Robert "Naya" Bryan died October 8th, 2002 defending the trees of Ramsey Gulch

Statement from Cindy Allsbrook, Mother of David Gypsy Chain (click here...)

Letter from Robert's friend, David Norton (click here...)

Poem by Penelope (click here...)

Poem by Diane Patterson (click here...)

Death in the woods ~ saving life so the circle never ends
By Santa Cruz Earth First!

The Ramsey 2 timber harvest plan or THP, the scene of the death of treesitter Robert Bryan October 8th, is the second time that Redwood Empire Timber Company has cut on steep slopes above this once pristine fish-bearing stream that bisects the San Andreas Fault. Two years ago they began cutting on the west side of the creek in Ramsey 1 THP. This was also the site where Jose Martinez, working for Redwood Empire, was killed by a tree falling on him. Earth First! successfully defended about 2 acres of trees there.
In the rest of the THP, where once was a beautiful forest, cool, dark and moist even in summer, there are now tons of dead branches covering the hard, sun baked soil that supports little life. It is not a pretty picture.
Currently RE is building a road through documented landslide terrain above Ramsey Creek. Even though the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Department of Fish and Game (DFG), Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), and the Watsonville Water District opposed Ramsey 2 THP, the California Department of Forestry approved it as they do virtually 100% of all THPs regardless of the impacts to the environment, unstable geology, neighbors’ water uptake, endangered fish, etc. While claiming to provide scientific controls on logging, CDF routinely ignores long-term impacts, local conditions like faults, unstable soils and landslides, watershed degradation and the effects of logging on endangered species.
They seem to feel that if a falling tree doesn’t squash a spotted owl, marbled murrelet or salmon, then it must be okay. Their every effort seems to go toward creating tree farms that yield big profits for logging companies. Though Nancy Drinkard of the CDF was heard saying that the Ramsey 1 THP was the best she’d ever seen, the forest Earth First! could NOT save in Ramsey Gulch, looks like death and destruction to those of us with beating hearts. If the CDF did their job of PROTECTING forests, not killing them, Earth First! would not be there trying so hard to save them.
Treesitting isn’t all beautiful scenery, writing poetry and communing with nature. Several treesitters have had to leave the trees because they couldn’t take the emotional pain of watching trees falling all day then feeling them thump when they hit the ground.
Treesitting during the recent Croy fire was also grueling. The upper treesit in Ramsey 2 was less than a mile from the western edge of the fire and engulfed in smoke. At one point treesitter, Echo, had a nosebleed from breathing through a wet rag all day. Ground support kept close contact and Ayla went out with a respirator to replace him but Echo refused to abandon the sit just then.
Thanks to all the firefighters, the branch of CDF that does real work. They risked their lives controlling the fire and we all survived.
Treesitters in numerous places have been cursed at, lied to, had their food, water, shelter and clothing removed, all the branches below them on a tree cut away, the trees they were in cut down from under them, been buzzed by huge helicopters and shot at. Treesitters have also fallen from trees. While most have lived, 22 year old Beth O’Brien of Portland Oregon died after falling 150 feet from a tree sitting platform in the Mt. Hood National Forest last April and now Robert Bryan is dead too. Both these deaths seem to be accidents but it’s no accident that the forest defenders were there. They and many others engage in treesitting as a last resort.
Some people say that CDF really stands for Cut Da Forest. The only THP that hasn’t been approved by CDF yet is known as Islandia in Lompico, California. That plan is now in the19th extension of its proposed approval date. Islandia is another Redwood Empire property the company is trying to log over the objections of basically everyone including the 520 local residents who get their water directly from Lompico Creek. CDF just hasn’t figured out how to approve this plan without inciting a riot.
The Lompico Watershed Conservancy has been trying to purchase this property from Redwood Empire owner Roger Burch. Burch is asking a king’s ransom for the property, reportedly at least twice the fair market value and many times what he paid for it. It was part of a package deal along with Ramsey Gulch and the now butchered Gamecock Canyon.
Our thanks go out to the Santa Cruz Sentinel for finally noticing that Earth First needs to rethink its forest protection policies. We’ve been rethinking them for many years. That’s why we have meetings every week. We invite the public and ask for your input in hopes of finding a more effective way to protect our Earth Mother, or as some Sioux tribes call her, Ina Maka or Etenoha.
Our generous provider is constantly attacked on so many levels. She is drilled, mined, poisoned, logged, bombed, and nuked. Our protection of her must take many forms. Many groups do this through the courts, lobbying for better legislation and direct action. Earth First! has historically had the guts to go into the woods and protect forests with our bodies while witnessing destruction firsthand and gathering information not otherwise available to those filing lawsuits and influencing legislation.
Too many people like Sentinel editors find it easier to criticize us while barricaded in their little fortress of denial rather than lower their drawbridge and open their pages to those of us who are living and dying because of, in reverence for, and in service to our dear Ina Maka. Where is all the media when we send out press releases to alert the public and recruit their help? Why do they keep their pages closed to us as millions die due to unsustainable extraction of dwindling resources that fuels our still growing addiction to over-consumption at all costs? Why is mass media closed to us until one forest defender dies that their spin doctors can find a way to blame his death on the very people who are trying to save us all from ourselves?
What a hypocritical society we live in. The industry mantra repeated by media is "this is a state approved timber harvest" This means nothing when CDF ignores opposition from other state, local and federal agencies and citizens.
The October 11 edition of the Sentinel stated in "As We See It" (page A13) that "the group exercises little control over its volunteers and that it runs tree-sitting actions with little regard for the dangers faced by volunteers." In this statement they ignore several important facts. 1) Every person Santa Cruz Earth First! has ever allowed to climb a tree with their blessings has been trained by experienced climbers first. 2) This is only one form of action in which we attempt to call attention to our current state of rampant planetary destruction. 3) Earth First! volunteers are well aware of the risks involved. We participate in direct action because we cannot live in denial of our Mother’s peril. This is not a game. Many of us really do feel her pain. 4) Earth First! is not about "controlling volunteers" (as if they’re part of the television dazed sheepish masses who no longer think for themselves). What we are about is working toward bringing environmental awareness and sanity to the out of control policies of the forest destroyers and their minions in the media and law enforcement who use ink, guns and pepper spray to do their masters’ bidding.
The Sentinel also stated that "good science" says some of these second growth areas "ought to be logged." (Is this the same good science that has prompted Big Creek to undermine the endangered species act in its proposed Scott Creek THP? More on this in future issues.) We might not dispute this if commercial logging actually prioritized forest health above maximizing profits. Large second growth trees in forests over 100 years into recovery on steep, unstable slopes in fault zones above streams supporting endangered species, in plans opposed by everyone but logging proponents and CDF should be protected!
Until that day occurs and Etenoha is no longer in peril, Earth First! will continue to rethink its tactics while recruiting the help of the public and worthy media in our fight to protect this beautiful, generous, loving, living being that provides for us all.
Hetch etu aloh. (It is very much so)

We may never know what really happened to cause Robert Bryan’s fall. All we can do is pray for his well-being in the spirit world, the health of our planet, and protection and success for her current and future forest defenders. We will never be truly happy or healthy until our dear Mother Earth is too. Please don’t wait, protect her now. For more information contact Earth First! at (831) 425-3205



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Last revision: 9/1/02
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