Save Headwaters Forest
National Audubon Society, Sierra Club Ancient Forest Committee
and Earth First! Media Center, make an urgent plea!


Please read and call Andy Caffrey (707/923-4949) to schedule an interview. Donations payable to Earth First! are always needed.

Earth First! Media Center
P.O. Box 324
Redway, CA 95560
Please check out the Jail Charles Hurwitz web site at


by Andy Caffrey

In 1985, they shook hands on the deal. The deal was a multi-billion dollar scam, a conspiracy to loot a Savings and Loan Association, wage a hostile takeover of a responsible timber company, loot it, and destroy one of the world's most famous forests in the process. It was a criminal conspiracy to violate dozens of federal banking, investment, and environmental protection laws, and it was made between a junk bond pirate and a corporate raider, Charles Hurwitz. Hurwitz is president and CEO of the Houston-based MAXXAM Co. as well as the controlling shareholder of MAXXAM, and he was the controlling shareholder of the holding company which owned the doomed Savings and Loan, United Savings Association of Texas (USAT).

Historically, middle class families and the elderly have made deposits in savings and loan associations because S&Ls have conservative, community-oriented investment policies. They generally grant loans to homebuyers rather than gamble on high returns from risky Wall St. ventures. But after Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Congress deregulated the S&Ls in the 1980s, Hurwitz made a deal with one of the most notorious, convicted Wall Street criminals of the twentieth century, Michael Milken.

Hurwitz invested the USAT customers' now unregulated deposits in Milken's precarious junk bond issues, leaving the depositors and U.S. taxpayers (through Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [FDIC] deposit guarantees) with all the risk. Hurwitz himself would get rich off the investment no matter what happened to the deposits, because Milken's end of the deal was to personally grant Hurwitz and MAXXAM three quarters of a billion dollars worth of junk bonds to allow Hurwitz to prevail in the hostile takeover of the Pacific Lumber Co. PL was a family-owned company which had been in business since the last century, and it set the industry standard as one of the most ecologically responsible timber companies in the nation. PL owned the company town of Scotia, and was committed to the wellbeing of the workers, their families, and the community. PL subsidized rents, offered sizeable college grants to every worker's child, and supported a secure workers pension fund. It was also the only timber company that hadn't utterly destroyed all of its remaining ancient redwood forest holdings.

Since huge cash repayments on junk bonds become due within months of their issuance, Hurwitz's plan was to gut the company for quick cash. Immediately upon acquisition of PL, Hurwitz commenced vigorous actions to liquidate extensive company assets including the workers pension fund, company buildings and milling equipment, miscellaneous properties, and especially, the company's golden egg, its holdings of all the remaining, sizeable, unprotected coastal redwood, ancient forest groves left on Earth. He tripled the rate of cut and set out to mine all that remained of the oldest forest in North America, the most ancient and sacred heritage of our country, in order to get the cash to pay back Milken.

Continuously, and incessantly, for nine years he has been doing just that. And he's done it in collusion with the administrations of California governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, through their timber industry appointees to the California Board of Forestry, an elite coterie isolated from public outrage, because it serves solely at the pleasure of the governor. To make matters worse, Hurwitz succeeded in ripping-off every American taxpayer, because Milken's junk bonds failed and USAT went under, in one of the largest single failures of the notorious S&L looting scandals of the Reagan era. But to date, these gangster looters have kept their millions, while you and I ate a whopping $1.6 billion via the taxpayer-funded FDIC bailout which covered the losses of USAT's depositors. (Better living through deregulation? Is this "Free Market Prosperity"?)

Now, all that remains on PL land of substantial, ecologically viable groves of ancient redwood forest are the 3,000-acre Headwaters Grove, and a half-dozen neighboring stands of a few hundred acres each. And these are the only ancient redwood groves left anywhere outside of parks. Including the ancient forest groves "protected" in state and federal parks, there are less than 90,000 total acres left on the planet of this majestic forest, this ancient cathedral of 2,000(!) year-old trees, which stretch upward, nearly 400 feet toward the stars. And this acreage is mostly in patches.

There is no such thing as a Redwood Wilderness on the planet anymore; a primordial place of risk, where one could wander and explore for days and weeks on end, and never find a way back out. You can't hike in the ancient redwoods and walk more than a mile or two away from a road. You cannot take a weeklong backpacking trip in an old-growth redwood forest-no such places exists anymore. They've become decks and hot tubs in suburbia. Nowadays, when you hike through the redwood parks, it's more like a day at Disneyland: the relative amount of time you spend immersed in ancient forest compared to, say, the time walking through the ecologically simplified, second-growth agro-forest and clearcuts, is roughly equivalent to the amount of time you spend actually on the E rides, compared to the time wandering on the asphalt and waiting in lines.

