Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Oregon - 42 forest defenders have been arrested trying to prevent loggers from razing 19,500 acres of old growth forest in the past week. The area slatted to be cut down includes 8,173 acres (12.77 sq. miles) of the Pacific Northwest's largest untouched, road-less area and 6,303 acres (9.85 miles) of "protected" old-growth reserves. Some of the area was damaged by a fire in 2002, which has provided lumber interests with an excuse to clear the forest in order to help it recover.

Many of the trees, slated to be cut, are dead, but continue to play a vital role in the health of the forest. Dead standing trees provide ground cover for younger plants and, when they rot, nutrients for other trees. The Forest Service is attempting to begin this cut long before the logging season starts despite the dangers of logging during the winter rainy season. Tree felling this time of year increases the threat of erosion and heightens the destructive impact on the ecosystem. Hillsides are washed into streams suffocating fish and plant life, and the wheels of logging trucks spread root rot disease wherever they go in the winter months. Salmon is expected to fair especially poorly after this cut.

Silver Creek Timber Company, though stymied by persistent protests, have been cutting about ΒΌ of a unit per day since for the past week. Forest Service officers arrested 11 demonstrators who blocked a bridge on Tuesday. Another 11 arrests were made the following day including one of a demonstrator who attached himself to the axle on the underside of a police vehicle, with a large metal pipe.

Yesterday 20 women were arrested, most of whom blocked a bridge, as another suspended herself below the bridge, which spanned the Illinois River. Police were unable to clear the roadway, which was blocked by support lines that held the platform and its occupant from falling into the icy waters below. Search and Rescue teams were able to remove the protester hours later. In the meantime three women temporarily halted loggers on another road where they had locked down. There have been allegations of abuse by corrections officers at Josephine County Jail. At least one of the women who were arrested last Wednesday has been singled out and placed in "lockdown," segregated from the rest of the jail population, since her arrest. A tree-sit was raised in unit 7 and has not yet been removed.