman, Times-Standard, May 27, 1988 [20]; Raymond Davis [21], Jeff and Sherrin Erickson [22], and Gary L Wyatt [23], Beacon and Fortuna Advance, May 27, 1988; Deborah August of Eureka [24], Ken Cress [25], and Jim Scaife [26], Eureka Times-Standard, May 28, 1988; Linda Bartlett (again) [27], Allan E. Barrote [28], Josh and Betty Edwards [29], Vanessa Frederickson [30] Mohota Jean Pollard and Donald H. Pollard [31], and Dee Weeks and family (sic) [32], Beacon and Fortuna Advance, June 3, 1988; and James Ober [33] and Cindy Cardoza Tyler [34], Beacon and Fortuna Advance on June 10, 1988. The Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance commented that the sheer volume of letters was unusual. [35] Even the owner of the Chevron gas station in Scotia got into the act. [36]

Chapter 7 : Way Up High in The Redwood Giants

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“I just wish Mr. Hurwitz would go out in the woods and take about a day and just sit down in inside a redwood grove. Maybe he’d have a different opinion (about) what’s going on. Rather than looking at a dollar bill, he’d be seeing a tree for its value.”

—John Maurer, Pacific Lumber shipping clerk, 1976-86.

“The employees of PL have no union or representation; they’ve been kidnapped. Whatever their employer requires, they must fulfill or risk unemployment. They’ve become forced through economics to support practices they would never have supported otherwise. PL employees are paranoid by necessity. Folks are so afraid of losing their jobs. There’s lots of fear in our community, fear that keeps us separated from one another.”

—Pete Kayes, Pacific Lumber blacksmith, 1976-91

Earth First! was committed to their Week of Outrage Against Maxxam, whether or not their message of forests and timber jobs forever was superimposed with images of mill worker George Alexander speaking through the bandages that covered his mutilated face. Greg King worried that the negative publicity for an act Earth First! didn’t commit would indeed distract attention away from the real issue: the long term liquidation of the last remaining virgin redwood forests of Northern California. Darryl Cherney, however, assured everyone, “We will be upholding the laws. It is Pacific Lumber that is breaking them.” [1] Beginning on Monday, May 18, Earth First! planned to conduct actions in several places specifically targeting Pacific Lumber operations, Maxxam offices, and related facilities. [2] The largest and most important of these was to be a multifaceted action on Pacific Lumber land in Humboldt County itself, targeting the Booths Run “All Species Grove” THP concurrently being contested by EPIC. [3]

In preparation for the demonstrations, on the day before a group of Earth First!ers attempted to block Pacific Lumber’s main haul route into All Species Grove, while a second crew, including Larry Evans, Mokai, Kurt Newman, and Darrell Sukovitzen, conducted a group “tree sit” 120-150 high on four three-by-six foot suspended wooden platforms up in the giant redwoods nearby. Only two platforms were successfully deployed, however. Mokai had retreated at the advice of the other sitters for logistical reasons, and instead watched his would-be fellow climbers ascending their trees through binoculars. Newman was able to climb his tree, but his platform was intercepted by P-L security who arrived very quickly. From the canopies, the sitters hung large 30-foot banners with slogans such as “Save the Redwoods” and “Stop Maxxam” which also included a blood colored skull and crossbones. The sitters stayed up for several hours until Humboldt County sheriffs arrived, at which time Evans and Sukovitzen surrendered. Newman, on the other hand, remained in place until a professional P-L climber, Dan Collings ascended to his position, at which time Newman surrendered also. [4] The three tree sitters, three of their support people (Lynn Burchfield, Debra Jean Jorgenson, and Linda Villatore), and Sacramento Weekly reporter Tim Holt [5] were arrested and spent two nights in the Humboldt County jail and faced fines of up to $3000. [6] They had collectively managed to remain in the trees for between 12 and 20 hours, but had hoped to remain longer to give the next day’s action “staying power”. [7]

