Richardson Grove Defense Camp
by Paul Encimer, June 2, 2010
Last weekend we had the benefit of a Richardson Grove defense camp. A bunch of us grabbed our coffees after the Friday Peace Vigil and caravanned down behind the first wave of NoHum activists. We were in time to help set up the common tent against the wind that funneled down powerfully through the valley of the Eel. We faced a great expanse of grassy flat just a few hundred yards up from the original stage area of Reggaes on the River. This “beach on the river” was bigger than those from my Santa Monica/Venice Beach days and just as public. It suggests the spectacle of Richardson Grove on the River.
The common tent was put up against the higher flat on which were built a couple homes attached to French’s Camp’s little business district. The defense camp’s kitchen area was behind a row of sheltering trees on the southern side of the access road off the highway. Not far away was the landing that was used to beach the Reggae Uprising flotilla. For the “Emerald Nation” this spot is, you might say, part of the Homeland.
It was good to draw a line in the sand Memorial Day weekend. The spontaneity and purposeful confusion seemed pure Earth First and the action instigators were in fact old veterans. Importantly, the action is an explicit reminder that, “October deadline” or not, cutting the trees might be done earlier and separately from the actual road widening. Caltrans probably can’t strike with the merciless rapidity of your average logging corporation but that’s no excuse to skip the necessary tasks of keeping up ongoing surveillance for signs of Caltrans-like activities, linked to phone trees and affinity groups capable of being called up quickly.
Some of us had a chance to be part of a conversation with one of the Park cops who, jingle jangle weaponry aside, was friendly and open. The Park was full (except of course for the almost 200 sites closed by the state that were situated across the river.) It seemed apparent - given similar numbers of site closures up the road at Humboldt State Park - that the parks were packed and well booked up. No wonder then that CalTrans has indicated a work schedule coming after the tourist season “in autumn.”
The event lasted through Sunday night. I came in time for dinner Saturday night and there were still 20 people hanging out together. A half dozen or so were leaving as I arrived with another supporter. That jives with estimates of 30 plus participants throughout the day of walking and talking, preparing for the day when the walk and the talk get on the same page.
Such was, and is, the drill. “Save Richardson Grove” is the site to watch as other links are being created. This isn’t the time to wait around for organizers. Work from where you are. The Grove is worth a global focus. For one, this thoughtless atrocity breaks the treaty we made with the trees to compensate for the postwar II cutting of the rest of the forest. The logged off wood went into the suburban explosion via the automobile fueled literally by our global control of oil production. The expansion of the highway in the Grove is the last link in the Federal Highway system - an Eisenhower era imperial symbol that rivals the Pentagon in its magical importance to the military/Industrial/Congressional complex.
The expansion is also part Business Bubble building – you know: the deeper port, cheaper goods on bigger trucks, bigger goods on cheaper trucks - all the fantasies of theanything to make a buck crowd. This worship of money at all costs is bubbling away in the gulf but focusing locally on the Grove has unearthed my otherwise buried sense of urgency. Time’s up.