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BIscuit actions may continue this summer

A welcoming committee is forming to prepare for continued Biscuit logging protests this summer in response to the Forest Service announcing two new logging sales. Mikes Gulch and Blackberry would log the third and largest roadless area in Oregon, in the South and North Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas. Mikes Gulch would connect with the completed Fiddler logging sale and would be visable from Redwood Hwy and the National Wild and Scenic Illinois River. The sales could be sold in a matter of several weeks. MIkes Gulch is right above the green bridge where actions had taken place last summer. There is a campout on the green bridge already scheduled for March 13th.
May 16th 2005 green bridge sitdown
May 16th 2005 green bridge sitdown
Make Love, Not Stumps: In Defense of The Biscuit
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

(This is a review of the DVD "In Defense of The Biscuit,"
( http://www.biscuitfire.org), a film by Pat Paterson, Production/Design by Justin Rohde.)

"The Creator gave us... this voice to be able to speak for the voiceless. And
that is all the green upon our Mother Earth, the one-leggeds, the "tree
people," I call them... People said when you take the trees off of the
mountain, they're the ones that call the wind and the rain. And when you
do that, it causes a domino effect of destruction all the way down that
mountain to the rivers and streams. And this is what is happening over
here." - Agnes Pilgrim, the oldest living descendent of the Takelma
Indians (from the DVD, "In Defense of The Biscuit")

The Battle for The Biscuit revolves around a pristine forest area in the
Siskiyou Mountains in Southwest Oregon. The area was almost named a
national natural monument in 2000, but by 2002, it was being eyed by
corporate loggers for the largest proposed timber sale on public land in
U.S. history, even though the proposed logging zone included approximately
9,000 acres of "protected" old growth. The issue of the Biscuit fire and
subsequent logging, is a textbook example that all should study about
"burn logging." Burn logging is a backdoor to logging protected areas,
basically. Timber companies promote the misconception that a burned forest
is a dead forest, then they push to "salvage" all that remains inside
these "dead" protected forest zones, thereby disrupting, and destroying,
the natural bioregion that has been there for thousands of years. The
logging industry tries to promote the idea that a burn trumps all previous
forest protection in the area, and acts as if they are "fixing" the forest
after a fire by cleaning the area up and replanting, but science and
history show that is flawed "logic" on many counts.

The first misconception that the forest defenders of Biscuit have educated
many of us about is the reality that forests need fire! Agnes Pilgrim, the
elder quoted in the beginning of this article said that the Takelma elders
used to light fires in the forests as fire was a component of a healthy
forest, and it added nutrients to the soil. Indeed, old growth trees that
made it through 300-400 years, including many a forest fire, still stand
in the Biscuit fire area. When lightning started the Biscuit fire in 2002,
which burned to a perimeter of about 500,000 acres, the fire burned spotty
and thus approximately 60% of the area inside the fire zone did not burn.
The landscape is still productive, and this landscape, and its unique
biodiversity, have survived repeat fires in this area for hundreds and
thousands of years. To strip it now due to one lightning fire is insane.
We have got to get it through our heads: Burned forests are alive. Burned
forests are full of life.

Big trees are really important, and you cannot just manufacture new 300
year old trees in tree farms within our generation. The "In Defense of The
Biscuit" DVD educates not only about burn logging, but also about "legacy
trees," or what the timber industry calls "snag." Legacy trees, as
explained by Dominick DellaSala, of the World Wildlife Fund, are big, old,
dead, trees. To take these downed or still standing burned, or "dead," old
trees out of the area, is destructive on many levels. These legacy trees
provide homes for hundreds of species of insects in their bark, which
birds then eat. The trees fall in creeks and provide spawning habitat for
salmon, and the trees also provide nutrients to the soil as they
decompose. These legacy trees provide moisture and return essential
biomass to the forest floor. They provide shade to help seedlings and also
add integrity to the soil stability. Standing old growth trees, dead or
alive, can cool the ground below them by 5 degrees.

The Biscuit logging plan called for 1.5 legacy trees to be left per acre,
which is not discernable from a clear cut in all reality. We need those
legacy trees, or snag, to be left where they lay, so our children can see
these forests later. The proposed Biscuit logging project (ironically
named the "Biscuit Fire Recovery Project" by the Bush administration)
wanted access to 372 MILLION board feet of timber. Also, this logging
would put roads where roads were not before, and those roadless areas were
previously protected by the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. If logging
roads were installed for this logging project, approximately 48,000 acres
of forest that previously had roadless protection, were now threatened. So
this is the setting for the actions in the battle to save The Biscuit.

