Unprotected ancient forest, habitat threatened with destruction at Rainbow Ridge

Fighting for iconic forests like those at Rainbow Ridge was not unfamiliar to us. So when we were invited by veteran Humboldt County activists to add our strengths and resources to the effort to save it we immediately knew it would be right up our alley.

Not since the 1990s and the battle to save Headwaters Forest, which largely birthed Forests Forever, have we found ourselves immersed in a more contentious struggle to save ancient forests. This is a remote area in California's storied Lost Coast region about 30 miles south of Eureka.

Humboldt Redwood Co. (HRC) was revving up its chainsaws to log some 1100 acres in the Mattole River watershed, where lie some of the most geologically unstable forestlands in the country.

Some of the largest still-unprotected ancient Douglas-fir forests, and their associated hardwood stands and virgin prairies and streams, were in the crosshairs. HRC held two approved Timber Harvesting Plans that would forever ruin these places. By springtime it was ready to send in the hardhats and bulldozers.

Efforts to save Rainbow Ridge, which began decades ago, were being thwarted in part by HRC's flat refusal to even discuss selling the land to make it a nature preserve, as well as the company's justification of its logging of virgin forests on the ridge by pointing to its certification as a "sustainable" timber company by the Forest Stewardship Council.

We helped put the issue back on the map. Through press releases, action alerts, boosted social media posts—and letters and calls from our supporters (thank you if you were among them)— we helped boost turnout to a weeklong protest and pressured HRC executives to call a halt, at least temporarily.

A formal grievance letter, which we signed along with our allies, triggered an audit of HRC's practices and whether they truly merit the company's green certification. At this writing the audit results are due any day now.

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  • Here is the full formal grievance letter filed with SCSGlobal Services.
  • Click here for an overview article about the fight to save Rainbow Ridge. (2/13/18)
  • And here's an updated article (9/1/18)

Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places