FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2020
Two Water Protectors Lock Down to Enbridge Line 3 Excavators Blocking Active Construction
(Two Inlets, MN) This morning, two water protectors locked their bodies through the treads of excavators working on a pump station for Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline, as dozens of others rallied in support.
Last week, Democratic Governor Tim Walz’ administration approved the last major permits needed by Enbridge, a Canadian multi-national seeking to build the Line 3 expansion project to carry Alberta tar sands to the shore of Lake Superior. The administration approved sending up to 1M barrels of tar sands per day through 212 water bodies and 818 wetlands in Anishinaabe treaty territory of northern Minnesota.
On Monday, the 12 of 17 members of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned, calling the permit approvals a continuation of Minnesota’s “war on black and brown people”. George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, earlier this year.
When asked why they would take such a risk to their safety and freedom, Betsy Foy, 20, (St. Paul), said, “I grew up in Nebraska hearing about the devastation the Keystone pipeline would cause, so when I moved to Minnesota and learned about Line 3, I felt called to take action. Even if I can’t stop something on my own, it’s vital to have many people in the movement standing in solidarity.”
Mira Grinsfelder, 24, (St. Paul), said, “Having grown up on occupied Anishinaabe and Dakota land, I feel a responsibility to defend that land and the rights of the people who have a relationship to it. If the US government won’t defend Anishinaabe treaty rights, we will. If the Minnesota government won’t protect the water, we will.”
For Immediate Release:
Contacts: Chameleon Blockade, (360) 209 6426, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Frederick, (360) 474 2387
Nathan McKay, email@example.com
Cops raid protest camp in Capitol Forest, lone man in canopy continues to block logging
Capitol State Forest, WA – Early Wednesday afternoon, a convoy of trucks from at least four different law enforcement agencies parked on a logging road for an unannounced raid on a camp of forest protection activists, sweeping the camp away and leaving one man in the forest canopy tied to a contraption that continues to impede work on the controversial “Chameleon” timber sale. The officers came from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol, the state Fish and Game Department, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency which planned and sold the timber sale and manages all of the Capitol State Forest. Law enforcement temporarily closed the roads to through traffic while they cleared the activists from the camp.
Alex Johnson, 29, a teacher from Olympia, was on the ground making coffee when the cops arrived. “There were just so many of them,” he said. “It seems like a lot of force to bring to deal with two unarmed civilians eating lunch.”
The two activists were briefly detained before being allowed to walk away while the officers attempted to negotiate with the remaining “tree-sitter” who continued to block the logging road. The DNR law enforcement eventually brought in spotlights and a generator and began to prepare for an extended siege of the tree-sit, which Mr. Johnson predicted would last a long time.
“I think these cops underestimate John’s commitment and endurance,” he said. “He thought hard about this before doing it, and he’s prepared to stay for quite a while. He’s one of the most stubborn guys I’ve ever met, and I tried to tell the cops that but I don’t think it’s sunk in for them yet.”
Johnson was referring to his friend in the canopy, John “Tree’Angelo” Barksdale. Mr. Barksdale, 34, an outdoor educator from Tumwater, has watched with dismay over the past several years as the DNR has systematically clear-cut most of its remaining old-growth stands. An avid hiker, he’s seen many of his favorite local trails turned to moonscapes.
“Unit 1 of Chameleon is some of the most intact forest, the best habitat left across one hundred thousand acres,” Barksdale said. “If we want all this to actually be a forest and not just an oversized tree plantation, we need to save at least something. We can’t clear-cut all of it.”
Barksdale has used years of climbing experience to erect a unique “dunk-tank” platform atop an old-growth douglas-fir tree, tied to an abandoned Ford Explorer parked across the proposed logging road. If the car moves, his platform drops. It’s about one hundred feet down to the steep slopes of the forest below. Barksdale claims to have plenty of food and water and says he is prepared to wait out the DNR indefinitely.
“I’ve always wanted to tree-sit,” he says. “I love trees. I love camping. I can work remotely out here and attend Zoom meetings from right here on the platform. It’s super dreamy up here, and I’m trying to save these trees. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”
The protest camp, which was started ten days ago by a few friends of Mr. Barksdale, quickly picked up support from local hunters, fishermen and ATV users concerned about the health of the forest. Protectors of the Salish Sea, an indigenous water advocacy group, held space with songs and prayers at the blockade on Saturday. Multiple community groups across Thurston County have come out in support of the blockade and are calling for the cancellation of the timber sale.
“Governor Inslee claims to be the ‘climate Governor’, and even ran for President of the United States on a platform based on tackling climate change, yet he continues to allow the Department of Natural Resources to clearcut our state’s forests despite their potential to mitigate the climate crisis,” said Nathan McKay, a landscape architect from Lacey, Washington. “If Inslee was really a climate leader, he would call off this timber sale, and protect our forests for their carbon sequestration and storage potential.”
A rally is planned for today, Thursday, October 8, at 3pm at the gate of the logging road leading into the timber sale. Community members are invited to witness the siege and see the ancient trees in the proposed clearcut.
Forest Defenders hold blockade to stop logging of the ‘Chameleon’ Timber Sale
Contact: Chameleon Blockade – firstname.lastname@example.org 360-209-6426
The Capitol State Forest, WA – Forest Defenders launched a blockade on Monday to prevent the clear-cut logging of a 100-year-old forest west of Olympia on the traditional territory of the Chehalis people. The forest, part of the critically endangered Puget Lowland Eco-Region, was auctioned off by the Department of Natural Resources as the “Chameleon Timber Sale” to the Elma based Murphy’s Logging Company. Protesters have set up a blockade preventing road building and logging in one of the largest and most biodiverse units of the timber sale. The site is home to a late-successional Douglas Fir forest (over 100 years since it was last logged), which is gaining old growth characteristics that support endangered wildlife. Continue reading