Sunday, February 10, 2013

Trinidad Turns Out At Town Hall To Save Forests Around Strawberry Rock

About 50 or 60 people turned out for a meeting today about the forests around Strawberry Rock. The iconic rock sits above the coastal town of Trinidad California and is a short trip up a trail to world class coastal views and 100 year old trees. Green Diamond Resource Company owns the land that once belonged to those that lived in Tsurai Village, The Yurok Tribe. Rob from Environmental Information Protection Center or E.P.I.C. gave a presentation followed by Eileen who had these great photos to share with the crowd. Emily gave a presentation of a message from a tree sitter. The audio is a bit rough because there was no public address system present.
What was once a sacred site and lookout to the Pacific Ocean is now a tree farm with a few great stands left.  Green Diamond Resource Company has been cutting the property for decades and already has 3 large (roughly 20 acre) clear cuts that are trying to grow back around Strawberry Rock (shown in red with an x above). There are other stands of trees 40 to 85 years old and a watershed of second growth giants that are in the path of the 3 filed and already approved Tiimber Harvest Plans. In the oldest trees there is a healthy forest with a tall canopy and a diverse growth of trees and plants near Mill Creek.

Since Green Diamond has already been granted the permits to clear cut the 3 parcels outlined in yellow in the above picture and will have that option until around March of next year there is not a whole lot other than peer pressure that people can do to stop the inevitable pending doom for Mill Creek watershed. This will also drastically change the views for hikers to Strawberry Rock. There is currently at least one tree sitter in the area, his name is Eugene. He lives in a tree and calls radio stations like mine when he hears chain saws in the woods. He knows he is breaking the law by living in a tree on private property but he feels it is the best way to bring awareness to the situation and the best way to keep the saws off of at least one old tree.

Some of the people at the meeting suggested finding ways to find funding to buy the property from Green Diamond  but no one in the room seemed to know a buyer. There will be another meeting on Wednesday night at the Bay Side Grange at 6:30 pm.  This meeting will be presented by Green Diamond and may be an opportunity for people to interact with the company and just maybe, find a stop gap or longer solution that would please the lovers of the forests and the company that owns them. 


  1. Wow, so the con-argument boils down to "They're taking our views!"

    As evidenced by the photos, the company seems to be doing a good job of the 'farming' aspect, regrowing trees so they can be cut again.

    The outrage here took place 100 years ago (or whenever in the distant past the old growth was cut down). Now we have young trees being what they were intended to be, short-lived for renewable harvest.

    This is actually great news. If this is the sort of thing EPIC is turning its attention to, then our local forests are in great shape. They've run out of good causes to fight. I'm happy for once. Thank you.

  2. The inevitable pending doom for Mill Creek watershed?? Talk about alarmist. As has been pointed out, this area has been cut over and over for likely 100 years. Oh, I get it. That language is designed to get the eco nuts foaming at the mouth.

    I agree with the previous poster that Green Diamond seems to be doing a good job of managing their property. They are doing everything by the book, and in a sustainable fashion. Yes, it's a nice view from the rock, but that's hardly a reason to block Green Diamond's legal use of their property.

  3. The Mill Creek watershed has areas that were only cut the one time. After each cut some plants grow back that help repair the soil but these are destroyed by the lumber companies so that they can grow more clones at a faster rate. After about the 5th harvest the land turns to desert. The areas of selective cutting will do better because they will not be slashed , burned and sprayed with herbicides. They will have the diverse plants that will grow up in the new sunlight and put back into the soil what has been taken by the trees.

    Just look at the Amazon and what happens when they try to clear cut and farm. It turns to desert. I guess if we don't want a redwood forest here in a hundred years this is the way to go about it. We can have this place looking like Ukiah by then. Not many redwoods there now but there used to be.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Glad you responded to the 'Anons' Tom. I doubt he/they live up here.

    50 or 60 people in a place this size is huge. I doubt they all turned out simply because of 'losing a view'. There is more at stake here.

    But its so much easier to say things like "Gee, its been going on for a hundred years..there still some trees up there....Green Diamond is complying with the law...etc."
    Its so much easier to just say that, isnt it?

    I hope and dream my children may see smarter stewards of our planet.

  6. To M Wayne

    I was the second Anon. No, I don't live in Trinidad. However, I did live there from age 7 to age 26. I grew up in the home that my father grew up in. So I do have an understanding of the issues. I've also been to Strawberry Rock numerous times when I was a child, teenager, and adult. I used to play in Mill Creek when I was a little kid. Oh, and I have a degree in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University. I currently work as a project environmental engineer for a large environmental consulting firm, where I have been involved in numerous soil and groundwater cleanups at contaminated DOD facilities.

    Green Diamond follows the rules and regs, as they are required to do. They jump through the appropriate hoops in order to sustainably harvest, which is why the own the property in the first place. If you want that property to stop being used as a tree farm, then pool your resources and try to buy it. I'm sure it could be made available for the right price.

  7. Green Diamond is within their right under the law, to log those areas. The people knew this and were discussing ways the land could be purchased.

