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Day 1 of Walking with Joan; Resistance in the Siskiyou mountains

Public opposition to the Biscuit Timber Sales have circled over a year, and a commemoration of the late Joan Norman's civil disobedience and leadership is being celebrated with a three-day walk from the Green Bridge over the Illinois River to Federal agency offices in Grant's Pass. Day one is over, and is recounted below, including an insightful meeting with the head Forest Ranger of this district. An invitation to join with the walkers on the second day is issued, as well as for a confrontation with the stewards of our public lands at the end of the walk.
March 14th sunrise over the Green Bridge
March 14th sunrise over the Green Bridge
Walkers with Joan's Cane and Chair
Walkers with Joan's Cane and Chair
Conversation with Pam Bode...
Conversation with Pam Bode...
sometimes got a little intense
sometimes got a little intense
Dawn broke upon the Green Bridge and revealed several inches of snow the fell during the night, with a mist that obscured the nearby mountains. We had camped there the night before in honor of Joan Norman, who was a dynamic keystone in the popular protests of the Biscuit timber sales last spring. She died last summer in a tragic car wreck, and some of us felt it was important to celebrate the last and greatest stand she took in a long life of principled social and ecological activism. Geese honked and flew past in small groups over the Illinois River before us, while we warmed ourselves in front of a huge radiant fire that had burned since afternoon of the previous day. We were preparing to begin a long walk to Grant's Pass.

Joan's work is not done, and neither is ours. The Josephine County Sheriff's Department is still aggressively prosecuting dozens of activists and community members, while 5 different BLM timber sales are forcing their way into the backyards of every community within this narrow Illinois Valley. While concerned citizens are dealing with threats close to home, two new Biscuit sales are about to be auctioned for logging, this time in Inventoried Roadless Areas, and surely at a financial loss, as all the other sales have been. The Feds are currently proposing to privatize by selling off 200,000 acres of public land in order to pay for legitimate and needed forest restoration and pre-commercial tree plantation fuels-reduction thinning, while their own timber extraction projects are scarring the landscape and creating the need for future expensive restoration projects. The situation is preposterous and circular and threatens the small remainder of ecological treasures retained in the public commonwealth. Joan Norman was an honorable woman, and she would never stand for this. She would sit, sit in her green lawn chair, wherever it was most inconvenient for quick-sell Politicians, earth-eating Industry and world-destroying military. But Joan is no longer with us; all we have is her inspiring memory.

It's been a year to the day since Joan Norman took her historic stand with 21 other women, peacefully and lovingly blocking the Green Bridge to prevent the timber cutters from decimating a square mile forest habitat stretching from Eight Dollar Mountain to the popular Babyfoot Lake trailhead leading into the heart of the Wilderness. Because the loggers went on to complete this cutting, including illegally taking out part of a Botanical Reserve for the rare Brewer's Spruce, does not mean they failed. Their actions inspired hundreds more to take part in the ongoing Odyssey of the Biscuit Timber Sale, and the misguided, agriculturally subsidized, fire-disturbed redisturbing forest management program of the Federal Government in general. We are still inspired and the fight is obviously far from over.

So we are walking, walking from the Green Bridge to Grant's Pass to bring a message of peace and harmony in communion with nature to those who feel the incessant need to destroy it. In our first day we covered eight miles, a small group ranging in age from 7 to 60 years old, in good weather amidst a snow-draped background. We made it to the Selma Center, the site of the infamous Biscuit Bake-Off, numerous outreach and educational events, the valley-wide Biscuit Alliance. Before we left, Pam Bode, District Ranger of the Illinois Valley and Galice districts, and holder of the second place prize in the burnt-biscuit category, came out to visit us. Fresh from an open house at the high school the night before, wherein the Forest Service laid out their plans to remove large old-growth trees from a firefighter-burned roadless area, Pamela came out to see if she could be of assistance in any way. Several difficult questions were put to her, about the testimony she offered in court that the committed environmental defenders of last spring were operating nothing more than a homeless camp, the closure order she signed that kept the public out of one of the most popular recreation sites in the Siskiyou National Forest last spring and summer, and the defamation that was assigned to the Sisters of the Siskiyou who blocked the Green Bridge, and upon release from jail were warned that they were now considered eco-terrorists.

A woman named Meg, who carried the inspiration for this walk, particularly defended the good name of Joan, who is no longer here to defend herself, and video of this historic conversation was taken. While answering these questions, circuitously, vaguely and with cleverness, Pam railed against the idea that people might have any reason to mistrust her, and that some people might be spreading the idea that she is a liar. Pam expressed her intention to be available to consult with us when we reach the BLM and Forest Service interagency headquarters in Grant's Pass, which we expressed appreciation for by way of a boiled egg. It was suggested that we bring a recording of her testimony in court if we wanted to ask particular questions about how she characterized the resistance she and the Forest Service received at the Fiddler Timber Sale, and we do have one to bring. We plan to arrive at 1665 NE 7th St. around 10am on Friday at our current rate of travel. Maybe some people could call her at (541) 659-4661 and thank her for being willing to meet with the public at the convenience of the long-distance walkers.

If anyone wants to join us on the second day of walking, please meet us at the Selma Community Center in Selma, Oregon, at around 9am tomorrow, or look for us on the side of Highway 199 walking towards Grant's Pass.

Stay tuned for updates...

homepage: homepage: http://www.geocities.com/meg552006/joanslaststand
address: address: on the road to Grant's Pass

Thank you. 15.Mar.2006 01:06

Yolo savetheearthfirst@gmail.com

Rest in Peace Joan. You still are a great inspiration to me.

Day 2: Coming down from the Mountains 16.Mar.2006 10:43

Joan's Walkers

Report from the 1st day published at:

The sun parted the clouds for us early on our hike this morning, and there were many yellow flowers poking out between the snowdrifts. The section we travelled on day 2 was briefer than the first. Just a couple of us hikers, holding the torch for Joan as we carry her spirit with us to Grant's Pass. We passed over Hayes' Hill without incident and stopped near the town of Wonder.

We have a bit of a stretch to cover today, and it looks like there's a lot of rain, so please keep warm thoughts for us as we walk. We plan on starting up at the Rogue Community College (3345 Redwood Hwy) just outside of Grant's Pass at 9am tomorrow. Anyone who wants to join us at the Forest Service/BLM interagency headquarters can find us there a bit after 10am. It sounds like Pam Bode may be dealing with sickness in her family, so we'll be looking for anyone there we can bring our concerns to or share Joan's spirit with.

Joan's Walkers

on the Road to Grant's Pass