Cabin discovered in Arcata Community Forest

The lovely tiny house in the woods. Photos by KLH | Union

The lovely tiny house in the woods. Photos by KLH | Union

Update, April 8, 2016: Those intrigued by this cabin may be interested in the discovery of a second cabin, possibly created by the same individual. Read about it here. – Ed.

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – Mark Andre was marking trees in one of the Arcata Community Forest’s most remote sections recently when he happened upon something that wasn’t there the last time he’d been in the area. That was back in 1985, when Arcata’s Environmental Services director was a city forest technician.

It was a cabin. And not the usual ramshackle, trash-strewn heap of debris, but a proper house, constructed, if not for the ages, for more than just a brief stay.facebookbadgeforweb

The sturdy shack, measuring perhaps eight by 12 feet and 15 or so feet high, features a concrete block foundation, stout frame, peaked roof, small porch with wooden awning, multiple windows and walls of plywood covered on the outside with brown tarps, black plastic sheeting and lots of concealing forest duff.

Take a few steps away, turn around, and the building is all but invisible. “I didn’t see it until I was 12 feet from it,” Andre said. “It’s in the perfect out-of-the-way spot where it wouldn’t be detected.”

From about 100 feet away, the cabin is virtually invisible.

From about 100 feet away, the cabin is virtually invisible.

No trails lead to the small home, and the faintest of footpaths in the immediate area trail off to none of the environmental abuse normally associated with forest campsites – no trash piles, no discarded clothing, no open-air latrine strewn with toilet paper; nothing to show anything but scrupulous regard for the natural surroundings.

A Friday trek to the site required serious bushwhacking through dense woods, over fallen trees and through brush and brambles. Environmental Services Forest Technician Javier Nogueira had last visited the cabin three weeks earlier, but, along with fellow Forest Tech Nick Manfredonia (in his first day on the job) and APD Park Ranger Heidi Groszmann, had to fan out across the general area to re-locate the stealthy structure. After a few minutes, Manfredonia’s voice rang out: “I found it!”

facebookbadgeforwebGroszmann, the ES crew and a reporter peered in through a dislodged side window, which offered a partial view of the interior. The ranger had to make a decision. If the cabin was in use as a residence, then even though it is located on public land, a search warrant would be required for entry.

But if anyone was inside, possibly incapacitated or worse, leaving them unaided would be irresponsible. Nogueira said the cabin looked unchanged and unvisited since he had last been there. After multiple shout-outs to any occupant went unanswered, Groszmann gave the go-ahead for Manfredonia to cut the padlock on the plywood front door.

The ranger entered the cabin with gun drawn, announcing “Arcata Police!” But no one was inside, and she began to inspect the quarters for clues to the user’s identity.


Tidy, sparsely furnished but complete and comfortable.

The cabin’s interior appointments are spare, tidy and yet more than ample for comfortable habitation in an idyllic spot. One enters into a combination kitchen and living room, where well-organized cans of food and housekeeping supplies line the walls, their product labels facing forward. A rocking chair sits next to a pot-bellied stove across from a cushioned seating area. Small lanterns are located about the space, while shelves hold a variety of tools and curios ranging from a vintage Royal typewriter to a small library. One title is Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale. Storage bins contain fabric, camping equipment and other long-term supplies.

An eclectic library.

An eclectic library.

Thick curtains and small wooden panels made to fit window frames keep telltale light from escaping. The kitchen window opens to a gorgeous view of redwoods. A ladder leads to a roomy upper berth, where sleeping pads await. There is no bathroom.

Decorations are sparse – a print of A Young Girl Reading by 18th century painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, a pair of crossed knives at the edge of the second floor, a postcard here and there. One slip of paper lists species of plants and trees found in the area, while another “Things To Do And Get” list includes tasks, some lined out, like “Build Bench” and “Big Spoon.” A few entries bear dates, presumably when the item was accomplished, the oldest being “Get tongs 1/22/11.”To do

If 2011 was the oldest habitation, the most recent would be a copy of the March 25, 2015 Humboldt State Lumberjack, found in a kindling bin by the stove.

Little identifying information was found. A shipping label and a California driver’s license bore two different names, but they may have been random objects found in the woods by the resident.

Andre speculates that the cabin is used as a seasonal retreat. A major mystery is how so many cumbersome, weighty objects such as lumber and the wood stove were physically transported to the site, leaving no mark on the land and undetected by forest workers who travel the trails daily. “Someone took a long time to walk in heavy items,” Andre said.