  8. I appreciate the reply.
    It is good to know we have a timber company that does indeed follow the rules and regs.
    If you work on contaminated DOD projects, (I worked at Enecotech myself.) I am sure you are also aware that not everyone always does that.
    At any rate, most folks I know up here are mainly concerned with poisons and chemicals used, not a sustainable operation.


  10. PART I of 4:

    [Response to “Wow, so what the con-argument boils down to”]

    Rather than a “con” argument, we like to think of the issue of Strawberry Rock as a multifaceted “pro” argument: pro- community recreation, pro- cultural resource, pro- selective harvest forestry.

    Hundreds of visits a week (adding up to thousands of visits a year), which have continued across decades, prove that this place is widely recognized as being something special. The tribal community holds it as a sacred part of their spirituality and their history, as I would say is also the case for many non-tribal members in the nearby communities of Westhaven, Trinidad, McKinleyville, Blue Lake, and Arcata. The people have a connection with this place. This is the on-the-ground reality. And although there are lines drawn on a piece of paper as part of a deed held in the filing cabinet of Green Diamond Resource Company (a subsidiary company owned by the privately-held Simpson Investment Company), there are other people’s hands physically holding and cherishing the boulder and the bark in this forest. We don’t feel this land is there for the company to dispose of in such a destructive way, because we don’t feel clearcutting is an action of stewardship nor of long term sustainability. All forests deserve better timber management that clearcuts, however, that is not the scope of our current struggle. Our struggle here and now is one in honor of the forest we are familiar with, the one our families love - that is the one in our backyard, the one around Strawberry Rock. We recognize it is our responsibility to protect this place.

    [Response to “They’re taking our views”]

    The view, if you have witnessed it, is spectacular. It is in my opinion the best in Humboldt County. I have been atop the rock with visitors who came from amazing places such as Yosemite, Zion, and the Swiss Alps, and even they had their breath taken away by this view of the forest and the ocean from Strawberry Rock. Yes, we feel that Green Diamond would be taking our “view” away by clearcutting the area. You talk of this view as if it is something very superficial that pales in comparison to a legal business practice. However, this 360 degree scenery ...viewed from high up in some of the freshest air on earth, stretching for uncountable miles into the distance, showing us a green world mostly un-impinged upon by the artificial alterations of humans... this is something we believe is rare and valuable, not trivial. The “view” is a source of peace, joy, hope, and wonder. These are the qualities that make our lives worth living, and that heal us and maintain us in mental and physical health. These are the qualities that cannot be bought and that cannot be mitigated for once destroyed. The “view” is a source of communal gathering and social bonding. The “view” comes with wild animals, wind, temperature, texture, smell, and sound. The “view” is a common experience; it is a pillar of the local culture. It takes us out of our isolation, out of our ipods tv’s and video games, and puts us into a captivated awareness with the wholeness of nature. People desire this opportunity to tap into this greatness. If we spent an afternoon up there together, I could express this all better to you, and I could use less words to do it. Because you would see what I saw this Sunday: The babies in backpacks, the 6 year olds, the teenagers, the college students, the 72 year old woman, the dog, the harmonica player, the artist, the doctor, the birder, the football player, the anniversary couple, the people of every skin color and creed. You could watch and listen to the people and understand what this place does for so many. When you see that this forest is sustaining people while it sustains itself, you reconsider how and for whom its true value is best reaped.

  11. PART 2 of 4:

    [Response to “The sort of thing EPIC is turning its attention to”]

    We are glad to have the knowledge and interest of the non-profit Environmental Protection Information Center (E.P.I.C.) and believe the Strawberry Rock cause merits the support of their members. We look forward to future discussions and collaboration with other organizations such as the Trinidad City Council, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, The North Coast Environmental Center, the North Coast Regional Land Trust, and other land trusts, to strategize how to attain the goal of a Trinidad Community Forest that is managed for selective harvest on a more extended rotation cycle, the way that The City of Arcata harvests within the Arcata Community Forest.

    [Response to “The company seems to be doing a good job of the farming aspect”]

    We would like to see selective timber harvest practices rather than clearcuts. Clearcuts do not in any way mimic natural ecological succession processes. Huge patches of the landscape being denuded is not the same as a storm toppling a few trees and allowing an opening in the canopy for sunlight to reach new seedlings that then take the older tree’s place. Nor is clearcutting similar to the affects of a natural wildfire that returns nutrients of the ashes to the soil. Clearcutting is when all the nutrients that are stored in the living biomass (the trees!) are totally and simultaneously removed from the land. The soil then has no materials left to replenish itself. Scientists are finding that after four or five rounds of clearcutting, the soil becomes totally depleted of its nutrients and can no longer produce the same strong healthy timber when the ground is replanted. Thus the land is used up, and the reason is not hard to understand. This “sustainable” clearcut-remove-replant-every-forty-years is therefore not a sustainable plan. In addition, ‘re-planting’, from what I understand, involves a few commercially profitable conifer species with low genetic diversity – it never re-creates the rest of the plant species diversity, the conifer genetic diversity, nor the mixed age composition of a healthy forest. Disease, invasive species, herbicides, and habitat fragmentation are all associated complications of the ‘tree farming aspect’ you mentioned.

