Protesters demonstrate at logging site
The Associated Press
7/25/2003, 8:04 a.m. PT
OAKRIDGE, Ore. (AP) — For the first time in his logging career, Bernard Reynolds recently came face to face with environmental activists putting themselves between him and his work.
It's not an experience Reynolds cares to repeat.
Reynolds said the protesters yelled obscenities and threw sticks down on his crew.
"I've never heard so much vulgar language in my life," he said Thursday at the Straw Devil timber sale on the Willamette National Forest. "I call them terrorists. You know, we're all environmentalists. Maybe we haven't done a good job in the past, but that was the policy. Now it's swung so far on the other side where nothing is cut."
About 40 demonstrators are in the woods southeast of McCredie Hot Springs to oppose the harvest of trees between 80 and 400 years old. Protesters established several tree sits throughout areas marked to be cut in recent months, and loggers first showed up early Wednesday morning.
"The murder of our last old growth is an indication of the lack of integrity in our society today," said Willow Fox of Corvallis, who was providing support to the tree sitters. "These trees are the elders of the Earth, withstanding fire and disease, only to be casually felled by a failing industry."
The logs will be made into specialty lumber products at Starfire Lumber Co., a 65-employee mill in Cottage Grove, President and Chief Executive Officer Robbie Robinson said.
Since the company bid on the timber in 1998, the Forest Service has reduced the sale area from 129 acres to 57 acres to add buffers to protect the red tree vole, a small rodent that lives in the treetops and is prey for the Northern spotted owl.
As a result, the original timber volume has fallen about 38 percent, the Forest Service said.
Environmentalists accuse the Forest Service of failing to comply with federal law to protect red tree voles in the area. Their own surveyors found several vole nests that prompted the Forest Service to scale back the sale. But the agency ignored additional reports of nests in the area logged this week, said Josh Laughlin of Cascadia Wildlands Project, a Eugene-based environmental group.
"We feel they're not following the law there," Laughlin said. "The law states they must protect known red tree vole sites."
Middle Fork District Ranger Rick Scott said his staff set aside an appropriate amount of habitat for known nests in the area.
"Our protocol is not designed to have all nests identified, but enough to make sure the red tree vole is taken care of," he said.