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Louisiana-Pacific (LP)

Timber Wars: Footloose Wobs Urgently Needed

By Judi Bari, Industrial Worker, October 1989; Reprinted in Timber Wars, © 1994 Common Courage Press.

"You fucking commie hippies, I'll kill you all!" A shotgun blast goes off and the Earth First!ers scatter. What started as a peaceful logging road blockade had turned violent when a logger sped his truck through our picket line and swerved it towards the demonstrators. The loggers also grabbed and smashed an Earth First!er's camera and, for no apparent reason, punched a 50-year old protester in the face, breaking her nose.

The environmental battle in the Pacific Northwest has reached such a level of intensity that the press now refers to it as the Timber Wars. At stake is the survival of one of the nation's last great forest ecosystems. Our adversaries are giant corporations--Louisiana Pacific, Georgia Pacific, and MAXXAM in northern California, where I live, joined by Boise Cascade and Weyerhauser in Oregon and Washington.

These companies are dropping trees at a furious pace, clogging our roads no less than 18 hours a day, with a virtual swarm of logging trucks. Even old timers are shocked at the pace and scope of today's strip-logging, ranging from 1000-year old redwoods, one tree trunk filling an entire logging truck, to six-inch diameter baby trees that are chipped up for the pulp-mills and particleboard plants.

One-hundred-forty years ago the county I live in was primeval redwood forest. At the current rate of logging, there will be no marketable trees left here in 22 years. Louisiana Pacific chairman Harry Merlo put it this way in a recent newspaper interview: "It always annoys me to leave anything lying on the ground. We don't log to a 10-inch top, we don't log to an 8-inch top or a 6-inch top. We log to infinity. It's out there, it's ours, and we want it all. Now."

So the battle lines are drawn. On one side are the environmentalists, ranging from the big-money groups like Wilderness Society and Sierra Club to the radical Earth First!ers and local mountain people fighting the front line battles in the woods. Tactics being used include tree-sitting, logging road blockading, and bulldozer dismantling, as well as the more traditional lawsuits and lobbying.

On the other side are the big corporations and the local kulaks who do their bidding. Tactics used by them have included falling trees into demonstrators, suing protesters for punitive damages (and winning), buying politicians, and even attempting to ban the teaching at a local elementary school of a Dr. Suess book, The Lorax, which the timber companies say portrays logging in a bad light.

Waferboard, the Final Solution

Speech Given by Judi Bari at an Earth First! demonstration in front of L-P's chip mill near Ukiah, California, June 16, 1989 - reprinted in Timber Wars, © 1994 Common Courage Press.

We are at the site of the new Calpella chipping mill for Louisiana-Pacific. Starting this logging season, L-P has instituted a new logging practice that they call "logging to infinity." The log deck over there is stacked up with all kinds of little treetops and hardwoods. All kinds of stuff that's got no business on a log deck. it ought to be in the forest.

I want to point out that we are not here to protest against either the loggers or the mill workers or anyone who is an employee of Louisiana-Pacific. They don't have any more control over these logging practices than we do. At the beginning of this logging season, Louisiana-Pacific called a meeting in Willits of the people that are going to be logging for them to explain their new logging practices. And I want you to know that their own employees, their own contract loggers, many of them are just as disgusted with this as we are. That's how we found out about a lot of this stuff. one comment from an old-timer was, "When they start telling us to take the tops of trees, we know it's the end."

So the person we're here to protest is not the logger, not the mill workers. It's the president of Louisiana-Pacific, a man named Harry Merlo. Harry Merlo is the ultimate tree Nazi. he wants to cut every last tree and implement The Final Solution of waferboard in [Mendocino] county. Now you've all heard this quote, but I'm going to read it again 'cause you can't say anything about Harry Merlo as bad as what Harry says about himself. We can thank Mike Geniella of the Press Democrat for coming up with this quote. In an interview with Harry about his logging practices, Harry had this to say: "You know it always annoys me to leave anything on the ground when we log our own land. There shouldn't be anything left on the ground. We need everything that's out there. We don't log to a 10-inch top or an 8-inch top or even a 6-inch top. We log to infinity. Because it's out there and we need it all, now."

