(en) Headwaters/Pepperspray: Update 14 Nov.

Robert Cherwink (rc@vom.com)
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 15:20:51 -0800

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President Clinton: Veto the bill!!! PROTECT ALL 60,000 acres! ---------------------------------------------------------------

from "pressdeom.com" Nov. 14, 1997

Clinton expected to sign bill on Headwaters

By MIKE GENIELLA Press Democrat staff writer

EUREKA -- About 200 environmental activists on Thursday staged a noisy, last-gasp demonstration against a Headwaters Forest deal that President Clinton is expected to sign into law today.

As protesters chanted, "Veto the Deal, Bill" outside Rep. Frank Riggs' Eureka office, White House aides in Washington, D.C., said final preparations were under way for the president to sign an Interior Department spending bill that includes $250 million for purchase of the world's largest stand of unprotected ancient redwoods.

The bill on Clinton's desk provides the federal government's portion of the $380 million purchase price agreed to by Pacific Lumber Co., which owns Headwaters. If the state provides its portion and the purchase is completed, the 3,000-acre forest would become the core of a new 7,500-acre redwood preserve in southern Humboldt County.

For two weeks, national environmental groups have lobbied for a presidential veto, citing alleged Republican erosion of environmental protections. North Coast activists pushing for acquisition of up to 60,000 acres of Pacific Lumber Co. timberland surrounding Headwaters have joined in the clamor.

But White House sources said Thursday that Clinton is scheduled today to sign the bill, including the Headwaters funding provision. Pacific Lumber representatives said they, too, understand the president will sign the bill, as did spokesmen for Riggs, R-Windsor.

Less clear was whether a $10 million cash payment to Humboldt County would escape a presidential line item veto.

"We just don't know. We had been told it was a possible line item veto target," said Riggs' aide, Beau Phillips.

Still to be honored is the state's $130 million commitment to the Headwaters acquisition. State officials have said they intend to include a funding provision in a state park bond issue that may be placed before voters next year.

If Clinton acts today as expected, it will be the final federal chapter in a decade of controversy over the isolated redwood forest. If preserved, Headwaters would join about 85,000 acres of other ancient trees that have been put off limits to loggers' chainsaws over the past 75 years.

Headwaters' isolation amid commercial timberlands specifically designated for logging never made it a priority of mainstream conservation groups, including the venerable Save the Redwoods League.

But saving Headwaters became a mantra for other environmental activists, who waged a decade- long battle to keep Pacific Lumber from logging the forest. For the past year, they have lambasted as inadequate the Clinton administration's deal, forged by Sen. Dianne Feinstein after nearly 100 hours of closed-door negotiations with state and federal representatives, Pacific Lumber Co. executives and Texas financier Charles Hurwitz, whose Houston-based Maxxam Inc. owns the timber company.

On Thursday, protesters returned to Riggs' Eureka office to denounce the Headwaters agreement, and to taunt local law enforcement for its use of pepper spray against demonstrators at least three times during the past month. The tactic sparked a national uproar two weeks ago after release of police videotapes showing Humboldt County sheriff's deputies dabbing Q-Tips in liquid pepper spray and swabbing the eyelids of four protesters who refused to leave Riggs' office.

On Thursday, in a sometimes emotional and tense scene that has played itself out dozens of times over the past 10 years, demonstrators demanded that local law enforcement leaders and Riggs resign their jobs.

Longtime Earth First! organizer Darryl Cherney said, "They sprayed this in our face, but it blew back in theirs.

While Thursday's rally was an 11th-hour show of force by protesters, it was countered by a persistent show of support from about a dozen supporters of Riggs, most of them members of a young Republicans group at nearby Humboldt State University.

"This whole thing has been way overblown," complained Craig Swain.

Swain and other Riggs supporters defied the crowd by standing on planter boxes and waving old Riggs election placards.

Their antics angered a few protesters, but most chose to ignore Swain and his group, and instead cheered and applauded nine demonstrators who will appear in a federal court today in San Francisco for a hearing on a civil rights lawsuit that they hope will lead to a ban on pepper spray use against nonviolent demonstrators.

One of those swabbed with pepper spray in the previous demonstration, Terri Slanetz, met with Riggs' staff during the closing minutes of Thursday's rally. Accompanied by Kevin Bundy of the Environmental Protection Information Center, Slanetz emerged from the closed-door huddle and contended that Riggs' staff was continuing to engage in a "defamation campaign against us."

"They're still telling lies about what happened in his office," said Slanetz about the Oct. 16 takeover by activists.

Vee Sorenson, a Riggs representative, said she thought the session went "very well."

"We taped their concerns so the congressman can hear directly from them," said Sorensen.

Riggs, who was heckled by some demonstrators who showed up at a Humboldt State appearance earlier in the week, was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. He directed his Eureka staff to meet with Slanetz and Bundy on his behalf.

Copyright 1997, The Press Democrat

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NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for research and educational purposes.

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FYI: Congressman Riggs' office telephone number is: 707-441-8701

The telephone number of the Humboldt County Sheriff Department is 707-445-7251


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