Wild Rockies Earth First(WREF!) activist Redge Peterson will be arraigned on federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede and obstructing an officer at 9:30am, May 30th in Judge Ericson's court. Redge was arrested May 28th after a successful 11 hour blockade of the Bitterroot National Forest Service headquarters. Redge and other members of WREF! gathered at the Forest Service office yesterday to demand an immediate end to logging under the guise of restoration in the Bitterroot National Forest. At 5pm yesterday Redge voluntarily unlocked himself from two concrete barrels. Redge's action effectively interrupted business as usual at the Hamilton Forest Service office.
Yesterday's action brought back to public light the failings of the current Forest Service plan of logging to restore the Bitterroot Forest. "As evidence in the forest shows, logging is not restoration." stated Julia Piaskowski of WREF!. "In our field assessment we found that the Forest Service has violated public trust. They implemented a plan that does not restore our forest and are unwilling to even follow that plan's inadequate guidelines." WREF!'s monitoring activities found numerous violations of the current plan.
In a reversal from earlier statements, the Forest Service denied that any violations have occurred in the Bitterroot National Forest timber sales. "The Forest Serviceís denial of violations shows once again that they are incompetent to oversee even the plan they supported in this salvage logging scam. We have photographic evidence of violations that we will gladly provide to the public." said Mike Bowersox of WREF!.
In response to the Forest Serviceís dismissal of concerns raised by citizens, including the logging community, and for the survival of the forest Redge chose the personal sacrifice of risking his own freedom to bring much needed attention to the plight of the Bitterroot Forest. "Redgeís integrity in the way he conducted himself is an inspiration to us all." said Rebecca Smith. "His willingness to sacrifice his freedom to halt the destruction of the forest is a shining example what true patriotism is all about."
Since the fires of 2000 burned the Bitterroot National Forest, WREF! has been working to stop the USFS from destroying yet another unique and beautiful part of the Northern Rockies ecosystem. Using restoration as a smoke screen the USFS subverted the democratic process of public participation to steal the Bitterroot forests to maximize timber profits. Giving no more than lip service to jobs for the local economy, the USFS ignored the community supported Conservation and Local Economy Alternative. Instead they chose a plan that is another example that the Forest Serviceís primary concern is timber sales, not forest restoration. Wild Rockies Earth First! has been protecting the Northern Rockies ecosystem for more than 15 years. WREF! is made of volunteers who put their time and bodies on the line to protect the last wild places. Pictures and video upon request.