Activists Clash with Officials on Willamette National Forest
WILLAMETTE NATIONAL FOREST, Oregon, July 24, 2003 (ENS) - Clashes between Cascadia Forest Defenders and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers intensified this morning in the Willamette National Forest, following the beginning of old-growth logging and one arrest on Wednesday.
The altercation is ongoing at this hour and is expected to continue, as activists engage a variety of direct action tactics and Forest Service personnel make their first attempt to remove a tree-sit on national forest land.
In addition to manning a number of tree-sits and dozens of traverses - maneuverable climb lines crossing between trees - forest activists are now engaging in what they call "cat and mouse," a tactic that led to the death of activist David Chain in Humbolt County, California in September 1998. Chain was crushed by a redwood tree felled by a logger.
Activists engaged in the cat and mouse tactic attempt to disrupt logging operations by putting themselves in the path of loggers and falling trees. They said today that the tactic is often successful in stalling logging.
The Cascadia Forest Defenders have had a large encampment in the Straw Devil timber sale for several months. Despite well-documented populations of red tree voles and other species listed as threatened under Forest Service guidelines, the entire sale is designated for clearcutting.
The activists also fear that logging is beginning during Level III fire danger conditions, and there is a possibility that sparks from machinery could ignite wildfires. On another part of the Willamette National Forest, firefighters are battling the Clark Fire which as of Tuesday had burned over 3,200 acres and was 25 percent contained.
Some of the activists in the Straw Devil timber sale belong to a group of women calling themselves Womyn Forest Defenders. On July 2, they announced their occupation of the timber sale, saying, "It is our belief that the oppression of womyn and the destruction of the earth comes from the same unsustainable need to dominate and control. The same ones who wish to take away our autonomy wish to take away the last of the wild beauty on earth."
The Cascadia Forest Defenders claimed a small victory July 8 when the Forest Service removed 24 acres from Unit 2 of the Straw Devil timber sale. Unit 2 was originally 30 acres and is now six acres due to buffers provided for 14 red tree vole nests located by activists last summer.
Forest activists say they are "entrenched" in many parts of the timber sale. In hope of stopping further logging operations, which are being conducted by Engels Investors, the activists will continue their campaign of grassroots outreach and non-violent direct action this summer.