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forest defense

'Sap leaking out like tears': Old growth cut in Barstool timber sale

The Barstool Timber Sale, a 20+ acre area in the Oak Grove Watershed, was cut late last week. Here are some photos and commentary from my visit this past Saturday.

The Forest SerVice facilitated the destruction of yet another swath of native old growth forest. Over the past few days, the trees living in what is labeled the Barstool Sale, Units 5 and 1 were chopped down, sliced up, and the ground and plant life was crushed and torn into chunks.

Going out to the land reveals the level of ruination left behind by the life eating machines. Looking at these photos gives a hint of what it is like. However, it is only a hint. 200-400 year-old trees, living sentient beings, torn into pieces, the sap leaking out like tears. Branches litter the ground, needles still green, giving the impression of life.

This tree was over 220 years old. The elevation of Barstool is over 3000 feet. At this elevation, the trees grow slower. 1500 feet lower, a 220+ year tree would be significantly larger in diameter.

With the canopy gone, the sun beats down on the moist ground, baking it to dry hardness, and assaulting the plants which are already browning and wilting. What was once a cool, moist vibrant forest, filled with humming life, has become a sad place.

This is one of many trees whose age was in the 200-300 year old range. These living beings have been standing since the early 1700's, yet the 20+ acres is destroyed in mere days.

Everywhere on the ground are the twisted remains.

Culturally, we see nothing but a commodity, to be used according to our selfish interests. We have lost sight of the kinship between all life, and our sacred duty to protect and honour life in its many variations. This society has lost its way, and only sees a mechanical universe, devoid of meaning and spirit. It is a painful loss for the forest, for other creatures and most of all for ourselves. We do not see that everytime we cut down a stand of trees, we are cutting down something precious within ourselves as well.

We shape the outer landscape in the pattern of our inner world. The human mind has become almost blind to the natural rythyms and patterns of life, within which inner wisdom is revealed. This mind is left with dry intellect which has no foundation, and thus is adrift in its own mental constructs.

It is the normal social pattern to live wrapped up in the surface habits and structures, filling ones time with shallow activity. Modern ego life is all but deviod of the unitive rythym of wholistic perception. We rarely take the time to look deeper, to perceive the quiet voice of life. The wild places foster this deeper sight, tickle the inner senses and enliven spirit.

By leaving a few trees, the devious mind is able to say this is not a clearcut, but this area, cut some time in the past, shows the lie. The ground is all but barren, the trees sparse and vulnerable. Rains strip away top soil. The pattern of harmony and vibrant life is broken.

From a 225 year old tree, all that remains is this stump, yet even in death, it has a lesson to teach. The modern mind is shrouded in layer after layer of facade and construct, like the rings of this tree. However, if we take the time to look within towards the center, we will find the life giving sap that nourishes and awakens spirit.

This beautiful tree was well over 300 years, cut down in just minutes by the sharp toothed chainsaw blade. It brings an almost unbearable ache to the heart to witness this.

Boundary marker delineating the edge of the cut area.

A temporary road used to haul out the cut trees. The delicate forest floor, stamped hard. In the background can be seen some standing tall trees. This is deceptive as well. It is just a narrow band of trees left standing.

These giants indescriminately trample everything. Looking underneath, could be seen torn up chunks of trees and the exposed machinery which drives this machine. On the back were the words 'bite me'.

An apt name

Another ancient tree felled for greed.

This area was left, with the trees marking the boundary as 'Wildlife Habitata Area'. Another deception for if you look in the background you can see the cutting on the other side. Such a small little isolated stand does not a habitat make.

With all the destruction around, it was a marvelous surprise to find a small spring bubbling up from the ground and nestled under a few small remaining trees. It was a cool, green oasis. A place to rest and recuperate, to gain sustenance, to splash the face and listen to the tinkling water. It was also a reminder that life is ever creative, springing forth, even from desolation. We need to dedicate ourselves with all our being to opening doors for life to act. To be open to let life create through us. Though it is a dark time, the story is not yet written.

We do need to ask ourselves, how much of our time do we put towards a new way of living? How much of our time is spent chasing pleasure, and running from pain? How much are we attached to the luxury and decadence of this culture? How much are we willing to give, to defend and nurture wild places, and the nature within ourselves?

There are still many beautiful places, but they are marked for destruction. Those who feel the need of our times, must ask these hard questions. Each person must look within, see the shackles of inaction, of culturally enforced apathy and take a decision - over and over, the decision must be made. What is my purpose? What is my life dedicated to?