Several days of protests over plans to log in a grove that contains old growth Douglas fir on Rainbow Ridge reached a peak just before 3 p.m. yesterday after demonstrators blocked the southernmost exit/entrance from U.S. Highway 101 to Scotia and the Humboldt Redwood Company Lumber Mill.
Video by Earth First in Humboldt uploaded to YouTube and embedded above shows a trucker with empty trailers driving through a large banner — held by two protesters who were blocking Main Street — in order to enter the highway.
Another video uploaded to YouTube by Rick Shreve, an environmental activist, and embedded below shows a trucker hauling logs arguing with protesters, including one who stepped up onto the semi.
The California Highway Patrol incident page shows the agency received several calls about the blockade that forced truckers to stop on the exits. CHP also received reports that demonstrators were climbing onto the trucks.
Humboldt Redwood Company Forest Policy Director John Andersen said protests have been occurring on and off for the last week or so. But he said that when protesters started moving to block the freeway on and off ramps, safety became a concern and the company called police.
Several law enforcement agencies were dispatched to the scene but protesters dispersed before they arrived.
"We have no problem with people protesting," Andersen said. "But safety is very important to us."
Andersen said the company tries to be transparent, offering to take anyone who is curious about its operations "out to the woods to see firsthand what we do." As to Rainbow Ridge — an 18,000-acre swath of property located on the headwaters of the upper and lower forks of the Mattole River on which the company has approved timber harvest plans — he reiterated that no old growth trees or stands will be cut, though he said the company does have plans to begin logging in "late summer or early fall."
He also confirmed that auditors with the Forest Stewardship Council will be making a site visit in September, during which they will take a look at Rainbow Ridge and the company's harvest plans.
Editor's note: A version of this report first appeared on www.kymkemp.com. It is reposted here with permission.