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Biscuit logging hits snag

SELMA - County and federal police officers met forest — activists at the Green Bridge on Eight Dollar Road, the gateway to the — Fiddler timber sale, at 6:30 this morning.

Environmentalists tried to block loggers from starting — work on the first salvage timber sale inside an old-growth forest reserve — burned by the 2002 Biscuit Fire.

However, when they arrived, about 50 environmentalists — were blocking the bridge in an attempt to save the forest that was in — imminent danger of being logged today.

"Morning. What are y'all doing here this morning?" asked — Josephine County Sheriff's Lt. Lee Harman. "You're gonna have to get out — of the road."

The activists had formed a human wall across the bridge — several layers thick. They had signs expressing their desire to save the — forests, as well as their displeasure with the Bush administration. Some — chanted popular forest slogans while others sang songs.

"We're not here to harm anyone," responded Kayla Starr — of Ashland. "We want to talk to as many people as we can today."

The policeman responded, "These are not the people to — talk to. These are the harvesters."

As he spoke, activists chanted, "Two more days, alls we — ask is two more days."

On Wednesday, a county judge will hear an appeal from — environmentalists for a temporary restraining order on the logging operation — in the Fiddler sale area, about 25 miles southwest of Grants Pass.

West, who was leading the loggers behind the police vehicles, — was unwilling to wait, though.

"We've waited too long already," he said. "The timber — ain't gettin' any better. It don't intimidate us. We got a job to do. — This is just how we make our livelihood."

While West and his loggers waited to cross the Green Bridge, — U.S. Forest Service officers arrested three activists: Chuck Jacobs, Sherry — Burowski and Joan Norman.

Norman, a 72-year-old forest defender from Cave Junction, — planned to get arrested since at least when she woke up at around 5 a.m.

"Am I afraid of the police? No," she said. "Am I afraid — of losing our wild environment? Yes. Something has to be done. We only — have a tiny bit of our native forests left. Jail is nothing."

As police incarcerated Jacobs, his wife and another officer — engaged each other in a shoving match. "Why are you taking my best friend," — she yelled at the officer. "And take you hands off of me."

As this transpired, West said that even he knows logging — will not remain a viable career for very much longer, saying, "I don't — know if logging will last [until I am ready to retire]."

He said he has made a substantial living from cutting — down trees but "not a fortune." West initially said he stood behind his — classification of forest activists as "terrorists" saying, "They are." — But when pressed if he really thought those who practiced civil disobedience — in order to protect ancient trees, he shied away from his earlier comment — to the Associated Press.

"Look, I respect people who stand up for what they believe — in but they are not their trees," he said. "They have had way bigger victories — than the timber industry. It's not like it's been 50-50 lately."

His loggers would not discuss the issue with the media. — When one was asked where he was from, he replied, "That's my business."

An informal poll of the timber fellers indicated that — most were hired from outside of Josephine County. Two loggers said they — were from Jackson County.

After the police made the arrests and began to drive forward, — the human wall quickly dissipated. As the authorities, West and his workers — began to drive up Eight Mile Road, a federal enforcement officer pulled — over and told West that he thought the resistance would have been stronger — than that.

"Wimpy, huh?" said Officer Williamson.

What he didn't know yet was that four miles up the road — there was another layer of forest activists; this one even more intense — than the first.

As of presstime, the loggers were facing off with this — second wave of activists, which was described earlier in the morning as — including several brush and rock piles in the road, each about four-feet — tall.

After the slash piles, said a defender who wished to remain — anonymous, was the actual blockade. This was made up, they said, of an — old beat-up Dodge pick up, parked diagonally in the road and chained to — a concrete block.

Under the truck, two forest activists had "locked themselves — down" to the chassis. They had used chains, carabineers and metal pipes — to ensure that only they could remove themselves from the roadblock.

Harman said a tow truck was called to move the pickup — but that two people were still under it linked together. A woman was sitting — in the cab with a bicycle lock wrapped around her neck and the steering — wheel.

As this newspaper went to press, authorities were reporting — eight arrests had been made.

Jeff Barnard of the Associated Press contributed to this — report