“A series of explorations and soliloquies from the Clayoquot Sound area on the west coast of Vancouver Island during a summertime water outage in the midst of a temperate rainforest. While figuring out what happened, Uncle Weed recollects the tense logging blockades in early 1990s and compares current conditions through lens of deep ecology and sustainable development practices.”
Part of my aim in this project is to gather a record of the events written and created by people camped amongst the stumps taking snapshots, writing in diaries, sharing recollections and collecting ephemera related to the blockades.
If this protest happened these days, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter would be rife with commentary, evidence and documentation but as i’ve found, most all materials found on the web are digitized by diligent documenters well after the event and i feel many historical treasures are trapped in show boxes, attics, aging memories and degrading film.
What i seek from you and others …
Recorded Recollections – Audio recording of your personal reflections from the blockades or from whereever you were. How did you get there? Why did you go? How did you keep you spirits up? How has participation influenced your life? Please record on any digital audio device (computers or iPhones work great) and email to choogleon (at) uncleweed (dot) net. Have old cassettes or other media? Please let me know.
Clayoquot Summer Photos – Snapshots from the Peace Camp and blockade lines, plus campouts on Long Beach, coffee breaks in Tofino, hitch-hike rides to the camp … Stick them on Flickr and tag ClayoquotSummer or email to choogleon (at) uncleweed (dot) net. Please CC license.
News Articles, Flyers, Signs -Did you keep a scrapbook of article, signs, posters or other miscellanea? Stick them on Flickr and tag ClayoquotSummer or email to choogleon (at) uncleweed (dot) net. Please CC license.
Clayoquot Mass Trails booklet – I’ve seen scans of a book made profiling everyone arrested and including some diaries from prison – do you have a digital copy or one i can digitize?
Impact of Arrest – For those 800+ who were arrested and sentenced in the mass trial, how has the arrest affected your life? Any problems with travel? How did you survive financially during the trail and sentence? What did you do during your 3 month house arrest? How did the arrest influence your life’s work? Positive or negative remarks welcome.
Any content i receive will find a place in my historical dossier via podcasts, photo galleries or artwork to be named later.
Clayoquot Resources (so far):
Many links are outdated and pointing to changed archives. Much of the evidence comes from mainstream media with their sound-bite-sized and often sensationalized segments. While interesting, this does not capture the significance of the event to generations of eco-advocates who really brought many points of view.
I’ve found EF!-ers’s talking about the soft approach against logging by the PeaceCampers and other celebrating and studying the non-violence and consensus building found in the cooperative community environment. Other discourse focuses on the way the big corporations dealt with the protests and other chronicle the court cases. Plus a few articles about the Clayoquot Summer legacy (mostly from the 10 year anniversary).
Reading the injunction at Clayoquot Sound protest. Photo: Luke Moore.
Over the past summer, the Kennedy River Bridge entrance to logging operations on Clayoquot Sound became the site of one of the largest civil disobedience campaigns in Canadian history.
The protest followed the B.C. government’s decision on April 13 to allow MacMillan Bloedel to proceed with a harvesting plan that will see the eventual cutting of another 51 percent of the area’s old-growth forest. The B.C. government, perhaps coincidentally, is the largest single shareholder in MacBlo. Twenty-three percent of the forest has already been harvested.
Although industry refers to logging as “general integrated management,” and there is a lot of rhetoric about improved forestry practices, large scale forest management remains environmentally unsound. If there is any improvement, it is that the future clearcuts will be smaller. Since the government decision, a brand-new 125 hectare clearcut graces the side of a mountain visible from the Kennedy River Bridge.
The forest around Clayoquot Sound is one of the largest remaining stands of old-growth forest in North America. This is an irreplaceable cradle of rainforest biodiversity, and it can only be saved if the government will reverse its decision.
Peace camp established
To press for that reversal, a peace camp was set up by the Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS), a Tofino-based environmental group which has fought for the protection of the forests for fourteen years. The camp served as a base for protesters, who blockaded the Kennedy River Bridge until the camp was closed down Oct. 4.
In the summer of 1993, the battle in Clayoquot Sound escalated. Environmental groups organized a Clayoquot Sound Peace Camp, which attracted protesters from throughout North America and Europe. At least 9,000 people participated in demonstrations against clear-cut logging. More than 800 people were arrested in the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history when protesters massed to block logging roads and climbed trees to protect them from cutting. Suddenly, Clayoquot Sound was in the headlines around the world.