From the cabin’s contents and their arrangement, an overall portrait emerges of a settled, possibly older individual with life experience and minimal material needs. The thoughtfully composed, uncluttered tiny house appears to be the work of someone who knows who they are and what they need, guided or inspired by a succinct declaration of principles stapled to a wall.IMG_9978

Titled “Different Everywhere,” the single sheet of paper features a nude woman holding a knife. In typewritten, white-on-black text, the photocopied micro-manifesto states that “every community creates its own outlaws,” and celebrates “those individuals, who, willingly or not, have not abided by the laws of the gods or authorities [and who] have always been banished.” Concludes the statement, “we will carry our difference everywhere as individuals determined to subvert the rules of the community.”

facebook-like-buttonThe rules of the community, having been subverted – or at least eluded – for at least four years, are now about to end the cabin’s utility as a secluded getaway. Camping on public property is, of course, illegal. And despite its ultra-low impact and thoughtful design, the structure exists in what is supposed to be a nature refuge.

A warning notice and Groszmann’s contact information were left on the cabin’s front door.

The area, last logged in 1984, is set for a harvest next month, so the structure will have to be removed. If the responsible individual can’t be located beforehand, their possessions will be packed out and stored for later retrieval.


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  1. Yakitarian said:

    Give the owner a job building low-impact housing in an appropriate location.

  2. Kira Wolf Trinity said:

    LEAVE IT ALONE – Find somewhere else to rape the land. This person is meticulous and clean, and doesn’t subscribe to the system. This cabin marks a huge accomplishment in this person’s life! Can you see past the end of your own greed for just 2 seconds to realize the richness in which you are standing??

  3. Christopher Miles said:

    I say burn the cabin, the forest, and while your at it, all of Arcata. It should all be burnt to the ground and then we can celebrate freedom.

  4. Holocene Survivor said:

    Why no photos of the “upper berth?”

  5. MrBear said:

    Amazing story and place. It is hidden but has the sense of wanting to be seen-like hermit performance art. I was wondering if the printed packet of papers on the bookshelf was the unibomber manifesto.

  6. Kevpod said:

    It was dark and empty. I’ll see if I can find one that looks like anything.

  7. Kevpod said:

    No, it was an instruction manual for some consumer electronic item as I recall. Unfortunately not literature.

  8. just an illusion said:

    And if they leave it alone just opens opportunity for others to invade and illegally build.

  9. Everybodhi said:

    “..the structure exists in what is supposed to be a nature refuge.”
    “The area, last logged in 1984, is set for a harvest next month, so the structure will have to be removed”.

    So, is it being removed to preserve a nature refuge or is it being removed because it is in the way of a logging operation?

  10. Kevpod said:

    Both, I would say. But the immediate issue is next month’s timber harvest.

  11. Kevpod said:

    There’s a pic of the upstairs in the gallery.

  12. Dirk said:

    Alas, it must be taken down. If everyone were to build a little cabin on public land, we would have a lot of cabins everywhere and with it, a ton of trash and waste.I applaud the effort to live simply but this becomes a problem in a short time. Look at all the public lands being used for illegal grow operations.

  13. Pot Bot said:

    So, cops illegally entered using possible human hurt or dead, what a crock of shit. Cabin padlocked from outside, windows to view in. Ya, typical deception and misrepresentation by trained pigs ala German Reich.

  14. Kevpod said:

    Yay, we have a winner!
    The Godwin Award goes to Pot Bot for this stunning, fully predicted insight.
    Congratulations are in order.

  15. Robbin Noir said:

    This is a better description of capitalist waste destruction. Few can live so simply these days.

    You don’t seem to mind raping capitalists invading the natural surroundings & public land.

  16. ekanfromdows said:

    If everyone built cabins like this, there wouldn’t be a prroblem…..

  17. Tony Kozlowski said:

    Leave it as a ranger station. Leave existing trees In 50 ft radius, don’t log it.

  18. Dirk said:

    We both prefer modest cabins. That we can agree upon. Of course, if we expanded this practice across National Forest, BLM and designated wilderness,our public landswould be full of such shacks in no time. Imagine every hunter with a little cabin in his or her favorite National Forest. It creates a ton of issues that were never anticipated – people could further encroach upon areas used by wildlife, for instance.

