Anarchists in the Woods- then & again

Intro:

Even behind the walls of the city we can hear the war in the woods. A growing resistance to the pipelines of Empire –and a rejection of this civilization in crisis. “The largest mobilization in history of indigenous peoples of the north” (Zig-Zag) has drastically destabilized efforts to secure the pipelines. There is no doubt that as resistance escalates –Empire, that is globally running on fumes, will retaliate. We also know that in this war –the best solidarity is to attack.

Movements happen in cycles; sometimes there is a rupture that unleashes a cyclone of struggle, but usually one movement cycles into the other. Sometimes these cycles are similar to previous movements. Not the same –not even close. But certain moments share commonalities that open the potential to extract power and knowledge –and like all moments, offer the chance for rupture. For us, this war in the woods that is spilling south, is our chance – and we are willing to take it.

From a constellation of forgotten movements we choose to remember the direct action camp of the Elaho. Not to put it at risk of becoming another ‘heritage moment’ for radical environmentalism –but for its consistency in wrecking havoc. There is much inspiration to be taken from this small crew of anarchists (or rather, as they referred to themselves- ‘a horde of sasquatch’), whom with limited resources in an isolated space committed excessive sabotage to decisive infrastructure.

Below is a reproduction of a zine published in 2001 by the Elaho Valley Anarchist Horde. Written in the haste of action it has found a new urgency, and as such we have decided to post these excerpts –for strategy and critique, thinking and for action.

The opening article conveys the spectrum of protest, from NGO’s, grassroots environmentalists, indigenous folks and anarchist. What is clear, through the complexities and contradictions of such unstable allies, is the anarchists uncompromising defense of wildness and militant solidarity with indigenous sovereignty. Following this longest article is a chronology of actions against ecocide in the Elaho Valley, then a fragment of an article written by one of the tree sitters during the Lava Creek Bridge barricade, and finally a couple communiqué’s.


Welcome to the Elaho

The Elaho valley is in the southern portion of the Pacific Northwest coastal temperate rain forest. Located three hours north of Vancouver the area has mostly been logged and much of it is in the process of tourist development. The Elaho is unceeded Squamish and Lil’wat territory, meaning no treaty has been signed by either nation for the alienation of these lands. Regardless the BC Government (itself a colonial fiction) calls this ‘crown’ land. During the 1950s the provincial government, as part of a bribery scandal in which the Minister responsible was jailed, handed out huge tracts of ‘crown’ land to logging corporations in the form of Tree farm Licenses (TFLs). The Elaho, Simms and Squamish valleys make up TFL 38. These licenses are long term property transfers that transfer native land to the queen, then to the provincial government, and finally into the hands of the forest companies. The idea of the TFLs is as far removed from a vibrant ecosystem as possible. These are plantations complete with monoculture planting, toxic fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. A complex ecosystem reduced to a hegemonic industrial model, just as colonization attempted to reduce native cultures to mere shadows through the reserve and residential school systems. In BC genocide and ecocide are inseparable phenomena.

International Forest Products (Interfor) are the company that holds tenure in TFL 38. Interfor is a Vancouver based forest company begun in the 1970s. As late comers to BC’s forest industry they picked up a number of the most contentious and risky licenses; including the Elaho, areas around Clayoquot Sound, and mid-coast areas known as the Great Bear Rainforest. This company has long been known for its shoddy logging practices, and this in an area with the largest clear-cuts in the world. Violations and a small degree of public censure have done little to stop this and when pushed the company has been known to resort to violent thuggery. (see event timeline for information on the attack of Sept 15, 1999, or the video Hoods in the Woods) the main shareholders of Interfor are the Sauder family. William, the family patriarch is also the chancellor of the University of British Colombia. That this institution also turns out the province’s professional foresters should come as no surprise. The Sauder’s live in the Vancouver neighborhood of Shaughnassy, so if you’re in the area stop in and let’em know what you think.

Industrial forestry is one of the largest ecological problems in this part of the world. By viewing the world through economic models the viability of full ecosystems is ignored, while cubic meter after cubic meter is pulled off the land and roads rush in to fragment the old growth. Community tenures are being envisioned in many parts of the province. Run on an ecosystem and cooperative basis, new models of community control connection with the land are being opened. As can be expected the government, logging companies, and wise-use groups are fighting hard to stop this grassroots phenomena. In the Elaho area, workers have been scared into class-unconsciousness through industry scare tactics and PR which sets the interests of forestry workers against those of native and anti-globalization activists. The town council in Squamish (the nearest town) has gone all out in support of Interfor, to the point of declaring Squamish a “Protest free-zone” and demanding that local business stop serving anyone who looks like a “protester.” The unions are also of little help, in this province where the Wobblies (International Workers of the World) were outlawed in 1917, the timber unions have been firmly in the pockets of industry for over eighty years. The capitalist logic of grow-or-die has taken over the backwoods converting landscapes to assembly lines and peoples into mere cogs.