In October 1993, the government responded by initiating the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound, an independent panel of First Nations and scientific experts. The Panel’s mandate was to develop world-class standards for sustainable forest management by combining traditional and scientific knowledge. Two years later, the Panel’s report recommended that clear cutting be replaced by variable retention forestry, an approach that would leave some trees standing in each area to protect the health of the forest ecosystem.
At the same time that the panel was developing its recommendations, the provincial government was engaged in negotiations with the First Nations to resolve their land claims. A joint resource management process was established with the First Nations of Clayoquot. Even as these initiatives were moving forward, however, environmentalists were escalating their campaigns against clear-cut logging in the rest of the province.
The ten year anniversary of the largest civil disobedience in Canadian history is approaching. During the summer of 1993 over 850 people were arrested and 12,000 people demonstrated in opposition to logging in the ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound.
The magnificent forests and the strength of the non-violent protests captured the imagination of the public and the media. Canadians, Americans and Europeans flocked to the Peacecamp, and every morning before dawn they caravanned down a dusty logging road to the demonstration site. When logging trucks arrived at the Kennedy River Bridge, the international media turned on their camera lights and brought the stand off to TV sets and radios all around the world.
Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS) was there to facilitate people bringing their consciousness into action. A few years of action experience had trained us how to leverage that presence into the international forum. After the mass trials of the 850 arrestees Common Ground published an “Honour Roll” of those courageous souls who put their liberty on the line for the ancient forests of Clayoquot Sound.
Today art pieces featuring the protests hang on the walls of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the BC Museum designates ‘Clayoquot ’93’ as one of the most significant events in BC’s history. Clayoquot was a fire in the belly, a symbol of our rage against environmental destruction and a cathartic outlet to do something about it.
Blocking the Logging Road15.jpg Plenary meeting in the Peace Camp. Each night, all plans and conflicts were discussed in an effective consensus-seeking process. One of the main issues on the agenda always was who was going to be arrested the next day. By Aldo de Moor
The arrested taken to the police station by school bus. By Aldo de Moor
The entrance to the “Peace Camp”, base of the protesters. By Aldo de Moor
The Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS) started as a radical group of various and sundry American draft-dodger hippies, traditional Nuu-Chah-Nuulth natives, tree spikers, and other dissident voices against the clearcut logging of the largest remaining lowland coastal temperate rainforest (280,000 ha.) [located on BC’s Vancouver Island]. In fact, one of the former directors of FOCS started the Society for the Protection of Intact Kinetic Ecosystems (SPIKE), which openly advocated spiking and claimed to have put nails into 20,000 trees.
Another director was convicted of burning a bridge to a logging site. Yet, by the summer of 1993, the campaign to save Clayoquot had evolved into one of massive civil disobedience; all summer long, every single day, one of the main logging roads was blockaded by crowds varying from perhaps 5,000 on the first day when the band Midnight Oil played, to just a handful of folks. Over 1,000 people were arrested that summer for criminal contempt of court by defying a court injunction to stay off the road. An extraordinary diversity of people came out and got involved: from raging grannies to loggers, peaceheads to saboteurs (more on that in a moment), New Agers to Anglican clerics, people came from all walks to take part. Hell, even a dozen Basques showed up who spoke no English but said in Spanish, “clearcutting kills men and the beasts.” Unfortunately, the campaign was to a certain extent controlled by the “peace nazis,” who were afflicted with a bad case of tunnel vision. Even though there were often hundreds of people around, the only form of protest allowed by FOCS was the stand-in-the-road-while-they-read-you-the-injunction-and-then-cart-you-off demonstration; consequently, there were only a few days all year that the logging was actually stopped. Usually, it was only a matter of a few minutes for the police to remove the demonstrators and then the trucks rolled on by.
Earth First! was definitely not welcome at that point, nor were tree-sitters, or lock-ons, or elves. Even though many FOCS activists are EF!ers, that summer saw a definite change of tactics in Clayoquot, one which perhaps foreshadowed the FoE/EF! conflict here. Many years of hard work by FOCS, and help from international groups like EF!, Greenpeace, and Rainforest Action Network among others, has resulted in the main logging company (Macmillan Bloedel) pulling out of Clayoquot, and the other company has had its cut reduced by 45%.
In a sense, Clayoquot has been saved and should be considered a victory. On the other hand, the government and timber industry are using the tiny area of Clayoquot as a smokescreen to cover up the fact that they are clearcutting the rest of the province.
