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Out on a Limb

Graham Nash
Nash Rambler: Singer and musical politico Graham Nash joins forces with Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman for a concert to benefit the Coalition to Save Headwaters Forest at the SC Civic on Sunday.

Rockers rally to save the Headwaters redwoods

By Greg Cahill

CALL IT A LAST REQUEST. Shortly before her March 2 death from cancer, Earth First! activist Judi Bari--seriously injured, along with fellow activist Darryl Cherney, in a mysterious 1990 car bomb blast--called for 10,000 demonstrators to make the trek this year to the gates of Pacific Lumber headquarters in Humboldt County to demand the preservation of the Headwaters Forest, a 3,000-acre grove of virgin redwoods.

"In order to achieve that goal," says Cherney, founder and project coordinator for Environmentally Sound Promotions, "we felt that a series of Northern California concerts would help get the word out."

So far, so good. The announcement that pop star Bonnie Raitt, ex­Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Rob Wasserman, and rocker Graham Nash will perform three shows--including Sunday's concert at civic auditorium in downtown Santa Cruz--to benefit the Coalition to Save Headwaters Forest has attracted a lot of attention. The Sacramento show sold out in one day, but tickets still remain for the local show.

This is the second annual Forest Aid concert. Last year, Weir and his Rat Dog band headlined a single show in Eureka. His participation in the event is just the latest part of a long-standing commitment to the environment. In the late '80s, the Grateful Dead worked through the United Nations to raise awareness about endangered South American rain forests. Weir also authored a 1990 children's book, Panther Dreams, that describes the plight of indigenous people living in that region.

In the past, Bonnie Raitt, a part-time Mendocino County resident, has performed benefits for the Headwaters Forest coalition. Last year, she was arrested during a demonstration outside Pacific Lumber headquarters in Carlotta. "In a sense, the redwoods are her home ecosystem," Cherney says.

The main thrust of the concerts is to focus attention on the lingering threat to the Headwaters grove. A year ago, federal and state negotiators cut a deal with Pacific Lumber to purchase the grove in exchange for cash and public properties. Provisions of that tentative deal have fallen by the wayside as representatives of Maxxam--the Pacific Lumber parent company bought by financier Charles Hurwitz with junk bonds--have pushed for a larger cash offer.

Environmentalists have argued that the feds instead should make a "debt-for-nature" swap, writing off part of a $1.6 billion debt incurred by Hurwitz in a failed S&L deal in exchange for Headwaters.

Last year, about 8,000 protesters demonstrated their support for that plan. Of those, 1,033 were arrested in the largest single display of nonviolent civil disobedience in Northern California history.

"Despite the fact that the company wants to sell, environmentalists want to preserve it and both Democrats and Republicans support the preservation of the Headwaters Forest, the government has been completely inept at achieving that protection," Cherney says. "It seems like the only voice that's going to be heard is that of the people. The more voices we bring to Headwaters, the louder that message will be."

Forest Aid takes place on Sunday (7pm) at the Civic Auditorium. 307 Church St., SC. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased by calling 546-BASS.

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From the Sept. 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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