MCKENZIE BRIDGE, OR – Monday morning, community members occupied log decks along Highway 126, stopping active post-fire logging operations for an hour. The action comes amidst growing controversy over the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) mismanagement of the hazard tree removal.
For months now, concerns have been mounting about ODOT falsely marking and over-logging healthy, living trees and standing dead trees that pose no public risk along the scenic route and across the state. Recently, during a Senate hearing those fears were confirmed by expert whistleblowers (source link). However, the excessive cutting has not been stopped, despite calls from prominent state Senators. Within the fire boundary along Highway 126, piles of timber including old growth can be seen, directly next to living trees marked with blue paint to be logged.
Troubled by the scene, four community members entered the site where a helicopter was yarding logs hoping to halt the work, in an act of nonviolent direct action. Two of them got on the already decked logs, while one person put themself in the mouth of the log loader. Waving at the helicopter that was actively moving a log, they attempted to catch the attention of the pilot in order to safely stop the yarding process. The helicopter stopped yarding and hovered, empty, for a period of time.
At this point, the loggers on the ground were unable to continue work. In response to the work pausing, employees from Mason, Bruce & Girard [MBG] told the community members that their actions caused thousands of dollars in profits lost for the logging corporation.
As two community members continued to occupy the log decks, two more followed to where the helicopter was then working. Despite this, Joel Zeni from Suulutaaq, Inc allowed the helicopter to continue yarding logs on the occupied worksite.
Clover, a community member, said:
“By labeling post-fire logging as ‘hazard tree removal,’ ODOT contractors are using the fires from last summer as an excuse to make record profits under the guise of community safety and at the expense of taxpayers. Now is the time for all of us to take a role in protecting what’s left by stopping this irresponsible and destructive logging.”
Jesse, a community member, said:
“We have nothing against the individual workers doing their jobs; we want ODOT, MBG and Suulutaaq, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to stop exploiting this disaster by ending all post-fire logging. We urge others to join us.”
Lane County sheriffs and state patrol were called to the scene. Once work had been stopped for an hour and the demands were made clear, the community members left the site peacefully.
Cascadia Forest Defenders, 541-357-6531 firstname.lastname@example.org