The mountain that is now called Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park holds a powerful place in the lives of the Kumeyaay. When the world was balanced, a fearsome beast once lurked within a granite overhang on the mountain’s western side.
Pine Mountain, above Ojai in the Los Padres National Forest, holds significant historic and cultural value for the Chumash, who consider it part of their homeland.
Both mountains have been stolen from Indigenous Peoples.
Both are threatened with harm by government agencies that act as if the mountains belong to them.
Both still possess the power to heal broken promises, but only if we speak up.
“We’re fighting for our sacred sites in the face of what is continued colonization and imperialism,” Maura Sullivan, a representative for the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, said, noting that clearing the landscape at Pine Mountain as proposed by the US Forest Service would be “an extreme blow to our spiritual and mental health as Chumash people.”
For Stonewall Peak, named by Confederate sympathizers for General Stonewall Jackson, California State Parks continues to destroy fragile, pyrogenic habitat with grinding machines, herbicides, and fire to plant artificial tree farms.
Now is the time for the US Forest Service, California State Parks, and Cal Fire to finally respect Nature and the Indigenous Peoples who cherished these two mountainous sentinels for generations.
Pine Mountain: What You Can Do Make a comment on the USFS project by August 14 (additional detail below).
We call on California State Parks to:
1. Rename Stonewall Peak to reflect Kumeyaay values, not those of the Confederacy. In addition, collaborate with local Indigenous Peoples to replace all place names that dishonor civil rights, equality, and people of color with names that honor the legacies of the Indigenous cultures that have enriched the land with their presence.
2. The Kumeyaay did not use poisons, chain saws, and giant grinding machines, as State Parks is now using in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park to force Nature to comply with their demands. Indigenous Peoples work with Nature because they respect its power – California needs to do the same, not use legal loop holes to avoid proper environmental reviews as was done with the “reforestation” project at Cuyamaca Rancho. Indigenous Peoples and other community members must be allowed to provide input as required under the California Environmental Quality Act which State Parks violated in 2009. Therefore, the Cuyamaca Rancho “reforestation” and habitat clearance project needs to be stopped until a full environmental assessment has been completed.
3. Go beyond performance actions (acknowledging racism, increasing diversity funding, etc.) to implement true transformation, including:
– structural changes to ensure diversity within public programs
– make parks more accessible and welcoming to people of color
– more people of color in leadership/ranger positions
– honor Indigenous history and culture throughout parks
– recognize the forced removal of Indigenous Peoples from park lands
To stop California State Parks from favoring artificial tree farms over Nature, please see our webpage here.
The US Forest Service is enabling the current administration’s effort to disregard all environmental protections and values by planning to log old-growth forest and chaparral across 755 acres deep in the Ventura County backcountry. The agency hopes to use a loophole in the National Environmental Protection Act to approve the project without a proper environmental review.
The project would allow the logging of centuries-old trees, up to five feet in diameter, and the clearance of rare old-growth chaparral along six miles of the prominent ridge known as Pine Mountain stretching from Highway 33 to Reyes Peak. The area is a popular recreation destination beloved by hikers and climbers. It is sacred land to the Chumash.
In this past weekend’s LA Times article about Pine Mountain:
With so few people and homes near Pine Mountain, Rebecca August, advocacy director at Los Padres ForestWatch, and others question why the Forest Service chose it as a site to reduce wildfire risks. “Projects adjacent to communities are where you’re going to get the most impact,” she said, “but doing things way out in the middle of nowhere is hard to defend.”
“The government is supposed to represent us, and it’s our job to watch the government,” Halsey said, noting that lawsuits are often the only way for environmental and conservation groups to have their concerns taken seriously. “It’s not their forest,” he said. “It’s ours.”