    I hope that more people with scientific knowledge on the details of clearcutting and re-planting will come forward, be frank, argue, write, talk, and get involved with helping the public, including myself, better understand the ecological repercussions of the various different timber harvest practices that span the continuum from lowest to highest destruction.

  12. PART 3 of 4:

    [Response to “They’ve run out of good causes to fight”]

    There are still many good causes to fight for. Although you may not agree that the Strawberry Rock cause is one of them, there is a movement of people that think it is. That movement is 75 attendees of last weekend’s Trinidad Town Hall meeting, 100 “likes” and over 1,000 unique-person page views on Facebook
    (, 200 online petition signers (, and 100+ paper petition signers talked to in front of grocery stores and while going door-to-door. These numbers are mounting and will continue to increase as more people receive information about what is happening.

    [Response to “Eco nuts foaming at the mouth”]

    These folks probably do exist for you to find and confirm your stereotype. We open our community forums to everyone, we don’t screen people at the door, so the participants are understandably diverse. But in my opinion 95% of the people involved in this issue are curious and rational individuals. Their concern may at times be expressed as anger, because it is a legitimate and genuine emotion that stems from a sense of injustice and rises in voices wanting to be heard. But it is not excessive anger, and it is absolutely not violent anger that guides the behavior of Friends of Trinidad Forests and its supporters. If we are “alarming” people about this issue it is because we see something about to happen that we believe is very wrong while the opposing side is counting on keeping the status quo of public complacency. The California Forest Practices Rules Act is not on our side, because it allows clearcutting. We know this. But laws are supposed to fulfill the needs and desires of the people, and they are changeable through time - but only if people speak up, stand up, sit down in the front of a segregated bus or at the top of an otherwise doomed tree, and prompt public discussion. If you can’t envision something first, then you will never be able to do it. We’re asking the community to dream together and to strengthen that dream by contributing their time and talents towards the goal of saving the trees around Strawberry Rock and someday making Trinidad Community Forest a reality.

  13. PART 4 of 4:

    [Response to “Green Diamond seems to be doing a good job of managing their properties”]

    This is what people would like to think, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean it’s the truth. A “good” job is a subjective value judgement, but I still think whether or not Green Diamond is managing their lands in a way that is healthy in the long term for local people and biodiversity is a huge question. It is a question that encompasses 400,000 acres of Green Diamond land in Humboldt and Del Norte counties and that leads us into the thick of the California Forest Practices Rules Act. It is a question that I do not have the answer to but that I think needs to be thoroughly scrutinized regardles of if they can say they have “green” certifications. E.P.I.C. is one example of an organization concerned with looking at the big picture of Green Diamond’s clearcutting track record. However, from the single example I personally see with THP 01-10-137 which calls for 80 acres (approximately 60 football fields) of clearcut that includes 100 year old trees next to a sacred rock and a popular trail, I am not impressed by Green Diamond’s decision-making process on how to manage their land.

    [Response to “They jump through the appropriate hoops in order to harvest”]

    Essentially, our argument is that this is a special situation where the ‘appropriate hoops’ weren’t tight enough.

    [Response to “If you want that property to stop being used as a tree farm, then pool your resources and try to buy it”]

    That is the ultimate goal. We need people to step forward and start building the process of how to reach that goal. But we are asking Green Diamond to cancel the THP 01-10-137 HUM so that we can have time to begin negotiations and searching for funders. We cannot save the forest from being clearcut once it gets clearcut. We need them to set down their saws and reconsider this. This THP snuck under the radar and was approved with a grand total of ZERO public comments - Green Diamond should know this is ridiculous! The vice president of the company lives in the town of Trinidad for goodness sakes. The number of people who have opinions about this THP is not ZERO!!! There may not be endangered species considerations at this location, but there is a huge and unique cultural consideration that is significant regardless of it being called “trespassing”.

    [Response to comments left “Anonymously”]

    I have been a local resident for four years. I do not have the expertise of a professional forester. I would like to continue to educate myself on details of forestry science. I have studied many aspects of ecology, soil, rivers, plants, and wildlife at the university level. I am personally responsible for what I have written here and I take accountability by leaving my real name. I respect opinions different than mine, and I usually find it interesting to listen to the ‘why’s’ with people. You can contact me with questions or comments at

    [Response to Tom Sebourn]

    I will find a place to post these responses elsewhere on the internet, but thank you for allowing my writing to stay up on your blog for at least a little while.

    We appreciate your original article.

    Please inform people that there is a meeting hosted by Green Diamond tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6:30 PM at the Bayside Grange to hear public comment on their forest practices.

  14. Thanks Eileen, your live presentation was at the Town Hall was inspiring. Thanks for expanding on what I knew and answering the questions of readers to my blog. I did get a mention of the meeting on the radio today and tomorrow at AM 1480 here on the North Coast.


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