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At the end of the lane across the Russian River from this northwoods town, behind the "Keep Out" signs and the plainclothes security guards, lies Bohemian Grove, a mysterious summer playground of presidents, former presidents, princes, Cabinet members and titans of industry. The most exclusive men's club in the world gathers each July for a secret conclave that begins with a nocturnal ceremony featuring torches, incantations, hooded robes of red velvet and the incineration of a coffin beneath a massive sculpture of an owl.
Immense power and staggering wealth are as deeply imbedded in the traditions of the Bohemian Club as they are in the grove itself, 100 acres of old-growth redwoods spared from timber companies a century ago in the name of preservation.
Which only deepens the dismay that has greeted the club's request to the state of California for permission to log as much as 1 million board feet from the place to raise some cash.