The Union Democrat
Sonora California - Tuolumne County
Tuolumne County groups protest forest lawsuit
Published: April 26, 2005
By DHYANA LEVEY
About 100 people, most of them from Tuolumne County, yesterday went to Sacramento to protest California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service's Sierra Nevada management plan.
Participants included members of the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment (TuCARE), the Highway 108 FireSafe Council, Western Council of Industrial Workers, Local Lumber and Sawmill Workers 2652, the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the California Equestrian Trails and Lands Coalition.
TuCARE, a Twain Harte-based group made up primarily of ranchers and loggers, promotes "the wise use of forest resources."
The groups have joined in filing a motion to intervene in Lockyer's lawsuit.
Tuolumne County Supervisor Mark Thornton also attended and spoke at the rally.
The protesters, including some from Camino, South Lake Tahoe and other Sierra Nevada communities, rallied at Cesar Chavez Park in Sacramento, and then marched to outside the attorney general's office.
They want to halt Lockyer's lawsuit against the revised Sierra Nevada Framework, which manages logging and other activities on 11.5 million acres of Sierra Nevada forest land. The framework, drafted during the Clinton administration, has since been revised to triple the amount of logging allowed on national forests in the Sierra Nevada.
Forest Service officials say the changes are intended to cut the risk of wildfire.
But Lockyer has said the revised plan puts the forests at risk in favor of timber harvesting.
"It's a plan based on politics," said Teresa Schilling, spokeswoman for the attorney general. "The Bush administration wants to cut down more trees. ... We want to make sure the forests are healthy for the future."
The protesters said the lawsuit holds up work that could be done to keep the forests healthy and secure jobs for timber industry workers. The forests are not healthy because they are overgrown and could be taken down by wildfires, they said.
"We want to put the pressure on the governor to keep his staff under control," said Melinda Fleming, TuCARE advocacy consultant. "We don't have to sit down and take it. I'm sure there will be some kind of response."
The protesters, however, did not get as fast a response as they had wanted. They asked the attorney general to come down and talk to them, but he didn't, Fleming said.
Schilling said Lockyer wasn't in the office when the protest started about 10:15 a.m. yesterday.
"We didn't know they were coming, so we couldn't respond," she said. "We have a lot of values in common — we both want to protect the forest."
Contact Dhyana Levey at email@example.com or 588-4530.
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