This maniac is actually in charge of most of the forest land in Mendocino County. Here are some astounding photos of what logging to infinity means.

These were taken on L-P cuts in the Mendocino National Forest, but it looks the same all over. Clearcuts, mudslides, devastation where the forest used to grow. So what we are dealing with here is a man who not only does not believe in obeying the laws of humans--as far as forestry practices--this man does not even believe in the laws of nature. Any farmer knows that you can't keep taking out of the soil without putting back into the soil, but Harry has not yet discovered this basic principle of nature. Fifty percent of the organic matter on the ground in a natural forest is decaying wood. Yet Harry wants to remove all this wood. His plan, he says, is to strip everything off the ground, leaving it completely bare and replant tree farms with 20-year rotations. According to Chris Maser, the forestry expert, there has never been a tree farm that survived beyond three generations. without putting something into the soil, the soil gets poorer and poorer and the trees just don't grow back. So what Harry is talking about if he implements his plan is desertification in 60 years. That's why we're here. That's why this is so serious.

Northwest Wobs Call for Support to Keep L-P Mill Open

By Darryl Cherney - Industrial Worker, March 1989.

"Activists have always touted that sustained yield equals sustained jobs. Therefore, by keeping the mills open forever, we would logically have to ensure forests forever to keep them going."

IWW and EF! member Darryl Cherney and other Northwest Wobs and radical ecodefenders have joined forces to take on the anti-labor, anti-environmentalist Louisiana Pacific lumber corporation and to prevent the corporation's planned closure of a Potter Valley mill in April. Cherney has made an important 12-point proposal to Gladys Simmons, a Public Affairs Officer of the Louisiana Pacific Corporation Cherney, who is a prominent environmental activist and songwriter, says that he is tired of the mainstream press trashing environmentalists as being anti-labor and of mill owners who blame environmentalists for mill layoffs and shut downs. He points to one industry spokesman at a gathering of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce in mid-December who was quoted as saying that environmentalists are making life difficult for the timber companies as they spend time and money fighting lawsuits instead of spending time and money in the forest cutting down trees.

With the second highest nationwide timber cut being reported (12.6 billion board feet) and Mendocino County reporting nearly triple the timber revenues from last year's cut on National Forest land, Cherney finds it "repulsive that industry is blaming environmentalists for shortages that over logging is creating." Cherney comments: "While MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber bemoans four lawsuits filed against them as anti-labor, they have in fact increased their workforce by 33% and nearly tripled their cut over 1985 levels. Another case is L-P's closing of the Potter Valley mill which doubled its shift only five years ago."

Cherney asks: "When will northcoast citizens learn that artificially increased production leads to massive busts shortly thereafter? With production and profits at an all time high, industry's criticism of environmentalists can only mean one thing: the bust is well on its way."

Cherney likens the industry's complaints about environmentalists to "a baby crying about a booboo on its little finger. L-P has million dollar publicity budgets, dozens of attorneys on retainer, high paid lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, Representative Bosco and Assemblyman Hauser in their pockets, a stranglehold on the workforce, and ownership of millions of acres of timberland. Should a lawsuit tie up 1/10th of one percent of their timber base, you can hear them howl for miles."

"I'm asking environmentalists to fight to keep L-P's Potter Valley mill open." said Cherney. His proposal which has already challenged the industry's traditional public relations defense, has also challenged environmental circles, and has been greeted with enthusiasm from members of the Sierra Club, the Northcoast Greens, the Mendocino Environmental Center, the Wilderness Coalition, Save the North fork and the International Woodworkers of America.

Cherney also believes that workers are coming to see the importance of environmental concerns. At a recent Earth First! demonstration, MAXXAM/PL actually imported counter demonstrators from other companies because their own employees, who are currently attempting to buy back the company, would not defend the policies of corporate raider Charles Hurwitz.

