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Logging foes lose fight to stop 'Easter Massacre'

BREITENBUSH HOT SPRINGS, Ore. -- A federal appeals court refused Thursday to halt logging of a disputed timber sale in the Oregon Cascades, where eight more protesters were arrested for blocking the lumberjacks.

Tearful environmentalists vowed never to forget the 'Easter Massacre' of centuries-old trees on the Willamette National Forest, where 35 demonstrators have been arrested in the past week, some of whom buried themselves in rocks or chained themselves to trees.

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A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco held a 1-hour telephone hearing and deliberated for about 15 minutes before rejecting the Oregon Natural Resources Council's request for an emergency order to halt logging of the 63-acre North Roaring Devil timber sale.

The unsuccessful appeal came one day after U.S. District Judge James Burns in Portland ruled logging could proceed at the site 18 miles north of Detroit.

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'It's not good news for us today,' said ONRC spokesman Wendell Wood in Portland. 'The chainsaws were faster than our fax machines.'

'The attorneys for the defense began by announcing that already over 80 percent of the sale had been cut down,' Wood said. 'We can only surmise that the appeals court did not believe there was enough forest left to enjoin.'

'While conservationists have lost this long-fought struggle along the Breitenbush River, the battle to protect the Northwest's ancient forests lives on. The Forest Service's Easter massacre will not be soon forgotten,' Wood said tearfully.

Eight anti-logging demonstrators- four of whom chained themselves to a tree- were arrested Thursday in a fifth day of protests by members of the radical environmental group Earth First! at the disputed logging site 18 miles north of Detroit.

Two other demonstrators buried themselves in rock on a road leading to the timber sale. About 50 protesters were at the site Thursday, along with about eight loggers' wives, who cheered each time a log fell.

A road grader belonging to Bugaboo was vandalized. David Black, assistant ranger for the Detroit Ranger District, said a fire extinguisher was discharged into the crankcase, and wires and fuses were torn loose. But logging operations continued Thursday, Blak said.

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A caravan of Bugaboo Timber Co. loggers and Forest Service and Marion County sheriff's employees dismantled a barricade of two people buried in two piles of rock and linked by a cable. Loggers ran ahead of the caravan to remove stones and rocks thrown on the road.

The timber company began logging at the site late last week, heading into the area on snowmobiles. Environmentalists claimed Bugaboo and the Forest Service breached an agreement not to log the site until the spring snowmelt so an appeal could be made in the 3-year-old dispute.

The ONRC, joined by the environmental group Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades, filed suit in 1986 to halt logging in the area. Burns turned down their suit and they appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit.

The appeals court remanded the case to Burns, who was ordered to issue 'appropriate injunctive relief' while the case continued at the Forest Service level. Burns said Wednesday the environmentalists failed to file promptly for an injunction after the Forest Service issued a status report in January.

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