Greg King: Racists, Radicals and Real Estate in the California Redwoods
Every year millions of tourists from around the world come to California to see our famous redwoods. Yet few understand how unlikely it is that these last groves of giant trees still stand at all. Activist Greg King examines how investors and a growing U.S. economy drove the timber industry to cut down the giant redwoods on all but four percent of the original 2-million-acre redwood ecosystem.
The land grab began in 1849, when a “green gold rush” of migrants came to exploit the legendary redwoods that grew along the Russian River. Several generations later, in 1987, Greg King discovered and named Headwaters Forest—at 3,000 acres the largest ancient redwood habitat remaining outside of parks—and then led the movement to save this grove. After a decade of one of the most dramatic and violent environmental campaigns in U.S. history, the state and federal governments finally protected Headwaters Forest in 1999.
The Ghost Forest explores the mystery of what it was about this unique Northern California forest that was both so spectacular and yet so enticing as fuel for economic growth that it inspired a life-and-death struggle. Few but loggers and surveyors ever saw such magnificent trees, ancient sentinels that, like ghosts, have informed Greg King’s understanding of the world, and have inspired him to tell the story of their discovery and their exploitation, and to protect them against those determined to cut them down.
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This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.
Photo by Georgia King
The Commonwealth Club of California
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Journalist; Activist to protect Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County; Author, The Ghost Forest: Racists, Radicals, and Real Estate in the California Redwoods
In Conversation with Andrew Dudley
CEO, @Earth; Chair, People & Nature Member-Led Forum, The Commonwealth Club of California