20 Arrested in Timber Sale Protest
WILLIAMS, Ore. (AP) _ Twenty protesters were arrested Monday for crossing a roadblock meant to keep them away from a timber company harvesting virgin forest.
The roadblocks went up in the Siskiyou National Forest last week as Boise Cascade Corp. prepared to harvest Douglas fir and ponderosa pine, some more than 400 years old, on 675 acres. The company paid the U.S. Forest Service $2.3 million for the Sugarloaf timber sale.
About 125 people marched to one of four roadblocks erected to close 35 square miles around the site. Protesters laid flowers under the gate and repeatedly asked law enforcement officers from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to let them through to go to their ``church″ _ the forest _ to pray.
A few people walked around the roadblocks, then were followed by more, some running through the brush to escape officers. Among those arrested were two women carrying babies and someone dressed as the Forest Service mascot, Woodsy Owl.
The Forest Service said they would be charged with trespassing, which carries a six-month jail sentence and a $5,000 fine.
The Forest Service found evidence of protesters inside the forest, including a platform rigged in a tree so someone could camp out in the branches to prevent it being cut down, said Siskiyou spokeswoman Sue Olson. Blue paint marking trees to be cut was covered over with brown paint.
The Forest Service also found about 30 metal spikes driven into tree trunks to damage loggers’ saws. Bark had grown over the spikes, indicating they probably were left over from protests in 1992, Olson said.
The Sugarloaf timber sale originally was proposed about 20 years ago, and has become a lightning rod for opposition to logging in old-growth forests in the Northwest. The timber company plans to take 9.5 million board feet of wood.
In 1990, Sugarloaf was one of a group of sales that Congress exempted from court challenges to provide timber while logging was tied up over the northern spotted owl. Harvest was held up while the Forest Service sorted out environmental concerns.
Now the sale lies inside an old-growth reserve set aside from most logging under the Northwest forest plan, developed by the Forest Service under court order to protect habitat for the spotted owl and other wildlife.
But because the sale predates the forest plan, it has remained protected from court challenges.