- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Radical environmentalists who lived in the treetops of an Oregon forest for more than three months abandoned their perches after loggers outwitted them by cutting surrounding trees for a state timber sale.
"We decided not to remove the tree-sitters but to safely cut as closely as we could," said Jeff Foreman, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The agency is also examining whether to charge the tree-sitters, who peacefully dismantled their tree stands over the weekend, for the 10 trees they did prevent from being cut.
The retreat marks the first victory against protesters opposed to logging since the Clinton administration, when the prevailing attitude among state and federal forestry agencies was to either halt timber sales or try to wait out the protesters.
"The Clinton administration chose to not be aggressive when they had people trespassing and destroying public property," said Chris West, spokesman for the Northwest Forestry Association.
The timber sale, described as a "thinning" as opposed to a "clear-cut" of 124 acres in the Tillamook State Forest, is nearly complete. It will generate $265,000 in revenues for schools and local governments while improving wildlife habitat, officials said.
The Oregon protest, during which one tree-sitter was seriously injured after a 60-foot fall, is the first "significant protest or encampment" during the Bush administration, Mr. West said.
"Their actions did not deter the project from going ahead and they were not getting any media," Mr. West said. "I think another thing playing out here is that public sympathy for this after September 11 is not as high."
Many of the second-generation Douglas fir trees were severely infected with Swiss needle cast, a disease that stunts tree growth. The number of trees was reduced from 125 per acre to 70 per acre.
Protester Michael Scarpitti, also known as "Tre Arrow," fell from a tree Oct. 4 fracturing his pelvis and breaking several bones.
Law-enforcement officials tried to isolate Mr. Scarpitti in one tree and coax him down by cutting away lower branches. Officials agreed to drop legal charges but the tree-sitter continued to climb "dangerously" high, Mr. Foreman said.
At 10 p.m., Mr. Scarpitti used his body weight to sway the tree back and forth and was able to transfer to another tree 30 feet away. He apparently fell asleep and fell from the tree at 2 a.m., Mr. Foreman said.
"That was unfortunate and obviously something we hoped would not happen," Mr. Foreman said.
"No matter how much you plan or prepare, if someone is intent on total disregard for their own safety it is difficult to protect them," Mr. Foreman said.
The most famous tree-sitter, Julia Butterfly Hill, became an icon for the environmental movement in 1997 when she took up residence in a Redwood tree preventing logging on private property in California.
She succeeded in blocking a timber operation for two years on the property owned by Pacific Lumber, to save a tree she named Luna and others in a 200-foot buffer zone.
The Clinton administration aided a separate group of tree-sitters during a 1996 Oregon protest to block a timber sale by leaking information on law-enforcement activities, according to a 1999 report by the House Resources Committee.
Documents subpoenaed by the committee also indicate that four months before the 1996 presidential election, former Chief of Staff Leon Panetta gave the order for officers to "stand down" and not arrest the radical environmentalists.

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