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The Millipede Massacre




Heidi Walters did a good job summarizing the complex history of Headwaters Forest ("Headwaters Forest at 10", Feb. 26). However, a notable inaccuracy occurred when she wrote, "In March 1987, [Greg] King and a fellow activist walked into the Headwaters Grove for the first time."

Actually, I was alone during that first foray into what we labeled, on our early maps, the "big grove." It might seem like a minor error, but the memory of that solo journey is profound.

It may have been the first time anyone from outside the company had hiked through Pacific Lumber's last significant ancient redwood groves, from Kneeland Road to the Van Duzen River. In two days I covered some 35 miles across rugged terrain, and it was raining.

Headwaters Grove was the final stop, and when I got there I was thrashed. The forest, however, thrived. The big grove was trackless with dozens of incongruous headwater streams that divulged no clear direction of travel. Eventually I stumbled down into Little South Fork Elk River. Gargantuan redwoods lined the stream, which in places ran in "caves" a dozen feet below the surface, secreted by massive trees fallen over centuries.

Eventually I stumbled south into the utter mayhem of a fresh Maxxam clear-cut. Countless yellow-spotted millipedes blanketed the road, dead, as I made my way out of Salmon Creek into the Van Duzen drainage. It was dark by the time I passed through the massive Yager log deck. Thousands of horizontal boles, hundreds of them rising well over my head, lined the route. I was terribly alone.

— Greg King, Arcata

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