As it turned out, the tree sits weren’t needed anyway. The next day, the show went on at the enormous P-L log deck at Carlotta nearby, attended by 125 Earth First!ers and their allies holding banners, chanting, and singing songs, led by Darryl Cherney. [8] The tree spiking furor had brought larger than expected numbers of media representatives to the action, and they got a good look at Maxxam’s pillage and the Humboldt County sheriffs’ heavy handedness firsthand. One demonstrator was slightly injured when a pickup truck, driven by a disgruntled, unsympathetic P-L employee, attempted to storm the protesters at the logging gate. [9] A group of three women swarmed the log deck attempting to display huge banners there. [10] Although the sheriffs were anticipating the action and managed to arrest Agnes Mansfield, Aster Phillipa, and Karen Pickett [11], they were distracted long enough for Bettina Garsen, Tierra Diane Piaz, and “Sally Bell” [12] to ascend the log deck with banners conveying messages calling for a halt to old growth logging. [13] The sheriffs eventually arrested the second group, and all six arrestees each spent a night in the county jail. [14] Although the tree sit had been thwarted, the action turned out to be successful anyway, because P-L determined that it was in their short term interest not to haul any logs during the demonstration, and this nevertheless advanced Earth First!’s strategy beautifully. [15]

Chapter 5 : No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“One man, Charles Hurwitz, is going to destroy the largest remaining block of redwoods out of sheer arrogance. Only we the people can stop him.”

—Dave Foreman, October 22, 1986.[1]

Well I come from a long, long line of tree-fallin’ men,
And this company town was here before my grandpappy settled in,
We kept enough trees a-standin’ so our kids could toe the line,
But now a big corporation come and bought us out, got us working double time…

—lyrics excerpted from Where are We Gonna Work When the Trees are Gone?, by Darryl Cherney, 1986.

On the surface, very little seemed to have changed in Scotia for its more than 800 residents, but deep down, they all knew that the future was very much uncertain. Some seemed unconcerned, such as 18 year Pacific Lumber veteran Ted Hamilton, who declared, “We’re just going on as always,” or his more recently hired coworker, millworker Keith Miller, who had been at the company less than six years and who stated, “It doesn’t bother me much.”[2] Indeed, many of the workers seemed to welcome their newfound financial prosperity. [3] However, there were at least as many workers whose assessments were quite pessimistic, including millworker Ken Hollifield, a 19 year veteran who opined, “I’m sure this place won’t be here in five to seven years.” Former millworker and then-current owner of the Rendezvous Bar in Rio Dell, George Kelley, echoed these sentiments stating, “For 2½ years they’ve got a good thing going. After that they don’t know what’s happening.” Dave Galitz dismissed the naysayers’ concerns as typical fear of change, but careful estimates of the company’s harvesting rates bore out the pessimistic assessments. In the mills and the woods, however, production had increased substantially, to the point that many were working 50 and 60 hours per week. If there was to be any organized dissent, it would be difficult to keep it together, because the workers had little time to spare.[4] There seemed to be little they could do outside of a union campaign, and the IWA had neither been inspiring nor successful in their attempt.

Deep in the woods however, the changes were readily obvious. In 1985, the old P-L had received approval from the California Department of Forestry (CDF) to selectively log 5,000 acres.[5] With John Campbell at the helm, under the new regime, the company filed a record number of timber harvest plans (THPs) immediately following the sale, and all of them were approved by the CDF. There was more than a hint of a conflict of interest in the fact that the director of the agency, Jerry Pertain, had owned stock in the old Pacific Lumber and had cashed in mightily after the merger. [6] Since the takeover, the new P-L had received approval to log 11,000 acres, 10,000 of which were old growth, and there was every indication that these timber harvests would be accomplished through clearcutting.[7] Pacific Lumber spokesmen who had boasted about the company’s formerly benign forest practices now made the dubious declaration that clearcutting was the best method for ensuring both long term economic and environmental stability.

P-L forester Robert Stephens claimed that the old rate was unsustainable anyway, declaring, “About five years ago, it became apparent that there is going to be an end to old-growth. We simply cannot operate on a 2,000 year rotation.”

Public affairs manager David Galitz repeated what would soon become the new regime’s gospel, that clearcutting had actually been in the works for some time before the hint of a merger, even though in actual fact, this was untrue.

