Green Watch – May 2001

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Green Watch for May 2001 TimberLine

The government of British Columbia banned logging on a part of its coastal region known as the Great Bear Rainforest. The step was part of an historic land use agreement announced between the provincial government and 17 First Nations groups.

Environmentalists praised the move, saying it would protect a rare sub-species of black bear known as the Kermode or ‘Sprit’ bear, which has white fur. About 400 of the bears inhabit remote islands.

British Columbia Premier Ujjal Dosanjh said the agreement was a triumph of cooperation between environmentalists, loggers, businesses, and First Nations people.

• The Wilderness Society is threatening court action to block plans by the Forest Service to log more than 17,000 acres in Colorado’s PikeSan Isabel National Forest.

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The logging plan raises “a number of significant environmental questions,” said Thomas Bancroft, the society’s vice president for ecology.

The group has formally protested the plan and is prepared to take the Forest Service to court to challenge it, said society spokesman Mike Francis.

• Environmentalists agreed to join forces in a national effort to drive Boise Cascade “out of old-growth logging or out of business.” The activists made a mass mailing to more than 500 corporations and universities, urging Boise Cascade customers to stop doing business with the company.

The environmentalists decry Boise Cascade’s opposition to the Clinton administration ban on road construction in national forests and its logging of old-growth timber. Boise Cascade emerged as the sole logging industry opponent of the Clinton initiative.

• Forest Guardians, an environmental group, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service, contending the agency failed to inventory and protect more than 50,000 acres of wetlands and streams in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The incomplete inventory means potentially damaging logging, road building and cattle grazing are allowed, the group contends.

The 1986 forest plan for the Gila required that all streams and wetlands be inventoried within 10 years. So far, about 28% of the riparian areas in the forest have been inventoried.

• Students and alumni at Oregon State University vandalized or destroyed 1,200 trees being grown for genetic engineering research.

The trees were being grown on GE test sites by Steve Strauss, a forestry professor. Oregon State is the top university in the world for GE tree research. The research projects include engineering Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide into cells of poplar trees.

• Vast, remote tracts of Maine forest will be protected from development under a $28 million agreement. The area is larger than Rhode Island.

The New England Forestry Foundation paid the sum to the Pingree family, a major landowner in Maine since the 1840s, in exchange for giving up development rights to 762,192 acres.

Gov. Angus King called it the largest land conservation easement in the U.S. No building will be allowed on the land, but it will remain open to the public for hunting, fishing and camping. The Pingree family retains ownership of the land and can continue to harvest timber.

• Environmentalists targeted Staples, the largest and fastest-growing office super store, for demonstrations. They want the company to stop selling paper products made of virgin fiber. Unless Staples converts to all recycled and tree-free paper, it will “continue to drive the destruction of our world’s forests,” environmentalists said.

• Environmentalists vowed to sue to stop a proposed sale of burnt timber in the Sante Fe National Forest. “We will contest it every step of the way,” said Sam Hitt of Forest Guardians.

The sale, still in the proposal stage, would allow the harvest of up to 24 million board feet of blackened timber from up to 7,000 acres.

• Three protesters were arrested for hanging a huge banner on a building in Boise, Idaho. The banner condemned Boise Cascade Corp.’s logging operations.

The protest occurred on the eve of a federal court hearing on Idaho’s request for a preliminary injunction to block a Clinton administration ban on building roads in national forests.

The three demonstrators were arrested for unlawful assembly. They are members of Rain Forest Action Network.

• Environmentalists and Asbury Park have reached a compromise to rebuild the New Jersey town’s famous boardwalk. The town will use lumber from tropical logs that were submerged in a 1985 dam-building project in Brazil instead of lumber made from logging virgin trees.

Local officials had decided to use ipe, a hardwood popular with boardwalk and deck builders for its durability. Environmentalists pushed for using plastic lumber or ipe that met standards for sustainable forestry.

• A lawsuit filed by environmentalists in Minnesota was settled out of court. The agreement will stop the harvest of about 200 acres of national forest lands near Tofte and block construction of about 8.5 miles of roads.

The timber harvest was aimed at removing trees that had been blown down during a July 1999 windstorm that damaged thousands of acres of timber.

• Alberta environmentalists are asking major American retailers to pressure the provincial government to do more to protect the foothills forest east of the Rocky Mountains. Leaders of the Alberta Wildness Association say they are trying to raise corporate and public attention to Alberta’s record of forest management and conservation.

• A coalition of environmental groups went to court in San Francisco to save a federal act that protects giant sequoia trees. The coalition seeks to join the federal government in a lawsuit brought by logging interests, recreation groups and Tulare County.

If its motion is granted, the coalition will move to dismiss the lawsuit, said Michael Sherwood, an attorney with the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.

The lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., contends that former president Clinton exceeded his authority by designating 330,000 acres of giant sequoias in Sequoia National Forest as a national monument. Clinton’s action put the trees off-limits to logging, mining, and off-road vehicles.

• Leaders of Trout Unlimited say the U.S. Forest Service is negotiating away federally mandated protection of the threatened bull trout. The deal could allow Elko County, near Reno, Nev., to rebuild a controversial road in a national forest.

Trout Unlimited will file a lawsuit to protect the fish if necessary, its leaders said.

• A Long Island, New York teenager active with the Earth Liberation Front pleaded guilty to setting fire to a luxury home. The 17-year-old’s plea came a few weeks after the radical environmental group claimed credit for burning luxury homes. Other youths reportedly are in plea negotiations with authorities.

It is the first conviction of a self-proclaimed member of the group. Since 1996, ELF, as the group is known, has claimed responsibility for more than $30 million in environmental sabotage. It has destroyed timber company offices, federal facilities and plant and animal research labs.

Earlier, Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for a fire that damaged a lumber company office in Oregon. The blaze at Superior Lumber caused an estimated $400,000 in damage. It is the third time in three years that the Earth Liberation Front has torched a timber business in Oregon around the holidays.