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Striptease for the Trees

A small crowd of concerned citizens, fronted by the legendary bare-breasted poet "La Tigresa," successfully stalled timber operations that threaten the world's two tallest trees at a logging site adjacent to Montgomery Woods State Park in Mendocino County. Reciting her "Earth Goddess" poetry topless, as the loggers respectfully listened, La Tigresa was supported by local residents, mothers with babies, children and dogs, who were all there to express concerns over the environmental impacts of this logging plan.

The timber company was delayed long enough for the California Department of Forestry (CDF) inspectors to come out and find violations of the forest practice rules. Although the logging company was cited for violating the law, they are still allowed to continue the cutting. Two major concerns here are erosion and "blowdown" caused by cutting the buffer zone around the park. Montgomery Woods is nestled in a narrow canyon, where increased high winds can topple these exceptionally tall trees, some over 350 feet tall.

The erosion, caused by logging on the steep terrain immediately above salmon spawning beds in the headwaters of Big River, has been identified as a major factor in the dramatic decline of salmon populations. California Department of Parks and Recreation, which runs Montgomery Woods, has been negotiating to purchase this privately-owned land and add it to the park, but has yet to satisfy landowner Bill DeRidder's asking price. Local residents are outraged at the so called "cut and run" tactics of "out-of-town land speculators" such as Bill DeRidder and his partner Rick Priest. Both have been reported to Mendocino County's environmental prosecutor, Barry Vogel, by local residents for questionable logging practices.

Activists, including La Tigresa, vowed to continue to be present at the Montgomery Woods logging site. The hillside contains important habitat for Spotted Owls, Peregrine Falcons, Mountain Lions, Pacific Fishers, and is immediately above a known salmon stream. La Tigresa and nine other forest activists are currently facing charges of trespass, and are challenging a restraining order to stay off the nearby property of Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC).

MRC is owned by the Fisher family of San Francisco which also own sthe Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy clothing stores. They have been accused of unsustainable forest practices by local residents and activists, despite recent "certification" as a provider of "sustainably harvested timber."

La Tigresa and the other Mendocino Ten held a rally in Fort Bragg in February to expose the timber industry's practices and the watered-down certification process — which still allows the use of toxic herbicide spraying in forests and the cutting of old growth trees. Trial is set for May 7.

La Tigresa is the subject of a documentary called "Striptease for the Trees." Contact