Forest Defenders Declare Victory After 22-Day Tree Sit

Josephine County, OR – Environmentalists are declaring victory after occupying a stand of old growth forest for three weeks to prevent trees from being logged.

Forest defenders launched a tree sit on April 1 to prevent Boise Cascade Wood Products, the timber company who bought the logging rights, from cutting a stand of mature trees which represents some of the last remaining intact old growth in the region.

For 22 days, community members occupied a patch of old growth forest that sits inside the boundaries of the Poor Windy Forest Management Plan. The plan includes logging on 15,000 acres of publicly managed land in rural Josephine County, OR. On Monday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signed a modified contract that removes the construction of an access road from the plan. The road’s construction would have seen old growth trees harvested as “add-on volume” timber.

For the past three weeks, protesters have occupied the woods using a wooden platform hanging in an old growth ponderosa pine. The makeshift tree house sat more than 100 feet above the forest floor for the past 22 days with a forest defender occupying it.

Throughout the length of the tree sit, federal and state law enforcement monitored the protest, traveling to the encampment multiple times a week, a forest defender told Unicorn Riot.

On April 16, the BLM cited a protester who was camping at the base of the occupied tree for illegal camping, and on Tuesday the agency issued three more citations to forest defenders for illegal occupancy, an organizer told Unicorn Riot.

Loggers continued to fell trees nearby while forest defenders occupied the sit, according to forest defenders who spoke with Unicorn Riot.

As people occupied the trees, others protested in nearby towns. Community members held a rally outside the BLM’s Grants Pass office on April 18 calling for the agency to cancel all sales that target mature and old growth forests, including the Poor Windy project.

Community members rally outside the BLM offices in Grants Pass, OR on April 18. Photo courtesy of Siskiyou Rising Tide

While the federal government has made promises to prevent old growth logging, land management agencies like the BLM have continued to cut mature and old growth trees, often through road construction and clearing of landing pads for logging access.

Forest defenders were successful in protecting this patch of old growth trees, but they say there’s more work to be done as hundreds of thousands of acres in the region are still at risk of being cut through similar loopholes.

The BLM has active timber sales across Oregon that include more than 788,000 of land to be logged. But forest defenders plan to put up a fight as they turn their attention to other timber sales.

Previous Coverage: Forest Defenders Launch Tree Sit to Stop Old Growth Logging in Oregon – April 7, 2024

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