A price tag for protest

 

OREGON

Sitting in trees to save them may become a costly pastime, if the Oregon Department of Forestry has its way. Since August, protesters have prevented logging in the Tillamook State Forest by occupying platforms in the boughs of giant trees, and the department is considering an unusual method to deal with them: charging protesters for the timber they cannot cut.

"We are the managers of these forests," says department spokesman Jeff Foreman. "If we're not able to log where we're supposed to, it's going to cost the taxpayers of Oregon." Charging protesters may be a way to deter them and make up lost income, he says.

The idea of charging for lumber lost won't discourage protesters, says Sarah Wald, a volunteer with the Cascadia Forest Alliance, a group supporting the tree-sits. But it would "show how determined the Department of Forestry is to put profits first," she says.

Foreman says the idea is only in preliminary stages. The Oregon Department of Forestry has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the legal grounds for billing protesters.