On Sunday, February 27th, 2022, members of Ukiah High School’s Environmental Club participated in a protest held to protect the Pomo Homelands at the Jug Handle State reserve in Fort Bragg, California. We interviewed Mia Gittleman, president of the Environmental Club, about her experience in the redwoods and the knowledge she gained.
Gittleman told us members of the Environmental Club attended the protest in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest “in order to get a better understanding of what’s happening to our local forest.”
The tour of the forest began with participants being taken through a “clear cut” area that resulted from a 2018 timber harvest.
The tour guide taught Gittleman that redwood trees are “an essential part of the ecosystem. The redwood trees shelter the soil from drying out allowing the ground to retain water and precipitation which leads to the soil staying damp. This clear-cut area was dry because it had been exposed to the sun and harsh winds making it extremely susceptible to fire, Gittleman told us.
A group of local Pomo tribal members attended the protest and spoke about the forest being part of their ancestral land, Gittleman said.
Participants of the protests were then led to another area where most of the trees were marked to be cut down.
Gittleman was taught by the tour guide that the logging companies are getting away with “clear-cutting” in this forest because they do “selective cutting”. These “selective” trees were to be cut down to make more space for “profitable” redwoods, which impacts the forest’s biodiversity.
Looking back at their experience in Jackson Demonstration State Forest, Gittleman said the Environmental Club wants “to do what we can to save the forest from destruction.” Fighting for the forest will help minimize “massive timber harvest[s]”, Gittleman said, that cause “problems beyond the boundaries of the forest, it affects our entire world.”