FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/10/02
Over 500 Rally in Portland to End Commercial Logging on Public Lands
WHO: Cascadia Forest Alliance, Oregon Sierra Club, BARK, Oregon Wildlife Federation, Native Forest Network, Rainforest Action Network, National Forest Protection Alliance and others
Portland, OR: Today over 500 forest protection supporters gathered at noon in downtown Portland to rally for an end to commercial logging on public lands, celebrate the Eagle Creek timber sale cancellation, and draw attention to the one hundred new timber sales on the two national forests closest to Portland. Several representative from environmental, labor and religious groups spoke in support of ending commercial logging on public lands as the answer to the Bush Administration's misguided federal forest policies.
"It's hard to tell where the timber industry stops and the Bush Administration begins," said Ivan Maluski with the Native Forest Network. He pointed to former timber industry lobbyist Mark Rey being appointed to oversee the Forest Service and the record breaking soft-money contributions George W. Bush received from some of the largest loggers of public lands in the region during the presidential campaign of 2000.
After the rally, about 300 people marched to the Regional Headquarters of the US Forest Service and Oregonoffice of the Bureau of Land Management to submit a petition with a list of policy changes that would help protect and restore public lands for future generations. The policy changes were also written on a large 50 foot banner which was filled with signatures over the course of the day. The petition to the Bush Administration's federal land management agencies read as follows:
We support the following steps for the protection and restoration of our public lands:
1) Immediately end commercial logging, roadbuilding and all commercial extraction on all Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other publicly owned lands.
2) Redirect all annual federal logging subsidies to create family-wage, long-term, sustainable jobs in scientifically sound ecological restoration.
3) Restore natural fire regimes, bringing fire back to its natural, healthy role in our forests. End expensive and ineffective public lands wildfire suppression and focus resources on helping those living in the wildlands interface zone protect their homes and property.
4) Forever keep timber corporations off our public lands to preserve our remaining native forests, safeguard our drinking water, protect fish and wildlife habitat and to leave a legacy of protected public lands for future generations.
Activists pointed out that the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington and Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon, the two national forests closest to Portland, together are facing 100 new timber sales, threatening thousands of acres of mature native and old growth forests. But these two national forests merely represent a microcosm of what's happening all over the region and on federal forest lands across the nation.
"We need to end commercial logging on our public lands to protect our remaining native forests and drinking water from the corporations that profit from their destruction," said Sarah Wald of the Cascadia Forest Alliance. She pointed out that timber corporations benefit from a huge taxpayer subsidy of roughly $1.2 billion each year to log public lands, while less than four percent of the nation's wood consumption comes from those same public forests, amounting to a huge corporate welfare boondoggle. "Some of the same timber barons who gave $1.1 million in 'soft money' to George W. Bush in 2000 will benefit from the $1.2 billion logging subsidy and will likely be trying to log the one hundred timber sales in our nearest national forests this summer," she added.
Rally organizers also pointed out that a bill in Congress with 110 co-sponsors, named the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act, would end the federal commercial logging program and redirect logging subsidies to create jobs in rural communities in ecologically sound restoration.