These macro-economic and geopolitical issues also have far-reaching impact on each individual component of the forest. From the microorganisms through the large predators all life is disrupted. In old growth ecosystems an average of over a hundred and fifty mycorrhizal fungi are present while in the replanted area an average of seven are to be found. This alone should cause us to stop and rethink. On the macro level the Elaho is the front line of Grizzly Bear habitat. Pre-industrial development, grizzlies ranged all the way south to the Baja. In 2001 the Elaho is the most southern point they roam on the coast. Salmon, black bears, lynx, spotted owls, northern goshawks, and wolverines also find a home in these woods while being pushed out of their more traditional territory. These wild animal nations are dependent on large unfragmented tracts of forest, and increasingly rare thing today.

Plant communities are also affected by industrial forestry. The plants in the old growth areas rely on these ecosystems to survive, simplified structures like those found in replanted areas cannot provide a suitable environment for them to thrive. Many of the plants also have deep ties with the native cultures of the area. Medicines, food, clothing, and building materials… a non-destructive use of these plants has gone on and still is.

Over the last few years the Elaho valley has come to stand for more then itself. It is one of the front lines in the struggle against ecocide in western klanada with numerous groups working for its protection. The diversity of tactics used has shown a creative movement with a deeper bag of tricks than anyone expected. Since 1977 there have been waves of protest in the valley itself (see chronology for breakdown). The first actions that year involved people locked into concrete barriers across the road. When Interfor employees arrived violence ensued with gasoline being poured almost up to the locked down blockades then set alight, support people were also roughed up. The loggers responded with their own blockade closing the access road into the valley and refusing lo let anyone who looked like an environmentalist pass.

In 1999 there were numerous actions including tree-sits and people standing in the road. These actions were met with threats of violence and arrests. These accumulated in a violent attack on September 15 1999, when 80-100 Interfor employees came to the camp demanding people leave. When the folks in the camp refused, they were attacked with three people being hospitalized. Women were threatened with rape. Videos and still cameras where destroyed, along with the rest of the camp and people’s possessions. They also started to cut the tree that the tree sitter was occupying, and tried to fall tress on to him. But people didn’t back down after the attack, there were more tree-sits that fall and numerous arrests made by the RCMP (always quick to company complaints, flying in with helicopters multiple times a day).

In 2000 there were numerous actions both above ground and below ground. The year started with a press release from the Lorax claiming the spiking of hundreds of trees in two cut blocks. The first civil disobedience action happened on May 15 when Betty and Susan blocked the road at Mile 20. This action was in protest to the timber companie’s continued use of carcinogenic and estrogenic chemicals in the forest. These toxins contaminate ecosystems worldwide and their effects are most prevalent in women. The first tripod seen in the Elaho went up June 5, at Mile 38 fronted with slash piles and barbed wire. The police used three helicopters and pigs on foot to chase the ground support away from the scene and threatened to take the sitter down using an excavator causing him to descend fearing for his safety. On July 25 a technical tree-sit/road blockade began on Lava Creek bridge (see Artemis write-up). Police used dogs, tactical units in full camouflage with assault rifles, and climbing teams (where did they learn to climb?) in their attempt to force the sitters down. After nine days the four sitters came down and were arrested. On August 28 the Horde threw up a tripod reinforced with an n=angled steel lockbox at Mile 38. The police swept the area and arrested three people for talking to the media from a van in a quarry up the road, and twelve campers who were drinking tea. They again forced the sitter to come down by bumping the excavator driven by an Interfor employee identified as one of the attackers from the previous year. As a finale to the year, a tripod went up the morning of October 23. A security patrol stumbled onto the action before the pod went up. Throughout this period there were also numerous acts of sabotage ranging from road spiking through machinery being wrenched. As this goes to print no one has been arrested in relation to sabotage in the Elaho (ed. Note: and no one would be!)

The more radical elements of the Elaho struggle have served to push the accepted discourses in the movement into directions no one has expected. Expropriating corporate land and ending the tenure system doesn’t seem that radical anymore. Compensation for lands returned to first nations communities isn’t an option anymore; suddenly reparations for the damages done are being discussed. Some liberal groups are still calling for provincial parks, but the stands made at Stony Point in Ontario and Cheam near Chilliwack are giving cause to rethink. In the first case native people reoccupied a provincial park, which had been stolen from them during WW2. During the reoccupation, the Ontario Provincial Police assassinated Dudley George. At Cheam the BC Government is also trying to further the land thief with the creation of a provincial park. In response members of the Cheam nation have set up barricades in protest. This has led people to rethink what it means to stop industrial development in the valley. Thank you to those brave people for their commitment and example. The communities in struggle in the Elaho have also become something more then just protests but experiments in what it means to live and work together without bosses or government control. The struggle has come to be far more than another battle to save forests; it is a site of continued battle against colonialism, capitalism, the state, and globalization. Maybe the media are right and there is a ‘war in the woods’, but they don’t realize just how big that war is.

