Help Preserve Local Environmental Activist History

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BAYSIDE ­– The early 1990s through 2004 was a time when hundreds of Northwest California citizens protested destructive logging practices and urged regulatory agencies to promote more sustainable forest management policies. The Humboldt Watershed Council was central to keeping the focus on the key issues and educating the public. Out of these hundreds of citizens emerged several activists who video documented the controversial logging practices, the resultant protest activities, the evidence gathering efforts and the testimony given at hearings.

Now this video work, both the original and edited footage, is the subject of great concern due to damage from mold and the deterioration of the original tapes. Further commitment and action are urgently required.

A group of local citizens have moved ahead and established the North Coast Environmental History Resource Recovery and Preservation Fund at Humboldt Area Foundation. Individuals interested in aiding this effort are encouraged to donate to this fund. Any amount will help: $25 will save the information of one event, $50 will save two, and $100 will save four. Please give as generously as you can.

Howard Russell, one of the main videographers, amassed a collection of about 700 tapes (digital and analog) that document about 400 separate events. Howard was associated with the Humboldt Watershed Council during this time period and the collection is considered to be part of the larger body of material generated by other Humboldt Watershed Council activists. Howard Russell is ready and willing to donate the video portion of the collection to the HSU Library where it would join the Humboldt Watershed Council collections already donated by Ken Miller and Bob Martel.

However, mold prevents the HSU Library from accepting the video collection in its present format. Now, a selected tape of each event must be converted to digital format as soon as possible.

In an effort to jumpstart the reformatting project one concerned citizen donated $500 in mid-2012 so that a test batch could be converted to DVD. This effort was deemed a success. Most vendors and businesses that transfer VHS and camera cassettes reject materials that show any sign of mold. Fortunately, Bongo Boy (in McKinleyville) is willing to provide reformatting services.

The current estimated cost for the items needing conversion to be about $10,000. Each DVD holds a fragment of the overall picture and taken together this collection covers the time period and the citizens’ efforts very thoroughly. This video collection documents an important chapter of our region’s history.

For more information, questions and comments, call Edie Butler at (707) 443-3289 or