WOMEN DRAW THE LINE AGAINST LAWLESS OLD-GROWTH LOGGING
*** For Immediate Release ***
Date: March 12, 2005
Press Contact: Francis Eartherington; 541.643.1309 Carol Valentine; 541.761.4746
Laural Sutherline; 301-8963
Cave Junction, Oregon - In this latest action driven by determined elders, church members and conservationists, a large group of local women sat down on the "Green Bridge", to block logging trucks at dawn on Monday morning - offering themselves up for certain arrest - locking down in solidarity against the lawless logging of federally protected Old Growth reserves within the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area of SW Oregon.
Already arrested last week, 72 year old Joan Norman said, "I don't know what else to do to stop this destruction to our forests, so I'm going to sit down in front of the trucks again." Citizens are determined to halt the nation's largest logging project in modern Forest Service history. The agency is rushing to log these sensitive forests before a court case scheduled for later this month can be heard.
Community elder and artist Dot Fisher Smith, 76, said "We are united in a historic confrontation and we are wearing black today in solidarity with the blackened trees; to give voice to the voiceless. These grandmother trees must not be violently ripped from the Earth. Those trees want to fulfill their birthright by providing shade, shelter and retaining moisture for the newly regenerating forest, as has occurred naturally for countless thousands of years."
According to Annette Rasch, "This wasteful project will increase fire hazard, harm the local nature-based economy, hurt the regeneration of the forest, and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars."
The powerful movement gathering at the "Green Bridge" on the Illinois River reflects the voice of tens of thousands of citizens who have written letters and made phone calls; crying 'foul play' on the Bush Forest Service. The broad grass roots coalition: the "Biscuit Alliance", features citizens ranging from local woodsmen, teachers, conservationists, artists, business owners, scientists, retirees, sportsmen and students ... to Earth First!
This rugged and wild corner of Oregon received national attention with the nation's largest forest fire in 2002 - the Biscuit fire. Critics complain that instead of helping to reduce fire risk to our homes, the Forest Service is busy arresting citizens and enforcing a 'log at any cost' agenda - facilitating an illegal logging project in old-growth forest reserves located deep in the backcountry, while the greatest threat to our communities, the overgrown forests surrounding them is virtually ignored.
Background: The "Green Bridge" encampment on the Illinois River in remote SW Oregon continues to sustain a unique and elegant brand of non-violent civil disobedience against the Bush Forest Service's so-called "Biscuit Fire Recovery Project", an extreme logging scheme that intends to remove tens of thousands of trucks loads from remote regions of unmanaged native forest.
This serpentine wonderland surrounding the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area has become ground zero - the poster child for the Bush Administration's aggressive attempts to gut hard won legal protections for old growth reserves, Inventoried Road less Areas, salmon-bearing streams and nationally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.
The forests of the Siskiyou represent a 40 million year old community of life extending further back in time than any other forests west of the Mississippi. This place has always been a refuge for species during the extremes of ice ages, floods, and volcanism; evolving with fire over the millennia. They have NOT evolved with logging. Where logging has occurred in the forests above us, soils have been impoverished and planted trees struggle in the harsh post-logging environment.
Almost 13,000 acres under threat in the Biscuit Timber Sales are designated Late Success ional Reserve (or Old-Growth Reserve). These nature reserves are areas that until now, were off-limits to large-scale commercial logging. Over 6,200 of the 13,000 acres of old growth reserves are also Inventoried Roadless Areas. The Biscuit logging project will log over 8,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas in total. The logging is also highly concentrated in the watershed draining into the first 17 miles of the National Wild & Scenic Illinois River. The Biscuit logging project will log approximately 8,500 acres in this 66,000 acre area or about 13 percent. It will log 53 percent of the beautiful little Fall Creek's roadless area watershed which flows directly into the National Wild & Scenic Illinois River.
Already 46 million board feet has been logged in the Biscuit fire recovery area. Yet the proscribed annual cut for the entire Klamath-Siskiyous is far less; about 28 million board feet. The Bush Administration has used the Biscuit Wildfire as an excuse to designate the largest single logging project in modern Forest Service history; featuring huge logging units - some over 300 contiguous acres.
Old-growth reserves were set-aside in the Northwest Forest Plan in order to safeguard habitat for rare plants and animals that depend on older forests to survive. In the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area, fire is a natural part of these forests, and the reserves that burned in the 2002 Biscuit Wildfire have begun rejuvenating naturally. Old-growth legacy trees created by fire, and now targeted for logging, provide are a key building-block of this recovery critical to protect soils and provide wildlife habitat, but the Forest Service is targeting them for logging. Doing so destroys critical habitat for birds and other wildlife, increases the risk of erosion, and puts the region's fragile salmon and steelhead runs in danger.
Finally, the women are also outraged that of the 23 people arrested in peaceful protests that began last week, some are still incarcerated, some with untreated medical conditions and in several cases, are experiencing cruel and unusual punishment before receiving any sort of trial. Numerous protesters have been injured by Law Enforcement personnel and witnesses have taped loggers "bumping" people out of the way with their trucks, while the police look the other way. Several lawsuits are being filed.
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