Resistance to Ecocide:

Disclaimer:

The following text has been supplied by the multinational scum-sucking parasites at Interfor. Words pertaining to vandalism would be best referred to as forms of creative artistic reconstruction in the passion of rage. All work stoppages are because of people’s fierce determination regardless of what is noted otherwise.

Lave Creek Illegal Actions 1999-2000

1999

August 09                        protest camp established. Tree sitter. Work shut down.

August 10                        tree sitter. Shut down for fire hazard.

August 11                        camp around drill rig. Three tree sitters.

August 12                        court order read. Camp moved to south side of lava creek. Shit down for fire hazard

August 13-16            roadblocks removed. Tree sitters. Cannot work.

August 17                        two tree sitters. Cannot work. 22 RCMP/6 vehicles/helicopter/2 dog/2 ambulances/3 search and rescue. 1 arrested.

August 18                        sitter. Cannot work. 20 RCMP (tactical squad). 1 arrested

August 19                        work by drill delayed ½ day. Seven defy court order. About 6 RCMP. 5 arrested. Tree sitter remained.

August 20                        work on Br. E 1081 stopped by tree sitter. 1 arrested. Tree sitter remained.

August 21                        blasting delayed due to whistling in trees.

August 23                        drill rig vandalized overnight. Batteries ruined/grind wheel broken/grease in cab. Cayenne pepper spread around. Drilled holes filled. Right of way flagging removed, fallers cannot work. Two RCMP. Tree sitter stays overnight.

August 24                        drill still inoperable. Replacement tree sitter is arrested. 6 RCMP

August 30            drill rig vandalized. High-pressure hose cut. Tree sitter, “Gumshee”, prevents excavator from operating. Cannot work.

August 31            tree sitter disappeared. 7 RCPM/1 dog/2 vehicles/helicopter.

September 05            bridge blocked. Driller cannot get to work. 3 RCMP. 3 arrested (1 for assault on RCMP)

September 12            arrestee left voice message, “beat you up in front of your children”.

September 14            lava Creek Bridge abutment dug up. Bridge blocked by boulders & logs.             tree sitter arrested. (ed. Note: this is when over 70 Interfor workers attacked the camp, destroyed everything & sent 3 to hospital)

September 16            road culvert blocked up with rocks; locks placed on explosive magazine.

September 26            Volvo gravel truck windshield smashed, instruments destroyed and spray painted/gravel truck 1 flat tire/shop truck 4 flat tiers, compressor destroyed/court order sign stolen/blasting sign removed/ lave Creek bride approach dug up/feces in drill cap/rock & log debris on road.

September 29            road blocked at gate. Cannot work.

September 30           blockade removed by RCMP. Betty Krawczyk arrested.

October 2                    Interfor Employees’ pledge banner stolen from trees at 22 mile.

2000

February 17                        “The Lorax” claims to have spiked 100’s of trees in Elaho Valley.

May 04                        Elaho Logging chainsaws vandalized. RCMP investigation.

May 15                        gate blockaded at 20 mile. 2 arrested.

June 05                        blockade at 38 mile, barbed wired log and rock tripod and barriers- all day – loss of work. 1 arrested/10 RCMP

June 13-16                        protesters in block 102-51 disrupting & stopping falling

June 19                        trench across Lava Bridge, protesters in 102-51. Stopped falling.

July 10                        blocked at 102-51, block boundary markings painted over or removed.

July 26                        protester arrested for interfering with RCMP operations.

July 25-28                        barbwire, log, rock, and old truck barricade on lave Creek Bridge. (ed. Note: RCMP nearly kills 3 tree sitters when they cut the support line to their sits.)

July 29-August 1            bridge blockade; numerous RCMP attend.

August 2                        arrest of 3 tree sitters for mischief and intimidation and 3 counts of obstructing a police officer.

August 28                        blockade at 38 mile, tripod on road. Loss of work all day. 1 arrested (mischief and intimidation).

August 29                        vandalism; doors locks jammed on yarder & loader, grapple yarder tail block undone, high tension wire set loose- extremely dangerous. Graffiti on Demigner trail sign.

September 15            No.2 bridge: 220 spikes driven into surface. 75% have heads cut off.

