BREAKING: Activists Shut Down Seneca Biomass Plant in Eugene, OR



UPDATE: Three earth defenders have been taken into custody for this morning's action at the Seneca Biomass burner in Eugene, Oregon. We will need funds to assist with bail and legal defense. Click here for donation page.


Scores of activists with Cascadia Forest Defenders and Earth First! converged on the Seneca Jones biomass plant this morning to protest the company’s privatization of public lands in the Elliott State Forest and ongoing pollution in West Eugene.

Currently several people have locked themselves to equipment at the plant, effectively blocking the “truck dump” where biomass is loaded into the incinerator. A banner has been dropped off of a tower reading: “Seneca Jones: Privatizing the coast range, polluting West Eugene.”
The activists are bringing attention to Seneca Jones Timber’s role in privatizing the Elliott State Forest. This month Seneca closed on their purchase of 788 acres in the Elliott, called East Hakki Ridge. Co-owner of Seneca Kathy Jones recently expressed the company’s intention to clearcut East Hakki and replace it with Douglas fir plantation.
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Cascadia Forest Defender Richard Haley commented, “However Kathy Jones paints it, her company is a bad neighbor everywhere it operates. Here in Eugene, Seneca pollutes. In the Elliott, Seneca clearcuts and puts up ‘no trespassing’ signs in pristine, never before logged forest. East Hakki is no longer a place where locals can go hunt, fish, hike, camp or watch birds. Now it is corporate property.”

 
 
Coos Bay citizen science group Coast Range Forest Watch documented Marbled Murrelet nesting behavior in East Hakki Ridge in May. The bird is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits actions that injure or kill threatened species–including destruction of habitat. A month after Marbled Murrelets were found in East Hakki, conservation law organizations filed to sue Seneca Jones in the event of logging in the timber sale. Murrelets were also found in two timber sales purchased by timber company Roseburg Forest Products. Another parcel is up for sale this fall, and the State Land Board is considering privatizing the entire forest.

Despite Seneca’s claim of being sustainable, the biomass plant failed its first EPA air pollution test in 2011 but still requested more state funds to offset its production costs. In spite of its high impact on local air quality, Seneca receives 10 million dollars in tax credits from the state of Oregon under the Business Energy Tax Credit Program.

“The plant has had a bad reputation in this community since its opening,” said West Eugene resident Matthew Hawks. “It’s marketing itself as a ‘green’ solution in my neighborhood, but is actually harming the environment around us, especially the air we breathe.”

The plant, which only employs 11 people, releases an estimated 17,900 pounds of air toxins into West Eugene Neighborhoods annually, in addition to the 73,000 pounds released each year from the mill itself. There are three schools within three miles of the Seneca biomass facility.


“While clearcutting and privatization in the Elliott State Forest is done in the name of public schools, this irresponsible company is taking millions of public dollars and impacting the health and safety of school children in their own neighborhood. It feels really twisted,” said Cascadia Forest Defender Cordelia Finley.

The Eugene-based Cascadia Forest Defenders carried out this action with activists from across the continent following an annual Earth First! camp-out in the woods of Southern Oregon, called the Earth First! Round River Rendezvous.

This action is ongoing. Check back in for updates and details. View more photos of the action here.

CFD TAKES OVER BILLBOARD ON I-5


In the early hours of the morning on May 14, 2014, members of Cascadia Forest Defenders climbed a billboard on I5, to drop a banner protesting raw log export in Oregon. The billboard, formerly carrying a message promoting the Best Western hotel chain, now reads: “Big Timber Sends Jobs Overseas. Stop Raw Log Export.”

Due to the economic recession in 2008 and the subsequent crash of the housing market, the demand for lumber in the US plummeted. Timber companies saw a rising demand for logs coming from China and started increasing the amount of raw log exports dramatically. From 2009 to 2013, raw log export from Oregon and Washington more than quadrupled, going from 1,000,000 cubic meters in 2009 to 6,000,000 cubic meters in 2013. Exporting raw logs instead of lumber means that those logs never pass through US sawmills. Instead they are sent to China to be milled there.

CFD helps build a Secret Garden in Eugene


So, it's not our usual game, but we decided to give gardening, murals and community resiliency a try this week!



May 12, 2014 - Local Activists Turn Whitteaker Alley Into Community Garden

The weekend of March 9th and 10th, activists of Eugene worked all day Saturday and Sunday to transform part of an unused public alley into garden beds.  They renamed it “Secret Garden of the Commons”. The alley was previously impassible due to overgrown invasive Himalayan Blackberry and has been transformed into more than 3 garden beds that people in Eugene can care for.

Cascadia Forest Defenders Apologizes to Seneca Jones

East Hakki Parcel
We sent out this press release this morning in response to comments made by Kathy Jones of Seneca Jones timber company. To see links to her statements, follow links at the bottom of this post.

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Cascadia Forest Defenders, an organization composed of dozens of community volunteers, would like to express our apologies for causing the owners of Seneca Jones timber company, who are some of the richest and most powerful people in Lane County, to feel so bullied. In this day and age, when many of us are separated from the 1% by dramatic differences in the way we experience daily life, it can be hard for us to remember just how threatened the rich and elite can feel when challenged by those so far below them. We recognize now that a company like Seneca Jones, a company that admittedly can afford to spend millions of dollars out of spite by bidding on a land sale in the Elliott Forest because they "refuse to be bullied " must find it terrifying to have a group of community organizers suggest that people and planet should come before profit and property lines.