This "In Defense... " DVD documents grassroots action taken by earth
defenders to stop questionable, and perhaps illegal, logging of public
lands under the guise of burn logging. It appears that the logging
companies were told they could not begin logging until the sensitive
environmental matters were addressed by a court, but John West, owner of
Silver Creek Timber Company, took some extraordinary steps to jump the gun
on the logging, and it could very well be said that the Biscuit activists
in this DVD saved acres of old growth forest from the ravages of clear cut
in 2005. The DVD documents several protest tactics, and also, several law
enforcement tactics, as well. The use of indy media, in collaboration with
the protesters and law enforcement watch-dogging is effectively sampled in
this DVD as well.

Defenders of The Biscuit set up camps to block the roads the logging
trucks would need to use to enter the forest areas in question. In March
2005, several confrontations with authorities are well documented on this
DVD. As logging industry vehicles approached the blocked roads, and
stopped to talk to the protesters in the road, other protesters padlocked
themselves to the stopped logging vehicles, creating chaos. Others on the
road were not simply standing in the way, but were locked down to drums
full of cement. The logging trucks were not going to just be able to talk
for a minute and roll on through, that was clear.

As the logging vehicles' drivers get antsy, and want to roll on through,
even with protesters locked under their axles, indy media reporters with
cameras rolling chanted, "you're on camera, people's lives are at risk,
you are on camera, please turn off your engine, people are sitting in
front of your rig and are under your rig, locked down... " Other footage in
this DVD shows a police officer on scene literally covering his badge with
his hand from the indy media reporter, even as the reporter is saying,
"Why are you covering your badge?" Police are also shown keeping indy
media reporters off the bridge as they interact with protesters on the
bridge. It is amazing to me how often police want to do their job without
public scrutiny while on our public dime. Or they do not want to reveal
their identity as required BY LAW while employed by us, the public. I see
this shady behavior very often when police deal with protesters. Lots of
covered up badges and missing name tags, badges and tags required by law
and required to be visible while on duty. Why are police so afraid of
being identified as they interact with activists?

As protesters laid their bodies on the line to stop this logging before it
at least was heard in the courts, as the courts themselves had demanded,
arrests began. Protesters called out "No, no, that's clearly not John
West," as protesters were arrested, inferring John West, who was
reportedly jumping the gun to log here, was the one who should be
arrested. Direct action was the tactic taken to defend Biscuit, because
the letters had been written, the calls to legislators had been made, and
this logging just kept rolling forward. So people got together to stop
this, with physical direct action, and that is one of the important
messages of this DVD. It documents how a bunch of people said they were
not going to stand by and let their forests be pillaged due to apathy,
fear of the state or pacifism. This group of activists took a stand for
what they believed in, and in doing so, saved an ecosystem.

Part of the DVD documents a Women's Day of Action, where women take over
the Biscuit road blockades. A woman who is 9 months pregnant makes a bold
statement, along with women ranging in age from their 70's to 20's.
Grandmothers, mothers to be, and younger women joined together to show
solidarity in this action and 20 women were arrested in that day's
actions. "Hi, my name is Ara, and I'm a mother of 2 children, and I'm here
for their future," was the simple but powerful statement made by one of
the women defending The Biscuit that day.

An interesting mixture of young and old came together in this DVD as well.
An older woman activist named Joan Norman (who has sadly died in a car
crash since) is shown giving her favorite forest action t-shirt to her
younger Biscuit defender comrade, Laurel Sutherlin, of the Oxygen
Collective, in a moving interaction. The t-shirt says, "When the earth has
been ravaged, and the animals are dying, a tribe of people of all races,
creeds and colours will put their faith in deeds, not in words, to make
the land green again. They shall be known as the warriors of the rainbow
protectors of the environment." The base camp for the Biscuit defense
produced a week long skill share with rope climbing skills, media and
legal education, natural education and more. These protests to save The
Biscuit created community, as well as action.

The no nonsense approach that these forest defenders took is to be
commended and should be studied by activists facing similar dilemmas in
their areas. A woman named Marilyn had had enough of this logging nonsense
and she just locked herself to her steering wheel, in her "broken down"
truck on the logging roads, with others locked down to her axle. When she
expressed her disgust for the cameras, I really could relate to her
frustration and her need to DO something when writing letters was not
working. When the authorities and loggers tried to penetrate the Biscuit
area, this DVD shows how they would get through a main blockade only to
fall victim to yet smaller blockades, such as broken down trucks like
Marilyn's, in the way up ahead. This nonstop agitation and sustained civil
disobedience caused endless delays in the logging of the Biscuit burn
area. And also bought time to educate the public, by getting the message
out to the media via a news story they would cover beyond John West's
negotiations with the state.

