Earth First! begins 'tree-sitting protest'

Members of the radical environmental group Earth First! perched in trees in several states Monday to protest the logging of America's forests.

In Washington state, three people were secured to platforms at the 60-foot level of Western hemlocks in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Darrington, and two others were perched in centuries-old Douglas firs in the Colville National Forest on the northeastern side of the state.


In Colorado, U.S. Forest Service district ranger George Edwards in Granby said three or four people were up in trees, while another three or four others were providing ground support in the Bowen Timber sale area in the Arapaho National forest, six miles northwest of Grand Lake.

In downtown Portland, Ore., a member of Earth First! took up a perch 50 feet up a pine tree outside the Pioneer Courthouse office of Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore. Two banners unfurled from the tree said 'No Deal Hatfield-Let Justice Prevail-Earth First!' and 'You Can't Clearcut Your Way to Heaven Hatfield.'

The protester, who climbed the tree around 3 a.m., was identified only as 'Jay Bird' by Earth First! spokeswoman Leslie Helmstreet.

Hatfield was the target due to appropriations bill riders he has sponsored 'that support the timber industry only in an unfair way,' Helmstreet said.


Another event going in Oregon on Monday was a 'funeral-type demonstration' at the Willamette National Forest headquarters in downtown Eugene, said Earth First! spokeswoman Karen Woods. More tree-sitting is planned in Oregon forests later in the week, she said.

Demonstrations were also planned in California, Massachusetts, Montana and New Mexico, according to Janine Blaeloch, spokeswoman for Earth First! in Seattle.

Spokesmen for the U.S. National Forest service in Seattle and Colville declined to say what action, if any, would be taken during the demonstrations.

The group said the protest is to draw attention to the destruction of America's forests, dramatize the link between deforestation and the so-called greenhouse effect, and reduce the world's consumption of wood products.

The group said a third of the nation's original forests have been obliterated by development.

'We want to save the forests, to stop the deforestation in the United States,' said Blaeloch. 'We're just trying to make a dent the best way we know how.'

Tree-sitting was a tactic introduced by Earth First! in Oregon in 1985. One or two protesters live on the platforms for days at a time, trying to prevent trees from being cut.

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