Impressions: on the Elliott
If you’ve experienced the pleasure of walking through
quiet groves of trees--your footsteps cushioned by soft
moss, watching sunlight filter through the branches
casting light and shadow, you know the peace and joy
it brings. But, add the sound of chainsaws echoing
through the hills, red spray paint on tree trunks
marking timber sale boundaries, orange and black
project notices listing names like Kelly Slim Cougar or
Flying Fish, and the peace and joy slip away.
I’ve been pondering what to write about last week’s
field trip to the Elliott State Forest. I could cite facts
and data on upcoming timber sales or the value of the
forest’s carbon sequestration capacity, but that
information is available elsewhere. What I feel
compelled to speak to, however, is the stark irony of
hiking through 150-year-old stands of native forest
untouched by logging while surrounded by these
constant reminders that every one of them is
We were blessed with excellent weather, comfortable for hiking and wonderful for photos. And, we were equally blessed to have the expert guidance of Cascadia Wildlands’ Josh Laughlin and Francis Eatherington. Francis led us into the woods, sharing her expertise on every trail and timber stand. The lady has a fierce passion for the Elliott and displayed boundless energy as she introduced us to the grandeur and sorrow of this magnificent forest. Josh Laughlin gifted us with his vast knowledge on the surrounding timber sales and the ongoing struggle to end them.
When we entered the Elliott, panoramic vistas of tree-
covered mountains stretched off into the distance, the
splendor marred by patches of barren hillsides near
the road. The first reminders of why we were there:
to bear witness.
A few minutes later, we were brought up short by a
barricade of signs, caution tape, and a large truck
parked in the middle of the road. Luckily, our own
Janine has no fear of falling timber, and “Road Closed”
signs hold no meaning for her. She sauntered off down
the road, asked the loggers to move their vehicle, and
the way was cleared. Piles of trees covered the hillside
next to the road, a tangled mass of limbs and branches
(in the photos I took, they were unrecognizable as
anything more than large piles of brush). We slowly
drove past felled trees and listened to the sharp crack
and thunder as more crashed to the ground.
We travelled a trail built by tree-sitters, to fulfill their community service sentence. While we hiked, we noted the trees and plants as we went: Doug fir and oak, huckleberry and fern. At one point, Francis greeted an old friend, a great fir tree with its grooved, rough bark--so tall its branches were lost in the canopy above and so wide it took five of us, arms outstretched, to encircle it. She shared her joy--this tree and the surrounding stand were part of a timber sale spared from logging thanks to a pair of Spotted owls who had taken up residence. We walked slowly and listened quietly as Francis shared the history of the remnants of trees long dead, while we stood in the shadows of their descendants--fire and rebirth.
But, no matter how sweet the air or glorious the
sunshine, the awareness of purpose haunted every step.
Stand by stand, this forest is being sold off. And, not
thinned--clear-cut. Thousands of acres turned into
wasteland. To stop the selling of our planet’s future,
we must eliminate the antiquated concept that the
value of a forest is measured in board feet. We must
work together to educate, raise awareness, lobby,
change laws, and change minds. Each of us can
speak out, share what we learn, engage others in
this effort. The Elliott State Forest needs every
voice raised on its behalf.
Cristina Hubbard, Executive Director
Forest Web of Cottage Grove
Keep the Elliott Public!
Now, in 2016, the Elliott faces even greater danger as the State Land Board is planning on selling off this 93,000-acre coastal rainforest—precious habitat for endangered species such as the Marbled Murrelett, Northern Spotted Owl, and Coho salmon--to private timber companies. To learn more about this issue, please use the following links, and sign the petitions to keep the Elliott in public hands!
Sign Now! Keep the Elliott State Forest in Public Hands:https://act.myngp.com/Forms/5992884828658204672
Sign Now! Maintain Public Ownership of the Elliott State Forest
June 15, 2016 - Oregon Is Selling Its Public Forest to a Timber Company http://www.planetexperts.com/oregon-selling-public-forest-timber-company/
June 14,2016 - Oregon Appeals Court Set to Rule on Plan to Sell Off Elliott State Forest
June 5, 2016 - State should scrap Elliott forest privatization http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/34430132-78/state-should-scrap-elliott-forest-privatization.html.csp
April, 13, 2015 - Oregon Land Board Approves Elliott Sale
Land board seeks sale of Elliott State Forest
April 21, 2014 - Elliott State Forest parcel to be sold to Seneca Jones, drawing environmental lawsuit
April 21, 2014 - Suit Filed Challenging Sale of Elliott State Forest Land
December 11, 2013 - Q&A: State Moves Forward On Elliott Forest Sale
November 21, 2013 - Conservationists Seek Solutions To Sale Of Elliott State Forest Land
Umpqua Watersheds - Elliott State Forest Page
Coast Range Forest Watch - Save the Elliott State Forest Page
Oregon.Gov – Elliott State Forest