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Forest Advocates Come Uninvited to Central Oregon GOP Events

Despite next to no notice, forest advocates made their presence known at a hearing in Sisters on Wednesday on "forest health" orchestrated by Greg Walden and two separate appearances by Ann Venemen, Bush's evil Secretary of Agriculture. We did our best to counter their rhetoric and get the message out that ecologically destructive logging actually RUINS forest health.
On Wednesday, Rep. Greg Walden held a dog and pony show to promote destructive post-fire salvage logging at the Sisters High school in Sisters, OR. The event was a House Resources Sub-committee Hearing on 'forest health'. However, no other members of the committe were there except for Walden. The room was mostly filled with timber industry people since they had all been personally invited. Despite being an event that was open to the public, the word didn't get out to most people until the day before when it was announced in some media outlets. Media and forest activists that attended complained about the lack of notice.

While the hearing was supposedly for Walden to learn more about post-fire salvage logging
issues, the "witnesses" he lined up to speak and question all had a vested interest in seeing aggressive post-fire salvage logging on public lands or otherwise had economic ties to the logging industry. Unsuprisingly, aggressive post-fire salvage logging was presented as vitally necessary for the economic and ecological health of our region. At one point, Regional Forester (for Region 6) Linda Goodman referred to the "Emergency Status" provision of Bush's UnHealthy Forest Act as a "real bonus" for the Forest Service. When timber sales are granted Emergency Status Destermination (ESD), the Forest Service can go in and log burned areas where there are lawsuits pending. By dramatically decreasing the ability of forest activists to get temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, the Forest DisService ensures that burned areas are logged before we can go to court. It's not terribly rewarding to win in court after the forest has been severely damaged by logging. While Linda Goodman calls this a "real bonus". guess who gets to decide whether timber sales get an ESD? That's right: The Regional Forester, Linda Goodman.

The rest of the testimony at this farce of a hearing was just as appalingly one-sided. There was not mention at all about the effects salvage logging has on soils and streams. No mention of the overwhelming scientific evidence that it does nothing to decrease future fire danger and can even increase fire likelihood. No mention that salvage logging goes after the largest, most fire-resillient snags and downed logs or that snags and downed logs left after fire are vital habitat for a number of species. Nope, only hours of whining by the Forest "Service" and timber industry about how burned sales get held up because of that darned "process". They also found the time to whine about how the Metolius Basin project had been held up because of an appeal and lawsuit. {Metolius is a mostly green (a little bit burned during the B&B fire) sale on the west side of the Deschutes being billed as a "fuels reduction" project. Like many timber sales we deal with out here, the Metolius project combines small diameter thinning with mature and old-tree logging and other destructive practices such as a couple hundred acres of clearcuts, allowing an unspecified number of rare endemic plants to be killed...}
What it comes down to is that they are very pleased that the public is being stripped of the legal right to be involved in the planning process for timber sales on "public lands".Too bad the non-timber industry associated public wasn't allowed to speak at this supposedly public hearing.

After the hearing, forests activists were available outside to give the story of the ecological effects of post-fire logging to anybody who would listen. People from the Ancient Forest Roadshow were on hand with a huge slab from a 400 year old tree that was logged recently from the Berry Patch timber sale (aka the Berry Patch Massacre) in the Willamette National Forest. They emphasized that Unhealthy Forest Act timber sales, and other logging that's called "fuels reduction" can target the larger, more fire-resistant trees in the forest. The slice of stump also was a chilling reminder of the kind of logging happening and being planned now on lands in the west. Berry Patch was logged by DR Johnson, a logging company notorious on the east AND west side of the Cascades. The company recently logged Monument, a fire sale in the Malheur National Forest with steep slopes and unstable soils. Their PR flack was at the Walden/timber industry love fest and it was particularly fun when she was approached by an ancient forest roadshow representative by the Berry Patch stump. She became visibly uncomfortable and said that
it would be wrong to take ALL of the old trees, but that we need to have "balance". Grrrr...

On Thursday, Ann "The Venomous" Venemen blighted Central Oregon with her presence. She
showed up (along with Walden and Sen. Ron "the weenie" Wyden) at a private ceremony commemorating the transfer of the Bend Pine Nursery lands from the Forest Service to
Bend Parks and Metro. The transfer is generally popular in Bend and she was attempting to get a little good PR for the Bush Administration. Folks from the Ancient Forest Roadshow were present with the stump and were able to talk to get their message out to the media. The roadshow folks were also able to make eye contact with Ann Venemen, Wyden, and Walden as they went in to the event. The politicos seemed quite uneasy at the sight of protesters and the visible reminder (in the form of the stump) of the effect of their policies.

While little PR events are all well and good, the real reason "The Venomous" was in Central Oregon was to raise money for the Oregon Republican Party--Go figure!! After the Bend Pine Nursery event, she headed up to the Eagle Crest Resort outside of Redmond for a $100 a plate dinner with the Oregon republicans. There was also a "roundtable discussion afterwards that people could participate in for a mere $1000. Democracy in action! Several people went to protest outside of the resort entrance where everone going in to the event would have to drive past. Some people were unhappy about the presence of protestors and offered everything from headshakes to middle fingers and screamed obscenities. However, many people drove by who were supportive, including several of the resort staff. Besides exposing the truth about the threats to our forests, we also made it clear that the Bush Administration will not get a free ride when they come to Central Oregon.

homepage: homepage: http://www.prowl.cascadiarising.org
phone: phone: 541-330-0176

good recap 21.Aug.2004 11:10

portland navy dad

i am glad that you did not give the liquidators of old growth a free ride.way to go!this outfit reminds me of the days of james watt,ann burford,rita lavelle and james crowell(sp?).under reagan,more board feet of lumber poured out of the northwest national forests than at any other time.those clearcuts,done 20 years ago in the cascades,still have not healed.keep up the good work.

right on! 21.Aug.2004 12:59


what a great two weeks wyden must of had!

Thanks! 21.Aug.2004 18:14


Our blood boils at the mention of DR Johnson. Berry Patch will not be forgotten, and they continue cutting ancient trees in the Umpqua, the eastside, and anywhere they can make a buck. Keep opposing their operations whenever possible.