There used to be a two million acre ancient redwood forest in Northern California and pockets of southern Oregon, but even that was a tiny forest compared to the Amazon Rain Forest which covers billions of acres. Since the Gold Rush days, over 96% of the entire native redwood forest has been annihilated by spirit of the 49ers, unhindered by popular scrutiny, and unleashed even to this very day. This is because of the region's remoteness from the rest of America, and an unwarranted faith that enough of the forest would be protected to perpetuate it if it received National Park designation.

But now, as the recent winter storms have made ominously clear, even the "protected" forests are beginning to show severe signs of deterioration and collapse. Decades of clearcutting in the parkland acreage prior to receiving park designated "protection", and today's ongoing obliteration of all the surrounding forested areas unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of the park boundaries, have disastously fragmented the entire redwood forest region, and accelerating, greenhouse-gas-induced climate change is adrenalizing the process.

This winter, hundreds of "protected" ancient trees blew down, including the world famous Flat Iron Tree, which stood in what many consider the largest and most spectacular redwood grove on earth: the Rockefeller Grove on Bull Creek, an area protected since 1923. This 2,000 year-old wonder looked like it had been two trees, which began life growing seventeen feet apart, and which had grown together 100 feet above the forest floor over 1,500 years ago, and melded together with several more trees which stood between them, into one enormous trunk stretching upward from that point to the height of a 36-story building. A cross section would look like the top of an ax, so you could speak of it actually having length (17.5') and width (4.5' at the point expanding out to only 7.5' at the butt-end).

Only a few miles to the west, fierce Pacific Ocean winds which sometimes exceed 160 mph(!) blow onto Cape Mendocino more intensely than anywhere else in the western U.S. But down on the forest floor, protected by the dense forest canopy, the wind rarely exceeds 2 mph(!)-that's not a typo, that's 2 mph! A few decades back, however, loggers cut a clearcut less than a mile west of the Flat Iron Tree which removed this protective canopy. Nowadays, locals talk about the changing climate and over a decade of peculiar weather. Apprehensively, they voice concern about the alarming and unrelenting intensity of last winter's torrential storms which caused extreme soil oversaturation, and they think about the future....

No one knows exactly when it happened, for when the storms roar through the giants, they become dark and murderous. Even after surviving a thousand years, a hundred pound limb can crack one night, in any storm, and rush imperceptibly down 200 feet through the rain...squinting and unaware, a man looks up into the rain and.... Sometimes the trees go down too, but no one who values their life hangs around for kicks to check it out. But I imagine....

The first to go was 700 feet away, glancing another, two were falling at the same time. The dominoes fell akimbo, sometimes falling backwards if sliced at the ankles. They were all giants at least 25-feet around, except for number six; you could hug number six and even touch your fingers around on the other side. Sometimes one trunk, naturally, during its life, sprouts into two trunks, like a peace sign. Number six fell with perfect aim through one of these, at midheight bursting apart like a snapped twig over the crook. One hundred feet beyond, it's crown hit squarely on the flat side of number 7.

The Flat Iron teetered and lumbered, taller than a football field is long, and, this creature which had seen 2,000 stormy winters, plummeted to the ground, slamming into it with so much explosive force that, even without touching them, it triggered two other enormous trees to rock over and fall, dominoes eight and nine. After a shattered hour trying to recreate the sequencing, I shuffled off, I couldn't bear counting anymore after 30. The brain chemistry runs loops. The eyes grow bleary. I had thought I'd get to show it to my kids, I mean 2,000 years is a long time, it's about as enduring and hopeful as a lifeform gets. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. I thought of Poe's Raven.

While the death of one of the world's most astonishing individual treesis a tragedy, the death of an entire forest is a holocaust, almost too horrible and overwhelming to comprehend. The tatters in the tapestry of what was once an intact forest fabric have now opened up and exposed the entire redwood forest to the wrath of Neptune, the soil-saturating rains and explosive winds which the forest has survived since the last ice age.

