News

Company says protesters misinformed

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Students from a Seattle alternative school staged a small demonstration against Weyerhaeuser last week to urge the lumber and paper products giant to stop logging old-growth and endangered species forest areas.

Seven students from Nova, located in Seattle’s Central District, hand-delivered 2,000 letters addressed to Weyerhaeuser chief executive officer Steve Rogel, asking that the company stop what they called “barbaric environmental practices.”

Hannah McHardy, a senior at Nova and the school’s Eco Justice Committee’s media liaison, said the students wanted to send the message to Weyerhaeuser that local citizens are opposed to its logging practices.

Weyerhaeuser is “stealing inalienable rights and assets,” she said.

In February, the San Francisco, Calif.-based Rainforest Action Network launched a campaign urging Weyerhaeuser customers to boycott the company until it joins the more than 400 corporations that have agreed to the environmental group’s standards for environmental stewardship.

The Eco Justice group at Nova decided to participate in a demonstration against Weyerhaeuser as part of Rainforest Action Network’s campaign because it was close enough for them to drive.

While the students went to Weyerhaeuser’s headquarters in Federal Way in opposition to the corporation, they quietly and politely asked spokesman Frank Mendizabal about Weyerhaeuser’s practices.

Mendizabal said some at Weyerhaeuser were blindsided by the Rainforest Action Network’s campaign. He said representatives from Weyerhaeuser and the network began meeting last September to talk about the company’s logging practices and a possible agreement to protect sensitive areas and implement sustainable logging practices.

“We thought things were going good. We had more areas of agreement than disagreement,” Mendizabal said. “Then they kicked off this campaign in February.

“We said, ‘Wait a minute. We’ve been having these productive meetings. You led us to believe we were moving forward. What’s with the campaign?’ They said something about we weren’t moving fast enough.”

Paul West, a spokesman for Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco, said Weyerhaeuser officials were aware the the network would launch its campaign if the company didn’t “join the rest of the world in modern social values.”

He said Rainforest Action Network has worked with more than 400 companies to develop global logging practices that will sustain old-growth forest land around the world.

“They’re just way behind the curve,” he said of Weyerhaeuser. “We’re looking for a global policy, not just acting ethically where the local pressure is put on. They need to come up with a global policy.”

Weyerhaeuser officials have continued meeting with Rainforest Action Network, as recently as last week, Mendizabal said.

And as far as old-growth logging, he said Rainforest Action Network is a signatory to the Joint Solutions Project and the Coast Forest Conservation Initiative, which allows a certain type of old-growth logging in British Columbia.

“We’re hearing one thing from (the Rainforest Action Network) publicly and another thing privately,” he said.

Mendizabal said he supported the students’ right to voice their concerns, but he expressed skepticism the Rainforest Action Network is being up-front with them.

“More power to them. They’re concerned about the future. But they need to understand there are other points of view,” he said of the Nova students. “Rainforest Action Network on the one hand is moving forward and on the other is encouraging this campaign.”

McHardy said the students are interested in getting a balanced perspective from Weyerhaeuser and has invited Rogel, the Weyerhaeuser CEO, to speak to their class and answer questions.

In the meantime, she said the Eco Justice group planned to demonstrate against Weyerhaeuser in Seattle after they left Weyerhaeuser headquarters, and they plan to participate in a May 14 demonstration organized by Rainforest Action Network.

The network’s Brant Olson said the organization will continue to apply pressure to Weyerhaeuser to get the company to sign on to the logging codes other companies have joined.

“Our basic concern with Weyerhaeuser is they’re failing to meet best practices in every link of the supply chain,” he said. “Until they meet these practices, they can look forward to seeing a lot more of us.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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