I work as a recreation forester for the Mount Hood National Forest where the Enola Hill timber sale is taking place and the sale has no "350-year-old Douglas fir that loom," as HCN intern Bill Taylor reports (HCN, 5/27/96): The trees are about 90 years old, assuming they were germinated after a big 1910 fire that swept much of the area. The sale is not a 158-acre clearcut; it is selective cutting of trees (with helicopters) affected by laminated root-rot fungus. The 6 acres of clearcut that were tossed into the sale by the frenetic demands of the salvage rider were dropped because subsequent negotiating with Hanel Lumber Co. enabled the Forest Service to delete parts of the sale. Those 6 acres are located in what President Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan designates a Riparian Reserve where one does not harvest timber unless it somehow benefits the riparian habitat such as to thin timber to create larger diameter (future old growth) trees. The remaining Enola Hill sale is within a designated viewshed in which the agency would never prescribe ugly clearcuts regardless of silvicultural needs.
The Native American argument over Enola Hill is probably the weakest argument out there. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs - with known history on the involved lands - have repeatedly denied any cultural link to Enola Hill, other than berry picking throughout the whole area, and have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Friends of Enola Hill pronouncements.
Put yourself in the shoes of Rip Lone Wolf's Nez Perce ancestors. Would they have walked across the state of Oregon to the west side of the Cascade Mountains (wet, dark and miserable to a Columbia Plateau Indian) when they could go a few miles to overlook Hells Canyon in quest of visions? I doubt it, but I was not a Nez Perce 150 years ago. Our local Indians, within 50 miles, say their ancestors did not use Enola, or at least never passed down stories about it.
My friend and co-worker, Beth Walton, the Mount Hood National Forest archaeologist- not an anthropologist - has consistently told the Friends of Enola that the agency would gladly and enthusiastically protect known cultural sites if they are pointed out. If Lone Wolf can point out verifiable burial sites, you can bet the agency will honor and protect them to the point of bringing criminal charges against anyone who threatens them. However, such sites must be credible, otherwise anyone with the intent of stopping a timber sale, hiking trail, or snowmobile parking area, for example, could claim the entire national forest as a special site deserving protection. The Forest Service takes American Indian cultural values very seriously, but we must be sure we are not dealing with crackpots who may cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars in needless reviews (or litigation) as this case has done.
Finally, the 9th Circuit Court had nothing to do with this timber sale. That court was involved with an access-to-private-land issue on Enola Hill several years ago with a road use permit that the Forest Service issued to loggers who had to cross a mile of public land to do what the landowner lawfully contracted them to do. In the Enola sale case, a U.S. District Court agreed with the Forest Service compliance process and the view of Enola as general forest without cultural concerns.