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March 26, 2019 WCWC Statement on FSC Decision

Timber Industry Sidesteps Request to Investigate U.S. Company's Human Rights Violations

  

WEED, CALIFORNIA - The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the industry body that certifies “responsible timber,” has declined to investigate a complaint filed by Water for Citizens of Weed, California (WCWC) against Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products. The complaint arose due to Roseburg’s use of abusive tactics in its bid to force the community of Weed off its most important source of drinking water.

Jim Taylor, President of Water for Citizens of Weed, CA (WCWC), said, “Roseburg has long used its FSC certification to demonstrate that it is a responsible company. But today, we see past the facade of this greenwashing label. ‘FSC-certified’ clearly does not mean ethical or responsible. As we have said before, sustainability needs to be based on partnership with local communities, not on bullying.”

WCWC filed its complaint with the FSC on February 27th. The complaint alleged that Roseburg, which operates a lumber mill in Weed, has violated the human rights of local residents by trying to take control of the city’s primary source of drinking water, a spring on nearby Mt. Shasta, so that it can force the City off the water and then sell it to the international water bottling industry. The company has sought to intimidate the community into silence, suing nine community leaders who objected to the company’s actions. The right to raise such concerns is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as being integral to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. 

In its March 25th response to the complaint, the FSC claimed that the human rights violations alleged by WCWC are “outside forestry operations.” WCWC had argued that the complaint was directly linked to Roseburg’s forestry operations, due to the fact that Roseburg also uses water from the same spring for its mill operations as well as that the whole dispute arises out of the community’s former status as a lumber mill-owned company town.

Six well-known national and regional human rights and environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Civil Liberties Defense Center and EarthRights International, as well as a number of individuals, had written letters supporting WCWC’s complaint to the FSC, 

The FSC is an international body that is charged with certifying the sustainability of timber companies’ operations around the globe. Roseburg Forest Products has touted its FSC certification as proof of its “green” credentials. However, an important part of FSC certification is supposed to include human rights and how companies treat the communities in which they operate.

The FSC’s refusal to investigate one of its favored US clients comes at a time when Roseburg is under federal investigation over its alleged involvement in the trade of illegal black-market timber from areas of high conservation importance in Africa.

Bruce Shoemaker of WCWC said,Rather than investigating our complaint on its merits, the FSC is using a very narrow definition of “forestry operations” to avoid responsibility for its association with a company that continues to violate the rights of our community. We hope that customers of Roseburg’s products are not just assuming that the FSC label is proof that this company cares about human rights.”

 

Chris Lang of FSC Watch said, "As FSC-Watch has documented since 2006, FSC has an appalling record of protecting companies at the expense of local communities. FSC claims to be promoting "responsible management of the world's forests", but whenever problems with FSC-certified companies are exposed, FSC goes into cover-up mode, acting on behalf of the timber industry. FSC's failure to investigate the complaint against Roseburg is just one more example of FSC's bias in favour of corporations - at the expense of the human rights of the local community."

Weed residents demand that Roseburg take the following actions: drop its SLAPP lawsuit against Weed citizens, and honor the intention of its predecessor company – International Paper – to officially recognize the town’s rights to the spring water. 

Forest Stewardship Council


Subject:  Notification of decision regarding Policy for Association 

complaint, Water for Citizens of Weed, California and Roseburg  Forest Products.

FSC decision March 25, 2019 (pdf)

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 LETTERS TO THE  FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF OUR COMPLAINT AGAINST ROSEBURG 

WATER letter of support March 2 2019

CLDC letter of support March 6 2019

Greenpeace letter of support March 7 2019

ERI letter of support March 8 2019

EPIC letter of support March 12 2019

Gubetta letter FSC March 14 2019

RAN letter of support March 14 2019

Water for Citizens of Weed California

  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 27, 2019

Contact:

Bruce Shoemaker, Media Liaison

Water for Citizens of Weed, California (WCWC)

(612) 770-9697

bshoe@bitstream.net

Valentina Stackl, Media Liaison

Protect the Protest Task Force

(202) 466-5188 x100

valentina@earthrights.org 

Forestry Company Faces Challenge to Its “Responsible Timber” Certification After Waging Intimidation Campaign Against Local Community

WEED, CALIFORNIA - Citizens of Weed, California filed a complaint today with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) after Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products refused to stop its abusive tactics in a bid to privatize the community’s main source of drinking water. 

