Klamath Justice Coalition Takes Action to Halt Logging Plans on Sacred Sites

PRESS RELEASE – Klamath Justice Coalition

For Immediate Release: December 16, 2009

For more information: Leaf Hillman, Karuk Indian 530-627-3710

orleans residents move to halt forest service plans to destroy sacred sites

Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelly Breaks Promises and Federal Law

Orleans, CA – This morning the Klamath Justice Coalition used a human blockade to defend Karuk sacred sites from logging activities. The action took place near Orleans, CA within the Six Rivers National Forest and halted work on the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction Plan.

Forest Service contractors were greeted by activists before day break at Orleans Mountain Lookout Road which leads to one of the units in dispute. Crews turned back without involving law enforcement.

“This morning’s small but important victory marks the beginning of our campaign to defend Karuk sacred sites and protect the health of our forests,” said
Orleans local Chook- Chook Hillman.

This logging operation was intended to be part of a larger fuels reduction program developed by the US Forest Service with community buy-in. However, in the end the Forest Service betrayed the local community once again.

According to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project, the stated Purpose and Need for the Orleans Community Fuel Reduction and Forest Health Project (OCFR) is to manage forest stands to reduce fuels accumulations and improve forest health around the community of Orleans, while enhancing cultural values associated with the Panamnik World Renewal Ceremonial District.

“The OCFR is actually the Orleans Culture and Forest Reduction plan,” said Hillman.

Originally, Forest Supervisor Tryone Kelly engaged with community members on a collaborative process to develop a fuels reduction plan that would protect sacred areas, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and protect sensitive stands of hardwoods. However, in practice it looks like another timber harvest that disregards the concerns of the community.

“We are shocked that the Forest Service thinks that it can get away with lying to our community. We want fuels reduction, but we will not accept the destruction of Karuk sacred sites or a timber sale disguised as a fuels reduction plan,” added Annelia Hillman.

This is not the first time that Kelly has shown a particular insensitivity to Tribal cultural issues. Last year he oversaw the bull dozing of a Tribal member’s that was on land disputed to be Indian Trust Land. The act not only destroyed a home, but destroyed a nearby archeological site and a contemporary dance ground.

Again during last years’ wildfires, Kelly directed the construction of firebreaks and use of heavy equipment that destroyed sections of “medicine man trails” and high country alters used during annual World Renewal Ceremonies. Representatives from the Karuk Tribe urged Kelley to build the breaks in areas that were less sensitive but the concerns with ignored. “Its like Kelly is hell bent to destroy our sacred areas one step at a time.” Said Hillman.

The Klamath Justice Coalition is not new to direct action as a tactic to force change. The group has staged direct actions in Scotland, Omaha, NE, Portland, OR, and Sacramento, CA, and Salt Lake City, Utah focused on the removal of Klamath Dams.

Who we are:

The Klamath Justice Coalition is an ad hoc group of Klamath Basin Residents from all walks of life. We are Indians, non-natives, mothers, fathers, workers, hippies, youth, and elders. Our goal is to ensure that the cultures and ecosystems of Klamath Communities are protected and enhanced.

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