Pacific Lumber’s logging operations which had hitherto been idyllic by comparison now outpaced those of even Louisiana-Pacific and Georgia-Pacific. They tripled their logging crews, bringing in loggers from far away who had never known the old Pacific Lumber and had no particular loyalty to the fight to prevent Hurwitz’s plunder of the old company. [8] Most of the new hires were gyppos, and there were rumblings among the old timers that the quality of logging had decreased precipitously. In John Campbell’s mind, such inefficiencies were likely to be temporary and any small losses that occurred were more than offset by the much larger short term gain. The expense to the viability of the forest, however, was never entered into the ledger.[9] One resident who lived very close to the border of Pacific Lumber’s land relayed their impressions, writing:

“I live at the end of (the) road in Fortuna. Maxxam’s Pacific Lumber logging trucks drive by our house six days a week now. (It has) never been like this in the past. Ordinarily, logging was five days a week in summer…

“From Newberg Road you can look up and see the damage they are doing to the badly eroding hills, now bare of third growth. They are logging third growth from their graveled road now. As the trucks come by, it is amazing to see how small their (logs are), like flagpoles.

“What will be the value of their property when all of the trees are gone? Are they trying to eliminate all other competition—L-P, Simpson, etc.—as their long-range goal?”[10]

Environmentalists expressed alarm and outrage at the sweeping and regressive changes that had been instituted now that Hurwitz had assumed control of Pacific Lumber. John DeWitt, executive director of Save the Redwoods League, the organization that had been instrumental in coaxing the Murphy Dynasty to adopt sustainable logging practices in the first place, expressed these fears stating, “We thought they practiced excellent forestry over the past 125 years and deplore the fact they’ll double the cut. It may result in the ultimate unemployment of those who work at Pacific Lumber.”

Chapter 4 : Maxxam’s on the Horizon

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“There’s a little story about the golden rule: those who have the gold, rule”

—Charles Hurwitz speaking to Pacific Lumber employees in December 1985

In the town of Kilgore, Texas was born a tailor’s son,
From the killing of the Indians he learned how the west was won.
His name was Charlie Hurwitz and he terrorized the land,
His killing field was Wall Street and his gang was called Maxxam…

—lyrics excerpted from Maxxam’s on the Horizon, by Darryl Cherney

By the fall of 1985, the Pacific Lumber Company (PL), based in southern Humboldt County, had existed for over 115 years and remained a virtual eye in the hurricane of class conflict, capitalist boom and bust, and ecological battles that raged throughout the Pacific Northwest. The company had been established in 1869 along with the company town of Forestville with the help of two Nevada venture capitalists named A. W. MacPhereson and Henry Wetherbee for a grand total of $750,000. [1] It was, in fact, the first foray by absentee owners into the redwood lumber industry of Humboldt County, predating even the California Redwood Club. Although it didn’t commence actual lumber operations until 1887, it grew quickly, and by the last decade of the 19th Century, it was the largest lumber company in the county. [2] By 1904, P-L owned 40,000 acres of timberland and its mill (“A”) operating on two ten-hour shifts, could produce 300,000 feet of cut lumber daily. By 1909, the construction of a second mill (“B”) increased the company’s productivity to a whopping 450,000 feet per day with one eight-hour shift working in both mills. The milling complex was one of the largest such facilities on the Pacific Coast. The town’s population increased from 454 in 1890 to over 3,000, and the company’s workforce numbered at least 2,000. [3]

There had been but one significant change in Pacific Lumber’s ownership over its history. In 1905, Maine lumberman Simon J. Murphy acquired the company with the help of east coast investors. [4] Upon acquiring the company he changed the name of the town to Scotia, in honor of his family’s roots in Nova Scotia. [5] It was under Murphy’s leadership that the company instituted its “welfare-capitalist” paternalism in a clear attempt to stave off attempts by the IWW (and other unions) to gain a foothold among Pacific Lumber’s employees. [6] In an effort to ensure that peace would reign supreme, the company closed its saloon, “an infamous whorehouse and gambling parlor” known as the “Green Goose”, in 1910, and replaced it with a bank. That establishment was later transformed into Bertain’s Laundry, which would at one time become the largest cleaning establishment in the county. [7] By the second decade of the 20th Century, Scotia was one of the nation’s most developed company towns, boasting of two churches, two banks, a saloon, a hospital, a schoolhouse, a library, a clubhouse, and a large company owned general store. It also included several cultural and social institutions, including four fraternal orders and a volunteer fire department. [8]