The complaint alleges that Roseburg, which operates a lumber mill in Weed, has violated the human rights of local residents by trying to take control of the city’s primary source of drinking water, a spring on nearby Mt. Shasta, so that it can force the City off the water and then sell it to the international water bottling industry. The company has sought to intimidate the community into silence, suing nine community leaders who objected to the company’s actions. The right to raise such concerns is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as being integral to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. 

The FSC is an international body that is charged with certifying the sustainability of timber companies’ operations around the globe. Roseburg Forest Products has touted its FSC certification as proof of its “green” credentials, even while pursuing malicious legal bullying tactics to grab the City of Weed’s water and silence community opposition. However, an important part of FSC certification involves human rights and how companies treat the communities in which they operate.

In December 2017, a California Superior court dismissed Roseburg’s lawsuit against the nine named individuals, finding that the lawsuit was an attack on these citizens’ constitutionally protected free speech. These types of intimidating “SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuits are bullying tactics increasingly used by corporations to silence their critics.  However, Roseburg has appealed the decision and is using delaying tactics to keep the lawsuit in court for as long as possible. 

Among the nine individuals named in the lawsuit by Roseburg are prominent members of the City including a 92 year-old former mayor/retired mill employee, another former mayor of the City who is also a retired mill employee, a standing member of the Weed City Council, an artist/member of  the Weed Planning Commission, and a retired businessman who is currently the volunteer coordinator of the Weed Historical Lumber Museum, who was twice named Weed’s “Citizen of the Year,” was on the Weed Elementary School Board for 21 years, and was the recipient of the first Community Service Award from Weed High School.

At the same time, Roseburg is continuing to pursue a long and expensive lawsuit against the City of Weed in an effort to force the community off its main source of drinking water. It was revealed in 2016 that Roseburg plans to sell the water to Crystal Geyser Roxane, a private water company that already has a plant in town. Crystal Geyser Roxane wants more of the water supply from Beaughan Spring in order to increase its bottling and shipping of spring water to Japan and other locations.

Despite having strong legal and ethical arguments on its side, the vulnerable and economically disadvantaged City of Weed faces difficulty affording hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs as it tries to respond to Roseburg’s well-resourced legal assault. As of December, 2018, the lawsuit had cost the City of Weed more than $400,000.  

In December 2018, Weed residents rallied outside of Roseburg’ headquarters in Springfield, Oregon. At the rally, they delivered a letter to Roseburg with two demands: to drop its SLAPP lawsuit against Weed citizens, and to honor the intention of its predecessor company – International Paper – to officially recognize the town’s rights to the spring water. Roseburg has so far refused to acknowledge the concerns raised by Weed residents.

STATEMENTS

Jim Taylor, President of Water for Citizens of Weed, CA (WCWC), said, “Roseburg takes great pride in portraying its products as green and sustainable. But a company that acts in this manner does not deserve those labels. We are calling on the Forest Stewardship Council to revoke the company’s certification until Roseburg begins to act in a more responsible and ethical manner. Sustainability needs to be based on partnership with local communities, not on bullying.”

Geneva Omann of WCWC said,“The United Nations and the State of California both recognize access to water as a basic human right. By trying to take away our community’s water, and then suing anyone who spoke out on the issue, Roseburg has acted with disregard for basic human rights and the well-being of our community.” 

Bruce Shoemaker of WCWC said,Roseburg Forest Products is able to sell lumber certified as green and sustainable to customers at a premium price. We would like to see customers of Roseburg’s FSC-certified forest products refrain from further purchases until our complaint over their practices is satisfactorily resolved.”