Cherney mailed his pitch to L-P spokesperson. Glennys Simmons and has some words of concern about her job: "Glennys will be one of the first to go when L-P closes their Ukiah mill. They already have a PR person, Shep Tucker, in Humboldt County. Besides, PR is one of L-P's lowest priorities. Look how they announced layoffs just before Christmas, after many people had begun their shopping," said Cherney. "L-P's treatment of their employees is reflective of their forest management. They can't tell us whether they can keep their people employed four months from now, and they expect us to trust them with long range forest management."

Greens, Loggers, and Woodworkers Blast Louisiana-Pacific’s “Good Neighbor Policy”

By Don Morris – Earth First! Journal, Samhain (Nov. 1), 1985

A loose coalition of environmentalists, woodworkers, loggers, and angry citizens has joined to protest the gangster tactics of the Louisiana-Pacific Corporation in Mendocino County, California.

Louisiana-Pacific has earned a national reputation as the premier union busting timber beast, and its callous disregard for neighbors and workers has caused a firestorm of protest in this rural Northern California county. In a 1979 referendum, county residents voted by a 2 to 1 margin to ban the aerial spraying of phenoxy herbicides after local children, while waiting for a school bus, were exposed to 2,4,5-T by a timber company spray helicopter. The ban was appealed by the state, but eventually upheld by the California Supreme Court in mid 1984. Under massive pressure from the Agro-Chemical Empire, the state legislature frantically passed a new law which transferred the control of herbicides and other “economic poisons” back to the state. Spray regulations are now back in the hands of the Department of Food and Agriculture (the California Pentagon) which is aggressively engaged in chemical warfare against all living threats to monoculture. Soon after the reversal, in early 1985, Louisiana-Pacific held a festive press briefing and, with total contempt for the democratic vote of the people, announced plans to resume spraying 2,4-D in the fall. The company mouth piece stressed that herbicide use was the only cost effective way of preventing hardwood species such as tanoak, madrone, and ceanothus (a nitrogen fixer) from competing with their conifer monocrops, He also expressed the desire to destroy the habitat of rabbits, gophers, and other forest creatures which pose a threat to conifer seedlings. The company resource manager, suppressing a grin, assured the press that Louisiana-Pacific would continue its “Good Neighbor” policy.

Environmentalists and other concerned citizens, enraged at the loss of local control, quickly began organizing to prevent the fall spraying, and while local resistance was still in disarray, “Good Neighbor” Louisiana-Pacific mounted a sneak chemical attack on its holdings near the communities of Rockport and Comptche. The weapon used was Dow Chemical’s new herbicide Garlon, which is sometimes referred to as 2,4,5-T in drag. Garlon is an unrestricted, relatively unknown, and inadequately tested chemical which is only one atom different from the banned 2,4,5-T. Adding injury to insult, Louisiana-Pacific cleverly managed to drift spray on a logging crew working near the Rockport site. Within 48 hours, the workers all developed remarkably similar flu like symptoms and were examined by a local physician who was unable to conclusively determine the cause of illness. Louisiana-Pacific, while asserting that the loggers were never sprayed, assured them that the chemical was harmless. Citizens near the Comptche spray site also complained of nausea and other flu-like symptoms, and later discovered that the spray had drifted into local streams. Several loggers and their families, despite fears of unemployment are planning legal action against the neighborly company.

After protesting in vain to timid local officials, environmentalists and irate citizens decided to confront the intransigent timber beast. The Comptche Citizens for a Safe Environment, with support from two other local groups—(SOHO) Support Our Herbicide Opposition, and the fledgling Mendocino Greens—planned a protest demonstration at the Louisiana-Pacific mill and offices in Ukiah. Local affiliates of two labor unions, the International Woodworkers of America, and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, announced support for the picket in exchange for the Greens support of a leafleting campaign at area lumber yards calling for a boycott of all Louisiana-Pacific products.

