Logging Protester Killed by Tree

Copyright 1998 Associated Press
September 17, 1998

FORTUNA, Calif. (AP) -- An Earth First! activist was killed Thursday when he was struck in the head by a falling tree while trying to block logging in an ancient redwood grove.

David Chain, 24, a member of the radical environmental group, was with a group of protesters who were standing among redwoods marked for logging and trying to dissuade tree fellers when the tree hit him, sheriff's officials said.

Pacific Lumber Co. spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel said its logging crew did not see anybody in the area and had no idea Chain was standing nearby.

Loggers were felling trees when they heard yelling and learned someone was in the area, said Melva Paris, spokeswoman for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department.

``It's easy to get hit by a tree out there,'' said Earth First! co-founder Daryl Cherney. ``Even experienced activists or seasoned people -- it doesn't matter.''

Earth First! had staged a 12-day protest against the logging of an ancient redwood stand along Grizzly Creek, in a ravine near the mill town of Fortuna, about 300 miles up the coast from San Francisco.

The protesters say the logging, on land adjacent to a ``lesser cathedral'' of centuries-old redwoods purchased under the $495 million Headwaters Agreement, is destroying the protected habitat of the Marbled Murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in the tops of the majestic trees.

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