So now, beginning at midnight on September 15, 1995 because of the silent collusion of Bill Clinton and Pete Wilson, this scheming little weasel, this bastard of the century, Charles Hurwitz, is going to strike the final blow and take it all down. Undaunted, his reign of crime and ecological terrorism will bring evolution to an end along the forested north coast of California...just to put a few million bloody bucks in his back pocket. On that day, in violation of every state and federal wildlands, fisheries, endangered species, and clean water protection law, he is going to log Headwaters Forest.

He's doing it because he knows Pete Wilson and Bill Clinton have pulled in the reins on their enforcement agencies. The word has gone down from the top: don't enforce the laws. Hurwitz is a player, a man to court...he's a contributor, and oh yeah, he creates JOBS(!) for Americans! Afterall, in this dollarocracy, it's the campaign coffers, the deals that have to be made to win just enough votes, in just enough states, to win an election that determines the bottom-line, life-and-death decisions of our government's environmental policy....Not the laws of the democracy, and definitely not the wisdom of nature.

But the several rare and endangered plant and animal species which live in these remaining ancient forest stands, can live only in accordance with the wisdom of nature, and that includes the federally and state listed seabird, the Marbled Murrelet. Earlier this year U.S. District Judge Louis Bechtle ruled that any logging in these stands would constitute a "take" of the Murrelet under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and could send it over the brink into extinction. The prized Coho Salmon lives here too, and has just been proposed for federal listing as a threatened species. It's numbers in Northern California have plummeted from perhaps one million fish down to 5,000 surviving fish.

The judge further found that PL had spent enormous sums of money to create and submit fraudulent and misleading bird surveys. They destroyed detection data which showed the presence of the Murrelet, and they intimidated their own company surveyors into changing their data forms to hide the presence of the birds. Prior to the first logging frenzy, 70 nesting birds had been detected in Owl Creek. After the weekend logging, only 4 could be found. The outraged judge found PL in violation of the ESA and placed an unprecedented permanent logging injunction on Owl Creek. Hurwitz however, walked away scot-free and two million dollars richer, since Bill Clinton, that same month , restricted US Fish and Wildlife Service officials from pursuing criminal prosecution of ESA violations. Reportedly, this was a misguided attempt by Clinton to appease the "property rights" Republicans in Congress, motivated by his concern that ESA prosecutions would fuel the anti-ESA backlash.

Three days after Judge Bechtle's ruling, in an insidious display of Earth-raping bravado, Hurwitz, knowing that he was now effectively immune from prosecution, announced he was going to log in the most ecologically crucial stand of all, the jewel itself: Headwaters Grove. And he would do this using a California Dept. of Forestry rule which allows logging of up to 10% by volume of a grove's standing trees, and unlimited removal of fallen trees, because of disease, pests, or danger from dead or dying trees. It also exempts this logging from any kind of judicial review. CDF claims it must rubberstamp PL's exemption request because it cannot legally reject it as long as all the blanks are filled out on the submitted form.

Neither pests, outbreak, nor fire damage are required to actually exist in a forest to qualify for this exemption. And it doesn't matter that none of these problems exist on any of PL's forested lands. There are no acreage limitations either. So PL has submitted exemption applications for essentially all of its nearly 200,000 acres of forested land, and CDF approved them all, even though this kind of exemption logging unquestionably and outrageously violates the Endangered Species Act. Under the guise of "forest health", this is called "salvage logging", and it's spelled H.O.R.R.E.N.D.O.U.S. S.C.A.M.

Like the Salvage Rider on the Recissions Bill just signed into law by the President, which allows exemption logging in all the national forests, it means when the big companies don't see their millions coming in as fast as they used to, instead of "responding to the market" like they say we should do, and finding a less ecocidal way to rip us off, they get the government to allow LAWLESS LOGGING and sanction it as THE AMERICAN WAY! LAWLESS LOGGING, the balanced, WIN-WIN, decentralized, unbureaucratized ("unless that means cutting welfare subsidies for logging road construction on public lands, or that we have to pay all the costs for restoring the lands we ravage"), Third Wave, hip, Baby Boomer ("hey, we'll miss Jerry too!") government vision for the 21st century!

So the big question is, why isn't the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency which enforces the ESA, which is an agency of Bruce Babbitt's Interior Dept., and which serves at the pleasure of the President, enforcing the law in Headwaters Forest? Why hasn't it ruled that the state approval of the exemption application is in violation of the ESA? And where's Bill Clinton? The conservative U.S. Supreme Court handed him a gift just last June, voting six to three, that the Endangered Species Act is fully applicable on not only federal lands, but on private lands as well. There's no ambiguity here at all! So Bill, what's going on? What's your excuse? All it takes is one phone call from you, the nation's chief law enforcement official, to save Headwaters Forest!

