The early 1990s through 2004 was a time when hundreds of Northwest California citizens protested destructive logging practices and urged regulatory agencies to promote more sustainable forest management policies. The Humboldt Watershed Council (HWC) was central to keeping the focus on the key issues and to educating the public. Out of these hundreds of citizens emerged several activists who video documented the destructive logging practices, the resultant protest activities, the evidence gathering efforts, and the testimony given at hearings. Now this video work, both the original and edited footage, is the subject of great concern due to damage from mold and the deterioration of the tapes. Further commitment and action are urgently required.
Howard Russell, one of the main videographers, amassed a collection of about 700 tapes (digital and analog) that document about 400 separate events. Howard was associated with the Humboldt Watershed Council during this time period and the collection is considered to be part of the larger body of material generated by other HWC activists. Howard Russell is ready and willing to donate the video portion of the collection to the HSU Library where it would join the HWC collections already donated by Ken Miller and Bob Martel. But mold prevents a repository (such as HSU Library) from accepting the video collection, in its present format, into their facility. All repositories must protect the other archival collections from something as risky as active mold on film. Now, a selected tape of each event must be converted to digital format as soon as possible.
In an effort to jumpstart the reformatting project one concerned citizen donated $500 in mid 2012 so that a test batch could be converted to DVD. This effort was deemed a success. Most vendors/businesses that transfer VHS and camera cassettes reject materials that show any sign of mold. Fortunately Bongo Boy (in McKinleyville) is willing to provide reformatting services. Currently we estimate the cost, based on work done to date, for the items needing conversion to be about $10,000. Each DVD holds a fragment of the overall picture and taken together this collection covers the time period and the citizens’ efforts very thoroughly. This video collection documents an important chapter of our region’s history.
We have moved ahead and established a designated fund at Humboldt Area Foundation, named the North Coast Environmental History Resource Recovery And Preservation Fund, and once again the donor from 2012 has donated some start-up monies. Individuals interested in aiding this effort are encouraged to donate generously to this fund. Any amount will help: $25, $50, $100. Questions or comments can be addressed to Edie Butler at 707-443-3289.
Erich Franz Schimps