In an effort to sabotage development of Briger Forest, the last major tract of undeveloped land along I-95 in Palm Beach County, an anonymous band of self-described anarchists claims to have booby-trapped "countless trees" in the area and to have vandalized the work of surveyors.
The clearing of Briger is tied to the local establishment's idea that public investment in projects like the Scripps Research Institute will ultimately bring a flood of money and jobs to the area. (Meh.) Instead of wildlife, the suits see millions of square feet of biotech and office space, thousands of homes, a 300-room hotel, and assorted retail space. The developers' plans -- formally known as Alton PCD -- have for years been the target of protests and legal action.
This latest turn of events, if the claims are true (and we have no reason to think they aren't), would be an example of "monkeywrenching" -- direct action to disrupt the mechanics of development. A classic anarchist text on the practice (named for radical environmentalist forefather Edward Abbey's novel The Monkeywrench Gang) describes it as:
...nonviolent resistance to the destruction of natural diversity and wilderness. It is never directed against human beings or other forms of life. It is aimed at inanimate machines and tools that are destroying life. Care is always taken to minimize any possible threat to people, including the monkeywrenchers themselves.
The tactic purportedly used in Briger, "tree spiking," involves hammering nails or metal rods into trees, either at the base, to damage chainsaws, or higher up, where they will destroy saw-mill equipment.
Tree spiking has been controversial even within anarchist circles and has been specifically targeted by federal law. The practice has been blamed for the 1987 maiming of a California millworker, though the accusation was never proved.
The anarchists' claims about Briger were first made public in a Monday blog post on the California-based website Anarchist News, reposted Tuesday on the website of Lake Worth-based Earth First! Journal.
New Times has not received any reply to a request for comment from the journal. Neither have we had any reply to a request for comment from Briger developer the Kolter Group or local law enforcement.
In its entirety, the spiking announcement read:
We spiked the trees in the Briger Forest.
With anger and love we hiked through this southeastern Florida forest and threw 6" nails into the gears of the capitalist death wish. The spikes were driven into countless trees in the areas of Briger already bought and sold for destruction. Slash pines, scrub oaks, saw palmettos, cabbage palms, even invasive melaleuca and Australian pines. Some spiked high, some low--some visible, many hidden. We left nothing safe to cut. Signs were hung near the edges of the forest as a warning to would-be forest levelers:
"THESE TREES ARE SPIKED - WILL DAMAGE MACHINERY. FUCK ALTON.
The Kolter Group and the Scripps Research Institute want to turn this forest into woodchips so they can actualize their vision of infinite industrial growth. These money-hungry psychopaths intend to replace this wild and thriving place with an upscale neighborhood called 'Alton' and a bio-tech lab where animals will be tortured in the name of corporate-sponsored 'science.'
We pulled survey stakes and buried them in the woods. We tore the markings off trees. We worked with heavy hearts knowing that we may be the last humans to enter this forest without chainsaws in our hands... that if no one intervenes the creatures surrounding us will be crushed beneath the treads of machinery so that the rich can expand their kingdoms... that without a fight soon the only animals living on this piece of Earth will be those forced into cages as test subjects of poisons and genetic manipulation.
Before the rising sun threatened to expose us, we took rest in beds of pine needles, listened to the growls of bobcats and songs of chuck-will's-widows, and spoke words of solidarity and gratitude for those who've risked their freedom to defend the Earth. Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and so many others.
This is only one step. Kolter, Scripps: Cease all plans for construction in the Briger Forest.
If you escalate, we will escalate.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers South Florida news and culture. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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