On the Garlon Trail - A Visit to L-P Spray Site Reveals Total Forest Devastation, Ineffective Chemicals, Minimal Watershed Protection

By I.M. Green (Don Lipmanson) - Anderson Valley Advertiser, June 5, 1985

Feeling a sort of morbid fascination, I've been drawn to the L-P spray sites for weeks. What does this Garlon chemical actually do to the forest? What is the appearance and smell of a spray site? How much herbicide gets into the water?

My first attempt to find answers involved an overflight of Juan Creek and the north fork of Big River. Flying northward from Little River airport, I had the chance to compare the thinned out appearance of selectively logged forests with the bald clearcuts so prevalent northeast of Fort Bragg.

The spray sites were unmistakable on account of their striking reddish brown color, dotted with green. In addition to one large, browned out blotch, there are erratic splotches at the periphery of the spray zone, raising unanswered questions about drift. It was also clear from the logging roads that the sites were accessible, although steep. The spray zones have recently been logged for conifers, so company claims that they are too inaccessible for manual hardwood release are nonsense.

From the air it seemed that conifers, madrones and oak were unaffected by the spraying. The required buffering of watersheds was questionable also. To get firmer answers to spray concerns, I decided to take a closer look.

It didn't take much asking around Comptche to find a guide who is familiar with L-P territory. We hadn't gone more than a couple hundred yards past the company gate before we came upon the most ravaged hillsides I have ever seen. On about one hundred acres there is no sign of life, other than some three inch saplings veiled behind black nylon screens. Little red and blue flags stand out here and there, indicating where recent conifer replanting has occurred. Otherwise, the whole hillside is barren, littered with burned out logs and stumps, uprooted oaks, and naked soil. Yarders and flame-throwing helicopters have been through here recently, and the desolation is eerie.

After this taste of normal L-P forest operations, our arrival in Poverty Gulch, ten weeks after herbicide spraying, was almost anticlimactic. Walking down the road, we suddenly saw an entire hillside dominated by the now familiar rust color of herbicide die-off. No particular odor remained. It was clear than the main victim was Ceanothus, or blue blossom. The top half or two-thirds of the sprayed Ceanothus have died out, with the leaves fried but still attached to the withered branches. Seen from up close, many of the dead leaves are spotted with a white fungus. Some madrone in the spray area appear to have died, also with leaves still attached. Other madrones and all the tan oak were green and thriving.

Although we saw several deer and many birds during out two mile hike toward the spray area, the poisoned hillside itself seemed abandoned by fauna. The overall impression is sterile, a place one wouldn't want to linger. Without protective gear, I didn't feel inclined to penetrate far into the spray zone to examine the effect on lichens, insects and worms.

In its ads, L-P claims that herbicides are a "key part" of their effort to increase the volume of timber which can be harvested from its lands. "Sites for new plantings are cleared with herbicides. Weed choked and strangled young trees are freed with herbicides," according to the company. Garlon is supposedly a systematic poison, killing "unwanted woody plants" (including oaks) from within.

“Sprayed Loggers” Tom Fales, Arlene Rial, Frank Fales, Wayne Thorstrom, Rick Rial, and Rod Cudney

Interviewed by Beth Bosk - New Settler Interview, Issue #3, April 1985

Were the loggers surprised that they had been sprayed?

That’s the story—it’s [Louisiana-Pacific’s] attitude towards them. When they arrived at the site they were told they were going to be sprayed—that there would be spraying. When they asked, “was it safe?” the LP people sort of laughed at them and said, “Well, the only, thing that happens is that 20 years from now your teeth are going to fall out,” and they laughed at them. And then they said, “Well, if you smell it, don’t breath.” And then the last statement was, “If it starts coming towards you, run like the dickens!”

—Dr. Mills Matheson, physician

Beth Bosk: In times to come, they will probably call Arlene Rial the ‘Rosa Parks’ of Fort Bragg.

