Waferboard, the Final Solution

Speech Given by Judi Bari at an Earth First! demonstration in front of L-P's chip mill near Ukiah, California, June 16, 1989 - reprinted in Timber Wars, © 1994 Common Courage Press.

We are at the site of the new Calpella chipping mill for Louisiana-Pacific. Starting this logging season, L-P has instituted a new logging practice that they call "logging to infinity." The log deck over there is stacked up with all kinds of little treetops and hardwoods. All kinds of stuff that's got no business on a log deck. it ought to be in the forest.

I want to point out that we are not here to protest against either the loggers or the mill workers or anyone who is an employee of Louisiana-Pacific. They don't have any more control over these logging practices than we do. At the beginning of this logging season, Louisiana-Pacific called a meeting in Willits of the people that are going to be logging for them to explain their new logging practices. And I want you to know that their own employees, their own contract loggers, many of them are just as disgusted with this as we are. That's how we found out about a lot of this stuff. one comment from an old-timer was, "When they start telling us to take the tops of trees, we know it's the end."

So the person we're here to protest is not the logger, not the mill workers. It's the president of Louisiana-Pacific, a man named Harry Merlo. Harry Merlo is the ultimate tree Nazi. he wants to cut every last tree and implement The Final Solution of waferboard in [Mendocino] county. Now you've all heard this quote, but I'm going to read it again 'cause you can't say anything about Harry Merlo as bad as what Harry says about himself. We can thank Mike Geniella of the Press Democrat for coming up with this quote. In an interview with Harry about his logging practices, Harry had this to say: "You know it always annoys me to leave anything on the ground when we log our own land. There shouldn't be anything left on the ground. We need everything that's out there. We don't log to a 10-inch top or an 8-inch top or even a 6-inch top. We log to infinity. Because it's out there and we need it all, now."

This maniac is actually in charge of most of the forest land in Mendocino County. Here are some astounding photos of what logging to infinity means.

These were taken on L-P cuts in the Mendocino National Forest, but it looks the same all over. Clearcuts, mudslides, devastation where the forest used to grow. So what we are dealing with here is a man who not only does not believe in obeying the laws of humans--as far as forestry practices--this man does not even believe in the laws of nature. Any farmer knows that you can't keep taking out of the soil without putting back into the soil, but Harry has not yet discovered this basic principle of nature. Fifty percent of the organic matter on the ground in a natural forest is decaying wood. Yet Harry wants to remove all this wood. His plan, he says, is to strip everything off the ground, leaving it completely bare and replant tree farms with 20-year rotations. According to Chris Maser, the forestry expert, there has never been a tree farm that survived beyond three generations. without putting something into the soil, the soil gets poorer and poorer and the trees just don't grow back. So what Harry is talking about if he implements his plan is desertification in 60 years. That's why we're here. That's why this is so serious.

Now Merlo says don't worry if we got hardwoods and we got slash out on that deck. It's okay. We are going to replant it with conifers, we're going to replant it with Douglas Fir, which are much better sawlogs, much better trees. what he's talking about is monoculture. He's talking about eliminating biodiversity. Right now, one of the things that is happening is that they are exporting the logs to Japan, where they are paying a much higher price. The reason they are willing to pay more for this wood is because they have already destroyed their own forest. They took the advice of the United States Forestry Service and replanted their forest with monoculture pine. And several years later, much to their dismay, they were attacked by an infestation of pine beetles destroying this monoculture forest. In a natural forest there is enough diversity that something like a pine beetle won't destroy the whole ecosystem. In a tree farm, that diversity doesn't exist. The people in Japan saw it as an infestation of pine beetles, nature saw it as infestation of pine trees.

The other thing that Harry is not considering when he says he owns this land and can do what we wants with it, is the climate. We all know about the greenhouse effect. We all know about the greenhouse effect. We all know what this is doing to our climate. I saw something really dismaying in the Press Democrat just a few days ago. It was an advertisement for a new product called a solar prism. It says, "protects your garden against 120-degree heat." Now here where I live is called Redwood Valley, and there's hardly a redwood left in it. Last year it hit 115 degrees on the clearcut where I live, and I know it didn't hit any 115 degrees when there were redwood trees there. So what we are seeing here is a changing of the climate, a drying up of the land. And we are seeing the greenhouse effect kicking in.

Now some of those counter-demonstrators across the street are wearing "No Earth First!" shirts. And one of the things they like to holler about is jobs. I'd like to see these people defend waferboard, because not only is waferboard eliminating the forest, it is also eliminating the forest jobs. L-P just closed down the Potter Valley sawmill in the next valley over from here. That sawmill employed 136 people. Subsequently they opened up this chip plant here and it employs 15. And that's what we are looking at. It doesn't take a logger to harvest a tree farm. It's done with machinery. We are talking about farm workers, not loggers. We are talking about less jobs in the mills. We are talking about more toxic jobs. Just to show you how sensitive Harry is to the jobs situation, here's his comment on the Potter Valley Mill: "I feel sorry for Potter Valley and all the people that are there. But when you look at the total picture, our future is so bright, even though some product lines are their end." Well, I don't know who's future he thinks is so bright. Certainly not the Potter Valley mill workers. When he says product lines are at their end, he's not talking about product lines, he's talking about trees and forests that are at their end.

 There's no benefit from waferboard, no benefit at all. Here's an example of it over here. As a carpenter, I can tell you that this is totally inferior product. Wood chips floating in a gel of toxic glue. Do you want your house built out of this stuff? I know I don't and I bet Harry Merlo's house isn't built out of it either.

Some Earth First!ers say they don't want any logging at all, and I'm not really sure if human beings can log and still have the forest there or not. I do feel that have to base our society on what the Earth can sustain. Not trying to strip everything we can off the Earth without worrying about the future, I don't want to be here for it. There is no benefit to this strip logging except to the greedy millionaire, Harry Merlo. Harry is practicing an economics of extinction. Well we have a surprise for him in Mendocino County. He's about to run into the politics of resistance.

We don't recognize Harry Merlo's claim to ownership of beings that are 2,000 years old. Beings in whose life Harry Merlo is just a blip in their history. We don't recognize his right to strip our forest and leave nothing. Or to strip our children's future. The forest doesn't belong to Harry Merlo, the forest belongs to the ages. The logs on that log deck don't belong to Harry Merlo, they belong to the future. They belong to the forest creatures who need them for habitat. We are not going to let Harry Merlo chip our county to satiate this greed. This is not the last demonstration Harry, this is the first. The next one will be at your office, and the next one will be at your house. Harry Merlo last! Earth First!