1992 Blockade at Clayoquot Arm Bridge of Kennedy Lake, 65 arrested, protesting MacMillan Bloedel’s logging at edge of intact Clayoquot River valley.
1993 International campaign takes off with ad in New York Times and FOCS trip to Europe. FOCS and allied environment groups call for boycott of MacMillan Bloedel and other companies. Largest peaceful civil disobedience in Canadian history is sparked by BC government’s decision to log 74% of Clayoquot Sound’s ancient forest. FOCS opens Peace Camp at “Black Hole”. Daily blockades and arrests begin at Kennedy River Bridge. 856 arrested and 12,000 participate during “Clayoquot Summer 93″.
1996 FOCS and Greenpeace takeover of Rankin Cove logging camp leads to First Nations-brokered truce between MacMillan Bloedel and environmentalists. Negotiations begin regarding protecting large intact (pristine) valleys in Clayoquot Sound from logging.
1997 FOCS begins a fish farm campaign aimed at reforming open net-cage salmon aquaculture in Clayoquot Sound and BC.
1999 FOCS helps to negotiate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between 4 environment groups and Iisaak Forest Resources, the First Nations/MacMillan Bloedel joint venture logging company that replaced MacBlo. MOU commits Iisaak to protecting large pristine areas in its portion of Clayoquot Sound, while enviro groups agree to help market Iisaak’s wood. FOCS does not sign MOU in order to maintain its independent watchdog position.
Clayoquot Sound is a magnificent, biologically rich, mostly wilderness area on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It encompasses 350,000 hectares of land and ocean.
A view of Clayoquot Sound – Photo by Diego A. Garcia
The land portion of Clayoquot Sound is 265,000 hectares (2,650 square kilometers or 1,000 square miles), comprising about 8% of Vancouver Island. It is covered with ancient temperate rainforest, a globally rare forest type. The remaining 85,000 hectares of Clayoquot Sound consist of ocean — narrow inlets of the Pacific Ocean, into which empty rivers and lakes.
Clayoquot Sound occupies a straight-line distance along the coast of 90 kilometers, between Barkley and Nootka Sounds. It reaches a maximum of 35 kilometres inland, up to the crest of snow-capped mountains. These mountains are part of the central spine of Vancouver Island and form the headwaters of the rivers that drain Clayoquot Sound.
The “Sound” portion of the region’s name indicates an indented section of coastline, with numerous inlets and islands. “Clayoquot” — pronounced Klak-wot — comes from Tla-o-qui-aht, the name of one of the First Nations tribes who live here.
There are 5 communities in Clayoquot Sound: the town of Tofino and 4 First Nations reserves inhabited by Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations tribes. The total population of these 5 communities is about 3,000 (in 2005).
Two well-known parks lie in Clayoquot Sound: the Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park, and the southern portion of Strathcona Provincial Park. These and other parks protect one-third of Clayoquot’s land area and less than one-quarter of its productive ancient forest.
Industrial activities such as logging and fish farming have occurred and continue to occur across the landscape and ocean waters of Clayoquot Sound, but most of the Sound is still wilderness — intact forest and wild ocean. The spectacular scenery attracts about one million tourists to Clayoquot each year.
Clayoquot sound is a magnificient area of coastal temperate rainforest located on Vancouver Island. The area is home to ancient Western hemlock, Sitka Spruce and Western red cedar up to 1,700 years old and 300 feet tall. A diverse array of wildlife thrives in the area, including Roosevelt elk, black bears, wolves, orca and grey whales, salmon, migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and the endangered marbled murrelet. Clayoquot Sound is one of the largest unlogged areas remaining on Vancouver Island and one of the largest areas of temperate rainforest remaining on earth.
Of the earth’s original temperate rainforests, 50% have been destroyed in the last century.
Of the world’s remaining temperate rainforests, 25% are in British Columbia.
PRESS RELEASEAugust 22nd 1996: GREENPEACE’S CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT CLAYOQUOT SOUND WILL CONTINUE – DESPITE SUPREME COURT RULING
PRESS RELEASE June 20th 1996 ACTIVISTS BLOCKADE LOGGING OPERATION IN CLAYOQUOT SOUND
Click thumbnails for pictures with captions
Three years ago, the B.C. government announced that 62% of the land area in Clayoquot (74% of the old-growth forest) would be open to clearcut logging. Over one-quarter of Clayoquot Sound has already been clearcut. Most of the wood is shipped to other countries to produce garden furniture, newspapers, magazines and phonebooks.
