Pierce Brosnan, Keely Shaye Smith host fundraiser to help save old-growth trees.
By Austen Tate/Special to The Malibu Times
“Raise awareness. We are here for one reason and one reason only. To protect the last one percent of California’s old growth trees, an irreplaceable national treasure,” resonated the voice of Pierce Brosnan, actor and environmental/political activist, who made an appearance at AXE restaurant in Venice last week to help bring attention to the plight of California’s old growth trees.
The event raised funds for Campaign for Old Growth, an organization whose mission is to protect the last of California’s ancient trees, including coast redwoods up to 2,000 years old.
Hosts Brosnan and wife Keely Shaye Smith, who first introduced Brosnan to the cause, along with many others who all share the same “green” vision, have been fighting to pass the Heritage Tree Preservation Act for the past year.
About 200 environmental and humanitarian activists gathered together June 14 at AXE to hear the next step in helping to keep California’s old growth trees alive. The outdoor, airy setting set the right mood for a lively and communicative crowd of politicians, activists, entertainers, artists, healers and donators all there to support and pass the new bill. Although the act failed to pass the California Assembly last year, the legislation will be introduced to the state Legislature later this summer by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-East Bay).
Susan Moloney, activist and founder of the Campaign For Old Growth, gave birth to the project in 2000 after she had supported Julia Butterfly Hill in a tree protest. She had traveled all over the world and came back to discover California’s majestic trees were being cut down.
“There was no real comprehensive law in place to prohibit the cutting of ancient trees,” Moloney said. “And I thought well, there ought to be a law.”
Her mission to save old-growth trees started with an attempt to get an initiative on the ballot, collecting signatures and delivering her message to people around the state, country and world. Afterward, she signed up Congressman Don Perata onboard as author of the bill who introduced it to the Legislature.
When asked what it takes to get the bill passed, Perata, who was at the fundraiser, simply ran down the list: “It takes staying in touch with people, getting them to appropriate hearings in Sacramento and paying people who can help guide us through the labyrinth of passing the bill through. You need money to move in Sacramento.”
Moloney’s relentless efforts and dedication to the cause boldly led her to the capital in Sacramento on a 52-day hunger strike to keep the issue alive. Since then, she has gotten support from such organizations as the Sierra Club, NRDC, California Democratic Party Environmental Caucus, Environmental Media Alliance, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Earthways Foundation)) and from celebrities such as Brosnan, Martin Sheen, Jackson Browne, Don Henley and more.
“[Pierce and Keely have] helped us get the word out, get other people involved, and were truly inspiring and wonderful on board,” Moloney said.
Last year, the measure failed by only a few votes.
“[We received] 39 out of 41 votes … so we are close!” Keely Smith exclaimed to the crowd. “It’s still legal to log these ancient trees. Old-growth forests are on the verge of extinction. But, the well-financed and politically connected timber industry would like us to believe they are planting new ancient forests. Tree plantations are not ancient forests. Ancient forests are made up of numerous species that support biodiversity, plants and animals.”
The Campaign For Old Growth effort will affect these “living symbols,” as Brosnan called old-growth trees, on state and private land in California.
“It is our responsibility … to save these trees not only for ourselves and our children, but for the health of the entire planet that is already in critical condition,” Brosnan said.
More information on the bill and Campaign For Old Growth can be found at www.ancienttrees.org