Biscuit Auctions Mean Biscuit Actions
Ancient forest in the Biscuit Burn went on sale today in the Medford, OR offices of the Siskiyou National Forest. The Forest Service had placed 1900 acres on the auction block, promising 42 million board-feet (mmbf) of timber. In the end, three of five proposed sales were purchased, totaling 34 mmbf from about 1160 acres. With companies now coming forward to profit from Biscuit ancient forest destruction, the action starts today.
Four of the five sales up for auction are located in the greater North Kalmiopsis roadless area between the Kalmiopsis and Wild Rogue Wildernesses. Flat Top, bordering the northeast corner of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and Cedar on Chrome Ridge did not receive minimum bids. They remain available for purchase, however, for up to one year and in the meantime the Forest Service can rework the sale or more likely, further subsidize the industry with a lower price.
Indie and Berry did sell. Berry went for the minimum price to CLR Timber Holding, a subsidiary of South Coast Timber of Brookings. Indie went for seven times the Berry board-foot price to East Fork Lumber Company from Norway, OR in Coos County. East Fork is a small company with business focused on export to Japan and Taiwan. The contracts for these two sales acknowledge that the areas to be cut are prime northern spotted owl and marbled murrulet habitat and include stands of endangered Port Orford cedar.
A lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO) halting the Berry sale was filed the evening before the auction. The threat of lawsuit may explain the tremendous difference in price between these two next-door sales. The TRO hearing will be decided by Judge Michael Hogan of Eugene, probably before the end of July.
The lawsuit seeks to stop six timber sales in total. Each of the six contested sales are proposed in ancient forest reserves (LSR) and have been granted "emergency status determinations" thereby removing the normal 90 day public appeal process.
A second LSR sale under threat of lawsuit was also purchased Friday. Fiddler was the largest sale up for auction at 14.4 mmbf. A minimum bid was submitted by Silver Creek Timber of Merlin, OR.
Silver Creek was in the news this week for illegally cutting and taking trees from inside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The company was in the nearby area on a contract to cut and haul so-called "hazard trees." They claim the mistake was due to improper marking by the Forest Service but a recent trip to the area showed that both green and burned trees had recently been illegally removed from several locations.
It comes as a surprise to many that the TRO request filed Thursday only seeks to halt the six "emergency" LSR sales. That leaves five timber sales, including Indie without any legal challenge. The eight environmental groups litigating worry that a complete legal shut down of Biscuit logging could lead to an October legislative "rider" opening up LSR logging. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), so far, refuses to pledge to protect ancient forest reserves from logging. Therefore, groups are seeking to fight for the LSR and wait and see on the sales that are part of the Northwest Forest plan timber base, the so-called "matrix."
Many disagree with the approach. A new group of litigants may quickly assemble to challenge the matrix sales as well.
All forest activists in the extended area should try to be on call to defend the Biscuit starting Monday. Indie, Berry and Fiddler will each be monitored. Logging could begin on Monday. An infrastructure for action is now being assembled by southern Oregon activists. Stay tuned to this source for breaking information or calls to action.
Stopping logging that is before a judge, even Hogan (don't forget we can appeal to the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco), might be a crucial role for direct action. A couple days of struggle will again make the issue national and any tree saved those days might be saved forever.
With a potential restraining order in the works for Fiddler and Berry, the obvious problem is Indie. This sale is in an extremely remote, rugged and wild part of the forest, just off the 2308 road near Burnt Ridge. An on the ground campaign will involve hours and hours of backroad driving.
But action to save Indie can also happen this weekend from the comfort of your home. The President of East Fork Lumber Company is Robert Sproul. You can reach him in the office at 541-592-5732. If you would like to fax him, the number is 541-572-2727. If you want to call and speak with him during evening and weekend hours, try him at home at 541-572-5894. Please be respectful but firm in explaining why signing the contract for Indie next week will be very bad for business. He can still pull out. Please help him choose what is best for the Earth and his business.
Thank you for all your action to defend the forest in the Biscuit Burn and beyond.