Tree Sitters Return For A Second Protest In Southern Oregon

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — After claiming victory in Josephine County when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) changed the plans to build a road that would have seen old-growth trees felled, activists have moved into a different BLM project area- the Rogue Gold Forest in southern Oregon.

See also: Southern Oregon Old Growth Forest Road Plans Canceled: Tree Sitters Claim Victory


BLM Forest Management Plans

Despite covering commercial logging and plans to reduce fuels that will help lessen wildfire risk, activists claim that the BLM’s Rogue Gold project plan poses a threat to old-growth trees, some of which are home to threatened species such as the northern spotted owl.

In May a judge ordered in favor of conservation groups who took the BLM to court over the latter’s Integrated Vegetation Management for Resilient Lands Program, a plan intended to promote forest resilience for areas in southern Oregon at high risk of wildfire. Under the new management program, the court found that the planned logging in late-successional reserves was a violation of the BLM’s management plan goal to protect those forests.

Although the BLM has yet to respond to a request for comment about protests at the Rogue Gold project, the agency earlier disputed the claim that the Poor Windy project road cancellation was due to protests, saying their projects do not target old-growth trees for logging.


Rogue Gold Forest Activists Protest

At the moment, in the BLM’s Rogue Gold Forest Management Project near Rogue River, a protester who identified themselves only as Aidan, is camping in an old-growth Douglas fir about 100 feet above the ground. They say the fir is one of the trees at risk of being cut down to make way for a logging road. There is a small platform attached to the tree from where they call in.

See also: Tree Sitters Protect Southern Oregon’s Old Growth Forests From The Treetops


Aidan can see nearby towns, thousands of acres of forest, many beautiful mountains covered with trees, and at least five or six really gnarly clear cuts from his treetop platform. He said he is putting himself on the line to “make sure that this forest is protected.”

The current protest follows the successes the tree sitters saw in the Poor Windy Forest Management Project. An organizer working with the activists, Sam Shields, said it’s more clear than ever that taking direct action and using escalated tactics such as tree sitting is an effective strategy for protecting the forests. Shields called this a “renaissance” in direct action protecting old-growth trees.

Simultaneously with the tree sitting, environmental groups are also suing the BLM over their Rogue Gold project, claiming it threatens late-successional reserve forests set aside for conservation. The tree-sitters aren’t waiting for a decision by the courts, running their protest separately.

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