Tree hugging is back in vogue - at least for a group of activists who say they’re tired of environmental groups who toe the mainstream line.
“(President) Clinton won’t listen to us, and our legal channels of discourse are being blocked, one after another,” said Twilly Cannon, organizer of the Forest Action Camp.
The camp near Breitenbush has drawn about 50 people from around the world. They’ve gathered for a weeklong training program to learn or review how to keep loggers away from old-growth forests.
Cannon, who once wore a three-piece suit as a top executive at Greenpeace International, said Monday that more radical techniques will be the trend for the rest of the century.
They’re learning things such as how to lie down in front of road graders and commit other acts of civil disobedience, such as perching in trees to prevent logging.
“Most of the people here have gone to jail on one environmental thing or another,” Cannon said, adding that they’re ready to do so again.
Trainees have traveled to the camp from as far away as Korea, Siberia, New Jersey and Southern California.
The campers say they’re ready to reclaim turf taken over by groups such as the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society - groups they say have been bought out and weakened by big business.
They also are ready to take on the Republican-led Congress which has promised to soften the federal Endangered Species Act. They also say federal air and water quality standards are in danger under pressure from business and property rights groups.
And they are dismayed with the president. “I mean … (President) Bush was right. Clinton is just a waffler, without any commitment,” said Karen Meyer of Waldport, Ore., who makes environmental videos for cable television.
At the camp, veteran protester Joe Gibe gave Josh Brown of the San Francisco area a few tips about tree perching.
“You aren’t under arrest until they touch you, so you can keep climbing until then,” Gibe said. “But once they touch you, if you climb, it is resisting arrest.”