  19. SMH2much said:

    If it’s “public” land, shouldn’t the public have a vote in the cabin, use, & logging?

  20. bullcrap said:

    No they did not illegally enter the cabin was biult illegally learn the law.

  21. Carson McWhirter said:

    Let’s just learn to let people live in the world. This is an inspiring lifestyle, not one to be uprooted.

  22. Barry Jeffers said:

    Think of it as a ghost, which came and went….

  23. theuseless said:

    It is in a forest preserve… which is going to be logged… fucking hypocrites.

  24. an said:

    I say ur a dumb fuck that wish you were a bad ass but knowing deep down inside you a scary little bitch so you want to make people feel the way you do inside your sick little mind so u say something like burn it all down well go right ahead u nuttless little prick burn it down YOU probably don’t have the balls to stike a match so next time you want to be a tough guy pick on someone strong not a homeless person who just would like to be left alone

  25. Brent Frisbie said:

    Soooo camping there is ILLIGAL? but logging a nature refuge is ok??

  26. Pot Bot said:

    If you actually read the story, the city employees admit what is an illegal entry, and they make up crap to justify a padlock being cut on the exterior side of door to enter.

    If Houdini was the occupant, then maybe, just maybe you got some breathing room to banter bs.

  27. Pot Bot said:

    So, history can’t be repeated in your mindset, but when it is reflected in the art of discussion as far as police state tactics that are similar to historical tactics by other countries’ trained police, then the “discredit claim” is labeled like pulling the race card, or the gender card, etc….


  28. Pot Bot said:

    What law is this other than “Godwin”?

    Meow……..scratch, infected itch.

  29. Jack Durham said:

    I don’t think you fully understand the concept of a community forest.

  30. BitByAGod said:

    logging does not always equal clear cutting. They may be doing salvage logging, or they may be removing mature trees, the article doesn’t specify.

  31. Pat Sisson said:

    Ooooooh a cabin in the woods…BFD The best part of the whole meaningless article was the visual I got from “Mark Andre was marking trees” … the old fashioned way perhaps? HA

  32. Tom Jones said:

    Does the person have any squatters rights? Could they have a claim to the property around the cabin? They have obviously lived there on and off for longer than four years.

  33. bullcrap said:

    No if they said that then they where wrong. You can’t illegally enter a dwelling that was illegally built on private property and yes it is private property even though it is open to the public.

  34. Marc Delany said:

    So… a warrant was necessary, except if someone was inside…. rather than get that, the padlock was cut… How do you lock the padlock from the inside? Why have laws, rights, process if they are ignored….

  35. Jason Hewitt said:

    “Camping on public property is, of course, illegal”. Why do people act like they should get away with doing something illegal? I would love to live like this, but on some land that’s mine or in the Alaska Bush. And they don’t RAPE the land. If you can read, you would have noticed that this area has already been logged. And i bet at least twice as many trees have grown up. I know that from personal experience working for a former logging company.

  36. Marc Delany said:

    If everyone acted as this person did, there’d be no trash….Lots of poor folk have integrity… plenty of mega wealthy have none… see BP, or about every mine and logging operation that transformed the land and ocean here in just 150 years…. vs 11,000 years of sustainable habitation here…. This story clearly showed who had integrity here, and who does not

  37. Marc Delany said:

    errr… I understand they are going to log this now? Could not be left until then, having demonstrated their much better stewardship and use?

  38. Ariel Osborne said:

    And there is no problem with razing the forest with chainsaws and builddozers….so wrong

  39. Kevpod said:

    It’s not being razed… single tree selection equivalent to 10 percent of the annual new growth. See the story on the harvest.

  40. Helen New said:

    Please let it be. The person who built it honored the space, so the least you can do is the same.

  41. Ivy said:

    Looks like maybe it is a “bug out” cabin for a prepper… many of them tend to do this, albeit usually on land they actually own. They like building these little cabins purposefully hidden… and often have several of them. It’s a lovely bit of work, though, and a shame it has to go.

  42. WhoAreThesePeople? said:

    She cuts the lock without a warrant, then enters with her gun drawn. Who was she expecting to shoot?

  43. Morgana said:

    Illegal and wrong are different things . Laws aren’t made by morals. There is nothing evil or Ill willed happening here, heck nobody even noticed for 30 years! Punishing this person does nobody any good.

