Elliott State Forest

Reports are coming in from the Cascadia Forest Defenders that law enforcement is heading out to the Elliott to remove the protesters.

EW has calls into the Oregon Department of Forestry to confirm the recent developments.

The R-G has not made it out to cover the protest, but there is a nice story in The Coos Bay World.

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Photo by Trip Jennings

One of the three tree-sit platforms in the Elliott State Forest was knocked out of the tree it was attached to last night by an unidentified man on a bulldozer, according to Jason Gonzales of the Cascadia Forest Defenders.

The platform was attached to a slash pile that was blocking the nearby logging road. Gonzales says a man on a bulldozer "plowed through" the slash pile causing the platform to drop out of the tree and the people sitting on it to fall.

He says the two people on the platform had back-up lines attached to the tree, which kept them from plunging to their death.

As of last night, he says, law enforcement had not been present at the protest, but might have arrived by this morning.

EW is waiting for comment from the Oregon Department of Forestry and the State Land Board in response to the blockades and tree sits and the effort to halt clearcut logging on the Elliott.

See http://blogs.eugeneweekly.com/content/action-elliott for the previous update on the Elliott protest.

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Tree sit anchored to the road

UPDATE

According to Julie Curtis, communications manager, Oregon Department of State Lands:

The Department of State Lands is aware of the protest in the Elliott State Forest, and we are working with the Department of Forestry and law enforcement to assess the current situation. Our primary concerns are the safety of all persons involved, and ensuring the protesters are not obstructing timber sales nor damaging state property.

Second UPDATE

From Kevin Weeks, Oregon Department of Forestry

ODF is in an assessment mode on Wednesday to determine where road blockages have been established and where people may be occupying timber sales within the Elliott State Forest. Safety is our top concern, not only for those persons occupying platforms within trees but also to ensure the safety of other users of the forest and ODF personnel.

The occupation ODF is aware of is occurring in the Elkhorn Ranch timber sale. This 86-acre unit was sold in October 2009. It is primarily second-growth Douglas fir trees ranging in age from about 75 to 125 years old. It was purchased by Scott Timber Company for $ 1.27 million.

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The effort to save Oregon state lands from logging ramped up in the predawn hours of July 26 when the Cascadia Forest Defenders, Earth First! and other activists put up tree sits and blockaded access to several timber sales along the west fork of the Millicoma River in the Elliott State Forest.

The Oregon Department of Forestry is planning to ramp up the logging on the native, previously uncut, forest, which is home to the Endangered Species Act-listed marbled murrelet. CFD and Earth First! are planning use direct action campaigning to stop the logging.

The protest is the culmination of a four-day “action camp” to train forest activists and support nonviolent direct defense of the coastal rainforest.

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Action camp participant learns tree climbing

“Direct action is one of our most effective tools for creating change in this country,” says Kim Marks of Rising Tide North America. “Just ask the suffragettes, the Underground Railroad and the unions which created the eight-hour workday and ended child labor camps.” Marks led workshops on strategic campaigning and on renegade blockades at the action camp.

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Kim Marks

At 93,000 acres the Elliott State Forest is the largest original coastal forest left in Oregon, according to conservation group Cascadia Wildands, which has been working to defend the Elliott through lawsuits and public comments. The group says ODF not only plans to start clearcutting on the previously intact western half of the forest, but also the logging on the forest could increase to 1,000 acres a year.

Jason Gonzales of CFD, and one of the organizers of the action camp, says the group wants to send a message to ODF that “we’re in the fight to win.” He points out that after years of “relentless direct action” the Forest Service had to change its ways. He says that agency still has its problems, but has made vast improvements, where “ODF as an agency has been going the opposite way.”

CFD organizer Meredith Cocks called the clearcutting on the Elliott, “really atrocious,” and says “A lot of people in the group are really passionate about it.”

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Meredith Cocks (left) and Emmalyn Garrett

The camp, which was partly supported by donations from local businesses, at its height drew over 70 participants both local and from across the country. Many attendees came from the recent Earth First! Rendezvous in Montana, which culminated in a protest against Big Oil at the governor’s office that made headlines across the country.

The CFD camp, deep in the Elliott off long and winding forest roads (that got certain EW reporters a little lost), had workshops ranging from educating activists about the Elliott, to wilderness survival and tree climbing, to fighting oppression.

Participants also learned informally from chatting with more experienced activists about the nuts and bolts of living on a platform in an old-growth tree, surveying for red tree voles and other ways to protect the forests. Games were also used to train participants in running on steep slopes and through the forest’s understory.

CFD organizer Emmalyn Garrett says that the Elliott the trees of the forest are of more benefit to Oregon’s school children if left standing. The logging, she says, generates only a small percentage of school funds.

The Elliott State Forest, which is also used by Oregonians for recreation, is part of Oregon’s Common School Funds lands. A report on the Elliott by economist Eric Fruits that was presented to the State Land Board states, “Department of State Lands management of the Elliott State Forest yields returns of less than 1 percent.” The State Land Board is made up of Gov. Kitzhaber, the Oregon secretary of state and the state treasurer.

There is “a deep-seated issue of politicians and wealthy timber interests colluding to make a buck at the cost of Oregon’s future,” Garrett says. “Our group is really committed to being out here and having a sustained presence.”

The protesters have issued a list of demands, which are:

Cease all logging of native forests on public land in Oregon.

Put a moratorium on all logging and road construction in the Elliot State Forest

Halt the export of raw logs from all Oregon forest, public or private

Reject the Oregon Department of Forestry’s 2011 Implementation Plan for the Elliot State Forest.

Stop the use of herbicides and the slaughter of the native mountain beaver.

The protest includes an all-woman's tree sit, a tree sit anchored to a road and several "ground-level blocking devices."

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Tree sit anchored to the road

In 2009 the Earth First! Round River Rendezvous on the Elliott also culminated with a protest on the Elliott that lasted several days and ended with almost 30 activists arrested.

Some of the camp’s attendees not involved in the current tree sit and blockades will be heading to the third Annual Cascadia Trans’ and Womyn’s Action Camp July 27 to Aug 1. For more info go to http://twac.wordpress.com/

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