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Forest Defenders climb capitol

The Cascadia Forest Defenders are normally spotted in old-growth trees, but today they decicided to scale the Capitol building in Salem. 

Here is CFD's press release:

Cascadia Forest Defenders Scale Golden Pioneer Proclaiming “KITZHABER'S LEGACY: PRIVATIZING THE ELLIOTT – CLEARCUTTING FOR PROFIT”

 Salem, Oregon- This morning, two members of Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) climbed off the side of the “Oregon Pioneer” statue atop the state capitol with a banner proclaiming “KITZHABER'S LEGACY: PRIVATIZING THE ELLIOTT FOREST – CLEARCUTTING FOR PROFIT.”  The State Land Board—Governor John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler— will decide on a proposal to sell 2,714 acres of the Elliott State Forest at their December 10th meeting.

 The proposal comes after years of public protest and litigation over mismanagement of State Forest Lands as well as a sweeping lawsuit by conservation groups that has effectively halted most logging of sensitive habitat in the Elliott. With no guarantee that private owners would retain public values of conservation, CFD opposes the sale of public forest land.

 “We are protesting because we think Oregonians deserve to know that their public land is being sold to private industry.  If it is privatized, we will never be able to have a say on what happens to it again. This is our public comment,” says Erin Grady of Cascadia Forest Defenders.

 The plans for privatization include three parcels in the Western side of the Elliott State Forest. All three parcels contain sections of mature, never-before-logged forest  — suitable habitat for the marbled murrelet, an endangered sea bird that nests in old growth. This summer, a group of volunteer marbled murrelet surveyors with the Coos County-based conservation group Coast Range Forest Watch, documented murrelet nesting behavior in one of these parcels, making it a candidate for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Department of State Lands (DSL) says that the land sale is necessary in light of a pending lawsuit--filed last year by several conservation groups on behalf of the marbled murrelet — that has made the Elliott "unproductive." Cascadia Forest Defenders are concerned that the parcels will be sold to the highest bidder — most likely to private timber companies. Much of the private land that surrounds the Elliott State Forest is already managed by the Washington-based Weyerhaeuser Corporation, one of the largest landowners in North America. Under private ownership, raw logs from the 2,700 acres could be exported overseas, rather than processed in local mills, furthering hurting the economies of Douglas and Coos County.

 Even under public management, sensitive habitat in the Elliott is threatened by destructive logging practices. The Oregon Department of Forestry will resume clearcutting of ancient forest within the Elliott this fall. Salander Between, a 32-acre timber sale of mature, never before logged forest in the Loon Lake watershed— a popular recreation spot for Coos and Douglas County residents— is up for auction in October.

“Considering what a small percentage of the Common School Fund is actually made up by logging the Elliott, it is a travesty to permanently destroy this ecosystem and further destroy the watershed of Coos and Douglas County Citizens,” says Ben Jones of Cascadia Forest Defenders.

 DSL's proposal comes at a time when public officials at the state and federal level are also pushing for more aggressive management, and potentially privatization, of our O&C forest lands--millions of acres of low elevation forest currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Whether it's Defazio and Wyden on federal forests or Kitzhaber on state lands, Oregon democrats seems to be leading the charge on turning our remaining forests into dollars for private timber, at the expense of Oregon's people, watersheds and ecosystems,” says Jones.

 No to privatization of the Elliott!

 -Cascadia Forest Defenders