Logging starts on first timber sale in
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP)
-- With no protesters in sight, logging
started Monday on the first timber sale in a
national forest roadless area since the Bush
administration eased logging restrictions.
The logging went ahead
after a federal judge in San Francisco last
week declined to delay the work pending her
ruling on lawsuits by conservation groups
and four states challenging the Bush
administration's new "roadless rule." That
rule eased a Clinton administration rule
that had put 58.5 million acres of national
forests off-limits to most logging, mining
Loggers told The
Grants Pass Daily Courier they felled about
150 dead Douglas firs between 50 inches and
22 inches in diameter in their first day of
work on the Mike's Gulch timber sale on the
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Work
was expected to go on for about two months.
Patty Burel said there were no protesters in
the logging area when logging started early
Monday morning. The area had burned in the
2002 Biscuit fire, and it remained open to
the public. Helicopters were not yet hauling
out the logs.
About 80 protesters
instead gathered outside forest headquarters
in Medford, said Rolf Skar, campaign
coordinator for the Siskiyou Project, an
environmental group based in Grants Pass.
"The people want to
shine a light on the leadership of the
Forest Service playing politics with our
forests," said Skar. "This isn't really
about loggers vs. conservation efforts. This
is about the Bush administration playing
politics with our last best forests."
Eleven people were
arrested on charges of disorderly conduct
after they sat down in the road and blocked
traffic, said Medford police Lt. Tim George.
Last year, the Forest
Service was able to quickly clear protesters
trying to block roads leading to timber
sales within an old growth forest reserve
burned by the Biscuit fire.
Silver Creek Timber
Co. of Merlin paid $300,052 for the 9
million board feet of burned timber on
Mike's Gulch, which will bring to 57 million
board feet the amount of burned timber
harvested from the 500,000 acres burned by
the Biscuit fire.
The same company was
the high bidder Friday on the Blackberry
timber sale, which is also in a roadless
area and the last of the Biscuit salvage
sales. It is 8 million board feet.
administration policy had put roadless areas
off-limits to commercial logging to protect
clean water, and fish and wildlife habitat.
administration rule requires governors to
propose management plans for the roadless
areas in their states, but leaves the final
decision to log with the U.S. Forest
and the states of Oregon, Washington,
California and New Mexico have lawsuits
challenging the validity of the Bush
administration's overhaul of rules for
logging in roadless areas. The lawsuits
claim the new policy was adopted without
meeting demands for public involvement under
the National Environmental Policy Act.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski
has said he will ask the Bush administration
not to log the roadless areas in Oregon, and
complained that logging Mike's Gulch was
going back on a promise not to enter them
until the state's petition was reviewed.
Hearings begin this week to develop Oregon's
administration has said the Mike's Gulch
logging is part of an operation to salvage
timber burned by the 2002 Biscuit fire, and
does not come under the new roadless rule.
Roadless areas make up
a third of the area of national forests
around the country. They are generally
larger than 5,000 acres and usually were not
logged because their remote and rugged
character made it too expensive. They have
been assessed for their potential as
wilderness areas, where logging is
prohibited by act of Congress.