Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cascadia Summer 2009

Earth First! summer time roadshow
By Cass K. Dia


Imagine a land with lush ancient forests, infinite shades of green, exotic creatures and a picturesque rocky coastline. Cascadia is the portion of the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade Mountains that ranges from northern California up to the southern tip of Alaska. It is also a land scarred by a history of ongoing conflict between timber barons and grassroots environmental movements. Within the zone of an internationally recognized biodiversity heritage site (the Klamath-Rogue-Umpqua Watersheds) we are preparing for the onslaught of thousands of acres of clear-cuts and devastation this summer.

In western Oregon we are launching a forest defense campaign that will include many creative tools such as non-violent direct action (tree sits and more!), picnics, education, colorful community creation, media outreach, double dutch competitions, broad outreach, hikes, puppet shows, engaging representatives, and lobbying. We will be here fighting together for the forests we love. We will have a camp in the forest and friendly houses in the city and we're inviting comrades young and less young, experienced and less experienced to join us for a summer, a month or just a few days.

We are currently faced with the implementation of the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) enacted on Dec. 31, 2008; a last attempt by the Bush Administration to attack what remains of this nation's ancient forests. The WOPR allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to completely renege on its responsibilities under Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) and increase logging by 436%! 70% of this new logging under the WOPR would be clearcuts! Of our last remaining old growth stands, 100,000 acres would be cut and existing riparian zone protections would be cut by half. With over 30,000 official public comments against the WOPR, the BLM is clearly ignoring public opinion with these plans. This summer we shall make them listen.

Unfortunately, the WOPR is not the only thing we have to worry about. The BLM has also auctioned and awarded the 'rights' to slaughter more than 25,000 acres of public forests this summer, altogether separate from WOPR plans. Since 2004, the Oregon BLM has been found guilty of breaking federal law by 9th Circuit federal courts in at least six separate cases involving timber sales in southern Oregon. When breaking the law becomes tiresome one can always change the law, with enough money, as we have seen with the WOPR. Another imminently threatened area, Elliot State Forest, has sometimes slipped under the radar. State forests are managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and unlike federal forests have no public input process at all. Much of the Elliot is speckled with clearcuts and herbicides but nearly half of the Elliot has never been logged. This summer 500 acres of Elliot State Forest are set to be cut.

In the times of Oregon past, such policy changes have met with tangible, on-the-ground resistance. After Clinton passed the Salvage rider in 1996 (a 16 month suspension of NWFP protections) defenders of Warner Creek mounted the longest road-blockade in U.S. history, the largest mass arrest in Eugene since the Vietnam War. The first Cascadia Summer was organized in 2003 to confront similar erosions of environmental laws on public forest lands inspired by Judi Bari (rest her soul) and the work of Redwood Summer. This is only the latest season of resistance here in Cascadia; our heritage is rich.

In these bleak times we stand with the last 5% of this country's old-growth. Countless sister and brother creatures and their homes in the forest are in danger. The spotted owl continues its 4% a year descent into extinction. Approximately 40,000 rural Oregonians live within one half-mile of BLM land and the security of their homes, drinking water, and local economies are already under assault. In the face of these concerns WOPR timber harvesting would further scar 1 million acres.

As long as the forests are threatened and we are able, every summer will be Cascadia Summer. The government repression of the last few years has weakened our communities, and many of our comrades are held hostage by the prison state; but our resistance cannot, and shall, not fade away. With the global economic crisis we have a window of unique opportunity: the compulsive building has slowed and timber prices are severely slumped. These companies cannot afford to deal with costly opposition. We invite you to join us in joyful resistance and ecological defense. Where will you be this summer when the chainsaws roll and the trees cry out?

Important Dates in Cascadia this 2009 summer

May 23-25 Cascadia Summer Campaign Action Camp

June 20-26 Trans and Womyns Action Camp

June 29-July 6 Earth First! Round River Rendezvous

July 8-July 15 EF! Climbers Guild Intensive Climb Camp

To contact your Cascadian welcoming committee, for more information, or to get involved in any capacity, please visit forestdefensenow.org or email forestdefensenow@gmail.com. We'll see you in the woods, we'll see you in town, in the legislature, on the street or wherever you frequent, there we shall meet.

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