'Anarchists' claim trees spiked in Nedsbar sale

An unidentified group claims to have spiked trees in the Applegate Valley's controversial Nedsbar timber sale two days before the Bureau of Land Management's planned timber auction.


In a claim that harkens back to the timber wars of three decades ago, the Earth First! Newswire today published online a bulletin announcing the spiking to warn companies that might bid on the almost 5 million board feet of timber in the Nedsbar package, which is set for auction at 9 a.m. Thursday in Medford.


"The BLM’s decision to go forward with this project is unacceptable, any company who bids on the logging of these trees should also consider itself a possible target of sabotage," states the post, which was signed anonymously by "some Anarchists."


The post was not a claim of responsibility by Earth First!, a loosely knit group that claimed to spike trees in the 1980s as part of "direct action" efforts to halt logging in the Pacific Northwest.


The Earth First! Newswire claims only to provide information about "direct action in defense of living systems around the world."


BLM spokesman Jim Whittington said the agency has no evidence that any trees on the sale have been spiked.


"I know there's been that kind of wording thrown out before, but this is the first I've heard that someone claims to have done it," Whittington said.


Tree-spiking is the practice of driving spikes or large nails into trees as a threat to maim or kill a logger who hits one with a chainsaw or a millworker sawing the logs. It was a practice used in the 1980s by radical environmental activists to halt old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest.


As in today's announcement, past tree-spikings were announced in an attempt to keep the timber sales from being purchased, coax loggers not to cut the trees or warn millworkers not to saw the logs for fear of being injured or killed.


BLM is offering the sale of about 5 million board feet of timber scattered over 1,112 acres as part of its Nedsbar Forest Management Project, which includes logging on O&C lands as well as separate fire-reduction projects.


A group called the Applegate Neighborhood Network has opposed the sale, which includes logging within a 5,000-acre wilderness study area near Bald Mountain.


The Applegate Neighborhood Network put forth a community-generated alternative that called for logging about 1 million board feet of timber, but the proposal was not chosen in the final BLM decision unveiled Sept. 1.


The group has filed an administrative protest of the sale through the BLM, and it plans a protest rally Thursday morning outside the BLM's office in Medford.


Today's post also calls on Nedsbar opponents to ignore working with Applegate Neighborhood Network and shun those who do, according to the text. 


"Rather than begging for concessions from, or trying to use the institutions that perpetuate the current state of affairs, how about working in small leaderless groups and taking direct action in any way you see fit?" the post states.


Applegate Neighborhood Network board member Chris Bratt, who is a veteran of old timber wars in the Applegate Valley, said he believes the purported tree-spiking makes it more difficult for the group to leverage change within BLM's Nedsbar plan.


"We have never really believed in violence working with the Forest Service and BLM," Bratt said. "It gets in the way of making decisions.


"I can understand anger," Bratt said. "But pulling that kind of stuff isn't going to solve the problem."


— Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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