portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting oregon & cascadia

corporate dominance | forest defense

Columbia Helicopters Harass, Endanger Activists on Gypsy Mountain

From tree-sit.org at:  http://www.tree-sit.org/article.php?sid=498&mode=flat&order=0&thold=-1
Posted Oct 6, 2003

Activists on Gypsy Mountain are being harassed and endangered by employees of Columbia Helicopters, an international company based in Oregon contracted by Maxxam/Pacific Lumber to fall trees and yard them with helicopters. The giant, double-propeller helicopters have become an annoying mainstay in the skies of Humboldt County since the area was opened to helicopter yarding several years ago.

Activists on the ground near the yarding zone made their presence known, both verbally and over walkie-talkies used by activists and workers alike. In a move similar to the one that brought them so much negative attention when they recklessly endangered Julia "Butterfly" Hill during her treesit in the ancient redwood known as "Luna," Columbia Helicopters circled dangerously close to treesitters in the redwood named "Aradia."

Helicopters also harassed activists on the ground. To ensure the Columbia Helicopter crew knew they were there, one activist climbed a tree and waved an orange flag from the top. Columbia responded by buzzing the treetop activist.

The activist, going by the forest name "Gizmo," descended the tree after being shaken by the menacing fly-by. Upon reaching the ground, two Columbia employees wielding plastic zip-ties (the layman's handcuffs so preferred by Pacific Lumber) chased Gizmo down the treacherously steep hillside, at one point trying to kick his legs out from underneath him. Gizmo managed to escape them, though not without minor injury.

Aside from the plastic zip-ties, Columbia took another pointer from Pacific Lumber and continued to work with people in the area, displaying a dangerous disregard for the safety of workers and activists alike. It would be easier for them to chalk it up to carelessness if it wasn't for Columbia's past mistreatment of forest activists. In addition to yarding and flying hazardously close to both people on the ground and those in the trees, activists in Freshwater received an ominous visit from one Columbia Helicopter employee last spring who boasted "I could hit 'em with my rifle," as he eyed treesitters high in old-growth redwoods.

The "Grandmother Tree," site of another treesit on Gypsy Mountain and subject of a raid by PL contracted climbers last week, is still standing but has been severely limbed.

*Photo by James Ficklin (from the Luna tree-sit)

FYI 13.Oct.2003 08:54


There is nothing in the Federal Aviation Regulations prohibiting a helicopter from passing 10 feet over your head. However it is not OK to hover over your head. So my message to the protesters is "get over it." Noone is breaking any laws.

FYI PILOT! 13.Oct.2003 09:17

guess what?

I don't know what kind of pilot you are, but there are these things called "designated air space" where you are assigned a "zone" of operating space. IE Altitude and lat./longitude. Also, there are special rules that apply to helicopters that are yarding, including a distance rule that says they are not allowed to operate within a certain distance of civilians. There is a big difference between a civilian or corporate helicopter flying over you, and a double rotor heli that has metal chains hanging off of it that hold multi-ton logs. That is why there are special rules for them. Oh, and just because you CAN fly 10 feet over me does not mean you should. If a plane or helicopter flew over you constantly ten feet above your head, would you like it? Would you file a complaint with the FAA? I know I would.

Stupid People 08.Dec.2003 05:42


Every one of us are not very bright. You know if Oregon logging was put to a stop that the entire economy would be crippled. That is to say that someone's child is going to go hungry due to the fact that there father or mother is out of a job. They would have no place to live, well, lets face it if you live in a modern house then yes there is wood in side of that house. Hell, the log cabins from the day where made out of wood. Come on people, how crazy do you have to be to want to save a tree that can build you families home, heat your families in the winter. Or would you all rather die and starve for a stupid cause. Every home in America has a part of a tree in it. Hell, the clothes you wear, bet a tree had to die to get those made. Wood is one of the most valuable things in today's society. It is used for a variety of different things. There is something you buy or use that had to have a tree cut down for. Without the logging community of Oregon and Washington, a lot of people would be homeless. I remember a many time that the United States has aided in disaster relief of itself and other countries. All the pictures of the new homes going up so that a family can live under shelter, was built out of wood. Isn't it more important that we help each other before we condemn something that is doing just that. I remember a many winter night in which all we had was a log in the fireplace to keep us warm. If that's a sin then I guess I am going to hell. You all support that which you do not truly understand the out come of. If you all truly look at what your actions would cause if you succeeded in what you are doing then maybe you would rethink your actions. The thousand's of employees that work for logging companies can feed there families and heat their homes due to the logging community. And so can you. Just think about what the great state of Oregon would be like if over half of them up and moved due to the fact that they lost there jobs. I have seen a town go bankrupt due to Military members deploying for war. Now picture that happening to an entire state. You would have no clothes, no food, just you and the trees. I bet you wouldn't even hunt just to live. Hell, you all probably wouldn't even eat the grass. That is sacred as well probably. I just wanted to say that every one of you needs to wake up and think about this. Truly think about a world with no wood. People will die, starve, no home. Children going hungry because of you. Families' barley making enough to get by are now making nothing. What would you do if someone threatened you life with all of this? How would you feel and how would you react if you could loose your job and you could no longer feed you family or heat your home. And what about the Christmas tree, I bet most of you put one up. Of course there is the fake one. But for as long as anyone can remember it has been the real one hat brought out the Christmas spirit in all of us. I know it did to me when I was a kid. I bet every one of you at some point in time had a real tree for Christmas. If not, well, that's your loss, not mine. Of course you can always get the ones you replant. I know one of would say something about that. So I beat you to it. Well, That's all I wanted to say. I just wanted to make sure you got the message, that is to think before you act, and your actions effect more important things in this world then trees, they effect human life itself.

old growth is the main issue here 30.Nov.2004 20:52

raina singwebefree@yahoo.com

dear me, first of all the main issue here is preserving ancient trees, those beautiful grand old beings that far outdate the states they are in and even this country. I think ending our dependance on wood alltogether would be wonderful but i just wanted to point out to you the main struggle of those your article is concerning. second, no, thousands of people would not starve to death for lack of jobs because there are plenty of sustainable renewable resources we could use to repalce wood, such as hemp. a hemp crop would grow and produce much faster, would be much safer for those who lived in the area and for the employees, and would require many people to tend it. also it would be sustainable so in many years the worlds children would still have jobs, unlike forestry which when all the trees are gone, would leave millions unemployed. Third, we also need trees for minor things such as, oh say, BREATHING! i am more worried about running out of fresh air than i am starving to death. me and my family can always grow vegetables, find wild edibles, and hunt for food. if you are not willing or do that or do not know how, then that is your problem. last but not least, if you do not wish to preserve a beautiful world for the children of the future to play in then you need to think about that some more. i bet you like to spend time in the woods. it is time for you to face reality...at the rate corporations are cutting down forests (not for warmth for you or a shelter for the poor or because they care, but for their own profit) then soon we are not going to have any left to run and play in, to take our families fishing and hiking in, to hunt in, to view wildlife in, or to give us life. we can indeed live without logging and most certainly without logging oldgrowth trees but we cannot live without healthy forests.