Public Rally Against Westside “Salvage” Logging Calls on Forest Service to “Stop Westside”

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Thursday, July 14th, 2016

StopWestSide_brookeanderson-23Public locked out of National Forest while private companies log for $2.50 a truck load – Despite rains, about 20 people gathered at the Grider Creek Campground to protest the massive clear-cut logging plan and forest closure in the Klamath National Forest. The timber sale that will purportedly take 102 Northern Spotted Owls, possibly result in a localized extinction of coho salmon, and negatively impact salmon bearing creeks and rivers is ironically called the Westside Fire Recovery Project. The timber sales are being sold for as little as fifty cents per thousand acre board feet to private timber companies, who are logging behind locked gates where members of the public are not allowed to enter or document the destruction that is taking place. The price for these forests amounts to $2.50 for an entire truck load of timber, from public forest lands containing endangered species, salmon bearing streams and old growth forests.

The Grider Creek Campground where the rally took place is surrounded by the project area and is located along the Pacific Crest Trail, where many backpackers were passing through and camping. The week before the rally was held, the Klamath National Forest’s website said the campground was open, and a phone call to the Klamath National Forest headquarters and Happy Camp offices verified that they were open. However, the day before the rally, Forest Supervisor, Patricia Grantham notified the Environmental Protection Information Center and Klamath Riverkeeper (rally organizers) that the campground was closed, but that she would issue a permit for the group to assemble. During the group picnic a Forest Service employee who regularly tends the campground said that the campground is and has been open.

As part of the Westside project, most of the largest trees in the campground had already been logged, and only large stumps remained along the creek. These stumps were likely marked as “hazard trees,” but it was clear that only the large marketable trees had been taken, and other potentially hazardous trees that were less marketable were left teetering over the trails.

Background

The Karuk Tribe, whose ancestral territory is within the project area, as well as environmental groups have been trying to work with the Klamath National Forest to promote a less environmentally destructive alternative, which has been proposed as the Karuk Plan, a plan that focuses on strategic ridge top fuel breaks, roadside hazard treatments, and minimizes the amount of large-scale salvage logging that would impact rivers, salmon and Northern spotted owls.

Since the inception of the Westside Project, Native American tribes, environmentalists and river communities that would be affected by the project have actively expressed opposition to the project, which is one of the largest timber sale projects ever proposed in the history of Klamath National Forest.

About two months ago, a protest took place along Walker Creek Road, a main artery into the Walker Creek Timber Sale, and a couple days later Klamath National Forest announced that a huge area surrounding the timber sale had been closed to the public. Many individuals and groups have tried to obtain permits to enter the closure area to “ground truth,” which consists of walking the project area and fact-checking to see if the logging on the ground is consistent with the Project Design Features, but to our knowledge, these requests have been denied.

After gathering at the Grider Creek Campground, the group went up to the end of Walker Creek Road, where the forest closure begins, and was greeted by Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers who were guarding the closure area and told the group they could only enter the closure area if they had a permit from the Forest Service office. Many members in the group had previously requested permits, but had been denied.

Our public forests are being auctioned off to private companies at dirt cheap prices, and endangered species habitat and old growth forests are being logged despite a pending court case that has been filed by the Karuk Tribe, EPIC, Klamath Riverkeeper, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Thanks to Brooke Anderson for taking these awesome photos!