Judging by the name the Forest Service has given to the second timber sale in the McKenzie Bridge area, that is exactly what they seem to be telling us. The “Golden” sale in the nearly 2,500 acre “Goose Project” is slated to meet its executioners on Tuesday, April 24th at the Springfield District Office of the US Forest Service.
This weekend, a number of folks affiliated with both Cascadia Forest Defenders and the McKenzie Bridge community hiked the proposed sale to see the “golden goose” for ourselves. We found a number of mature stands with trees well over 200 years old, a thick and layered canopy with a healthy, growing understory and a moss-carpeted ground cover populated with fungi and a diverse community of ferns, salal, blackberries and other plant species. We hiked the narrow buffers along riparian streams and tributaries for our municipal water supply, marveled at the beauty of soaring madrone and chinquapin, gathered hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum) and counted numerous species of moss and lichen. Our verdict? The forests of the McKenzie Bridge community are a far greater education than the textbook indoctrinations to be found in our failing school system. More than that, these forest lands are sacred and a promise that life might continue. Calling them a “golden goose” like the coveted bird in the folktale, which is cut open to pillage for treasures, is a sad joke on the stark reality of timber mismanagement and de-forestry.
So why is the USFS pawning off this beautiful, ancient creature for a few rotten eggs? Of course they will tell you that it is for her own good. They are “improving” her condition, developing her into something better. Namely, clearcuts masquerading as elk habitat, weeding out the Douglas-Fir monocrop disguised as “fire load reduction and taking old growth, well… because our public offices are lobbied and infiltrated by cut-throat timber barons who, frankly, don’t give a fuck about any of us, the forest included.
If this is your first time hearing about a new logging project in the McKenzie Bridge area, you are not alone. It was only last month, when the first piece of the Goose was auctioned off to the notorious criminals at Seneca Jones, that locals to the area even learned about the plan. But the quiet before the storm is over and the Goose Project boondoggle is destined to become a shining example of community-based resistance to big timber.
Once Seneca Jones got involved last month, the rotten stink started to fill the air around McKenzie Bridge. The local district Forest Service hurried together a “town meeting” in a half-assed attempt to build some rapport. At the meeting, the district ranger Terry Baker was publicly denounced and forced to admit to being a liar. At this point, the USFS has lost a significant amount of credibility with the McKenzie Bridge community. The doublespeak is not working anymore. Clearcuts are clearcuts.
At this point, there is little potential for the courts to intervene, as the Environmental Assessment is already completed, public comment period expired, appeals rejected. However, there is a strong community voice that has begun to speak in defense of the forest. If we can continue this momentum, we might still win the day. First and foremost, we cannot let the next sale go through on Tuesday, April 24th. But, out at the Golden Goose, preparations are already under way. They have already gone ahead and cleared the staging ground for the skyline yarder, leaving a trashed landscape of torn earth and slash.
Stay tuned for McKenzie Bridge event announcements this week!