I'll do my best to make this brief. At the Public Interest Law Conference in Eugene, OR about 20 EF!ers & millworker Gene Lawhorn reached unopposed consensus that tree-spiking must be renounced by Earth First!, at least in Northern Calif. & Southern Oregon. The reason is that in these areas, Earth First! has been so successful in working & strategizing with timber workers that the alienation caused by tree-spiking, not to mention the danger, be it real or imagined, was harming our efforts to save this planet.

Obviously, we knew this was a radical change in our previous policy to neither condemn nor condone, and we knew that others who weren't party to this meeting might not feel the same. So besides reading the statement, please note the following points that were addressed that might help you understand the process, which is not closed to further input, by the way. Do make note that we do have an April 11 press conference scheduled in several locations along the coast.

  1. While still selling Ecodefense and singing "Spike a Tree for Jesus," disclaimers will be inserted/and or mentioned.

  2. The decision is not irrevokable, should the forest situation worsen, although it is hard to fathom how much worse it can get.

  3. The decision is not made for all Earth First!ers, and as a non-organization, we are entitled to our individual opinions.

  4. We take no responsibility for any prior spikings; our intent is to actively advocate not spiking trees at this point. If we are charged with not having any influence over stopping spiking, then we can counter that we then shouldn't have any blame for encouraging it through our past open discussions (e.g. Dear Ned Ludd.).

  5. This is not a retreat, nor is it an abandonment of our neither condemning nor condoning monkeywrenching. It is an advance toward joining No. Calif. woodworkers in the fight to save the planet. Of course it will also take the wind out of the timber industry's publicity sails. A congressional aide once told me, "The only thing the timber industry knows how to recycle is that tree spike story."

  6. We have had overwhelming support for this change. Yes, there have been exceptions, but support has been so broad we can only believe that a renunciation of tree-spiking does reflect a broad constituency within the Earth First! movement.

  7. We will not condemn tree-spiking, unless of course it is a completely inappropriate spiking by anyone's standards. It is completely understandable that someone would still spike trees especially after walking through a few clearcuts. Our position will be to ask for no future spikings; not to condemn what might be a logical act from someone's forlorn point of view.

  8. We will encourage this cease fire by our press conference, by putting an article in the EF! Journal, by talking about it at roadshows and tables. In other words, we will use our influence as the new voices of the environmental movement to make this real.


In response to the concerns of loggers and millworkers, Northern California Earth First! organizers are renouncing the tactic of tree spiking in our area. Through the coalitions we have been building with lumber workers we have learned that the timber corporations care no more for the lives of their employees than they do for the life of the forest. Their routine maiming and killing of millworkers is coldly calculated into the cost of doing business, just as the destruction of whole ecosystems is coldly calculated into the cost of doing business, just as the destruction of whole ecosystems is considered a reasonable byproduct of lumber production. These companies would think nothing of sending a spiked tree through a mill, and relish the anti-Earth First! publicity that an injury would cause.

Since Earth First! is not a membership organization, it is impossible to speak for all Earth First!ers. But this decision has been widely discussed among Earth First!ers in our area, and the local sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of renouncing tree spiking. We hope that our influence as organizers will cause any potential tree-spikers to consider using a different method.

We must also point out that we are not speaking for all Earth First! groups in this pronouncement. Earth First! is decentralized, and each group can set its own policies. A similar statement to this one renouncing tree spiking is now being made in Southern Oregon, but not all Earth First! groups have reached the broad consensus we have on this issue.

But in our area, the loggers and millworkers are our neighbors, and they should be our allies, not our adversaries. Their livelihood is being destroyed along with the forest. The real conflict is not between us and the timber workers, it is between the timber corporations and our entire community.

We want to give credit for this change to local Earth First! policy to the rank and file timber workers who have risked their jobs and social relations by coming forward and talking to us. This includes Gene Lawhorn of Roseburg Lumber in Oregon, who defied threats from his union officers to appear publicly with Earth First! organizer Judi Bari. It also includes the Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific and Pacific Lumber employees who are members of IWW Local #1 in Northern California.

Equipment sabotage is a time-honored tradition among industrial workers. It was not invented by Earth First!, and it is certainly not limited to Earth First!, even in our area. But the target of monkeywrenching was always intended to be the machinery of destruction, not the workers who operate that machinery for $7/hour. This renunciation of tree spiking is not a retreat, but rather an advance that will allow us to stop fighting the victims and concentrate on the corporations themselves.

                            Judi Bari, Ukiah Earth First!
                            Darryl Cherney, Southern Humboldt EF! 
                            Mike Roselle, Co-Founder, Earth First! 
                            Rick & Kathi Cloninger, Laytonville EF! 
                            Larry Evans, Northwest CA EF! 
                            Greg King, Redwood Action Team 
                            Pam Davis, Sonoma County EF! 
                            Daphne Martin, Albion EF! 

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