Rosa Parks was the tired black housekeeper from Montgomery, Alabama who after working hard all day, refused to relinquish her seat at the front of a city bus. Remember what followed?

For the past twenty-four years, Arlene Rial has worked hard raising herself a sturdy son.

She was not about to see him damaged by a suspect chemical. And when unbeknownst, he was sent to work at a site where G-P was spraying the herbicide Garlon-4 and subsequently fell ill—along with every other logger working along the perimeter of the spray site—she refused to let it go unheeded.

The following interview is actually portions of conversations that took place on a Sunday afternoon at the home Arlene Rial shares with her son, Rick, and her husband Wayne Thorstrom. Thorstrom works as a hook tender for G-P.

The other voices belong to four other men who found themselves working adjacent to the spray site...Tommy Fales, Tom Fales, and Frank Fales.

“They do not look like the kind of men who complain,” is the way Fort Bragg Advocate reporter Martin Hickel summed up his impressions of these loggers.

The interview picks up in the middle of Arlene Rial’s story. She has related how she started putting two and two together when none of Rick’s slow pitch ball team showed up for practice. They had all worked around the spray site and they were all home sick. She then began making inquiries as to what chemical had been sprayed and what was known about it...

Arlene Rial: … I called the toxicity center in Texas to find out just what Garlon was and the gal there told me it was one atom removed from Agent Orange and I almost had a heart attack at that time. After that, I immediately called several different newspapers and I said, “Are you aware that they are spraying a dangerous chemical not only in our community, but around people who are working”—and that’s how the whole thing got started. I called Okerstrom logging and told him, “Get the men out of Juan Creek because it’s contaminated.”

This is in the morning. In the afternoon my son came home from work and said, “Gee, thanks a lot, mom. The boss came out and said, ‘Your mommy called’. And you know, with the loggers, that looks really bad.”

I told him, “Never you mind, I’m going to do what I have to do.” Anyway, Ricky was sicker and sicker and I finally found out that Mills Matheson knows a bit about toxicology and I called him and made an appointment for my son and I was going to drive over to Willits with him to see what was going on, instead another boy got sick on the job that day and so I said, “Both of you go,” and I’ll have a conversation with Dr. Matheson later.” Which I did and Mills said that nothing had ever been proven about Garlon and it does look like flu-like symptoms. He took a urine and blood sample and froze them—because the only people evidentially who can find out if Garlon is in the blood or the urine is Dow Chemical Company and this is the fox again guarding the hen house.

IWA Demands Safe Jobs and Clean Water

By Tim Skaggs, Business Agent, IWA Local 3-98 - reprinted in Hard Times, February 1983

This speech was given at a hearing of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in December of 1982.

My name is Tim Skaggs. I am Past President and now Business Agent of the International Woodworkers of America, Local 3-98.

In March of this year, the governing body of International Woodworkers of America resolved that the continued use of Phenoxy herbicides in place of manual conifer release has an adverse effect upon employment opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

If we look at the historical record, we find that the practices of timber companies have been extremely poor and irresponsible. Outrageous forest practices led to the adoption of regulations to protect the water, wildlife, and the multiple uses of public and private lands.

Massive clear cutting caused substantial erosion and stream siltation, resulting in a loss of water quality. Indeed the use of herbicides is directly related to the reliance upon clear cutting as the primary method for timber harvesting.

Most importantly, and least understood, is the acquisition of additional lands from timber interests to expand Redwood National Park. This move has cost us all dearly, with the exception of timber interests. The workers have suffered, but in a good cause. These lands were purchased to insure the continued existence of old growth redwood and to do the restoration work needed to prevent the eventual death of Redwood Creek from siltation. The park, a public project, was created to do what timber corporations refused to do: treat the land and water responsibly.

It is important to note that the industry refused to change their methods until they were forced to do so by public pressure and regulation. It appears that the major motivation for the timber industry is profit regardless of the expense to the community, workers, and the environment.

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