At 10 am Tuesday August 17th, over 40 forest defenders from across Oregon occupied Senator Wyden's office at 700 NE Lloyd for more than 30 minutes. The protestors brought a slide show of threatened areas to educate the Senator and his aides about the on-the-ground destruction caused by their pro-logging policies. The Senator's aide, Mary Gautreaux, immediately snuck out the back refusing to view the show. Protestors strongly suspect that two people were arrested immediately following the action, but Multnomah County Jail would not confirm this information.
Protestors surprised the office staff, filling the office lobby, and overflowing into the hallway. With banners, costumes, and songs, they non-violently demanded Wyden stop selling Oregon's public lands to the timber industry. Radical Cheerleaders led rowdy anti-logging chants. Before leaving, the forest defenders delivered piles of sawdust to the Senator's office symbolically bringing the forest destruction caused by Senator Wyden directly to his office. Protestors vowed to continue to expose Senator Wyden's close relationship to the timber industry, and its destructive effect on our public lands.
"We need to shift management of Oregon's forests away from the commercial timber sale program towards genuine non-commercial restoration. Yet, from the Biscuit logging project to the so-called Healthy Forest Restoration Act, Senator Wyden aggressively promotes increased commercial logging in our National Forests," said Kristen Michelson, one of the protestors.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.com), Senator Wyden is the fifth highest recipient of logging industry political contributions of all members of Congress. Senator Wyden receives more timber industry contributions than over 98% of all Republican congressional members, and all but one Democratic congressional member. Wyden is the third highest recipient of timber industry donations in the Senate.
"Wyden profits from timber industry contributions while the timber industry profits from Wyden's attacks on Oregon's public forests," said Michelson, "Even Senator Wyden's highly touted Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Act includes provisions that increase commercial logging on Mt. Hood National Forest."
Wyden's Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Act mandates a quota for logging on the westside of Mt. Hood National Forest while opening up the east side of Mt. Hood for logging in the name of forest health and fire prevention. Mirroring the Bush Administration's so-called Healthy Forest Restoration Act, the bill allows logging in Mt. Hood's eastside back country, which has been proven to increase the risk of catastrophic fire.
Senator Wyden has firmly stated his support for logging in Late Successional Reserves in the Biscuit Fire Area. He pushed to have the Biscuit Salvage Logging Project divided into three sections to speed up the logging of the Matrix areas. In 2003, Wyden's initial "healthy forests" bill, co-sponsored with Senator Feinstein (D-CA), included a salvage logging "pilot project" carved out of forests affected by the Biscuit fire. It was the only "healthy forests" bill bandied about that year that included anything about post-fire logging.
Senator Wyden was the most influential senator in the passage of the Bush administration's controversial Healthy Forest Restoration Act. In 2002, Senator Wyden proposed legislation that would have reduced environmental protections and increased logging across National Forests in eastern Oregon and Idaho.
Protestors presented Senator Wyden with the following list of demands:
We demand that Senator Wyden work to end the commercial timber sale program on all US public lands, as suggested by the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act (see www.forestadvocate.org).
We demand that Senator Wyden work to stop all commercial logging in the Biscuit Fire area, including in Matrix lands.
We demand that Senator Wyden work to immediately halt all commercial timber sales in Oregon specifically including: Solo (Mt. Hood National Forest), Straw Devil (Willamette National Forest), Kelsey Whiskey (Medford BLM), and Metolius (Deschutes National Forest).
We demand that Senator Wyden stop using wilderness proposals as a cover to increase commercial logging on our public lands. Specifically, we demand that Senator Wyden work against any legislation or rider that allows commercial logging in the Biscuit Fire Area in return for increased wilderness areas. We demand that Senator Wyden remove Section 8, which promotes commercial logging, from the Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Act of 2004.