Image - photo of speaker surrounded by plants
Image - photo of speaker surrounded by plants

GREG KING: RACISTS, "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. 


Andrew Dudley


A People & Nature Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

This program contains EXPLICIT content.

Image - Greg King

Greg King

Journalist; Activist to protect Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County; Author, The Ghost Forest: Racists, Radicals, and Real Estate in the California Redwoods

Image - Andrew Dudley

In Conversation with Andrew Dudley

CEO, @Earth; Chair, People & Nature Member-Led Forum, The Commonwealth Club of California