  44. Anne Prost said:

    Incredible! Obvious someone who is intelligent and mindful. They also are probably a senior since they have an old Whiskey A-Go-Go VCR tape (an older hippy that read Mother Jones)
    I am very interested of who this person is? BTW camping on public lands is NOT illegal but residing is. I stealth camp all the time on National Forest lands!

  45. bullcrap said:

    Then that city employee is wrong that cabin is busily illegally so how can you enter it illegally.

  46. jk2001 said:

    What if there were only 1/4 of the private property there is today? Then we’d have enough public land for cabins for everyone.

  47. Coletta Hughes said:

    The bigger question I see here is Why are they logging the community forest, did the community get a say in the matter?? And who’s profiting from it being logged???

  48. Coletta Hughes said:

    The bigger question I see here is Why are they logging the community forest, did the community get a say in the matter?? And who’s profiting from it being logged???

  49. Jack Durham said:

    Arcata is a super eco-groovy place. The forest is managed in a way that enhances the forest and the habitat. There is a city committee made up of citizens who meet regularly and carefully plan the future of the forest. Part of the forest management includes a small amount of logging. The revenue from the logging is invested back into the community forest. It’s a model for community forests.

  50. Coletta Hughes said:

    You never know who you’re going to run into. But I do have many concerns with how militarist our tax payer paid supposed peace officers have become. It’s as if we’re all viewed now as an enemy combatant first until proven innocent.

  51. Coletta Hughes said:

    My thoughts are how land barons along with greedy power whores such as the Arkleys hoard so much of our natural resources, while the mass population that works for them.. suffers to even find a place to sleep.

  52. Amy Peeples said:

    Google Robert Fisher from Arizona. With his survival skills and the way he just vanished off the face of the earth after murdering his entire family…. This wod be something he would have to do to avoid capture .

  53. Matt said:

    If this is public land why is it being logged? And who gets the money from logging the land ???

  54. Seek Thetruth said:

    I would guess that cabin belongs to a female.

  55. Kevpod said:

    “history can’t be repeated in your mindset”

    Impressive powers of clairvoyance.

  56. Wayne Seibel said:

    Love how the Police feel Ok about breaking the law, but are intolerant of someone else doing it, someone who isn’t hurting anyone or anything.

  57. Thinker398 said:

    Orderly, detailed the 2 things that made me think as you did were the copy of the firefox book and the “manifesto”
    There’s also a strong possibility she is African American.

  58. David Giffen said:

    You say that logging is raping the land. If it is done properly it is not hurting but helping the land. I have a friend that recently purchased some land that had not been tended to for about 30 years. The land is so choked full of dead trees and small saplings that nothing is growing worth a dang. in fact leaves are so thick on the ground that the ground it’s self is almost no good and no animals were going in there at all. Since we have started cleaning the area up and thinning out the trees, the plant life is getting better and actually have animals from rabbits to deer coming across the property now. Every now and then they have to be cleaned up and thinned out for the trees to grow better. Oh by the way my friend still has a really nice canopy of trees where it is about 15 degrees cooler there than it is on the road just a few yard away from their cabin

  59. River OfComo said:

    They do not have to log around this cabin or move it. Let it BE! Someone who built it and uses it definitely respects the land and privacy. Lots of good food on shelves, books, etc. This is a thinking person place and not a hunter’s. There has got to be way to co-exist when exceptional spots like this one are accidentally discovered. Some laws NEED to be bent, and this is one of those instances. The site states this: Following the logging of the Arcata’s Community Forest, the area was used for grazing and for water supply. It was not until the 1930-1940’s that the citizens of Arcata gained title to the Community Forest for the purpose of providing water to the town (Van Kirk 1985). By 1955, the Community Forest was dedicated as the first municipally owned forest in the State of California, and was to be “managed for the benefit of all citizens of the city, with attention to watershed, recreation, timber management, and other values” (Humboldt Times, May 15, 1955). By 1979, a voter approved Multiple Use Management Plan initiative was passed by Arcata citizens, which led the direction of the forest characteristics seen in Arcata’s forests today. Note the value of “for all citizens” and “other values.” The defense rests!

  60. Kevpod said:

    Fair enough. Let’s problem solve how we would leave the cabin standing. We can even pretend that someone has the authority to waive the municipal code, building and fire codes which it violates.

