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Sawyers Bar, Ca. - During the past weeks, a group calling themselves the Healthy Forest Militia implemented small diameter fuels reduction in a Knob Timber Sale unit in the Klamath National Forest. This comes at a time when the controversial Healthy Forest Initiative sits on the senate floor. Opponents of the initiative warn that what George Bush and the United States Forest Service justify as fire protection and fuel reduction through its "Healthy Forest" Initiative actually increases the risk of high intensity forest fires that threaten homes and communities.

We are a group of self-organized, anti-authoritarian, unpaid workers, calling ourselves the Healthy Forest Militia. During the past several weeks we implemented small diameter fuels reduction using human powered tools in a unit of the Knob Timber Sale. We did this while the "Healthy Forest Initiative" looms on the senate floor. The techniques we used in the Klamath National Forest include hand-piling, pullback, and lop and scatter. Armed with loppers and handsaws, we removed branches, and young overcrowded trees, some of which were marked for cutting with blue paint in the commercial sale.

Through guerrilla-restoration, debris was used to provide stability on potential and existing landslides. Removed brush was piled on the road, and awaits chipping or burning when the conditions permit. The objective was to break the connections of fuels on the ground and reduce fuel ladders. The area was selected because of its close proximity to residential homes in the town of Sawyers Bar and vital escape roads. This action was done in order to show that local volunteer workers can do a better job at promoting forest health than the United States Forest Service (USFS).

Much of the logging that the USFS justifies as fire protection and fuel reduction through its "Healthy Forest Initiative" actually increases the risk of high intensity forest fires that threaten homes and communities. Industrial logging creates an abundance of highly flammable forest debris on the ground. The lack of shade after logging promotes a dense growth of small trees and bushes. These are the right conditions for catastrophic wild fires that burn hotter and for longer periods of time than healthy, frequent and natural fires.

Most of the trees marked for cutting in the Knob timber sale are the largest and healthiest, while areas of dense brush would remain. When we left the site, the under-story was much more open, but the over-story was intact.

The USFS continues to sell off the big, most fire-resistant trees at a loss to taxpayers (a subsidy estimated at over $1 billion per year). Mature stands are replaced with single species plantations of highly flammable trees. Real restoration cannot be funded by cutting what relatively few large trees remain on public lands. Remaining Ancient Forest stands should be off limits to logging and all critical habitat must be protected!

We acknowledge that a few of the Knob timber sale logging prescriptions are not that bad, however, it is not true fuels reduction. We demonstrated that the implementation of authentic fuels reduction need not be tied up in bureaucratic processes that are coupled to corporate profit. Rather we are able to work in the woods and maintain the ecological integrity of the area through responsible relations with the land. It is clear that we need local crews to engage in real restoration forestry, not machine-intensive industrial logging that takes the biggest trees, increases the fire hazard, and makes a few people wealthier while the commons that we share are degraded (water, air, salmon populations, soil productivity, biodiversty, atmospheric composition, etc.).

Past old-growth liquidation logging practices and extensive road building have attempted to turn the forest into an industrial factory. Unsustainable harvest rates promote the self-interested logic of the marketplace rather than the logic of conservation (the original reason the Forest Service was created). Massive levels of resource extraction are destroying forest ecosystems.

The "Healthy Forest Initiative" will suspend environmental protection laws to allow private logging corporations unmonitored access to public forests. Concerned citizens will no longer have the legal rights to participate in public lands management or public comments and will have no access to the courts when government agencies break the law. This legislation has passed the House of Representatives and is about to be voted on by the Senate. The Bush Administration, by generating fear among rural residents, is perpetrating this scam to compensate timber interests. Do not let this legislation pass! Voice your opinion and take action!

The Klamath-Siskiyou bio-region is an extremely diverse and unique area. One of the last wild rivers in California, the Salmon River is the only undammed, undiverted river that feeds into the Klamath. It is one of the most biologically intact ecosystems left for Salmon and Steelhead, and is known for having the largest Chinook Salmon run in the state. Knob, Glassups, and Meteor are three overlapping timber sales on the Salmon River, totaling more than 2,000 acres that are either currently being cut or are being planned for the near future.

The federal government has made a mess of public lands management. We seek to form bonds within our communities to form sustainable and self-sufficient relationships both with each other and with the environment. Our actions suggest that we can work locally in the forests to perform ecological fuels reduction and provide useful by-products. Why should the federal government dictate how we live with the landscape? We challenge ourselves to find healthy ways to work for our communities and the ecosystems on which we depend, separate from the commands of Washington D.C.

The Healthy Forest Militia suggests the revolutionary strategy of building dual powers. This strategy focuses simultaneously on both opposition and reconstruction, seeking to combine these forces into a counter power that erodes and ultimately replaces the dominant power structure. We wish to help develop popular power at the grassroots level, and the dismantling of top-down institutions. Such counter-institutions must begin building the structural foundations in the forest for the society we want to see in the future.

We contest the legitimacy of the State in general and the Forest Service in particular, as well as other centralized systems of power. We send a call to action to all Forest Defenders-and all others-to challenge and encroach of hegemony under hierarchical systems of power and to create popular self-government. We feel that all community members should have the opportunity to participate directly in making democratic decisions on all matters that affect their life, affect the community, and affect the ecosystem. The Forest Service's and the Bush administration's lack of ecological sustainability threatens all!

For too long, the Forest Service has been an agent to logging, obsessed with commodification and subjugation of wild lands to commercial management. It is dangerous to simplify diversity into a single commodity and to dismantle an exceptionally complex and poorly understood set of relations, in order to isolate a single element of instrumental value.

