Environment Magazine

Cascadia Forest Defenders Promise Action on Elliott State Forest Privatization

Posted on the 18 March 2014 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

A taste of things to come…

from Cascadia Forest Defenders

To Big Timber,

March 28th is the day that Northwest Realty Auction Company will close its sealed bid auction for almost 3,000 acres of the Elliott State Forest. This auction will permanently transfer parts of the forest from the Oregon Department of Forestry to the private timber company that bids the highest, thus ‘privatizing the Elliott’. Many people and groups have voiced strong protest to this land sale. Conservation groups have threatened to sue any timber company that purchases these lands. Cascadia Forest Defenders will blockade and prevent the extraction of
timber in these parcels. The Elliott is a forest, not private property, and it will remain so.

If these forests are privatized, we know what the outcome will be. We have seen the way that private timber companies have destroyed the land they own. The loss of wildlife habitat, salmon streams and our legacy of ancient forest are all visible costs of the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Not to mention the legacy of Glyphosphate, Atrizine and landslides that come pouring down off of private lands in this state. With less than 5% of Oregon’s native coast range forest remaining, we cannot afford to sacrifice anymore of our landscape to these outcomes.

Oregon Department of Forestry has been unable to log in most of the Elliott because of a lawsuit filed by conservation groups on behalf of endangered species. The only reason that timber companies could log in
the Elliott before this lawsuit, was by ignoring environmental laws and choosing to value profit for timber barons over the remaining coastal ecosystems. Frustrated that the Elliott is no longer producing a profit for the Common School Fund, the State Land Board is trying to wash their hands of the Elliott, rather then work towards real solutions, like separating school funding from extractive industry.

The 2,728 acres to be sold, split into 3 parcels, have a minimum bid of 3.6 million dollars. Initially appraised at a value of over 22 million dollars, the value declined because citizen surveyors found a significant presence of the endangered Marbled Murrelet. Instead of complying with their own laws and dropping the land sale, the State Land
Board went over the heads of the public, the environmentalists and the law, and made these parcels even more appetizing for big timber. The state once again gives no incentive towards conservation and only encourages destruction of ancient forests.

Throughout the long struggle for this forest, we have learned what we already suspected; that money is the only thing that matters to the powers that be. We followed the legal avenues, the relegated channels of protest. We gave public testimony, we went on public hikes. We met with the State Land Board and when we were ignored we shut down their offices and rappelled off the capitol. It is clear that the State Land Board doesn’t care about Coos and Douglas county Oregonians who are sick of seeing the hills above their homes yarded away to a timber mill while
their counties grow poorer. It is clear that the State Land Board doesn’t care about environmental laws as year after year they increase the take on endangered species. It is only clear that the State Land Board will always choose to support big timber at the expense of the people and ecosystems of Oregon.

The winner of these auctioned parcels will be taking away land from the public in the form of gates and ‘No Trespassing’ signs. The consequence to hikers, mushroom pickers, fishers and hunters is evident. The winners
of these parcels will have much more then just ‘treehuggers’ to deal with.

We will not respect new property lines, signs and gates. We will not respect a company that further degrades the integrity of Oregon’s fragmented coast.

Do not bid on these sales. If you become the owner of the Elliott, you will have activists up your trees and lawsuits on your desk. We will beat your office and in your mills. We are a unified movement determined to protect this land for the communities of life that call it home. We will never stop this fight.

For the Wild,
Cascadia Forest Defenders

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