AN explosion that injured two environmentalists has increased national interest in ``Redwood Summer,'' a civil disobedience campaign aimed at limiting timber cutting in northern California. On May 24, a pipe bomb ripped apart a car in Oakland, seriously injuring Judi Bari and wounding Darryl Cherney. The two are leaders of the militant environmental group Earth First!, and say someone attempted to murder them because of their successful efforts to organize Redwood Summer.
Police, however, suspect that Ms. Bari and Mr. Cherney planned to use the bomb for environmental terrorism, and arrested them for transporting an explosive device. The district attorney has postponed filing formal charges until June 18, saying he needs to evaluate evidence.
Regardless of the outcome of the Oakland case, environmentalists and timber industry sources agree that its publicity has heightened public awareness of Redwood Summer organizing efforts.
Shepard Tucker, public affairs manager at the timber giant Louisiana Pacific Company, opposes Redwood Summer but agrees the bombing incident increased its visibility. ``The eyes of the nation are now on the northern California timber industry,'' he says.
The campaign, modeled on the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer that helped pass the Voting Rights Act, will feature nonviolent civil disobedience to protest clear-cutting of timber in northern California.
Judi Bari, Anna Marie Stenberg and other Earth First! activists conceived of Redwood Summer last February.
``We thought maybe 500 people would participate,'' says Ms. Stenberg. ``Now it looks as if it'll be in the thousands. We've gotten calls from all over the country.'' She says all participants will be required to undergo nonviolence training.
Stenberg says the big timber companies cut down more trees than they plant, which will eventually lead to worker layoffs when the forests are depleted. ``Environmentalists and workers have the same goals,'' she says. ``Sustained yields mean sustained jobs and sustained earth.''
Mr. Tucker denies that timber companies overcut their forests. ``We plant five to six trees for every tree we cut,'' he says. Earth First! ``just doesn't like the idea of industrial forestry.''
Tucker says Redwood Summer organizers don't understand that ``we operate in a market system. Demand is expanding,'' while park land expansion and environmental restrictions have decreased the available timber. If access to domestic forests is limited, builders will buy from third-world countries with far fewer environmental controls, he says.
Tucker is urging his company's logging crews not to react violently to Redwood Summer demonstrators. ``We're telling our people to turn the other cheek,'' he says. ``But if they interrupt our people coming to work, we'll have them arrested.''
Art Harwood, general manager of a medium-sized, northern California saw mill, says he also hopes Redwood Summer will be nonviolent. He has arranged two meetings between Earth First! and small logging companies in hopes of avoiding confrontation.
Mr. Harwood agrees that the big timber companies ``for the last few years have been cutting more than they're growing on their lands. That's one of the reasons for Redwood Summer.'' But some of the old-growth forests must be harvested if the industry is to survive.
All sides are looking beyond the summer to the November California elections when two initiatives seeking to limit timber cutting will likely be on the ballot. ``Forests Forever,'' sponsored by environmentalists, would impose strict cutting limits. The timber industry is pushing the less restrictive ``Forestry Program'' proposition.
David Chatfield, chairman of the environmental group Greenpeace Action, expects the more stringent measure to pass. He thus sees Redwood Summer as helping to prevent overcutting between now and the election. ``We want to keep the lumber companies from cashing in on short-term cutting,'' he says. ``It's not good for the environment and not in the workers' interests either.''