The IWW spared no vitriol at the obvious—and essentially overt—attempt by the employing class to steal their thunder, but the scheme worked. [9] The company wasn’t ever entirely free of dissenters, and there was at least one attempt at a wildcat in 1946 during the Great Strike. [10] Yet, the company remained nonunion throughout its history, resisting organizing attempts by the IWW, various AFL unions, and the IWA, even though ironically it was the threat of unionization that had inspired P-L to implement its benevolent dictatorship in the first place. [11] When Murphy’s grandson, Albert Stanwood Murphy, assumed the role of Chairman of the P-L board of directors, he carried on and enhanced his grandfather’s practices. [12]

Earth First! in Northern California – Interview with Judi Bari

By Douglas Bevington, Summer 1993 – reprinted in The Struggle for Ecological Democracy

Douglas Bevington: Please describe the region in which you are organizing and that region’s key players. How far do your activities and influence extend?

Judi Bari: The area is the northern California red-wood region, which at this point is mostly Mendocino and Humboldt counties. It’s a big, sprawling area, rugged and sparsely populated. There are only 80,000 people in Mendocino County, where I live, and there are no large towns, no urban centers. Humboldt is a little different be-cause they have a university, Humboldt State, and a large town, Eureka. Both counties are rural impoverished areas. Our county governments are broke. They are closing down libraries and cutting back on police. Because of this, and because of the lack of urban influence, there is kind of a “wild West” mentality. There are some towns—Whitethorn and Covelo come to mind—that are virtually lawless areas, over two hours’ drive from the nearest sheriff’s deputy.

There are three main corporations in the redwood region. Louisiana Pacific (L-P) is the biggest redwood landowner, with 500,000 acres spread over the entire area. Tied for second are Georgia-Pacific (G-P), which owns 200,000 acres in Mendocino County, and MAXXAM, which owns 200,000 acres in Humboldt.
L-P has been around since 1975, and they’ve been liquidating ever since they’ve been here. Last year, they even admitted that 90 percent of their marketable trees in this county have already been cut. They are a cut-and-run company and they are almost done. G-P has been here a little longer. G-P has just one big sawmill and it’s still running. But most of their timberlands have been clearcut. They are about 70 percent done, so it’s just a matter of time.

MAXXAM is probably the best known of the three companies, mostly because of its outrageous financial practices. The 200,000 acres now owned by MAXXAM used to be owned by Pacific Lumber Co. (PALCO), a 120-year-old locally owned company, one of the oldest in the area. PALCO didn’t clearcut, and they had the closest thing to sustainable logging practices around. Because of this, they have the most old growth left. They have the best of what is left in the world. But in 1986, MAXXAM Chairman Charles Hurwitz, a corporate raider from Texas, took over PALCO in a forced junk bond buy-out scheme and then tripled the cut of old-growth redwood to pay off their junk bonds. This area has had pretty much a singular economy based on timber. Many of the logging families here go back five generations. Everybody knows each other, everybody grew up together and often are related to each other. It’s hard to understand the phenomenon of the company town until you live in one. King Timber controls all aspects of the society—the jobs, the schools, the hospital, the newspaper, and the police.

This singular economy and isolated rural culture got interrupted around 1970, when the back-to-the-land hippies moved in with their politically sophisticated, radical urban culture. What the hippies do for a living is grow the best marijuana in the world. In the mid-1980s, they actually included marijuana in the agricultural report of Mendocino County and found that it was the biggest cash crop, bigger than timber. This gives people a way to live in this area without being economically dependent on timber. Because timber is such a fluctuating market of booms and busts, during the low periods it is the marijuana money that keeps the towns going. Garberville, in southern Humboldt County, is probably the best-known local town built up with marijuana money. Many early growers used their money to open “legitimate” businesses. As the hippies gained economic influence, they also gained political influence, including passing voter referendums on local issues and electing candidates to the Board of Supervisors.

So, we basically have a bipolar social situation, with the hippies and the loggers. Of course, there are other social/cultural groups in our community, including Mexicans, Indians, fishermen, etc. But the main players in the Timber Wars are the hippies, the loggers, and, of course, the big timber corporations.

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