Is the nation's number one cop just going to sit on his hands, and make a mockery of our democratic institutions? Is he going to undermine and subvert our nation's democratic heritage of law and justice, equally applied to all, by picking and choosing to enforce only the laws he prefers, and ignoring those laws which restrict corporate contributors from making their easy millions? Will the last redwood forest, because of a sleazy, fast-buck scam, go down on Bill's watch?

On September 15, 1995 the Marbled Murrelet nesting season comes to a close, and Hurwitz's chainsaw-wielding indentured servants will immediately begin the demolition of this magnificant, unique in all the universe, and never to appear again, redwood cathedral. A coalition of northern California's community and forest activist groups, and several major national groups are calling on their fellow Americans to come to Humboldt County for a mass rally at noon, September 15, 1995 to stand up for the forest, for the survival of our grandest elders. Come to the town of Carlotta and march for the forest! Take Hwy 101 north to Hwy 36, which is 22 miles south of Eureka. Take Hwy 36 east six miles until you find us near the MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber mill. Children, elders, and disabled people will be welcome and accomodated. For more information and ride sharing call, in the Bay Area: 510/835-6303, and in Humboldt or Mendocino Counties: 707/468-1660.

A base camp and direct action campaign is being organized concurrently by Earth First! for people willing to get arrested and outraged enough to put their bodies between the Revered Ones and the chainsaws. The direct action campaign will continue on into the following weeks, as long as it takes to still the chainsaws. To all dedicated practitioners of nonviolent civil disobedience, please heed the call. The forest cries out for your help! No pasaran! Call 707/923-DEMO for direct action and affinity group information.

Forest activists and wilderness organizations from every continent, including the National Audubon Society, the Western Ancient Forest Campaign, Earth First!, and the Coalition to Save Headwaters Forest have unleashed a massive emergency effort to get 50,000 people, by Friday September 15, 1995 to phone, fax or email Bill Clinton and Pete Wilson, and demand that they enforce in Headwaters Forest our nation's most popular and respected law, the Endangered Species Act. Demand that they act immediately to prosecute and jail corporate criminal Charles Hurwitz for his dozens of criminal violations of our nation's and California's laws. Do it right now! One call from the President to the chief of the Fish and Wildlife Service can save Headwaters! One call from you to get one call from Bill! Make the call Bill ! Be a Hero! Enforce the Law!

Tell the President to make Hurwitz pay back to U.S. taxpayer's the $1.6 billion FDIC bailout of United Savings Association of Texas: No bailout for Hurwitz and no bail for Hurwitz! Last month the FDIC filed suit against Hurwitz to recover $250 million of the bailout. Call the FDIC and thank them for taking action on your behalf and encourage them to pursue a vigorous prosecution of Hurwitz. Tell them to take posession of ownership from MAXXAM, of the Pacific Lumber Co., including all the ancient forest lands, connecting corridors, and buffer zones, and any other MAXXAM assets necessary to pay back his entire debt to the American people. He bought it with our money, so we own it! That's a principle of law and it's called disgorgement, and it means "We want it NOW, without any further degradation of its value, before a chainsaw massacre of Headwaters Forest."

Then call Pete Wilson, and tell him if he wants to be the nation's chief law enforcement official he better enforce the law here in California. Tell him to order the state Fish and Game Department to enforce the ESA in Headwaters. Demand that he call upon his Board of Forestry to overrule all of the CDF logging exemptions granted to Pacific Lumber. One of the first pledges he made to Californians after his election in 1990 was to immediately work out a deal and save Headwaters! It's been five years Pete, and your nose is getting awfully damn long! Keep your promise Pete! Make the call Pete!

TO FIND OUT OTHER CREATIVE WAYS YOU CAN HELP OR CONTRIBUTE CALL: Earth First! Media Center @ (707) 923-4949. Tax deductible contributions to cover phone bills for this emergency effort are welcome and needed, payable to: Earth Regeneration Society, P.O. Box 324, Redway, CA 95560

Call Now!

Vice President Al Gore: Phone: 202-456-2326, E-mail:
Bruce Babbit (Secretary of the Interior) Phone: 202-208-7351
White House: Phone: 202-456-1111, FAX: 202-456-2461, E-mail:
Governor Wilson: Phone: 916-445-2864, FAX: 916-445-4633

Earth First! Media Center
P.O. Box 324
Redway, CA 95560

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