Tree-sitters establish third camp in Willamette National Forest
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The Associated Press
8/25/01 12:49 PM
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Logging protesters have established a third tree-sitting camp in the Middle Fork Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest.
The protesters, who installed themselves last week in the canopy of an old-growth Douglas fir, hope to stop a timber sale between the U.S. Forest Service and Roseburg Forest Products, said Derrick Acton, a spokesman for the Eugene-based Cascadia Forest Defenders.
"They should consider canceling the sale because they're not going to get any of those trees," he said.
At issue is the presence of small tree-dwelling mammals called red tree voles, Acton said. Voles are a food source for the endangered northern spotted owl. The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan requires a 10-acre buffer around trees where voles are nesting.
Roseburg Forest Products, meanwhile, is evaluating whether to complete negotiations on the sale. The company got the rights to replacement trees in the Willamette National Forest when it gave up its claim to trees in the Siuslaw National Forest in 1996 to protect marbled murrelets.
Ranger Rick Scott didn't know about the site in the district, which he oversees.
"When they're up in the trees, they're very difficult to deal with," he said of the protesters. "Whatever we do, our primary interest has to be in safety. We'll probably just monitor it and wait to see what's necessary to do."
Similar protests have been under way near Fall Creek since 1998 and North Winberry since 1999. The newest site, called the Slap timber sale, is about 50 miles southeast of Eugene, near Hills Creek Reservoir.
A Forest Service survey initially found no active vole nests near where protesters are camped.
But Acton said he has climbed trees all around the sale and found nests in three of every four.
"Their surveys are a joke," he said. "They're just going through the motions."
Scott said the Forest Service's survey methods were set up by scientists, and they were not meant to detect every nest.
Forest Service biologists can take a second look if protesters turn up evidence of active nesting sites. In fact, the service used protester data last August, when voles were discovered in the proposed timber sale near Fall Creek.
If voles are confirmed in the Slap sale, the Forest Service says it will apply the 10-acre buffers.
"We're bound to protect known nest sites," Scott said.
Copyright 2001 Associated Press.
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