Highest bidder wins right to log in contested forest

Daniel B. Wheeler dwheeler at ipns.com
Fri Aug 2 04:30:15 EST 2002


>From The Oregonian, July 31, 2002, p E1 (Metro)

Highest bidder wins right to log in contested forest
Protesters put Thomas Creek Lumber on notice they'll fight any attempt
to log the 160 acres of Mount Hood National Forest

By ANDY DWORKIN, The Oregonian
	Amid a noisy protest, pepper spray and two arrests, the U.S. Forest
Service auctioned the rights to log about 160 acres of Mount Hood
National Forest timber Tuesday morning.
	Although officials must finalize the auction, the winner among two
bidders seems to be Stayton-based Thomas Creek Lumber & Log Co.,
Forest Service spokesman Glen Sachet said. The company bid $507,496,
almost twice the minimum, he said.
	Along with the timber rights, Thomas Creek may have won years of
headaches.
	Several Northwest activist groups have pledged to fight the Solo
timber sale as they did the Eagle Creek timber sale near Estacada. The
government canceled that sale in April, after seven years of protests
marked by arrests and the death of a 22-year-old woman who fell from a
"tree-sit."
	The Cascadia Forest Alliance has already put anti-logging activists
in a tree-sit platform in a 400-year-old Douglas fir in the Solo site,
group member Jill Howdyshell said. "If anyone's buying this, they're
also buying tons of public notice and Eagle Creek-style opposition,"
Howdyshell said.
	Activists said the Solo acreage includes some trees that are several
centuries old, including Pacific yew trees. Scientists also have found
a rare type of lichen on some of the trees.
	The Forest Service will not let loggers cut trees that support that
fungus and will require them to leave some of the oldest and biggest
trees, Sachet said.
	But activists said the plan won't leave enough trees to let the
survivors weather wind storms and other problems. They also said the
Solo sale is within the Oak Grove watershed and that cutting trees
there could contaminate the drinking-water supply for more than
100,000 Oregonians.
	Howdyshell said she sent a letter to about 10 logging companies to
discourage their interest in buying rights to log Solo. The letter
said that it did not "intend to sound coercive" but warned that "any
attempt to fulfill a contract would face the complications of citizens
willing to conduct nonviolent civil disobedience to prevent logging."
	On Tuesday, the protest began at 8:30 a.m. when about 100 activists -
estimates varied from 50 to 250 - gathered outside the Forest Service
building in Sandy, the site of the auction. All sides said the protest
was peaceful until Thomas Creek President Brent Walker left to get in
his car.
	Protesters then rushed to block his path, said Deputy Angie
Blanchard, a Clackamas County sheriff's spokeswoman. officers from the
sheriff's department, Sandy Police Department and the Forest Service
got caught between Walker's car and advancing protesters, she said.
Walker did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
	Blanchard said someone from the crowd threw a bottle that hit one
officer, while another protester took out a can of pepper spray and
aimed it at the police. At that point, she said, Clackamas County
deputies sprayed the crowd with pepper spray and Walker drove off.
	Police cited Angelia Pollick, 23, of Salt Lake City on accusations of
menacing and disorderly conduct and Jesse Brown, 24, of Portland on an
accusation of disorderly conduct, Blanchard said. Both were later
released, she said.
	Both sides said the protest grew intense because Solo is symbolic of
a bigger fight. The Bush administration is making an extra push to
sell timber in the Northwest for logging, despite public opposition,
activists said.
	Sachet agreed that the Forest Service is working to increase the
amount of timber sales, to more closely approach the levels envisioned
in the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. But he said such sales are
carefully planned and limited.
	More than 85 percent of Mount Hood National Forest is off-limits for
timber cutting, he said, and the remaining areas have limits on
logging the oldest trees and those near streams. The government must
sell the remaining timber to provide needed products and jobs, he
said.

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com



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