Environment Magazine

Throwback Thursday: Kalmiopsis Blockade Begins

Posted on the 22 May 2014 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

from Earth First! Journal

May 1st, 1983

“The Forest Service is an outlaw agency. If we don’t stop them in the Kalmiopsis, there won’t be any old growth forest left on the Pacific Coast outside of currently designated wilderness and parks.”

So said Marcy Willow of Eugene as Oregon Earth First! launched a nonviolent blockade of construction of the Bald Mountain Road along the northern boundary of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area in southwest Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest. “We’re here to stand with the big trees and Bigfoor,” said Lizabeth Capizzi of Corvallis.

The controversial Forest Service road is designed to snake along the high ridge from Flat Top out to Bald Mountain between the Illinois River and Silver Creek and “open up” 150,000 acres of wild, rugged country for clearcutting. The road will wipe out portions of the popular Illinois River Trail and come within six inches of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary. The Silver Creek country to the north of Bald Mountain has long been proposed for addition to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, but opposition from Senator Mark Hatfield has prevented its protection.

The vast Kalmiopsis country, probably the largest and most important roadless area in Oregon, has been under sustained Forest Service attack for several decades. It is almost as if the Forest Service feels challenged by the fragility and magic of the area and must destroy it to prove their manhood. The values of the area cannot be exaggerated: the world’s most diverse coniferous forest; rare endemic plants; sparkling wild rivers and streams providing prime steelhead and salmon habitat; spotted owl, wolverine otter, mountain lion and bear habitat; primary range for the legendary Bigfoot; potential habitat for wolf and grizzly. Despite the diversity and lushness of the forest, much of the area is poorly forested due to highly mineralized soils, and the soils are highly susceptible to destruction if disturbed. The Forest Service has ignored reports on soil instability as well as other please for preservation.

The Siskiyou National Forest is so dedicated to smashing Bald Mountain Road through the Kalmiopsis that it has specifically brought in 6-ft. 5-in., 220 pound, motorcycle-riding District Ranger Bob Butler to do the job. Butler’s main accomplishments to date are felling a tree on the Forest Supervisor’s car and using his face for an emergency brake on his motorcycle, according to one local Earth First!er. “We’re not afraid of him,” said Marcy Willow. “The Forest Service will learn that the wilderness is bigger than all of us.”

The blockade was organized by affinity groups of Earth First! from Grants Pass, Medford, Eugene and Corvallis, with help from the Bigfoot Preservation Society. “We need help from all over Oregon, California, and the West,” Lizabeth Capizzi said in urging the formation of other affinity groups to take part. “We’re saving old growth forest everywhere.”

“We’re in this for the long run,” said Mike Roselle, from Jackson, Wyoming. “If necessary we’ll be here ’til snow flies in the fall.” He urged people to phone the special Kalmiopsis Blockade hotline in Grants pass at 503-474-0259 or their local Earth First! contact for up-to-date information and instructions on joining the blockade.

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