    How do we deal with the precedent that is created? The 14th amendment guarantees equal protection under law, so the next person who wants to build a house in the public park couldn’t be denied, nor the next one and the next one. Or is this one person to have super-rights?

  61. QD Brown said:

    Municipal building codes are typically within city limits, generally excluding rural locations. It has not running water or electricity, so it’s basically one big dog house sitting in the woods. It’s not easy to get to, and with its isolated location, poses no threat to people.

  62. Kevpod said:

    It is in the Arcata Community Forest, inside city limits.

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  64. Lu Gray said:

    Why does it have to be removed? Exceptions and choices can be made by the bureaucrats responsible, if they want to bother. I live in an area with heavy forestry industry, and for at least forty years that I know of, they have logged and bulldozed AROUND a small long-abandoned backwoods church AND a very old house. The problem arises with clear-cut property exposing the structures, even a mile from any road. The church and house both have now been vandalized because of their exposure. Previous generations respected the structures. The church has been picked clean of bricks, woodwork, the pews, etcetera, between cuttings. So it’s a hard choice for anyone, but I’d still vote to leave it alone.

  65. Edward Huguenin said:

    She should just forget all about this little piece of someone’s Heaven and leave it alone.

  66. ke4sk said:

    We have lots of such hermits where I live in West Virginia. Most are harmless and just want to be left alone. The criminals, junkies and insane wierdos you find among the urban homeless can’t survive alone in the bush without government handouts and easy pickin’s from restaurant dumpsters.

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  68. noname_noslogan said:

    In case you haven’t noticed, police in America are held to LOWER standard than you debt money slaves.
    Murder someone OFF camera? Nothing happens. Murder someone ON camera? Mostly nothing happens and/or paid leave. But if YOU even fall backwards into one of these low IQ psychopaths (no seriously, police departments/cities have already admitted they screen for this) then YOU have your life destroyed. That is IF the low IQ psychopath doesn’t MURDER you.

    Enough of this double standard protection for the rich and their paid lackeys, injustice for everyone else BULLSHIT. Time to get MAD America. It is time to take YOUR COUNTRY BACK. Don’t let anyone tell you it CAN’T be done. Bullsh*t. It CAN and HAS been done and it’s time to do it AGAIN.

  69. Jenni Nexus said:

    Ooo someone went through so much effort to create such a sweet little spot.. I don’t want to spend tax dollars to tear it down 🙁 Why not just leave it alone.

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  73. LostInUnderland said:

    I do not think so. I think her choice of decorations, particularly when she did not expect anyone to see them, are self-revelatory. I think she is a white woman who choose “A Young Girl Reading” because it reminded her of herself when she was young. That is reinforced by the manifesto picture.

  74. Thinker398 said:

    I’m going to agree with you but not because of decorations but because of the band X in her choice of music. I had not noticed it before.

  75. kecker said:

    The article you link to shows the cabin in the process of being moved out. There is a later update (which I can’t find at the moment) showing the process completed. In fact there is NOTHING left (the building itself is gone) and all the builder left behind was the international squatter symbol on the ground in stones.

    If I remember correctly, that update showing the building gone was just a week or two after the article you link above. So somehow this person moved an entire building in just a couple weeks.

  76. kecker said:

    They’re not clearcutting. Basically just thinning out the trees to allow for new growth. The alternative (the natural way) is to allow the dead growth to build up until a forest fire wipes out the whole thing.

  77. Logan Vickery said:

    We need paper to make your starbucks cups the rolling paper you smoke your weed in. Where’s that coming from? As long as it’s responsibly done, logging is great.

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  80. terry hendley said:

    So, is it being removed to preserve a nature refuge o,,lmao Make you wonder how land and forest was preserved hundreds of years ago….

  81. terry hendley said:

    Ever heard of recycle logging is better than breathing to i guess dick head

  82. Sue Krayer said:

    Let whoever it is stay there in peace! Looks like someone who cares a lot about that forest!

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  88. Everybodhi said:

    To be fair, it didn’t work out for the Bundy gang.

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  90. SMH2much said:

    Their goal was to awaken the masses. I’d say they’ve made gains.

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  99. Vicki Neale said:

    It’s time, however, an armed revolution is out of the question.
    I believe there must be a way to fire our congress. And stop the. special interest money flowing to candidates.
    Each tax payer must pay 5 dollars. This money must be untouchable by anyone but legitimate candidates.
    All of our representatives are bought by special interest groups. Everyone has a price!

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