The DVD ends with the actions in 2005, so I wanted to do a little follow
up. I talked to Josh Laughlin, of the Cascadia Wildlands Project
(www.cascwild.org) about where the Biscuit protests stand now. He said
that the protests were productive in that of the 372 million board feet of
timber first proposed for the logging project, only 70 million board feet
were logged by 2006. He said that due to the public awareness and
resultant opposition raised, and public pressure from places like the
Oregon governor's office, as well as several lawsuits still in the courts
now between environmental groups such as Cascadia Wildlands Project, and
the logging interests, that the Biscuit logging issue seems to be getting
somewhat under control. He said that the trees rot over time and thus
become less attractive and less economically feasible to loggers, so the
longer this issue sits in litigation, etc., the less the timber industry
will want to log the area, as the trees are less useful by the day. In the
end, the loggers got away with logging 1/6 of what they proposed, and that
has got to be seen as a victory by any account. And although victories
were had in defense of The Biscuit, all agree that there is a need for
constant vigilance to keep our forests alive and healthy, regardless of
past successes in this arena.

I believe this DVD should be shown in every high school and college across
the land. There are many issues addressed in this video that the average
person probably does not know about. There is a world happening out here
that many do not even know exist. A world where people put their fears
away and go to the woods to lay their lives on the line for the land. Yes,
it is still happening today. Eco-activism did not die with the national
pronunciation of Earth Day, folks. Direct action such as those taken in
defense of The Biscuit can be employed all over, and can be applied to
many causes. This DVD shows you not only that you can make a change, but
HOW to make a change NOW. It shows you can trump fear with courage, that
you can trump authority with action, and that is a powerful lesson in this
day and age.

For more information, visit:
The Biscuit Alliance ( http://user.cavenet.com/guenter/biscuit/main.html)
Portland IMC Biscuit Action Page
( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/action/biscuit/)
Oxygen collective ( http://www.o2collective.org)
Cascadia Wildlands Project ( http://www.cascwild.org)
What's What/Biscuit Article
( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/03/314385.shtml)
Who's Who/Biscuit ( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/03/314277.shtml)
Sisikyou project ( http://www.siskiyou.org)
Earth First! ( http://www.earthfirst.org)
Kalmath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (www.kswild.org)
Cascadia Rising ( http://www.cascadiarising.org)
Not saving ecosystems 06.Mar.2006 21:54

anonymous

In no way do i mean to marginalize the activism that took place down south last year, but information contained within this review, in the form of two quotes...

"it could very well be said that the Biscuit activists
in this DVD saved acres of old growth forest from the ravages of clear cut
in 2005."

and

"This group of activists took a stand for
what they believed in, and in doing so, saved an ecosystem."

....is inaccurate.

Actually, they didn't save an ecosystem. Fiddler, the timber sale where most of the 'action' in this film took place, was cut, in its entirety. Most of the Biscuit sales have been cut in their entirety. Activist effectiveness could be measured in many ways. But in regards to 'saving ecosystems,' Fiddler and all other biscuit actions, by this measure, have been utter failures. There is much inspiration to be gleaned from this documentary. But there is no inspirational information on how to save ecosystems.

hmmm... 07.Mar.2006 07:43

kirsten

I am not sure about that comment. I got the number of how many acres were SAVED from logging from the actual activists on site.

continuing misrepresentation of 'victory' 07.Mar.2006 19:53

anonymous

if you got a "number" directly from activists, then why didn't you provide it in your review?
fiddler was logged, in its entirety. are you referring to other sales? do you have any other information other than what you watched in the video?

perhaps you wish to define Josh Laughlin's comments that 70 million board feet being logged is 'victory by any account,' or that somehow activists "saved" 300 million board feet. if that's the case, you could define any other time timber companies didn't log as much as they intend as a 'victory' or an ecosystem 'saved.' "they didn't cut as much as they wanted to" is not a 'victory by any account." an email by rolf skar of the siskiyou project over the Cascadia Rising email list deconstructs the number of 360 million board feet. skar writes,

"The 370 mmbf FEIS logging plans were, I believe, intentionally
hyper-inflated beyond the capacity of the local Forest Service to
administer and beyond even the timber industry's hunger for Biscuit
wood. In other words, this project was set up to fail. It collapsed
under its own monstrous weight. Even though enviros have done little to
stop the project, folks like Senator Smith and "Communities for Healthy
Forests" are citing "lawsuits, protests and red-tape" as the reason
Biscuit didn't hit the 370 mmbf mark. Senator Smith has even
commissioned a report (due in early spring 2006) from Mark Rey that will
detail the alleged problems with the Biscuit logging sale. All this
will be used by Walden, Smith and company to justify new legislation
aimed at mandating post-disturbance (fire, insects, hurricanes,
whatever) logging."