From our friends in the Wild Rockies, defending the biggest wild places
the lower 48:
This year the new administration has launched an all out campaign to dramatically increase the amount of logging occurring on our National Forests. The sale that will make or break this boondoggle in the Northern Rockies is the gigantic Bitterroot Fire Restoration Project on the
Bitterrroot National Forest. The agency is using the fires that burned in the 2000 season as an excuse to implement one of the largest logging operations ever proposed on a single National Forest. The U.S.Forest Service has issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
We expect the agency to issue a Record of Decision sometime in the middle of December. Logging could begin very shortly after a decision as the U.S.Forest Service is seeking an exemption from the normal appeals process.
They have dug up an obscure law called the Appeals Reform Act to implement so called emergency logging. The only options left to stop this sale is to
take the agency to court. The Bitterroot Coalition is preparing to file suit as soon as this sale is approved. The sale is now marked on the ground, it has been advertised, and a sale contract has been written.
If we can not get the sale stopped in court immediately the only option left is to engage in non-violent direct action. Wild Rockies Earth First! (WREF!)has made the defense of the Bitterroot our top priority.
The preferred alternative proposes to log 43,000 acres yielding 180million board feet, rebuild 513 miles of old logging roads, construct 8 miles of new road, and build 134 helicopter landing pads. There are a total of 760 units with the sizes ranging up to 1,882 acres for a single
cutting area. As staggering as these numbers are one only needs to read the Environmental Impact Statement to realize the destruction to our wildlands this sale is going to cause. The agency has claimed that they want to
reduce fuels and repair roads that are causing chronic sedimentation.
They have based their entire justification for this sale, on the need to return the forest to there idea of pre European invasion wildlands. The problem is that the U.S.Forest service continues to apply the same solution of
logging and fire suppression that they have always had. This is ironic due to the fact that the agency says these are the very things that have caused the forest to become more vulnerable to catastrophic wild fire. While claiming
that they want to reduce fuel loads in the Wildland-Urban interface, the forest service is planning most of the units outside of that area. The sale includes a whopping 23,938 acres of logging in roadless lands, core bull trout habitat, and core westslope cutthroat habitat combined. The
major problem is that this sale will remove most of the biomass that will regenerate the soil. The agency admits that only 31% of the logged areas will have effective ground cover. The removal of dead and green trees is
likely to cause major mud slides and destruction of critical aquatic habitat. The project will also remove trees that provide foraging and nesting habitat for many birds that survive in burned areas.
Wild Rockies Earth First! supports alternative G, which was put together by a coalition of environmental groups and residents of the Bitterroot valley. Know as the Conservation and Local Economy alterative it
propose a real restoration project for the Bitterroot valley. The proposal includes ripping and reconnoitring 513 miles of road, some hand thinning in the Wildland-Urban interface, and the creation of a conservation corps
to help residents create a fire resistance space around their homes. This alternative includes no commercial log, money to study the effects of fire, and emphasize hiring local folks to carry out the much needed restoration
work. It also ask the U.S.Forest Service to let fire function in the ecosystem again outside of the Wildland-Urban interface. While this proposal makes the most sense, the agency is bent on choosing the option that includes a massive timber give away. The preferred alternative F
will cause major environmental damage that the ecosystem would take many years to repair.
We have been preparing for the real possibly of a long term
campaign in the Bitterroots. Wild Rockies Earth First! has been taking the public on tours of the logging areas since June. We have give several presentations about the issue on college campus. On Halloween we joined Friends of the Bitterroot and Native Forest Network in protesting the
sale at Bitterroot National Forest Service Headquarters. WREF! organized an action training camp in the Bitterroot valley in early December. We are continuing to do field assessments of the proposed cutting units in support
of the lawsuit. But with the logging a real possibility by late December we are also preparing for direct action. Please come out and join us this winter. This is a struggle that we must engage in to save the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48 states from a plague of misguided and
destructive timber sales.
We are in desperate need of your help. WREF! can provided you with free food, training, and a great time in the Wild Rockies. Our house even has running water and heat! We need donations of cash, cold weather gear, coffee, tea, energy bars, batteries, and bulk food. Please contact us at W.R.E.F! / P. O. Box 1742 / Missoula, MT. 59806 Our phone # is 406-549-8863 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wild Rockies Earth First!
PO Box 1742
Missoula, MT 59806