October 3                        Powerhouse Bridge spiked, (spike heads cut off) & debris/High Falls bridge spiked & debris/Chuck Chuck bridge spiked & debris/ Grader vandalism- all windows & lights smashed, tires flattened, hoses cut, radio smashed, glass put in fuel tank/ Water tank pulled off road/Shovelnose Bridge spiked & debris- log loader severely vandalized, all hoses and fillings cut, all instruments destroyed, gravel into hydraulics, radio stolen/Turbid Creek bridge spiked & vandalized/36 mile- debris over road for ½ mile/No.2 bridge spiked & debris- Approx. cost of vandalism $30.000.00

November 28            25 new mileage markers removed over 24-mile stretch of road.

November 30            Elaho Earth First! Claim sabotage to generator; generator not working and believed to be tampering (material put into crankcase)

Press release                        they plan more sabotage.

{Excepts from} Artemis Tree Sit

On the morning of July 25, 2000 Interfor was granted a new injunction against protesters and the Elaho-1000 road was blocked at mile 65. The barricade sat on the Lava Creek Bridge over a hundred feet above the rapids along the base of the canyon. Walking up the bridge, the road is covered with logs and rocks for almost a km, one seeks a road ending its life as a road. Signs line the sides of the bridge, framing the view of an old brown truck buried in logs and barbed wire. Through he truck runs a thirty-six foot steel pipe, ends reaching far off the sides. Running through the pipe are three thin prussic cords. These lines fly up a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet into a tree on either side of the road at the bridges north end. Up in the trees, tarps and platforms are visible. The southern platforms hang, like the plates of a scale, on the prussic lines which have been looped over pieces of webbing strung between two branches.

Each tree (Artemis and Ashika) holds two sitters and is connected to brad areas of the forest, and each other, via traverse lines. In the deep woods and canyon floor, are support crews ducking the police lines. While on the south end of the bridge is the camp and large crews of supporters. The morning of the 25th security wakes up to find the sudden chaos on the road. A lesson on why we win; never sleep, never forget.

Communiqués

Communiqué from the Lorax

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2000

The Lorax today took responsibility for spiking hundreds of ancient trees in the Elaho Valley, in areas approved for clear-cut logging this year. The purpose of the tree spiking is to protect grizzly bear habitat and to deter International Forest Products from clear-cutting this ancient coastal rainforest, located on Native land northwest of Whistler, BC. Hundreds of black bears and a small number of grizzlies inhabit the rugged mountains and canyons near the Elaho River.

No one is likely to be injured as a result of the spikes. If Interfor decides to carry out its clear-cut plans, workers will have to find the spikes with metal detectors and remove them by hand. Most sawmills screen logs for foreign objects that may damage the saw.

The Lorax encourages wood buyers worldwide to boycott InterFor. The company is destroying a unique cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir forest that is thousands of years old, without regard for wildlife, water quality or Native land claims. The Elaho River area is the southernmost remnant of grizzly bear habitat on the west coast of North America.

Five and ten-inch spikes were driven into trees north of Mile 63 on the Elaho main and Elaho main West logging roads. An area north of Cessna Creek, and proposed roadways, were spiked along with the following cut blocks: 101-9, 101-52, 101-52A, 102-52B, 102-54, 102-55.

—end—

The Monkey Wrench gang Claims Sabotage in the Elaho Valley

An underground group known only as the Monkey Wrench Gang is claiming a recent act of sabotage in the Elaho Valley. George Hayduke, the group’s media liaison, says the gang recently crippled a giant generator owned by International Forest Products by pouring abrasives into the machines crankcase while it was running. “Sabotage is easy”, says Hayduke, “all you need is determination and a little grit”. Interfor, a Vancouver based corporation, holds the permit to log the upper Elaho Valley, an area of untouched ancient forest that includes the rare Elaho Giants, some of the oldest Douglas Firs in the world. The embattled logging company has provoked blockades, tree-spiking and worldwide boycotts because of its destructive practices. “Lets be clear about one thing, we are not the ‘peaceful protesters’”, Hayduke says, “standing on logging roads, climbing trees and waving signs is great. But this game is for keeps. We’re not going to hurt anyone, but we’re going to stop those goddamn machines’.

Check this shit out

Elaho Valley Anarchist Horde zine (scan): http://issuu.com/conflictgypsy/docs/evah?mode=window&viewMode=doublePage

Zig-Zag article’s on pipelines: http://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/category/oil-gas/

Writing on Elaho after the barricades:http://zoeblunt.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/shaking-the-tree-an-eco-defenders-ordeal/

In honour to the fighting spirit of our comrade Lubby. A defender of the Elaho who has fallen but will never-ever be forgotten.       “You will always live with us. Side by side at the barricades!”


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