by Stephanie Rossano
High in the forests of Trinidad, a fence bearing ‘No Trespassing’ signs block an overgrown trail which passes through a quarry and ends at the base of localized landmark: Strawberry Rock. It’s known for its overview of the redwood forest and Pacific Ocean on the private land of Green Diamond Resource, a lumber company, who tolerates the community passing through the trail. Meanwhile, near the trailhead (in Unit E), a site which has been dubbed Hippie Camp reside Tree-Sitters attempting to thwart Green Diamond’s efforts to clear-cut the grove.
Earth First! and Climate Justice Organizer, Farmer, hopes to bring awareness of these adverse effects clear-cutting has to the general public.
“People have been tree-sitting here for nearly two years to stand in the way of Green Diamond clear-cutting this grove,” Farmer said. “It’s one of the very few stands of old-growth left in the entire forest above Trinidad.”
Clear-cutting is a practice that is removing mature forest habitat. While doing so it releases greenhouse gases and increases the danger of fire. Farmer works along with the Tree-Sitters as their technical support, running Trinidad Tree-Sitters Facebook page. It includes their current stance in protection for the grove. He also advises climbing skills and brings supplies to the Tree-Sitters.
Green Diamond has also been occupied. Since March 2011, its harvest plan was approved to cut down portions of land surrounding Strawberry Rock. This provoked an outrage in the community, which eventually led to a nudist protest led by Jack Gescheidt. Most recently, they have been pairing with both local and statewide conservation organizations such as Trust for Public Lands and the Coastal Conservancy to supply funding sources to compensate for an established easement.
“The total area of the easement would be 38 acres, providing permanent protection and public access to Strawberry Rock, and 24 acres of timber that can be enjoyed by the community,” Gary Rynearson, Green Diamond’s Forest Policy and Communications Manager, said.
Nothing formal has been set. Eventually the trail will be legal, but with a clear-cut view. Although it’s also clear the community will continue to voice, or sit, their hopeful outcome to save the grove.
“In some ways it’s location is incidental to the rock, but the decimation of this forest may have gone unchallenged if not for the fact that it’s on a major popular hiking trail,” Farmer said.