10:00am: “We are occupying the Oregon State Capitol in Salem to end widespread clear cutting in state forests! We are currently locked down in the offices of Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler, climbers are back on the flag poles and the establishment is generally shaking in its boots.”
2:00pm: 50 protesters remain onsite. Flagpole banner droppers have been arrested descending into applause and leaving banners flying. The people locked down in the office of Kate Brown have had their support crew removed by police, who are currently bringing in extraction equipment and have hung a sheet in front of the window obscuring outside media and support. The activists inside of the office of Ted Wheeler have similarly been deprived of their support crew and shielded from view. The crowd cheers from outside of the office doors Chanting: “ “Devastation and Exploitation Won’t be Solved by Corporations,” “Earth First No Compromise We Fight for Water Earth and Sky”
Protesters are targeting Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler – both members of the State Land Board – after passing a plan in October of last year that will nearly double the annual clearcut in the Elliott State Forest. Today’s protest is an escalation in a series of protests calling on the Land Board to stop the clear cutting of ancient forests and to separate public school funding from state forest management.
The State Land Board is responsible for the management of the Common School Fund, a fund that is generated from taxes on certain lands operated by the board. According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, which is overseen by the State Land Board, forestlands are to be ‘managed for timber production’. Some revenue from these lands goes to funding public education in Oregon, but less than one percent of Oregon school funding comes from logging the Elliott State Forest. Governor Kitzhaber himself referred to the Common School Fund as a “drop in the bucket’ when compared to total state spending on education.
“The elected officials of the State Land Board are allowing large extraction-based industries to make a quick profit at the expense of Oregon’s future,” says Emmalyn Garrett of Bandon, OR. “We won’t let narrow industry interests dirty the air and water, destroy biodiversity, and decrease Oregon’s quality of life.” According to Garrett, today’s protest calls on the State Land Board to take responsibility for their failure to protect Oregon’s public lands ahead of private industry profit.