By JEFF BARNARD
Associated Oress Writer
(AP), SELMA, Ore. Environmentalists tried to block loggers from starting work Monday on the first salvage timber sale inside an old-growth forest reserve burned by a major 2002 fire. Authorities reported eight arrests as of midmorning.
At dawn, about 30 people were at a bridge leading to the timber sale in the Siskiyou National Forest, demanding that loggers wait until two lawsuits challenging the logging are heard.
Protesters made roadblocks of rocks and logs on the road about four miles past the bridge. A red pickup truck with four flat tires and an Earth First! banner was parked across the road.
U.S. Forest Service officers picked up and moved aside Joan Norman, 72, who was sitting in a lawn chair blocking the bridge. “We have no laws in our forest so we will be the law,” said Norman, who was arrested.
John West, president of Silver Creek Timber Co., told protesters at the bridge that a temporary injunction had expired and loggers were now authorized to cut the dead timber.
The 500,000-acre fire was the largest in the nation in 2002. Some of the burned area has been logged, but the new area is part of a reserve designated primarily for fish and wildlife habitat.
Forest official says logging will speed the restoration of old growth forest by cutting dead trees to help pay for planting young trees and controlling brush.
Environmentalists counter that the logging will choke salmon streams with erosion and the dead timber has rotted so much over three years it will fall far short of producing enough money to pay for restoration work.