The Klamath-Siskiyou forests and associated species were "born of fire." Many flora and fauna species adapted, thrive, and some even depend on frequently burned conditions. For over 10,000 years native cultures, particularly the Karuk, lived harmoniously with fire and used it as a management tool.

Supurb! 11.Jul.2003 13:28

The White House Needs Thinning

Leading by example. Very good! Thank you!

Libertarians back Gale Norton and so does Bush 12.Jul.2003 14:01

remove Norton from office

"The nomination of former Libertarian Gale Norton is one small step for the Republican Party, but one giant leap for Libertarian-style environmental policies... Norton is a refreshing change of pace from the typical knee-jerk, anti-capitalism, tree-worshipping environmentalist -- and that makes her the best possible choice for Secretary of the Interior."
-- Libertarian Party National Director, Steve Dasbach.
SEE:  http://www.lp.org/press/archive.php?function=view&record=177

"This last bit is good news only insofar as it brings us closer to our dream of seeing Interior Secretary Gale Norton behind bars: Gale Norton has once again been cited for contempt of court, this time for her failure to act to protect manatees. You may remember that she was held in contempt just three weeks ago for her incompetence in dealing with Native American trust funds. Two strikes down, Gale, only one to go... "
-- Matt Wheeland is an increasingly irate AlterNet Fellow.
SEE:  http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14225.

The Sierra Club today launched campaigns to oppose President-elect George W. Bush's nominations of Gale Norton as the Secretary of the Interior and John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Both nominees have dismal environmental records.
-- The Sierra Club
SEE:  http://kernkaweah.sierraclub.org/press/sc_release_oppose_norton_1.html

Late on April 11, 2003, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced that she was renouncing her Department's well-established authority to conduct wilderness reviews of public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management to determine if they have wilderness character. Secretary Norton also renounced the BLM's authority to use its own inventories as the basis for wilderness study area designations in subsequent, and highly influential, resource management plans, many of which are in development now.
-- Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
SEE:  http://www.suwa.org/entry.php?entry_id=359

YES! 13.Jul.2003 13:09


hell yeah!

Good action, dangerous name. 13.Jul.2003 14:34


Hi I think this was a awesome action, but think to call yourselves a militia is dumb as it means that the police could be extra hard on non-violent protesters in the Knob sale and may target people that are not involved because of the name militia impleys the use of violence and we do not have the same civil rights protection of the past. I love the Salmon River and have worked hard to protect it and live there and do not want armed cops burning down my house or punishing the concerned locals or tree-sitters and that is how it sometimes happens. Small scale fuels projects instead of the Bush's Healthy Forest Sham is common sence and I dont seen the point of bring the heat that strong on it just to use such a loaded word. I respect the action, but also remember WACO. Maybe all they did was talk shit, now there dead, and that was pre 9-11. Viva la Salmon River and thanks for working on defending it and being inteligent on the issues. I just hope random people's lives arent mesed up becasue the heat the nane "Healthy Forest Militia bring on them or the place.

Could also DETER attack 14.Jul.2003 12:16


The name could also DETER attack in some circumstances. I've seen this in defending poor white housing next to Rock Creek Park in wealthy Montgomery County, MD and elsewhere. While it means the INTENSITY of any attack will be worse, it also means the ODDS of attack go DOWN, as ity takes more resources, and even today nobody in teh Federal Government or teh FBI wants another Waco or Ruby Ridge. It's even possible to use YOURSELF as a "hostage" by giving the opposition the idea that if they want to get you at all, tehy will have to use so much force that the rest of teh public will recoil in horror.

In this particular case, the Healthy Forests Militia is carrying out actions that directly benefit local residents menaced by uncontrolled crown fires. Since the job got done while Bu$h fiddles, perhaps these people's homes will not burn! Given also that militia groups are not uncommon in rural areas, the implication is thay anyone trying to interfere in this project will risk the wrath of "redneck America," as people fear that Bu$h will take the "profitable" timber and leave their homes and parks to burn.\

If the regime killed or imprisoned people for this and crown fires resulted from unthinned understory fuels lit by an errant cigarette butt, the resulting fires would have the potential to dwarf Waco. If even one child died because arrests of the Healthy Forest Militia prevented thinning of a fire-prone area, the political consequences could end careers. A really bad fire could kill a lot of people, and its about time people got serious about restoring the forest to its natural conditions(pre-fire suppression, light understory) in populated areas. To a real extent, these devastating crown fires are man-made fires, as they are only possible because low-intensity, wet condition brushfires have been supressed for so long. With such a fuel load, fires explode out of control at a touch, so labor-intensive manual brush removal seems to be the way to go-and people living in threatened areas have the absolute right to defend their homes, especially if by doing so they also help save the forest!

I applaud your efforts- I applaud your malitia! 14.Jul.2003 19:03


It is a worthwhile endevior to work and train to defend your self and this land from the tyranny of government and capitalism. You are not alone. Your words are your deeds- and they are commendable. Remain concise in your language and you will contribute to a revolutionary movement. Don't get caught!


That is great work.. 15.Jul.2003 20:17


It is great work that you are doing. Though how do you propose to implement a large volunteer action on a scale that will reduce fuel loads throughout the National Forest? Is your militia going to tackle every timber sale that needs thinning/fuel reduction? Are you ready to equip and feed that fuel load reducing workforce of thousands? Do you have the resources to do it? What if the workers want to be paid a fair living wage? Do you have the money to pay it?

I applaud your efforts, though the scale is too small to make a dent in the work that is needed. One timber sale is basically pissing in the wind.

Trying to reach author 06.Aug.2003 02:33

sprig collective@earthfirstjournal.org

Hi, We'd like to reprint this article in the next issue of the Earth First! Journal. Looking for permission to reprint and to have the author check out edits. Encryption possible. Contact us at the email listed or 520 620 6900. Thanks, sp