by Will Parrish, Bohemian.com
The fight to save majestic coastal redwood groves in California has been waged for more than a century, starting with the campaign that created Big Basin State Park in 1902.
In 1978, the Sierra Club dubbed its successful campaign to expand Redwood State and National Park the “last battle” of “the redwood war,” but the battles to protect this globally recognized icon of nature would only intensify.
In 1985, a junk-bond dealer named Charles Hurwitz engineered a hostile takeover of Humboldt County’s most respected logging company, Pacific Lumber, and folded it into Houston-based investment company Maxxam. Meanwhile, Louisiana-Pacific, a Georgia-Pacific spin-off, was cutting its more than 300,000 acres in Mendocino and Sonoma counties at roughly three times the forest’s rate of growth.
“We need everything that’s out there,” Louisiana-Pacific CEO Harry Merlot told the
Press Democrat in 1989 “We log to infinity. Because it’s out there and we need it all, now.”
This unruly phase of the story involves the birth of radical environmentalism on the North Coast, complete with tree sits and road blockades, and culminates in the campaign to save the largest remaining area of unprotected old-growth redwoods in California, and thus the world: the Headwaters forest, located between Fortuna and Eureka. President Bill Clinton made saving Headwaters an election pitch in 1996, and in 1999 the state and federal governments purchased 7,500 acres to establish the Headwaters Forest Reserve.