Though forest activists have stopped controversial timber sales offered under the salvage rider in some places, they have taken a drubbing in others.
by car north of Warner Creek in the Detroit Ranger District,
hundreds of big trees have tumbled like tenpins all spring and
Four sales containing at least some
old-growth timber have been or are being cut, despite three
protests from late April to early August, during which the Forest
Service arrested 40 activists. Two more sales seem likely, despite
opposition from city officials in the state capital of Salem, 45
miles downstream of the forest.
started last April, when Tom Vuyovich, a motel owner in the
neighboring town of Detroit, was walking his dog on a forest road.
A guard for a local timber company stopped him and told him the
road was closed to public entry so the area could be logged. After
the two men exchanged angry words, Vuyovich went home and started
"Until then, I
thought, so what if they log 300 acres of trees, I'll just stay
home and be my usual Goldwater Republican self," said Vuyovich.
"Then I thought, this is our yard, this is our national forest.
They're already raping the trees, but to chase me off the place
where I'm walking my dog, that just pissed me off."
In late April, well over 100 people attended a
protest at his motel. From there, activists drove to the site of
the planned Red 90 timber sale and 28 crossed the federal closure
line and got arrested. In early August, four activists planted a
junk car and "locked down" on the road leading to the Horse Byars
timber sale. The blockade lasted most of the
Then, in mid-August, the Salem City Council
voted to oppose two planned sales out of concern that additional
timber-cutting would harm the town's drinking water. A February
1996 flood had poured sediment into the river, forcing the city to
close its water treatment plant for several
Detroit District Ranger Bill Funk
approved one of the sales after an Environmental Protection Agency
study concluded that the risk to the watershed from additional
logging was minimal. The new cuts, the EPA said, would protect the
land along streams much better than prior logging projects
The second sale is pending. Many of the
contested timber sales lie within a few miles, and in one case less
than a half-mile, of the legendary Opal Creek area for which Oregon
Sen. Mark Hatfield is now struggling to win congressional
protection (see page 4). More painful to environmentalists is that
loggers cut about 1.3 billion board-feet of timber in the district
from 1980 to 1990.
majority of the watershed, except Opal Creek and the adjacent
drainage area, is all nearly cut over," said Trygve Steen, a
Portland State University biologist who has flown over and
photographed this area. "By and large, this forest is heavy-duty
As it has over much of the
Northwest, the Forest Service has changed its logging ways in this
area. During the early "90s, it reduced the cut to only 5 million
board-feet a year, and from now on, the cut will never rise above
24 million board-feet.
The agency says that
65,000 acres, or more than 20 percent of the district's 318,000
acres, are old growth. And it plans to let loggers cut only a fifth
of the old growth under the Clinton administration's Northwest
Rob Freres, president of Freres
Lumber Co., which cut the Horse Byars and Red 90 sales, said that
Red 90 is a perfect place to cut just because so much of the area
has already been logged, replanted and paved with roads. Horse
Byars "is a highly defective stand, highly rotten, old and diseased
with a white speck fungus," Freres said. "We can use it or lose