Protesters take to the trees again in Elliott State Forest

Protesters take to the trees again in Elliott State Forest
This July 6, 2009 photo shows an environmental activist looking out from a suspended platform in the Elliott State Forest east of Reedsport, Ore. Oregon. (AP Photo/The News-Review, Robin Loznak)

COOS COUNTY, Ore. -- A group of protesters have constructed a platform in some trees in the Elliott State Forest, along with a road blockade. This is the same area where Earth First! protesters were arrested back in 2009.

According to Kevin Weeks of the Oregon Department of Forestry, a group of people from Cascadia Forest Defenders have constructed the platform and have one or two people currently on it.

The group has also constructed a road blockage.

ODF officials were on-scene this morning to assess the situation, and Weeks says the process is ongoing.

Weeks estimates around 10 people are involved in the protest.

KPIC News received an email from Jason Gonzales of Cascadia Forest Defenders this morning, stating that people with heavy equipment were trying to destroy the blockade. The email alleged that people have almost fallen 'to their death' due to the actions.

ODF officials could not confirm this took place, but urge citizens to stay away from the area until the situation is resolved.

KPIC News has a reporter heading to the scene, and more updates will be available on this Web site and our TV affiliates.

The following is the original press release from the group of protesters:

Early Tuesday morning a number of activists with Cascadia Forest Defenders, and Cascadia Earth First! unfolded a series of road blockades in the Elliott State Forest, located in Coos County, closing access points to timber sales along the west fork of the Millicoma River.  The blockades consist of an array of Tree-sits and ground level locking devices. The activists are prepared to block logging in this sensitive eco-system for as long as necessary.

The sales are all slated for clear-cut logging, and are areas of native forest that have never before seen a chain saw.  They exist on steep slopes where erosion from logging threatens to further damage Salmon habitat, as well as devastate already dwindling numbers of protected species such as the Marbled Murrelet and the Northern Spotted Owl. Native forests refers to forest that has never before been logged, but can include forests that have experienced wildfire. Please see www.forestdefensenow.com for regular updates on this developing situation.

“For decades, activists in the northwest pushed the forest service into changing there ways for the better, and we have seen dramatic improvements in the types of projects federal agencies are working on, The Oregon Department of Forestry has taken the opposite route, showing total disregard for life, and the health of these ecosystems, this is the beginning of a long term campaign that aims to see state lands managed for sustainability, bio-diversity and the overall health of the ecosystem, we will keep the pressure on in The Elliot, and all over the state of Oregon from this point forward” –Jason Gonzales, Cascadia Forest Defenders.

“The Oregon Department of Forestry’s 2011 Implementation Plan aims to increase clearcutting in the Elliot from 500 acre to 850 acres per year,” says Meredith Cocks of Cascadia Forest Defenders. “The clearcutting in the Elliot is the worst in the state.  They would never allow cuts like this on federal forest.”

“Some of the biggest trees in the state and some of the last native forests are on the chopping block here in the Elliot.  Oregonians would be horrified if they saw the wholesale massacre that happens in this public lands year after year,” says Ben Jones of Cascadia Forest Defenders. 

Activists in the canopy have issued the following list of demands for the State Land Board and the Oregon Department of Forestry that they say must be met before they will willingly leave the forest:  

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

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

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

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

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

This action serves as a culmination of last weekend’s Forest Defense Action Camp.   Around 70 people from around Coos and Douglas county, as well as other areas of Oregon and the country gathered near the Elkhorn Ranch ORV Park in the Elliot State Forest for the three day camp.   Attendants were educated on current threats to the Elliot State Forest as well as provided with trainings to engage in non-violent direct action, climbing and more.