Area activist leaving to join animal rights’ group |

Area activist leaving to join animal rights’ group

ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Say farewell to Brian Vincent, the environmental activist who helped introduce tree-sitting and other forms of civil disobedience in Nevada County to disrupt clear-cut logging by Sierra Pacific Industries.

Vincent is leaving to take a job in January with the Sacramento-based Animal Protection Institute. He’ll campaign for such things as banning black bear hunting and reintroducing wolves in California.

For the past five years, Vincent has had an office in Nevada City where he’s worked as California organizer for American Lands Alliance, an environmental group that opposes commercial logging on National Forests.

But it was in Vincent’s off-hours that he grabbed headlines as an organizer of the loose-knit Nevada County group “Yuba Nation.”

In the past two years, Yuba Nation activists have disrupted and challenged SPI in many ways: On separate occasions they engaged in tree-sitting, locked themselves to logging equipment, and barged into SPI’s Grass Valley office for a “sit in” that lasted until police carried them away.

SPI is California’s largest private landowner with 1.5 million acres.

“They went from not being on the radar screen at all to being on the front page of every major newspaper in California,” Vincent said.

Yuba Nation activists were fined a total of about $5,000 in court for their activities, but musician Bonnie Raitt and celebrity tree-sitter Julia Butterfly paid most of that, Vincent said.

Vincent, 40, is a Maryland native who’s worked for about 15 years as an environmentalist. He said he’s been interested in animal welfare since childhood and has been a vegetarian for half his life.

In 1988, Vincent was campaign manager for Rainy Blue Cloud Greensfelder, a then 19-year-old candidate for Nevada City City Council. Both Vincent and Greensfelder – a purple-mohawk-wearing punk rocker with 21 body piercings – wanted the city to ban horse-drawn carriage rides, which they considered a form of animal abuse.

Vincent called Nevada County’s current political situation “dreadful,” due to the election of conservative supervisors-elect Drew Bedwell and Robin Sutherland.

Donn Zea, president of the California Forest Products Commission, doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Vincent on many issues.

But “his opinions are part of … what makes (Nevada County) such an interesting place to live,” Zea said.

Zea added, “I would suggest that the first place he try to reintroduce wolves is in Sacramento, not Nevada County. See how far he gets.”

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