Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

Turtle Creek vs MRC

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

by Annie Esposito
[courtesy of The Mendocino Country Independent]
14 June 2011

Neighbors of the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) are taking the company to task for the use of herbicides in their watershed.

Thirty of the fifty or so people who live in the Turtle Creek community, near Comptche, held a meeting with MRC last month.  All of the neighbors who attended vehemently opposed MRC’s use of imazapyr to kill tanoaks.

Botanist Els Cooperrider told representatives from MRC, “Good Neighbors don’t poison the environment.”  She said that imazapyr is worse than Garlon (triclopyr) and can persist for a year or 17 months. (The Environmental Protection Agency gives it a half-life of 17 months.)

MRC President Jim Holmes disagreed with that assessment of the herbicide, but it was clear that the neighbors didn’t want ANY poisons – period.

Imazapyr is the active ingredient in several broad-spectrum herbicides (Habitat, Chopper, Arsenal, and Assault). It’s banned in the European Union. Allen Cooperrider questioned how MRC could get its sustainable practices certification while using the herbicide. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) prohibits use of “hazardous chemicals.” But MRC holds a valid certification from FSC, good through November 2015.

Holmes told the group, “MRC is committed to sustainable forestry and restoration of the forest.” The logic is that the tanoak problem is a result of poor management, and getting rid of the tanoaks is a step in the direction of a healthy forest.  

Aptly named MRC forester, Colby Forrester, gave a paper version of a powerpoint presentation, showing that every attempt to use alternatives has failed to take care of the tanoak problem.  MRC uses “hack and squirt” to kill the tanoaks – hacking away a section of bark, then injecting the tree using a horse syringe. The systemic poison then kills the whole tree.

Forrester said that just cutting the trees didn’t work; because two years later there were multiple shoots. He produced photos of land where non toxic alternatives such as vinegar were used. Again, there was more growth after two years. But with imazapyr, there is no replacement growth at all. In fact, the photo proof that Forrester produced showed no growth of any kind where the herbicide was applied.

One of the neighbors produced his own photos – pictures of potential fuel loads of debris and dead tanoaks left behind after herbicide treatments. Neighbors argued that the use of poison was creating a fire hazard – even describing a whole ridge of dead tanoaks.

Several of the neighbors said that conifers eventually out-strip the tanoaks, and the tanoaks die off. The argument was that the only reason to poison them is to speed up the process for profit’s sake. There was agreement among the neighbors that if the company is in such a hurry, they should hire workers to remove the trees or let people come in and cut them for firewood.

Holmes said that liability would be a problem. He added that if the group wanted to take out insurance, they would talk about it. The neighbors, however, pointed out that the MRC, which is owned by the Fisher family of The Gap fortune, has more resources and MRC should take out the insurance. Neighbor Terri McCartney told MRC that the fire hazard from dead wood is a higher liability for the company than just letting people cut the wood.

Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg asked if MRC’s use of herbicide really represented a change from the destructive practices of previous owner Louisiana Pacific. In a side note, he questioned MRC’s opposition to a conservation easement for Usal Forest. Holmes said that his company was concerned about the almost $20 million cost to taxpayers for the easement. (If approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board, the 50,635 acre Usal Redwood Forest Conservation Easement would be the largest contiguous area of protected coastal redwoods in the County.)

For the Turtle Creek neighbors, the THP in question is Dark Gulch Timber Harvest Plan. It has been approved; but no work will be done on it this year. This gives the two sides some time to negotiate. Attorney Barry Vogel tried to pin MRC President Holmes down on the company’s intention to use Imazapyr next year. Holmes said that the concerns of the group would be “taken under advisement.”

The meeting echos another community meeting with MRC in Westport in April. Neighbors there have organized a committee to work with MRC on the issue of herbicide use in the forest.

Toxic Load on the Albion

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Regarding that letter from MRC in last week’s paper [“Hack & Squirt Looks Bad“], I’d first like to thank Mr. Jani for the attempt. Anything is better than nothing, however, I thought his note was most peculiar in what it did not address, which is the public’s obvious distaste for being poisoned. Instead, Mr. Jani focused obsessively on the “visual impact,” which almost made it sound more like an internal memo: “Guys, we screwed up, it’s too visible, the natives are restless, we’ve got to go back to hiding this better.” The effect of Mr. Jani’s message, to those of us being poisoned, was not reassuring.

His careful subject avoidance reminded me of the tobacco industry, who for decades after everyone else had figured it out, kept pretending that there was no connection between smoking and cancer. A big difference in these two situations is that one could choose not to be a smoker; whereas, here, we are unwilling participants in MRC’s poisoning of the environment.

If you haven’t already done so, take a drive out Comptche Ukiah Road, three to six miles east of Comptche. You’ll get the “visual impact” Mr. Jani was talking about. The ugly brown is one thing, but the real story is those thousands of dead trees, perched steeply above the headwaters of the Albion River, have all been killed with a highly toxic herbicide. Their fallen leaves are now sliding down canyon walls toward the river, rainy season is coming, and we know the herbicide used to kill those trees, imazapyr, is both mobile and persistent. I mourn for the people throughout the Albion River watershed. The toxic load heading your way is criminal.

I mourn for all of us in western Mendocino County. What you can see along the Comptche Ukiah Road this year, MRC has been doing in more hidden locations all along. From our property, we see large fields of MRC Brown along tributaries of the Navarro River. MRC averages two tons of imazapyr on over five thousand acres every year. That’s a huge toxic load on us all. Doesn’t it seem like too many people are getting cancer these days? MRC is helping make that happen.

How can we make them stop? What these corporate types care about is money, so I suggest boycotting Home Depot (which distributes MRC lumber) and the five clothing businesses of the principal owners: Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta. Tell these businesses what you’re doing and why. Spread the word. Together we can create something that matters to these people: financial impact.

Mendocino Poison Company

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Information on Mendocino Redwood Company’s widespread use of toxins in Mendocino County…


Website with updated information (2015) on the fire danger from poisoned trees left standing in the woods:

An online petition:

Letters we’ve sent to our local newspaper:

Photos taken near Comptche, California, August 2012:

Newspaper articles on the topic:

Current and previous actions against these poisonings:

Some pertinent data from MRC:

More information:

Fossil Fools

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Bill McKibben talks about trying to get ahead of the heat: “The Sky Really Is Falling.”

And here’s a short, excellent presentation of the parts-per-million challenge that we all face: “350 Science.”

Going Green

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Excellent essay by Juan Cole: “The New Sputnik.”