In the wake of the government’s decision, national and international protests broke out. Over 10,000 people came to Clayoquot Sound in 1993: 857 people were arrested that summer trying to stop the clearcutting. Some of MacMillian Bloedel’s European and American customers cancelled their contracts to protest MacBlo’s role in the clearcutting.
Greenpeace has encouraged individuals and companies to join the struggle. More than 30 of Canada’s best-known authors have spoken out to condemn clearcutting. Dozens of Hollywood stars including Oliver Stone, Tom Cruise, Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford have joined the campaign. The publishing house Knopf Canada and one of Canada’s largest school boards, along with Germany’s largest publishing houses, have publicly announced that they would prefer to use clearcut-free paper.
Clearcutting is an ecologically disastrous practice which destroys the original forest ecosystem, leading to habitat loss, soil erosion, bare mountains, landslides and devastated fish streams. It was clear that very few people want to see this happen in Clayoquot, or anywhere else in Canada.
67 percent of Canadians oppose clearcutting – Angus Reid, 1994
In response to the international outcry, the B.C. government created a panel of First Nations people and scientists to determine what would qualify as acceptable logging in Clayoquot Sound. After almost two years, the Scientific Panel made over 100 recommendations, including an end to clearcutting in Clayoquot Sound and a moratorium on any logging or road-building in the Sound’s intact valleys.
In 1995 the government of B.C. adopoted the Science Panel’s reports in their entirety. The key points are:
Ending conventional clearcutting;
Deferring logging in pristine areas until studies and inventories of all species that reside there have been conducted;
Extending the land-use decision-making agreement (Interim Measures Agreement) between the Provincial government and the Nuu- Chah-Nulth Central Regions Tribal Council;
. Developing a forest use plan, designed to maintain the whole forest ecosystem in a healthy and productive state, will begin immediately;
Banning logging in areas that have been overcut;
Reducing the amount of wood cut each year in Clayoquot Sound.
These steps move towards protecting Clayoquot Sound, but there are still some unanswered questions. The Panel’s mandate was to consider HOW to log in Clayoquot, not WHETHER there should be any logging. Greenpeace is actively campaigning to ensure that no logging takes place in the remaining intact areas of Clayoquot Sound.
THE FIRST NATIONS:
The Nuu-chah-nulth people of Clayqouot Sound have lived in the region for thousand s of years and have never ceded their territiories. They have consistently stated their opposition to clearcutting, and Greenpeace is dedicated to supporting them in their struggle to end clearcutting on their traditional lands.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Greenpeace will ask customers of MacMillian Bloedel to use their influence to demand that the timber giant agrees to stay out of the pristing areas of Clayoquot Sound permanently and, effective immediately, that they not violate any of the recommendations of the panel.
Throughout the world, we are asking paper and timber consumers to reconsider the ecological impacts of their wood sources and to develop environmental procurement policies that reject wood fibre coming from practices such as clearcutting, or from rare ecosystems such as primary rainforests.
A first step is to ensure that their wood or paper is not made from clearcut ancient rainforests. Some of the Scientific Panel’s members have already said that the stringent recommendations made for Clayoquot should apply equally to the temperate rainforest throughout British Columbia. In the coming year Greenpeace will work to protect the biodiversity of these other, equally fragile rainforests in B.C.
CURWOOD: This is Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
PROTESTORS: Clayoquot Sound, not Clearcut Sound! Clayoquot Sound, not Clearcut Sound! Clayoquot Sound, not Clearcut Sound!
CURWOOD: The sound of protesters, in Victoria, British Columbia. There has been a series of demonstrations in the provincial capital, as the B.C. government is putting about six hundred people on trial for taking part in perhaps the largest civil disobedience movement in Canadian history. The protests have been against a recent decision by the B.C. government to cut about a third of the largest pristine tract of old-growth temperate rain forest left in North America, on Clayoquot Sound, on Vancouver Island. The government billed it as a compromise between logging and conservation. The licenses for the cutting went to MacMillan Bloedel, Limited, a company that is partially owned by the BC government. The Clayoquot Sound Rainforest is right next to the highly popular Pacific Rim National Park. It’s covered with giant cedars more than 600 years old, and its drinking-water-pure lakes and streams are an important spawning ground for Chinook and Coho salmon. I recently went to Clayoquot Sound, and Living on Earth will devote an entire upcoming program to the issue . But right now we turn our attention to the trials of the 600 or so non-violent protestors who, since the Spring decision, have been arrested a few at a time for blocking logging trucks on their way into the rainforest. The sheer number of arrests is threatening to overwhelm BC’s courts. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Lisa Cordasco has been closely following the Clayoquot story, and she joins us now from Victoria. Hello, Lisa.
