Greenpeace opens first U.S. forest rescue station in Oregon to monitor 'crimes' against the forest

The Olympian


GALICE, Ore. -- Deep in the woods, Greenpeace opened its newest front in the fight against old-growth logging.

Twenty miles west of Galice, on the edge of the Bureau of Land Management's proposed Kelsey Whiskey timber sales, Greenpeace members have set up several tents, a fire truck and a satellite communications system powered by solar energy.

The forest rescue station, which opened Tuesday, provides a place for Greenpeace to monitor "crimes" against the forest and for visitors to learn about the ecological importance of the region. The station is the group's first such place in the United States.

"If the American people don't draw a line in the sand, then the Bush administration is going to leave us with a tragic legacy, a graveyard of stumps," Ginger Cassady, a member of the "Forest Crime Unit," said.

"Greenpeace has come to southern Oregon because this is a place of international significance," she said. "We are here to support the local efforts trying to save these forests."

Greenpeace campaign director Bill Richardson, a 16-year veteran of actions in forests and aboard ships, said the group has a history of protecting forests worldwide.

"Oregon has one of the most biologically diverse old-growth ecosystems in the country," he said.

He declined to discuss what actions the group, which has a history of peaceful protests, would do to stop logging on Kelsey Whiskey.

Mary Smelcer, associate manager of the BLM's Medford District, said she hopes a representative of the group contacts the agency.

"They haven't communicated with us," she said. "At this point, we'll spend some time making contact with them and talking to them. People have a right to camp on public lands."

The first Kelsey Whiskey timber sale, which includes about 9 million board feet being logged on around 800 acres, is expected to be sold this summer, she said. She said the sales are in full compliance with environmental laws.

Jay Lininger disagrees. The southern Oregon native and a graduate student of forest ecology and fire science at the University of Montana at Missoula said he believes logging the area threatens the environment.

"The Kelsey Whiskey sale is emblematic of an addiction by BLM foresters to log the largest, most ecological valuable trees on public land," he said.



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