Additional Information:

WCWC’s December 2018 letter to Roseburg Forest Products as well as the complaint that WCWC submitted today to the FSC is available below.

More info on SLAPP suits and the campaign to end them is available here: https://www.protecttheprotest.org 

Water for Citizens of Weed California

Here is the complaint file by WCWC against Roseburg Forest Products on  
February 27, 2019 to the Forest Stewardship Council:


Copies of all nine referenced attachments are available from WCWC upon  request.

Water for Citizens of Weed California

On December 18, 2018 members of Water for Citizens of Weed, California hand  delivered a letter to

 Roseburg Forest Products at their Springfield, Oregon  headquarters and asked to meet with senior management. 

RFP refused to meet  with us and has not provided us with any response to our letter. You can  read the letter here:

(pdf)

Download

Water for Citizens of Weed - News Letter

WCWC Community Update - Fall 2018 (pdf)

Download

Water for Citizens of Weed - News Letter

WCWC Community Update - Spring, 2018 (pdf)

Download

The Shasta Group Newsletter ------ January 1 – June 30, 2018

  

Weed and Mt. Shasta Water Issues---

Groundwater extraction for commercial bottling in Weed and Mt. Shasta has received major attention this Fall. Pristine gravity fed groundwater enjoyed by the Weed residents for over 110 years is in question. A portion of the water coming from Beaughan Springs on Roseburg Forest Products land has been supplied to the City of Weed and more recently to Crystal Geyser for bottled water. Last year a local citizens' group (Weed Area Water Alliance) (WAWA) filed a Siskiyou Superior Court Complaint against Roseburg and the City of Weed alleging violations of CEQA surrounding the new Water Lease Agreement and also unfair business competition. Roseburg has been selling Crystal Geyser Roxane water for over 20 years, one third of which is sent to Japan. Crystal Geyser has stated they want the City’s entire share of waters. The WAWA complaint also claims the city owns their 2.0 cfs water rights based upon a recently discovered 1982 letter acknowledging the transfer of these rights from International Paper before Roseburg entered the picture. 

Meanwhile, the citizens of another group WCWC Water for Citizens of Weed CA in May 2017 prevailed in convincing the City Council to support their request of the local Shasta and Scott Valley Watermaster District and the State Water Resources Control Board to investigate the city's water rights. A SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) was immediately filed against the both the City of Weed and 9 citizens. The Weed Nine represented by an excellent legal team of James Wheaton and Paul Clifford of First Amendment.org won in court on December 7th. The SLAPP suit was dismissed and the citizen’s first amendment rights to petition their government were upheld in Siskiyou Superior Court, once again with Judge Karen Dixon presiding. Roseburg lost this battle, but states that they are considering next steps. 

In Mount Shasta two citizen groups and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe filed an Appeal to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors over the Planning Commission's November 2017 decision to accept a very flawed EIR on the Crystal Geyser Water Company plant. The Mount Shasta watershed has been the target of major international water bottling corporations since 1996 with Danone Waters followed by Coca Cola and now Crystal Geyser. On the south side of the mountain near McCloud, Nestle attempted unsuccessfully to place a huge straw into the volcanic aquifer providing 

water to both the Sacramento River and Shasta Lake and south. As usual, little attention has been paid to plastics pollution and impacts on groundwater. One wet year does not spell the end of drought. While many north Siskiyou County residents may not give credence to global warming, the south county residents are well aware of the writing on the wall. Convincing local jurisdictions that water bottling is a dead end resource extractive path is the ongoing challenge. 

As anticipated, the appeal was denied on December 12th. Attorney Marsha Burch filed the Appeal representing the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review and the Gateway Neighborhood Association). If allowed to proceed there are clearly inadequate protections for local wells and aquifers, air quality, traffic and local sewer infrastructure. These groups will be looking into every means to continue to defend the many unresolved issues and work for a legitimate final EIR. For more information, to make a donation, or to get involved contact: www.cawater.net