CURWOOD: First, I was impressed by the large number of demonstrators and their determination during my visit. What do you think motivates so many people to try to halt these logging trucks and allow themselves to get arrested?
CORDASCO: Well, the majority of the protestors are very young, idealistic people who are quite concerned about the environment and the dwindling number of forests in British Columbia. But I think that this issue has also captured the interest of many other British Columbians, because Clayoquot Sound is in an area where there’s a large national park, there’s excellent fishing and hiking and boating and it’s not very remote – you can get there within half a day from Vancouver. So most people have seen the area. They’ve also seen the surrounding area which contains some of the worst clearcuts in all of British Columbia. So when the government made this decision, people were familiar with it, it wasn’t some remote place that they had never seen, and so many have decided to act.
CURWOOD: Okay, so there are now 600 people who are going on trial. So far, how many have been convicted and what kind of time are they getting?
CORDASCO: Nobody has been convicted yet in the mass trial, and those are still ongoing. However, there was an earlier trial at the very beginning of the summer involving four environmentalists who had been at blockades, not only this year but in years gone by, and one woman received a sentence of six months in prison. There was a lot of public outrage over that sentence, and in the B.C. Court of Appeals the judge overturned that six-month jail sentence and turned it into a four-month at home sentence, so to speak. She’s being monitored by an electronic bracelet, and that’s been the only sentence that’s come down so far. But I wondered if it would worry other protestors or stop them from going to blockades, because that’s a very stiff sentence, six months. But hundreds more people were arrested after that so it didn’t seem to have an impression on them.
CURWOOD: It doesn’t seem that the protest has been any good at stopping the logging so far, does it?
CORDASCO: No, in fact, they’ve only stopped logging for five days out of the two months that this blockade has been in place. However, the idea is more long-term, I think, for the protest organizers. There’s two goals – one is to either stop the Provincial Government from allowing this type of logging and, you know, it’s true they’re getting a lot of flak and there are many, many phone calls – the premier himself admits his mail is running two to one against logging in Clayoquot Sound. However, the premier has been very entrenched in his responses so far. He says that he is committed to this compromise solution, a way of managing the forests in a sustainable way and at the same time making sure that there are still jobs in the forest. Now, this premier is a leader of a party known as the New Democrats, a socialist party in Canada, and they have very strong ties to labor. Now the IWA, the International Woodworkers Union is one of the largest unions in this province, they’ve given a lot of money to that party and they have a lot of say in what that party does. So he’s holding firm on that. However, there has been some talk that the government is perhaps looking for a face-saving way out of this whole dilemma. It’s going to be reviewing the types of logging processes that go on in Clayoquot Sound, so when the government goes in there to inspect what’s been done so far, they may find that salmon streams are damaged or that logging roads have caused major slides, and if they find that kind of thing there’s an excuse to say, gee, I’m sorry you’re not following the rules, we’re going to have to stop you from logging or cut you back drastically.
CURWOOD: In the US, many environmentalists have resorted to the courts to block logging efforts. Their favorite tool is the Endangered Species Act. Is there anything like that in Canada, Lisa?
CORDASCO: Well, nothing with quite the power of the Endangered Species Act. The environmental laws in Canada, I believe, are just starting to catch up to those that you have in the United States, and that maybe in a few years from now there could be a legal challenge under that. But so far there’s been very little in that area.
CURWOOD: What about the international campaign against logging there – what prospect is there of a boycott of British Columbia forest products?
CORDASCO: That is a second phase of the approach by environmental groups on this. Right now there are environmentalists in the United States, in California, traveling to places like the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, who buy a lot of their paper from McMillan Bloedel, and that paper is milled by products out of Clayoquot Sound, so they’re gonna try and influence those large buyers to put some economic pressure on the company and to make it ultimately not worthwhile for the company to log in that area because they can’t sell their products.
CURWOOD: Lisa Cordasco is a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in British Columbia. The largest bloc of protesters in the Clayoquot Sound logging blockades goes to trial early next month.